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Driving Notes: the Toyota HiLux SR5


It does sound strange, but stepping down from the 2015 Mitsubishi Pajero, the Toyota HiLux is surprisingly refined.

Sure, the tray and chassis still jiggle around, the diesel is still deeply agricultural, and the no-nonsense plastics remind you that the HiLux is a commercial vehicle through and through.

But what’s so remarkable is that Toyota continue to go from strength to strength in using the lessons learned from their passenger vehicles to make their hard-yakka range more comfortable all the time.

We liked the GXL-spec Land Cruiser Prado (and we stand by that the Prado is commercial, at least in its underpinnings), and if you need the Prado’s toughness, go-anywhere off-road ability, and grunty diesel in a more practical utility package, the latest Thai-built four-by-four HiLux is pretty spot on.

Here are our first impressions.

  • As much as the HiLux’s marketing wants to carry off a rough-as-guts image, it’s hard to shake off the fact that the latest iteration of the ute is getting rather comfortable. The edges aren’t too rough anymore. The seats are supportive, road noise is surprisingly minimal, and it goes around corners in a relatively stable way.
  • Nowhere is this more evident than in the flagship of the range — the SR5. Perhaps knowing that we’re city slickers, Toyota switched our booking at a late stage to a brand-new, dual-cab SR5 diesel. Creature comforts abound inside: Toyota’s upgraded, nice-to-use satellite navigation system, reversing camera, and a decent audio system are all standard at this level.
  • This is worth $60,000. A sixty thousand dollar HiLux!
  • You aren’t penalised for opting for petrol or diesel. The four-litre V6 petrol that was buttery and responsive in our review of the FJ Cruiser is nominally standard, but most people choose the three-litre D4D turbodiesel four, like ours. It produces 126kW and 360Nm. In normal conditions, it’s pretty…unenthusiastic, and rowdy, but the lowish torque figure belies its stump-pulling nature when towing. This guy can pull 2.5 braked tonnes, after all.
  • The five-speed automatic is more civilised than the rubbery manual box, but it doesn’t carry the same cred, we’re sure.

  • We continue to be taken with the novelty of the tray, which can officially haul 835kg of your finest anything. That tray is usefully almost square, at 1.5 metres long and 1.5 metres wide, and just under half a meter tall.
  • There may be a 76-litre fuel tank, but with 1.9 tonnes (without load) to lug around, and an engine that dates to 2000, fuel efficiency isn’t the name of the game, but it’d be worse in the petrol. The diesel officially returns 8.7L / 100km combined. Over our 300km test loop we saw just shy of 10L / 100km.
  • Need to actually venture off-road, beyond the construction site? No worries. Four-by-four HiLuxes remain deadly serious, with an old-school low range transfer shifter and enough grunt to shift over bigger obstacles. This is also helped by an approach angle of 30º and a departure angle of 23º.
  • On-road ride quality? Eh, it’s ok. There’s only so much you can do with a rigid live axle suspension in the back, which tends to jump around at lower speeds, and jiggle at higher speeds.
  • Parking is difficult. The dual cab is pretty massive at almost 5.3 metres in length, and we tip our hats to the everyday drivers of such things. Reverse parallel parking, taking into account the tray, is certainly something to be mastered, although the reversing camera helps matters somewhat.