TOYOTA FORTUNER GXL
Price: $54,990 + orc.
Engine: 2.8L 4cyl turbo-diesel, 6spd auto.
Safety: ESC, ABS, 7 airbags, reversing camera, hill descent control.
RACV rating: ****
HOLDEN COLORADO 7 LTZ
Price: $51,490 + orc.
Engine: 2.8L 4cyl turbo-diesel, 6spd auto.
Safety: ESC, ABS, 6 airbags, reversing camera, hill descent control.
RACV rating: ***
The range of sizes, shapes and ability in SUV wagons is vast, and regardless of what the marketing hype tries to tell us, there are always compromises. While some cross-over SUVs blur the boundaries better than others, none completely covers all the bases when it comes to driving ease, on-road comfort, off-road ability, towing and load carrying. Buyers really need to work out where their priorities lie.
A good place to start is with Toyota Fortuner or Holden Colorado 7, each being a seven-seat wagon based on a diesel 4WD ute platform, with the big difference being they ride on coil spring suspension all round rather than heavy-duty rear leaf-springs found on their ute siblings. As wagons with selectable dual-range 4WD systems, these two lean towards serious off-roaders.
Their technical specifications are fairly similar, as are their attractive prices and equipment levels, although Colorado 7 has been on the market a lot longer and Holden is currently offering substantial discounts. So in many respects the buying decision is a question of budget price versus generational improvement.
Fortuner is a new model for Toyota, evolving from the latest HiLux and using HiLux’s 2.8L four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with the choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. It has three levels, GX, GXL and Crusade.
Holden promotes the Colorado ute as a “truck”, and Colorado 7 has the same rugged feel. Its line-up is an entry-level LT model and the LTZ, and like Fortuner it uses a 2.8L four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine but is six-speed automatic only.
We reviewed the GLX Fortuner auto against an LTZ Colorado 7, which line up closely on spec level and list price.
Dressed to impress
The LTZ Colorado is dressed to impress with leather trim, heated front seats and climate control as standard. But look below the cosmetic top layer and it falls short. The leather is mediocre quality and a few items generally considered fundamental these days, such as reach-adjustable steering, are missing. The dash, the controls and the infotainment system’s functionality are dated compared with the modern Fortuner layout. Not that the Toyota is perfect. The reach adjustment on the steering wheel is limited, while blind spots in the rearward vision are notable. The overall presentation, however, is user-friendly with higher quality materials and a greater attention to detail that better camouflages its commercial origins.
All seat comfort
A big part of the story for many buyers will be the cabin space, comfort in all seven seats, versatility and ease of rear-seat folding. In both vehicles, cabin space is good for occupants in the front and second row seats, with only a few millimetres difference. But in some ways the third row seems like an after-thought to accommodate two extra children, especially in Fortuner with its awkward side-folding seats, tricky access and limited space. Sliding the centre seats forward gains a little more leg room for row three but at the expense of row two. The split and double-fold action of Colorado 7’s seats allows easier access to the third row and space is fractionally better.
Getting into any large SUV vehicle is a climb but Colorado 7 requires a noticeably bigger step up. Occupants have a commanding all-round view from the roomy open cabin. Holden’s relatively flat seats and a tendency to slide around on the LTZ’s leather, however, mean long-term comfort and support is not as good as the shapelier Toyota seats.
Limited luggage space
Both vehicles suffer what seems to be the inherent seven-seater problem: limited luggage space when all three rows are occupied. Even with the rear seats folded, neither is ideal. Their practicality will depend on what is to be carried.
At 2.8L, these are relatively large four-cylinder diesel engines. Colorado 7’s produces more power, 147kW, and a massive 500Nm of torque at 2000-2200rpm. It’s an old-style, strong lugging engine that makes light work of most jobs, although it’s noisier and less refined than Fortuner. Toyota has done a superb job matching its six-speed automatic to the diesel to deliver smooth, responsive performance. Maximum power is a respectable 130kW, and although peak torque of 450Nm is a little less than Colorado 7, it comes in lower, at 1600rpm, and is maintained to 2400rpm for strong all-round drivability. That said, on test Colorado 7 was always a touch thirstier.
