Test driving Toyota Fortuner GXL: Going bush the right way

James Banham playing with a dog next to the Toyota Fortuner

Sometimes you just need some ‘you’ time. And what’s the best way to get it? Getting the hell outta Dodge and heading for the sticks, of course.

Sure, throw a bath in there, some bottles of red and cheese and you’ve got a top-notch weekend away to soak up that R&R, but it’s how you get there that really sets the pace for the final destination.

Enter the Toyota Fortuner GXL. It’s an SUV with enough go under the hood to make the journey pretty effortless – and fuel efficient – enough comfort and suspension to give you the allusion of cloud-like driving and enough space for you to basically live in, if you forgot to finalise your payment for that AirBnB in the mountains you loved.

MORE: What the Toyota Koba mini SUV is like to drive

We’re going to take a look at how the Fortuner tops off a trip up to terrain that your little city buzzbox might have a meltdown over.

The look

At first glance, the Toyota Fortuner is big. Very big. But, with size comes safety and with safety comes a stress-free drive, which is what you want when tackling anything from winding mountain roads, to tight inner-city corners.

It’s a complete 7-seater with two retractable rear seats to stick any additional kids you might wind-up with, friends on a night out, bags or pets. They even fold up conveniently for the times you don’t want to feel quite like you’re at the head of a people mover while still maintaining its excellent practicality and functionality.

Top that off with the greatest Toyota perks like a sewed steering wheel, poly or leather finishings, touch screen nav and heated seats; it’s a big ride that looks and plays the part simultaneously.

The drive

The car sits super high, which takes some getting used to, but makes you feel road royalty from the moment you adjust you super snug driver’s seat to optimum position.

It’s a cushy drive, that’s as well suited to shallow creek crossings as tackling inner city turns, making it an incredibly soft handler of basically anything you’ll come up against.

It’s been built as a genuine 4×4 with the ability to handle seriously rough terrain. Complete with Hill-start Assist Control2 (HAC) and Downhill Assist Control2 (DAC) on GXL and Crusade models to help when you’re going up
or down steep slopes. Active Traction Control (A-TRC) automatically distributes the drive to the wheels with the best grip for superior control on slippery and uneven surfaces. The rear differential lock is standard on every Fortuner and further enhances its off road pedigree and performance.

The space

The Fortuner is a beast. But a beast that handles well.

Any car you need a handgrip to get in and out of, you know is built for style and comfort. From the driver’s seat, the space you feel, the view above the tops of other cars on the road you see the freedom to do what you want you’re given all come into focus; and it’s nice.

The Fortuner comes fitted with bougie standard finishings like durable fabric seat-coverings with contrast stitching, and poly or leather dashes if that’s your game, so it only adds to the freedome you feel when you hit the pavement.

The tech

What car like a Toyota Fortuner is complete without the bells ‘n’ whistles we all want, like projector-style headlamps, LED tail-lamps, an air-conditioned cool box, Bluetooth connectivity, six speakers, three 12V accessory sockets, audio and phone controls mounted on the steering wheel, eco and power drive modes and a multi-information display (MID) in the instrument cluster?

None, that’s what.

Good thing the Fortuner has them all, plus more, as well as nice additions like a button close boot, front and rear sensors and bum-warming seat heaters. Heaven.

See more about the tech specs and where to book a test drive at the Toyota Australia website.