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Toyota Fortuner 2023 review: Crusade

The Toyota Fortuner Crusade - does this family SUV offer more than just two extra seats?

The Toyota Fortuner Crusade is a strange beast. It’s a four-wheel drive that feels like a HiLux hybrid but it lacks the fun of its ute sibling, despite being able to seat seven.

The four-wheel drive capabilities, seat configuration and high-ride should be a winning combo but it sits awkwardly in Toyota’s SUV line-up.

It’s not as family-oriented as the Kluger and not as refined as the Prado. It’s like that cousin that you only see once a year and don’t know well – you’re not quite sure what to do with them.

I've been driving the top of the range Crusade for a week to get to know it for you. And my family of three has put it through its paces! Let’s see how it fared.

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Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

There are three models for the Fortuner and the Crusade sits at the top.

As with everything, there’s been a minor price hike since the last model but you can pick this up for $62,945, before on-road costs.

There are some nice standard features, like electric heated front leather seats, a powered tailgate, three-zone climate control, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, seven seats (2/3/2 config), 18-inch alloy wheels and side steps.

The Fortuner Crusade will set you back $62,945, before on-road costs. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Fortuner Crusade will set you back $62,945, before on-road costs. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Our model is fitted with an optional tow bar kit, which adds a tow bar, tow ball and trailer wiring for an extra $1350.

It’s a little annoying that each item has to be individually purchased, so make sure if the model you’re looking at has a tow ball, that the wiring is connected, too.

Compared to the market, you get a decent array of accessories and features for the price tag. 

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

Nothing discernible to me has been changed since the last model but let me paint the picture for you. Imagine a dual-cab HiLux with a boot and you’ll come up with something similar to the Fortuner.

It sits proudly at 1835mm tall. The sides are almost slab-like and it's squared off at the rear, which the chunky C-pillar and dark windows do nothing to detract from. It’s definitely prettier up front with a nicely tapered bonnet.

City-dwellers need not beware, at 4795mm long and 1855mm wide, it’s accommodating in a tight car park.

The Fortuner has a nicely tapered bonnet. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Fortuner has a nicely tapered bonnet. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The interior is classically Toyota. Everything is where you expect to find it but it’s lacking some wow factor. There are a lot of hard plastics throughout that highlight this.

With tech, trims and ambience all getting upgraded in the market, the interior is a bit of a let down.

However, there’s a certain comfort in seeing a traditional gear shifter, handbrake and manual clock in an off-roader. In my mind, it lends a certain weight to the vehicle's capability.

Standard features of the Fortuner include 18-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Standard features of the Fortuner include 18-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

The interior isn’t terribly practical for a seven-seater, so there’s room for improvement. And that seems to be the running theme for the Fortuner.

First and second-row occupants will enjoy the most room but it’s best to think of the third row as 'sometimes seats'.

It was easy for my six-year old to get in and out with the side steps, and he had a great view from the wide rear window.

  • The interior isn’t terribly practical for a seven-seater, so there’s room for improvement. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The interior isn’t terribly practical for a seven-seater, so there’s room for improvement. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • There is ample storage for passengers in the middle row. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There is ample storage for passengers in the middle row. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • It’s best to think of the third row as 'sometimes seats'. (Image: Glen Sullivan) It’s best to think of the third row as 'sometimes seats'. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Individual storage is good with a double glove box, cooled middle console, two cupholders and drink bottle holders in the first and second rows plus an extra two retractable cupholders in the dash (hurrah!). Third row occupants miss out on them completely, though.

However, I think the storage bins and map pockets are a tad too shallow to be that useful.

The boot space is on the smaller side and the way the third row stows on the side encroaches on the space and creates a large blind spot on an already chunky C-pillar.

With all three rows in action, there is 200L of cargo capacity available, but you can stow the third row to get 716L. If you want maximum cargo capacity, the middle seats can also be folded and that figure jumps up to 1080L.

  •  The Fortuner has 200L of cargo capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Fortuner has 200L of cargo capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • You can stow the third row to get 716L of cargo capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan) You can stow the third row to get 716L of cargo capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The tech feels retro and not in a good way. The 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system is plain on the graphics and laggy, plus on the smaller side for the market now.

It also only has wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but it's fairly easy to connect.

Also, there is only one USB-A port in the whole car and no wireless charging pad. You do have a couple of 12-volt ports and a handy 220-volt plug for when you’re camping or something but that’s it for charging, which is surprising for a family SUV nowadays.

