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Toyota Fortuner 2020 review: Crusade

The Toyota Fortuner 2020 model is about to be replaced. But is this model worth considering?
EXPERT RATING
7.3
The Toyota Fortuner 2020 model offers decent safety, serious off road ability and a practical seven seat cabin. But there's a new version coming. Do you jump now? Or hold off?

There’s an update due for the Toyota Fortuner. You may have seen our detailed stories, and noticed just how much has changed in terms of the styling, driving manners and safety tech offered in the 2021 facelifted version. 

But when the new model launches, the existing version might offer strong value. There are sure to be some left in stock, and in this review we’ll remind you of the strengths and weaknesses of the 2020 Fortuner.

We had the 2020 Toyota Fortuner Crusade as part of our off-road SUV comparison test earlier in 2020, and in this piece we’ll break it down and focus on the HiLux-based seven seater.

Toyota Fortuner 2020: Crusade
Safety rating
Engine Type2.8L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8.6L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$58,290

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The current 2020 Toyota Fortuner Crusade model is the top of the range variant on the Fortuner price list. What does it cost? The list price of $58,290 plus on-roads - that’s the RRP/MSRP, not a driveaway price. Check out Autotrader to find deals on this car.

It’s a pretty decent price for the Fortuner, which undercuts competitors like the Ford Everest by a fair margin. It’s not quite as compelling value as a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, but there’s a good reason you might elect for a high-grade Fortuner over a low-end Prado.

It’s a pretty decent price for the Fortuner. It’s a pretty decent price for the Fortuner.

Standard equipment for the Fortuner Crusade 2020 model includes: 18-inch alloy wheels with a full size alloy space under the boot floor, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lights, auto headlights, power tailgate, keyless entry and push-button start, side steps, roof rails and boot lid rear spoiler. The second row gets a 230-volt powerpoint to keep things charged up.

Inside you’ll find leather seat trim, driver’s front electric seat adjustment, front seat heating, a leather steering wheel with wood elements, single-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, a 7.0-inch touch screen media unit with sat nav (GPS), AM/FM/DAB radio, CD player and a single USB port as well as Bluetooth phone and audio streaming. There’s no smartphone mirroring tech (no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), but the JBL sound system has 11 speakers. 

The Fortuner has a 7.0-inch touchscreen, but with no smartphone mirroring tech. The Fortuner has a 7.0-inch touchscreen, but with no smartphone mirroring tech.

The safety story isn’t as long as it should be, but it gets its own section below.

If you’re concerned about colours, the Fortuner comes in white as its only no-cost option, but there’s also an optional pearl white, silver, grey, black, brown and blue - all of which will add $600 to the cost.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

Rightio, click here if you want to see the 2021 Fortuner. It’s a more dynamic looking model, with better lines and angles that help it look fresh and tidy.

The existing one? Well, it’s never been a looker in my opinion. Sure, it has some charming elements in Crusade trim - it comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, plus side steps and a power tailgate. A few eye-catchers there.

The Toyota Fortuner Crusade is one of the smaller offerings in the ute-based SUV segment. The Toyota Fortuner Crusade is one of the smaller offerings in the ute-based SUV segment.

There is a range of hardcore accessories you might want to fit - an aftermarket suspension lift, or different wheels and tyres, a towbar, bullbar or nudge bar, and there are more than a few Fortuners around with underbody protection upgrades borrowed from the TRD HiLux

And it shares a lot with the HiLux besides, including some impressive off road specs. Things like its ground clearance (225mm), approach angle (30.0 degrees), break-over/ramp-over angle (23.5 degrees), departure angle (25.0 degrees), wading depth (700mm) and a standard fit rear diff lock on Crusade mean it has the stuff to deal with the surface when it’s rough. More on that below.

It's never been a looker in my opinion. It's never been a looker in my opinion.

In terms of dimensions, the Toyota Fortuner Crusade is one of the smaller offerings in the ute-based SUV segment. It is just 4795mm long (on a 2745mm wheelbase), making it more city-friendly when it comes to parking, while it spans 1855mm wide and 1835mm tall. 

What does that mean in terms of practicality? We’ll find out more in the section below, and you’ll find relevant interior images there, too. 

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

As mentioned above, the Fortuner is considered pretty compact for a rugged four-wheel-drive wagon, but it packages in some interior smarts that belie its physical size. 

The Toyota Fortuner’s boot space is pretty darn generous with seven seats up, with 200 litres (VDA) meaning you can fit a pair of suitcases (124L and 36L) in the back with all seats in use. Shopping the Fortuner against a Prado? You might be interested to note that the Fortuner could fit the CarsGuide pram in behind the third row seats, while the Prado couldn’t.

The narrow feeling of the cabin extends to the front two seats. The narrow feeling of the cabin extends to the front two seats.

