Toyota Hilux ute still has its strengths and sets a precedent for the upgrade
The Hilux nameplate has been a popular one with Australian buyers, with Toyota’s pickup often featuring amongst the country’s top selling cars. The Hilux is currently in its seventh generation, and is to be replaced by a new model in October.
We’re testing the top of the range SR5 to find out what has made the Hilux so popular.
What we like:
- Well screwed together
- Reasonable on road manners
- True off-road capability
- Chunky styling
Not so much:
- It’s not cheap and equipment levels aren’t that flash
- Heavy steering
- Turning circle
- Engine not as powerful or as torquey as some rivals
Price and Equipment
Toyota offers the Hilux in a number of different body styles, specification levels, engines and transmissions to suit a broad variety of customers with different budgets and different needs. The range opens with the 4×2 Workmate with a 2.7 litre petrol engine and a five-speed manual transmission for $18,990 plus on road costs, all the way up to the SR5 dual cab turbo-diesel with a five-speed automatic for $54,490.
Standard equipment on the SR5 includes: single zone climate control, a reversing camera, a touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands free, cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel along with six airbags.
Climb up into the Hilux’s cabin and you’ll discover that it’s rugged and fuss free. The instruments are big, bold and easy to read and the infotainment system sits towards the top of the centre stack sitting slightly below the driver’s level of vision.
The touchscreen infotainment system uses Toyota’s latest software and is easy enough to fathom. It’s a similar story with the satellite navigation, which makes suggestions for detours should there be a traffic jam up ahead and provides clear diagrams when departing motorways. Interestingly, the navigation in our Hilux test car seemed to be more effective than that in the Prado, in that it never seemed to get confused or lost.
The only downside of the system was that the screen was a little too small and that guidance instructions are not displayed in the instrument cluster, a common feature in more modern designs. The six-speaker sound system is punchy, though.
The single-zone climate system worked well enough, but at this price point, a dual-zone arrangement should be standard.
Interior storage is acceptable with a big centre console and a number of cup holders dotted around the cab.
Passengers in the SR5 are perched upon rather than in the front seats, but they’re not uncomfortable and there’s more than enough head, shoulder and leg room. Visibility is good too, courtesy of large wing mirrors, a big glass house and a commanding driving position. Speaking of driving positions, we would’ve liked greater height adjustment for the steering column.
Three occupants will squeeze into the back, however, they won’t enjoy the same levels of space and comfort as their colleagues up front.
Overall, the Hilux’s cabin has stood the test of time reasonably well. Some plastics are too hard and shiny and that infotainment system may look like an afterthought, but it still outclasses the cockpit of rivals such as Holden’s Colorado.
People generally buy utes for their cargo area. The Hilux’s measures 1520 mm in length, 1515 mm in width and 450 mm in height. The tub is approximately at waist height for easy loading and the rear wheel arches don’t intrude excessively into the load space.
Engine and Transmission
The Hilux test car was fitted with 3.0 litre turbo diesel that produces [email protected] and 360Nm @ 1400-3200rpm. This engine is shared with the Prado but the version in the Hilux displaces slightly less power and torque.
Performance is more than adequate when the Hilux is unladen, and Toyota rates the ute’s towing capacity as 2500 kilos with a braked trailer and 750 kilos with an unbraked trailer. In contrast, Holden’s Colorado can tow up to 3.5 tonnes and its engine chucks out 500Nm of torque, so the Toyota diesel is certainly showing its age here.
The engine is a little on the noisy side too, especially on start up. The transmission was generally smooth in its shifts, although we did find the odd change to be a little more hesitant than we would have liked.
Official combined fuel consumption is stated as 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres, but we found 10 litres per 100 kilometres to be more realistic.
On The Road
The Hilux is relatively fuss free to drive on the road and its size and weight never feel intimidating. The ride is firm and a touch bouncy but never shatteringly uncomfortable, courtesy of a combination ladder frame chassis construction and leaf spring rear suspension.
The steering though can feel incredibly heavy at times and this mightn’t be particularly favourable when negotiating a tight building site or an off-road track. When tackling the rough stuff, does away with any terrain management software trickery and relies on its ground clearance and conventional 4×4 system.
Parking is aided by a reversing camera that projects images onto the screen on the infotainment system. Image quality is fine, but there aren’t any guidance lines which would help the driver more effectively line the Hilux up to a trailer or into a parking space.
Speaking of parking, parking sensors are nowhere to be seen and at this price point, they should be standard all round.
Hilux models SR5 have been awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating-some of the cheaper versions have only scored four stars- and the SR5 model features an anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD), brake assist (BA), traction control (TC), vehicle stability control (VSC) and dual front, side and curtain airbags.
Toyota offers a three-year 100,000 kilometre warranty for all models.
Toyota Hilux SR5 Specs
Make and model: Toyota Hilux SR5
Engine type: 2982cc turbo diesel with intercooler, four-cylinder engine with double overhead cam and four valves per cylinder
Power: [email protected]
Torque: [email protected]
Transmission: Five-speed automatic and 4×4
Fuel consumption: 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres
Dimensions: 5260mm long, 1835mm wide, 1860mm high and 3058mm wheelbase
Suspension: Front: Double wishbone type with coil springs, gas filled shock absorbers and stabiliser bar Rear: Leaf spring type rigid axle with gas filled shock absorbers
Steering: Rack and pinion
Country of Origin: Thailand
Options: Graphite metallic paint for $550