|2000 Hilux SR5
TOYOTA HILUX SR5 - once in a blue moon ?
Toyota's new Hilux has definitely grown.
That occurred to me when I found myself swinging my rump through the door and into the seat without
stooping. And later realised I was looking down into the likes of Patrols and Cruisers on the road?.
Some passengers of average height were looking for a ladder on entering, so for family use it would
probably need to be fitted with side-steps but, riding far above the madding crowd, this new Hilux
double-cab offers one of the best views available of the road ahead.
Inside, the conservatism that once made every Toyota seem somehow alike is markedly reduced - you no
longer get the feeling it might as well have `TOYOTA' stamped across the dashboard, but there is still a
comfortable familiarity about the placement of controls.
Even the up-spec SR5 double-cab may not have an interior light delay, but it does have its fair share of
nice touches like power windows and mirrors, a decent stereo (only two speakers, as there's really
nowhere in the cabin to put any more), power locking, fabric upholstery and carpet, and power steering.
Our test ute had no steering wheel airbag, though dual airbags are optionally available with ABS brakes (a
first in this class), but the lack of them does provide more storage with two gloveboxes on the left - a big
one and an upper `hatch' box. And the steering wheel is another that indicates a move away from
thumb-rests, back to the more traditional (not to mention comfortable) style of finger grooves around the
Legroom is very generous, providing a driving position that is exceptionally good with a seat that provides
under-thigh support and is actually comfortable at all points.
Just as importantly, rear seat passengers are reasonably well catered for, with sufficient leg and shoulder
room for adults to sit comfortably without whining.
Powering the test vehicle was the new 2.7 litre twin-cam petrol engine (lifted from the Landcruiser Prado
4WD) which delivers more than reasonable power and is also well endowed with torque, yet it initially
seemed to lack - well - `something'.
I soon realised that it in fact lacked nothing, but Hilux's commercial heritage is plain in the gearing ratios.
They are so short (or numerically high) in the lower cogs that first gear can be dispensed with entirely
unless carrying a substantial load. It runs out of legs almost as soon as you release the clutch, but pulls
like the proverbial bull in springtime.
During my time in the big ute, I encountered several dyed-in-the-wool Hilux devotees who expressed their
disbelief that the new torsion bar front suspension could ever match the toughness of the old leaf-spring
They were missing the point that torsion bars are proven to be as tough as anything else available that you
care to name, but allow a much more comfortable and forgiving ride. Only at the front of course; the
leaf-spring rear end still gets a trifle nervous on bumps if it is unladen.
Apart from a softer ride on the bitumen, the only noticeable effect of the torsion bars is that Hilux displays
a bit more oversteer in corners, leaning its shoulder gently over while the tail jiggles about trying to decide
which way is up.
But Hilux 4x4 has retained its offroad capability. I took the SR5 into some fairly tough country
(desperately trying to avoid scratches to its metallic paint - a standard feature of SR5, but a definite
shortcoming if you want to get serious off the bitumen and still look after your vehicle). I was impressed
by being able to change from H2 to H4 on the move, thanks to SR5's automatic disconnecting front
differential. And its greater dimensions are reflected in the ground clearance.
Having driven the SR5 Hilux, I was still trying to think of negative things to write about it when the entire
23-model range was announced as Best Utility of the Year in the 4x4 Annual Industry Awards.
I could try harder to be critical, but am forced to agree - Hilux SR5 already had me thinking it was possibly
the best combination of family sedan and work hack that I had seen since the last blue moon.
Toyota Hilux SR5 - Nuts`n'Bolts
Engine: Four cylinder twin-cam 2.7 litre (2694cc), four valves per cylinder, sequential injection.
Power-Torque: 108kW @ 4800rpm - 235Nm @ 4000rpm.
Transmission: 5-speed manual. 4WD with auto-disconnect front diff, `shift on the fly' H2-H4.
Suspension: Front - double wishbone, torsion bars. Rear - leaf springs, gas-filled dampers
Steering: Power assisted (engine-speed sensitive) recirculating ball.
Brakes: Ventilated front discs, rear drums.
Wheels-Tyres: 7x15 inch steel rim - 255R15 LT
Warranty: Three years/100,000kms
Recommended Retail (plus onroads): $37,730