In five-seat guise, the Fortuner’s weird side-folding seats don’t do it much favours, as you can never use the full width of the cargo bay. That could be an issue if you’re loading larger items, but there’s still 716L (VDA) of cargo space with the second row in use. That figure increases to 1080L with all rear seats out of use - a decent space if you need to remove the back seats and fit a cargo barrier. There’s no cargo cover or boot liner in the rear - those would just get in the way.

If that’s not enough space for you, you can always option a roof rack setup to fit the standard roof rails. 

What about third row space and comfort? There are rear air vents and fan controls to keep things cool or warm as needed - however, all the occupants will need to be on the same page when it comes to temperature, as the 2020 Fortuner has only single zone climate control. Rivals have dual or even tri zone.

The headroom on offer is adequate but not airy, and the middle row does feel quite narrow. The headroom on offer is adequate but not airy, and the middle row does feel quite narrow.

Third row access is pretty good despite having a tight door opening, and it’s roomy enough in the back for a pair of adults to fit for a short period. Younger kids may last longer. But note: the fierceness of the suspension can make for an uncomfortable experience in the back row - more on that in the driving section below.

Second-row occupant space is decent, as the middle row can be slid fore and aft to allow better kneeroom for those in the middle or the rear. The headroom on offer is adequate but not airy, and the middle row does feel quite narrow. We wedged a 182cm (6’0”) male adult behind his own driving position with ease.

Okay, what about the front seat area?

  • The Toyota Fortuner’s boot space is pretty darn generous with seven seats up. The Toyota Fortuner’s boot space is pretty darn generous with seven seats up.
  • The Fortuner could fit the CarsGuide pram in behind the third row seats, while the Prado couldn’t. The Fortuner could fit the CarsGuide pram in behind the third row seats, while the Prado couldn’t.
  • With 200 litres of boot space, you can fit a pair of suitcases (124L and 36L) in the back with all seats in use. With 200 litres of boot space, you can fit a pair of suitcases (124L and 36L) in the back with all seats in use.
  • There’s 716L (VDA) of cargo space with the second row in use. There’s 716L (VDA) of cargo space with the second row in use.

The narrow feeling of the cabin extends to the front two seats, and you feel like you’re a bit close to the person next to you. It could be better in terms of storage options, though you do score a pair of cupholders, a small centre console bin, a dual glovebox and dashboard-mount cup holders. 

The Crusade 2020 model has heated front seats but there’s only a setting for on or off, and the touchscreen media unit - which is going to be updated as part of the 2021 facelift - can be difficult as it doesn’t have a volume knob (just touch buttons on the side, and they can be hard to hit correctly when you’re driving). Of course, there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in the 2020 model, but the 2021 gets that smartphone mirroring tech, as well as a bigger screen (8.0-inch vs the existing 7.0-inch as seen here).

The dash design is okay but it does eat in to the cabin space somewhat, and the lack of a digital speedometer is frustrating (and has been addressed as part of the 2021 facelift!).

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

If you’re familiar with what’s under the bonnet of the Prado, HiLux, Granvia or HiAce, you’ll know what to expect here.

It’s a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine producing 130kW of power (at 3400rpm) and 450Nm of torque (at 1600-2400rpm). The Fortuner only comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, though early versions were sold with a six-speed manual gearbox option.

The Fortuner has a selectable four-wheel drive (4WD) system with high-range (2H/4H) and low-range (4L) gearing. 

If you’re familiar with what’s under the bonnet of the Prado, HiLux, Granvia or HiAce, you’ll know what to expect here. If you’re familiar with what’s under the bonnet of the Prado, HiLux, Granvia or HiAce, you’ll know what to expect here.

The updated 2021 Fortuner is going to see a step up in terms of horsepower, to 150kW/500Nm. That could be worth waiting for.

Further, the updated model will offer more towing capacity. The current version has unbraked towing set at 750kg, while the braked towing capacity maxes out at 2800kg. The facelifted model will offer 3100kg braked towing.

If you’re interested in the weigh-in figures, the Fortuner tips the scales at 2135kg, with a payload of 615kg available. That means the gross vehicle mass (GVM) is 2750kg, and the gross combination mass (GCM) is 5545kg. 

Want to know if it has a timing belt or chain? The answer is the latter. 

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure is 8.6 litres per 100 kilometres. That’s pretty decent for the class.

On test, we actually beat the claim across our on-road driving test, with a return of 8.4L/100km at the pump. We didn’t even have the eco mode button on.

When we headed on gravel tracks and further into the bush for off-road testing, the return was 11.5L/100km.

All told, we saw a combined average of 10.0L/100km across several hundred treacherous kilometres. And that’s not too bad. Fuel tank capacity for the Fortuner is 80 litres, and there’s no long range fuel tank option.

The Fortuner has a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and you can read all about it at the Toyota Fortuner problems page.

What's it like to drive?   6/10

When we did our four SUV test, the Fortuner was the one that everyone tried to avoid driving if they could. Why? It’s simple. It’s not very pleasant. 

