TOYOTA HILUX - 2018 4X4 UTE MEGATEST

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

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Think of a dual-cab 4x4 and you probably think of HiLux? Most people certainly do.

TOYOTA HILUX PRICING*
Toyota HiLux SR $46,560
Toyota HiLux SR+ $48,560
Toyota HiLux SR5 $54,440
Toyota HiLux SR5+ $56,440
Toyota HiLux Rugged $54,990
Toyota HiLux Rugged X $61,690
Toyota HiLux Rogue (auto) $61,690

The Hilux comes into this contest as Australia’s best-selling ute and best-selling 4x4. Throw in the 2WD models and it’s Australia’s best-selling vehicle, bar none.

Not that HiLux has had it all its own way, as last year it was pipped by the Ford Ranger as the best-selling 4x4 ute and best-selling 4x4, which has prompted Toyota to tweak the model range with the addition of SR+ models and more kit for the SR5+, among the key changes late last year.

Last year, Toyota also launched the TRD variant and has, more recently, introduced the accessorised Rogue, Rugged and Rugged X models.

This generation HiLux first appeared in late 2015 as the eighth-generation HiLux and was effectively all new from the ground up, although not notably bigger than before.

It brought a new-generation 2.8-litre diesel (replacing the long-serving three-litre diesel) and new six-speed automatic and manual gearboxes, replacing the previous five-speeders.

Toyota -Hilux -engine -bay

Powertrain and performance

Compared to the HiLux’s previous three-litre engine, the 2.8 only brings an extra 4kW (now 130kW/174hp) and, while both the manual and automatic gearboxes have an extra ratio, both bring a second and taller overdrive ratio rather than tightening up the ratio gaps.

As a result, when pressed, the new engine doesn’t go much harder than the old engine and the overall performance is modest in this company. More torque than before (now 450Nm, up from 360Nm), however, makes for a more flexible and agreeable engine in general driving.

This new engine is much more refined and quieter than before and, in this regard, betters most here. It’s certainly quieter than the other big sellers – the likes of Ranger, Triton and Colorado.

For its part, HiLux’s six-speed automatic shifts smoothly and generally when you want but doesn’t carry the very tall sixth gear particularly well, so there’s a bit of shuffling between fifth and sixth and locking and unlocking of the torque convertor at legal highway speeds on undulating roads.

The automatic needs lower final-drive gearing or we need higher open-road speed limits – one or the other!

While the manual also has tall fifth and sixth gears, it generally does a better job of holding them and it’s a much better proposition for country and highway driving.

Toyota -Hilux -wheel

On-road ride and handling

The HiLux offers a much more confident road feel than the previous-generation model (one of the more noticeable improvements, in fact) and feels smaller and more nimble than the likes of Ranger, BT-50 Colorado and D-Max.

It’s still only a mid-fielder in terms of its general on-road composure, however, with the Amarok, X-Class, Ranger, Colorado and BT-50 all feeling more generally settled on bumpy roads, especially unladen. Better news in terms of the excellent road noise isolation from the HiLux’s chassis, however, and, along with the Amarok and X-Class, the HiLux is one of the quieter utes here.

Toyota -Hilux -tray

Load carrying

This SR+ is a commercial-grade HiLux (we couldn’t get an SR5), which means you get a work-spec tub (with external tie-downs and not smooth-sided) and a safety headboard rather the sports bar of the SR5 and SR5+ models.

Given it’s a bit lighter than the more luxurious models, the payload is a useful 1,045kg, even if the 3,000kg gross vehicle mass (GVM) is lower than all but the Navara and Triton.
This commercial tray may have the external tie downs, which are handy, but there are no tie downs in the tub itself.

With our 900kg test payload on board, the HiLux’s chassis hardly flinched and felt reassuring and stable on the road; honest performance from the engine hauling all this weight, too, but it feels it more than the utes with the bigger and torquier engines.

In Toyota’s conservative way, the gross combined mass (GCM) of 5,650kg is the lowest here, and the maximum tow rating, with the automatic at least, is also down on the best at 3,200kg. HiLux 2.8-litre manuals are, however, rated to tow 3,500kg.

