Toyota New Zealand has broadened its Hilux range with a new entry level two-wheel drive, the WorkMate, aimed at buyers looking for affordability and Toyota reliability.
Aimed at the upper-middle end of the choices, the Fortuner is labelled a 'medium-rugged' SUV, costing less than the Land Cruiser Prado but presenting as more hard-core than the 'medium-soft' Highlander. Toyota expects to sell 600-700 units per year.
Offered in three grades (GX, GXL and Limited) all models use the new 1GD-FTV engine already seen in the 2016 Prado and the new Hi-Lux. With 1340kw on tap and up to 450 Nm of torque between 1600 and 2400rpm, these motors burn diesel at around 8.6L/100km.
All ranges are available with a super-smooth six-speed automatic transmission, or for those with a twitchy left leg the GX model can be sourced with a six speed manual with the maker's Intelligent Manual transmission (i-MT) that matches engine revs to gear shifts.
Three selectable drive strategies offer Eco, Normal and Power settings, and combine with easy-to-select 2WD high, 4WD and 4WD low range, for those in search of off-road adventure. Indeed, with a separate chassis, double wishbone front suspension, and a four link rear set-up the vehicles showed optimum handling, great stability and good road handling during our first limited test drive.
A raft of safety features such as reversing camera, vehicle stability control, hill-start assist and downhill assist will give novices the confidence to take this vehicle off-road and return safely, and its work capabilities see it offer 2.8 tonnes braked towing capacity, including trailer sway control to keep things on the straight and narrow in difficult situations.
High levels of cabin fit and finish, with thought given to storage areas and cubbyholes, will ensure a place for all the ephemera we seem to carry in our cars. Passengers are offered three rows of adult size seats to give seven perches in total, although the vertical storage of the third row when not in use cuts into the load space and could do with a re-think.
As one would expect of this type of vehicle, electronics play their part: the steering wheel console has a 4.2 inch screen for trip information, and a centre console contains a 7-inch touch screen with audio, Bluetooth and satnav functions.
The GX and GXL are offered with cloth trim over large comfortable seats, and the top-end Limited gets the bling -- full leather trim, larger alloy wheels and powered seat adjustment.
A neat touch on the GL and Limited is a powered rear door which can be opened without the driver leaving the seat; and it has a memory function.