Its suspension was described as “harsh” and “fierce” in terms of the ride quality, and it was particularly bad over coarse chip roads, where it felt choppy and uncomfortable, no matter which row you were in. Rumour has it that the retuned suspension of the 2021 model changes things rather dramatically in terms of comfort in the cabin. We sure hope so. 

Also unimpressive was the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels in the cabin, with an agricultural feel to the drive experience that puts it below the best of its competitors. It was louder and rougher than the other SUVs in our test, and our third-row tester Mitchell Tulk described his experience as “a bad time”.

The Fortuner is a harsh-riding 4WD in general. The Fortuner is a harsh-riding 4WD in general.

In the driver’s seat, the steering responded quickly and offered nice weighting and good feel, and it felt more involving and smaller than you might expect of an SUV in its segment. With an 11.6 m turning circle, it was pretty manoeuvrable when it came to parking, too. 

The diesel engine was an eager performer as well. The Fortuner is light for its class and the torque on offer was definitely evident from a standstill. Plus the six-speed auto proved effective at urban pace thought it was notably fussier the faster you went, particularly when dealing with undulating terrain. 

For the off road review part of the test, there were mixed findings. 

Rumour has it that the retuned suspension of the 2021 model changes things rather dramatically in terms of comfort in the cabin. Rumour has it that the retuned suspension of the 2021 model changes things rather dramatically in terms of comfort in the cabin.

The Fortuner is never as composed as an Everest or Prado, but on the really rough stuff it came into its own. It was very effective in low-speed, low-range off-roading. There was decent axle articulation, with the double wishbone front suspension and five-link coil rear end offering plenty of flex over offset lumps and bumps.

There was ample low-end torque, and the Fortuner’s 4WD underpinnings were easy to manipulate on the move. Despite decent ground clearance we noted some underbody scraping in the deeper angled ruts.

But the big thing to keep in mind here is that while it performs pretty well once you’re at your favourite off-road track, the trip there and home could be tedious because the Fortuner is a harsh-riding 4WD in general. It can be pretty sharp and punishing, and as Adventure Editor Marcus Craft put it, “it wins ugly”.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

This part is where you might find yourself saying, “Perhaps we wait for the 2021 model”. That’s because the safety spec in the Fortuner sold from launch in 2015 until the end of the 2020 model year left a lot to be desired. 

Admittedly the Fortuner managed a five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating in 2019 when models were updated with some active safety tech items you’d expect. 

But the 2020 version is expected to further the credentials of the Fortuner even further, adding Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Lane Keeping Assist (LKA - or steering assist), as well as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA), and a 360-degree parking camera on the more expensive trims.

The 2020 version is expected to further the credentials of the Fortuner even further. The 2020 version is expected to further the credentials of the Fortuner even further.

That’s beyond what is currently available on the Fortuner: forward collision warning and AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection that works between 10km/h and 80km/h, lane departure warning, road sign recognition, high-speed active cruise control, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

There’s also the expected stability and traction control systems with anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), downhill assist control (DAC - hill descent control), hill-start assist, and trailer sway control.

The Fortuner has seven airbags as standard, incorporating dual front, driver’s knee, front side and full-length curtain airbags. The Fortuner has three top-tether points and two ISOFIX points in the second row, but no third-row child seat attachments.

About to Google: “Where is the Toyota Fortuner built?” It’s made in Thailand, alongside the HiLux.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

If you live remotely, the Toyota Fortuner might be the best option. The Japanese brand has the country’s most comprehensive network of dealerships, meaning you’re never far from a fix if you need it.

Plus the ownership offering is pretty good, with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty that extends out to seven years if you have proof of logbook servicing - and it doesn’t need to be done at a Toyota dealer, either.

But the Fortuner is let down by regular service requirements - it has intervals pegged at six months/10,000km. That’s going to be annoying if you live a few hundred kays from your preferred workshop! 

Service costs work out at $500 per year (because you’ve got to get it serviced twice at year at $250 a pop), too, which is more expensive than you might think. That cost is the average of the first three years only, too - the capped price service plan spans three years/60,000km. 

And unlike many competitors, there is free roadside assist included - you’ll have to pay extra.

Worried about reliability, common problems, issues, complaints, defects and recalls and, yep - DPF problems - you can check out our Toyota Fortuner problems page.

Verdict

Should you wait for the 2021 Toyota Fortuner? It depends. The 2020 version is still a very impressive offering, and if you can find one at a good price it could well be worth your money. Just be sure to make sure you drive it extensively on the test drive to see if you can live with the harsh ride.

Pricing guides

$52,228
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$45,965
Highest Price
$58,490

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Crusade 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP $58,290 2020 Toyota Fortuner 2020 Crusade Pricing and Specs
Crusade B+R Trim 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP $58,490 2020 Toyota Fortuner 2020 Crusade B+R Trim Pricing and Specs
GX 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP $45,965 2020 Toyota Fortuner 2020 GX Pricing and Specs
GXL 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP $50,790 2020 Toyota Fortuner 2020 GXL Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.3
Price and features8
Design7
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving6
Safety8
Ownership7
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

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