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SUV duo goes back to basics

Engine choices: The Fortuner comes either with a 2.7-litre petrol or 3.0-litre D4D turbo-diesel engine.

Made in Thailand, the Toyota Fortuner and Isuzu MU-7 could go on sale here

7 Dec 2004

TWO back-to-basics SUVs have been launched in Thailand in the past week, and both could go on sale in Australia.

First out of the blocks was the Isuzu MU-7 – which Holden has expressed interest in – followed within days by the Toyota Fortuner.

Both borrow their separate chassis architecture from light commercial brethren and adapt wagon bodies and seven seats to them.

In the case of the Isuzu, it’s the Rodeo that is the donor vehicle, while the Fortuner uses the new generation IMV (Innovative International Multi-Purpose Project) HiLux as its basis.

8 center image Power for the MU-7 (left) comes from a 3.0-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engine, producing 109kW at 3600rpm and 294Nm at 1400rpm.

Mated exclusively with an automatic transmission and available with either 2WD or 4WD, 100km/h is claimed to come up in a leisurely 13.8 seconds.

The Fortuner comes either with a 2.7-litre petrol (88kW at 5200rpm and 241Nm at 3800rpm) or a 3.0-litre D4D turbo-diesel engine (90kW at 3400rpm and 343Nm at 1400rpm). There are four or five-speed automatic gearboxes available.

Both Holden and Toyota Australia see these vehicles slotting into their line-ups as relatively cheap wagons with true off-road capability.

Their pricing would be aided here by the free trade agreement which kicks off between Thailand and Australia from January 1, 2005.

Toyota Australia spokesman Mike Breen said the Fortuner could be pitched between the monocoque chassis RAV4 and Kluger in terms of pricing.

"This vehicle is under investigation, but there is no plan for the next 12 months for the introduction of such a vehicle," he said.

The HiLux on which the Fortuner is based will go on sale here from February.

The Isuzu is one of a number of potential candidates to boost Holden’s thin SUV stocks. Others include the C-100 and C-105 Daewoos, and the next generation of large US-built separate chassis vehicles.

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