Upfront is an 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Upfront is an 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

All Fortuner models share the same 2.8-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine but it’s the main star that perfectly complements the 4WD system.

With a maximum output of 150kW and a massive 500Nm of torque, most weekend adventures can be pursued. It also doesn’t feel like you’re digging deep for that power, which is great.

The six-speed auto transmission is fairly smooth but occasionally the pick up is slow, so I wouldn’t be zipping across traffic in this. 

All Fortuner models share the same 2.8-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Glen Sullivan) All Fortuner models share the same 2.8-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

The official combined cycle fuel number is 7.6L/100km. Real world testing saw my figure at 9.1L and I covered a good mix of urban and open road driving this week.

Considering its size and that it’s a turbo, I thought it was fairly efficient for how I drove it, but it could be better given it’s a diesel.

The Fortuner has an 80L fuel tank with an approximate range of 880km, using our on-test average fuel economy figure.

The official combined cycle fuel number of the Fortuner is 7.6L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The official combined cycle fuel number of the Fortuner is 7.6L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Driving – What's it like to drive?

Mostly okay but there are points to consider for long-term use.

We’ve already covered that the engine has enough grunt for off-road pursuits but I enjoyed the torque because it means it's fairly easy to maintain a consistent speed on hills, which isn’t always the case for large SUVs.

However, the steering feels heavy at lower speeds. It makes the car feel older than it is and cumbersome to turn in car parks.

The Crusade features a 360-degree view camera set-up with guidelines but the image is disappointingly blurry. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Crusade features a 360-degree view camera set-up with guidelines but the image is disappointingly blurry. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

I'm not a fan of the steering wheel, either. The leather is hard/rough and the wood panel insert at the top is slippery, which is an odd combo for an off-roader where you want to stay very much in control.

The taller centre of gravity does give some roll in corners but it’s also not the sort of car you go hard in on bends, anyway. So, that's not surprising.

However, the Aussie suspension tuning gets an A+ because the ride comfort is good and you won’t really notice potholes or bumps.

This has a 360-degree view camera set-up with guidelines but the image is disappointingly blurry for a top-spec model. 

The steering wheel's leather is hard/rough and the wood panel insert at the top is slippery. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The steering wheel's leather is hard/rough and the wood panel insert at the top is slippery. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

The safety list earns some cred back for the Crusade with the following being standard features: LED daytime running lights, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert (always good to have), 360-degree view camera, front and rear parking sensors and trailer sway control.

A couple of cool features to highlight are the 'SOS Emergency Call' button and 'Automatic Collision Notification' system.

The former is for if you’re ever in a sticky situation but don’t have access to your phone but need emergency services.

The Fortuner has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, from 2019. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Fortuner has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, from 2019. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The latter, will alert the Toyota Emergency Assistance call centre if an airbag is deployed or a collision is detected by the impact sensors. I think these are good features for an off-roader.

It has seven airbags, which include a driver's knee airbag and curtain airbags covering the third row but it is missing the newer front centre airbags that we’re seeing on newer cars.

The Fortuner has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating but it was tested a little while ago in 2019.

There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats in the middle row and two top tether anchor points, so you’ll only be fitting two child seats in (unusual for a seven seater). There is enough room in the front with a 0-4 rearward facing child seat installed.

The Fortuner has ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats in the middle row. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Fortuner has ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats in the middle row. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

Ongoing costs are always something to consider and the Fortuner comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty, which is standard for the market.

Unfortunately, it only comes with a three-year capped-priced servicing plan, which is unusual for this class.

The services are affordable at $290 per service but the intervals are painful at every six months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. 

The Fortuner comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Fortuner comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty. (Image: Glen Sullivan)


The Wrap

So, after a week of driving the Toyota Fortuner Crusade, did it have a podium finish for my family?

I was hopeful, but no. The driving performance was mixed and only being able to fit two car seats will limit flexibility for younger growing families. I don't like the way the third row is stowed as it makes the boot a bit awkward to use. Combined with the retro-feeling tech and short servicing intervals, there can be some improvement here, especially in a market that is surging forward with all of those elements. I did enjoy the high driving position, safety features and the forgiving suspension, though. 

My son liked the 'Feverish Red' colour and that he didn’t need my help to climb in and out of it.

Likes

Safety features
Good size for everyday use
Powerful engine

Dislikes

Retro tech
Lack of child seat options
Third row stowage

Scores

Emily:

3.5

The Kids:

4

$61,395 - $77,990

Based on 21 car listings in the last 6 months

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