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First Off-Road Test Drive - Low Expectations, BIG Surprise!

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  • First Off-Road Test Drive - Low Expectations, BIG Surprise!

    Hi Fortuner Owners,

    I just wanted to share my first impression of Toyota Fortuner in an off-road setting. Before I proceed, let me just set the scene and explain the low expectation statement. I have just replaced my 2013 Toyota Landcruiser 76 Series (V8) with the Toyota Fortuner. Some of my friends have made comments that I am 'mad' and and to tell you the truth it took me a while to make this decision. I have also owned Nissan Patrol GU (3L) and a Toyota Hilux 3L D4D so I had a good base to compare with.

    I go bush one weekend a month and have one long trip every year (central OZ or Tassie), however most of my driving is on bitumen in metropolitan Melbourne with lots of traffic. Landcruiser is a fantastic vehicle and the V8 is awesome, but it is designed more for bush then the city, so I decided to flip that ratio around and go for something that is more comfortable for every day driving. Since I travel solo most of the time and do not tow, I decided to try out the new Fortuner.

    With only 2000kms on the clock, I decided to put it to the test in the High Country, destination Dargo (Wombat Spur, Herne Spur, Billy Goats Bluff TKs) with plenty of deep river crossings, steep tracks and rocky terrain. Since my Fortuner is pretty standard (only MT ATZ's, snorkel and rock sliders for protection), I employed the services of a mate with a Landrover Defender just in case. For those familiar with Defenders they are extremely capable vehicles with fantastic gearing, so the bar was set high.

    I never owned an automatic 4x4, had traction control or DAC so didn't know what to expect, but I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised. Going uphill was a breeze as didn't have to worry about the gear selection and traction control did its job beautifully (did not need to use a diff lock), climbing over rocks and staying in control. However going downhill was a real surprise! With DAC going down Billy Goats Bluff TK, the Fortuner was so smooth and in full control matching the speed of the Defender in first gear (which is a Crawl gear), amazing!!!

    As I had low expectations, the performance of the Fortuner was a huge surprise and I am very happy with my decision. I can't wait for my next trip to tackle some more High Country tracks.

    The only negative that i could pick up is a bit of a harsh ride on corrugated roads where the car jumps around a bit, however I will probably end up replacing the shocks with Koni's after 30-40K which I believe may fix this problem. No water in the cabin with any of the river crossings (some were half way up the door).

    Summary = LOVE IT!


  • #2
    I've had my Fortuner out in the Dargo/Licola areas of the Vic High Country a few times. The vehicle has also exceeded my expectations !
    The DAC and diff lock almost make it feel like I'm cheating on some of the knarley climbs and descents like Billy Goats Bluff and Mt Margaret Tracks.


    • #3
      Great to hear your impression of how these go off-road Sash. I'm also considering changing from a 76 Series Land Cruiser for similar reasons as you. Only difference is I occasionally tow a camper trailer of about 1700 kg gross on interstate trips. I will miss the grunt of the V8 when towing so hope not to be too disappointed with a smaller 4WD. Anyone have any comments about towing ability?

      I was also concerned how the Fortuner would go off the bitumen particularly with the clearance as the Cruiser has heaps of standard clearance. Seems like there's no problem with the off road ability from your experience. Did you find any clearance issues compared to the Cruiser?



      • #4

        Great to hear you enjoy it too.


        I think towing 1700kgs should not be a problem given its towing capacity especially if you have the automatic. As for the clearance, I was also worried about it, but no problem. I did put steel side steps on (original Toyota accessory) just in case, however I did not knock them once. Clearance is very good. With the amount of torque, traction control, coils all around and automatic transmission you don't really need to go fast and jump all around. Of course it all depends how fast you want to get to your beer!

        Last edited by red_dune; 01-12-2016, 05:59 PM.


        • #5
          Nice write-up!

          2 days ago, I thought of spending the day driving on stockton beach just for the heck of it. I wasn't bringing any gear apart from a shovel and an air compressor. Tuna is still dead stock with the 17" A/T's that came from factory That's all. Throughout the afternoon, I saw 2 Fully-kitted up Prados bogged on the soft sand and the tuna went by them twice (on the way up and on the way down). That got me thinking, hey, this tuna isn't bad at all! light enough, it's got the torque, diff lock and climbed up and down steep sand dunes without any problems. The only time my thongs touched the sand was when I deflated and inflated the tyres. Aircon on throughout the afternoon. And I calculated that I used 12 liters of diesel for a good 2 hours of play on the sand.

          Not bad, not bad at all.


          • #6
            Good to hear. I definetely think one of the advantages is weight, being couple of 100kgs lighter then Prado. The engine is very smooth and torquie.

            I am planning the trip across Simpson Desert do it will be a good test.

            I have also installed the Pioneer Rack and very happy with the way it came out. Should come in handy on long trips.