Built for the Australian Outback, the Toyota Fortuner is a Hilux pickup in a crossover suit

Truck-derived body-on-frame SUVs are slowly going the way of the station wagon in the United States, but the market for rugged people-movers is still relatively strong in Australia. Toyota’s Down Under division has just introduced the new Fortuner, a robust seven-seater SUV designed to take on the Outback.

Roughly the same size as the 4Runner sold on U.S. shores, the Fortuner rides a modified version of the frame that underpins the new Hilux, a truck renowned for being virtually indestructible. Sharp headlights, chrome accents on the bumper and a V-shaped grille help the Fortuner’s front end stand out from that of its more utilitarian sibling, while the rear end gains horizontal tail lamps connected by an elegant strip of chrome trim.

In Australia, the Fortuner is set to launch with a brand new 2.8-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine tuned to make 174 horsepower at 3,400 rpm and up to 331 foot-pounds of torque from 1,600 to 2,400 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission and a part-time four-wheel drive system both come standard, and buyers looking to go clutch-less can order a six-speed automatic gearbox at an extra cost.

The healthy amount of torque generated by the oil-burner lets the Fortuner tow over 6,600 pounds. Trailer sway control, a technology that keeps the trailer pointed in the right direction in crosswinds or on bumpy roads, comes standard on all models. Finally, the SUV can hold its own off the beaten path thanks to over eight inches of ground clearance.

The new Toyota Fortuner will land in showrooms across Australia and in a few other countries including Thailand, where it’s built, before the end of the year. Pricing information hasn’t been announced yet but don’t start saving your money for one: Toyota has confirmed the Fortuner will not join its lineup in the United States.

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