Satisfactory around town
Each does a satisfactory job around town, although you can’t expect them to behave like a sedan or even some of the road-focused SUVs. Their heavy-duty 4WD capability makes light work of tough jobs and will get to places others can’t. Across rough terrain at Melbourne 4x4 Training and Proving Ground in Werribee, they confirmed these credentials. Toyota’s renowned 4WD delivery was seamless, while the Holden had to work a bit harder to do what was asked. Selecting low range in Colorado 7 was easier.
Fortuner has a compliant ride, and despite moving about a bit on corrugations, handling is relatively civilised. The older design of Colorado 7 doesn’t have the same suspension refinement, ride comfort or on-road surefootedness. Our test vehicle also had a slightly vague brake pedal feel.
On paper, Colorado 7 has the advantage. It has more power and torque, it’s lighter and has marginally better towing numbers. More significantly, Holden is offering special deals, because a new Colorado is expected by the end of the year.
But the reality is, on the road, Colorado 7 shows its age and falls well short of the all-new Fortuner, which is one of the best ute-based 4WD seven-seat wagons.
TOYOTA FORTUNER GXL SPECS
PRICE. $54,990 + $5095 (est.) orc. Metallic paint $550. Range $47,990-$61,990.
SAFETY. ESC. ABS. 7 airbags. Reversing camera/sensors. Auto headlights. Hill descent control. ISOFIX.
CONNECTIVITY. Toyota Link internet radio and basic assistance. USB slot. CD player.
VEHICLE FEATURES. Air-conditioning. Cloth seats. Air-conditioned cooler box. Three 12V accessory slots. Roof rails.
DRIVER FEATURES. Keyless entry/start. Fully-adjustable steering column. Six-way adjustable seat. Paddle-shifters. Fog lights.
Drivetrain: 2755cc 4cyl diesel engine. 6spd auto. 130kW@3400rpm, 450Nm @1600-2400rpm. AWD. 80L tank. 9.4L/100km (RACV test figure); 8.6L/100km (govt figure).
Wheels: 17” alloy, 265/65 R17 tyres. Full-size steel spare wheel.
Towing: 2800kg (280kg towball load).
Environment: 228g/km CO2.
SERVICE/REPAIRS. 6-month/10,000km capped-price services. 3yr/100,000km warranty.
HOLDEN COLORADO 7 LTZ
PRICE. $51,490 + $4525 (est.) orc. Metallic paint $550. Range $47,990-$51,490.
SAFETY. ESC. ABS. 6 airbags. Reversing camera/sensors. Hill descent control. ISOFIX.
CONNECTIVITY. MyLink smartphone integration and sat-nav compatibility. USB slot.
VEHICLE FEATURES. Climate-control air-conditioning. Leather seats. Heated front seats. Roof rails.
DRIVER FEATURES. Keyless entry. Height-adjustable steering column. Electric six-way adjustable seat. Fog lights.
Drivetrain: 2776cc 4cyl diesel engine. 6spd auto. 147kW@3600rpm, 500Nm @2000-2200rpm. AWD. 76L tank. 10.2L/100km (RACV test figure); 9.2L/100km (govt figure).
Wheels: 18” alloy, 265/60 R18 tyres. Temporary-use spare wheel.
Towing: 3000kg (300kg towball load).
Environment: 243g/km CO2.
SERVICE/REPAIRS. 9-month/15,000km capped-price services. 3yr/100,000km warranty.
Based on Ranger ute, its 3.2L 5cyl diesel displays better performance and towing ability. $54,900
A close relative of Colorado 7, it has better fuel economy from a 3.0L engine but performance isn’t as strong. $53,500.
MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT
Only a five-seater but has made the transition from ute to a civilised family wagon. $52,750.