Toyota -Hilux -tray

Off road

The HiLux may not be at the front of the pack in terms of its on-road dynamics but it sure does shoot up the leader board to become a tier-one player as soon as you head off road. Much of that is thanks to its class-leading wheel travel (as much as 520mm at the rear) but HiLux’s electronic traction control (ETC) is also particularly effective, so much so that the rear locker is redundant.

In fact, the HiLux generally performs better off road without the rear locker, as engaging it cancels the ETC on the front axle as well as obviously negating the ETC across the rear axle.

The HiLux’s relative smaller size also means it’s more manoeuvrable in tight off-road situations than the bigger utes here, while ground clearance, wading depth and visibility from the driver’s seat are all off-road positives.

Toyota -Hilux -interior

Cabin and safety

The HiLux’s cabin is one of the smaller here, which, as always, makes its presence felt more in the back seat where it’s a bit tight for three adults. The tablet-style touchscreen that dominates the dash may not be to everyone’s liking but, as ever, Toyota’s simple and easy-to-use switchgear is a highlight – even a simple audio-volume control knob is replaced by the touchscreen and steering wheel audio controls.

The HiLux is comfortable up front and the driver has the benefit of tilt-and-reach steering wheel adjustment, although there’s no smart-key entry and push-button start at this spec level. For that you need to go to the SR5.

Even at this commercial-grade level, the cabin still offers a quality feel that’s better than some top-spec models here.

Practicalities

What’s more practical than a HiLux? Probably nothing, thanks to Toyota’s extensive dealer network, especially in country and remote areas where it counts most. There’s also a big range of factory accessories for work or play, and the aftermarket accessory support is second to none.

Relatively cheap fixed-price servicing is a bonus too, even if the service intervals are six months.

What you get

All HiLux dual cabs come with seven airbags, a reversing camera (accessory for cab-chassis), tilt-and-reach steering wheel adjustment, and trailer-sway control. The SR then adds a rear locker, driver’s seat height adjustment and a seven-inch touchscreen, while the SR+, as tested here, adds alloys and sat-nav. The SR5 adds to this with auto-key entry, push-button start, LED daytime running lights, a sports bar and a smooth-sided tub to replace the ‘commercial’ tub on the lower-spec models. The SR5+ then adds leather and heated front seats.

PROS

  • Iconic HiLux is still Australia’s most popular ute and unbeatable on ownership practicality
  • Top-shelf build quality and excellent refinement
  • Top-tier performer in difficult off-road conditions
  • Chassis not fazed when carrying heavy loads
  • Competition from Ranger means Toyota isn’t as inflexible on pricing

CONS

  • Not the strongest-performing, nor most confident on-road feel
2018 mega ute shootout results
2018 mega ute shootout results
2018 mega ute shootout home

TOYOTA HILUX PRICE & SPECIFICATIONS

Toyota Hilux
Toyota HiLux 4x4 dual-cab SR+

PRICING*

Toyota HiLux SR $46,560
Toyota HiLux SR+ $48,560
Toyota HiLux SR5 $54,440
Toyota HiLux SR5+ $56,440
Toyota HiLux Rugged $54,990
Toyota HiLux Rugged X $61,690
Toyota HiLux Rogue (auto) $61,690

SPECIFICATIONS

Engine 2.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Max power 130kW (174hp) @ 3,400rpm
Max torque 450Nm @ 1,600-2,400rpm
Gearbox Six-speed automatic
4X4 System Dual-range part-time
Crawl ratio 36.1:1
Construction Separate-chassis
Front suspension Independent/coil springs
Rear suspension Live axle/leaf springs
Kerb weight 1,955kg
GVM 3,000kg
Payload 1,045kg
Towing capacity 3,200kg
Towball download (max) 320kg
GCM 5,650kg
Overall length 5,330mm
Width 1,855mm
Height 1,815mm
Wheelbase 3,085mm
Turning circle 11.8m
Fuel tank capacity 80 litres
ADR fuel claim 8.5 litres/100km
Test fuel use 10.9 litres/100km
Touring range 684km**

ACCELERATION & BRAKING

0 – 100km/h 11.2s
80 – 120km/h 7.9s
100km/h – 0km/h 44.5m

*Prices do not include on-road costs; 2.8-litre 4x4 dual-cab pick-up manuals only, except where noted.
**Based on test fuel use, claimed fuel capacity and a 50km ‘safety’ margin.

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