If we look at the SUV market in Malaysia, it seems that Toyota is missing a contender. Honda has the Honda CR-V, Ford has the Ford Escape and Nissan has the Nissan X-Trail. No, the Toyota RAV4 doesn’t count.

UPDATE: Facelifted Toyota Fortuner for the 2009 model year unveiled.

Introducing the Toyota Fortuner. Click the thumbnails for an enlarged picture.

The Toyota Fortuner is the SUV incarnation of Toyota’s IMV platform, which stands for International Innovative Multipurpose Vehicle. Toyota created this platform when they realised their people mover vehicles in most countries were looking pretty dated. An example of the IMV platform vehicles are the Toyota Innova and Toyota Hilux. The Fortuner has already been introduced in Asian countries like India and the Philippines.

The Toyota Fortuner shares the same platform as the new Toyota Hilux which was just recently introduced in Malaysia. In other countries it comes in either a 2.7 Petrol model or a 3.0 Turbodiesel model. But I’ve heard that in Malaysia the 3.0 Turbodiesel model will be replaced by a 2.5 Turbodiesel, probably the same one used in the Toyota Hilux. I’m not particularly thrilled at the idea of that, since the Toyota Hilux is kind of underpowered. The Fortuner looks even heavier than the Hilux. The 2.7 litre engine is the 2TR-FE which is a 4 cylinder twin cam 16V engine makign 160ps at 5200rpm and 241Nm torque at 3800rpm. The engine features VVT-i technology.

I like the design. It has the old Toyota Harrier/Lexus RX300 shape to it. But I am wondering why the petrol needs a 2.7 litre when the Harrier makes do with a 2.4 litre engine.

The car isn’t exactly a contender for the CR-V and the X-Trail. I think it’s targetted at the Ford Everest. Huge people mover SUVs. The Ford Everest was based on it’s pick-up cousin too, the Ford Ranger. Sharing the same platform saves development cost I suppose.

I’ve heard the car is due to launch in September 2005. More updates when I get confirmed information.

For complete specs on the Toyota Fortuner, you can check out Toyota Philippines site for the specifications here.

Update: The Toyota Fortuner is now available in Malaysia. Head on here for prices and full specifications.