|Hilux Review from
Toyota Hilux 4X4 diesel SR5
It's been ten years since the last Hilux, but the Toyota product has been the best selling ute for all of them
and it's not hard to see why. As well as the unusually strong brand loyalty displayed by Toyota owners the
Hilux is probably the most solid vehicle you will ever experience. Even well used press fleet examples feel
like they have been hewn out of rock, and because of this Hilux's tend to stick around for a long time.
While the styling of the new Hilux is obviously evolutionary, there have been some important changes.
Most important, there's now 40mm extra headroom in the cabin. Not such a big thing you might think, but
an awful lot of scalps have been severely bruised when the Hilux bounces over yet another off road
obstacle. The Hilux is the most common farm vehicle in New Zealand, and odds are you could travel
anywhere in rural New Zealand, and still hear a Toyota 2.4 litre diesel.
The other big news is that the Hilux gets a new engine. The diesel is now 3.0 litre in capacity, and in line
with Hilux practice, it's not turbocharged. This produces masses of torque at little over tickover, and on
the Hilux launch the ute proved that it could crawl over virtually any obstacle.
Ironically, that ability off road is the Hilux's downfall on the road. The engine feels asthmatic whenever
asked to rev higher than 3000rpm and in direct performance terms the Hilux is left dead in the water by
any of the turbo diesel competition.
That's a pity, because the stiff suspension in the four wheel drive double cab tested here allows the Hilux
to build up impressive cornering speeds. That high centre of gravity soon puts paid to any notions of car
like performance, but the Hilux is the equal of any of the competition, at least when it comes to lurching
The steering is lightly weighted, thanks to the power assistance, and all the controls fall easily to hand.
The gearlever may be handy, but once you try to select another gear the five speed 'box reveals itself as
slow, notchy and awkward. Sure, it's probably as indestructible as the rest of the ute, but does it have to
feel that way? Except for that gearbox, driving the Hilux is just as easy as any other car, and with the
extra high suspension of the four wheel drive version, visibility is absolutely brilliant.
The ride quality is surprisingly good, considering the hard suspension settings required for farm work,
although undulating roads will produce an uncomfortable 'floating' feeling as the suspension fails to damp
out the oscillations quickly enough.
But in the end, the Hilux is still a farm vehicle. While other utes such as the Ford Courier/Mazda Bounty
and Mitsubishi have embraced turbocharging and more widespread appeal from comfortable suspension,
Hilux still rests on its humble underpinnings. It may feel solid as a brick, but it's also as fast and as
comfortable as one. That won't matter to the traditional Toyota buyer though. As a small questioning
session with owner of the old model showed, they won't be content with anything less than yet another
2986cc in line four cylinder diesel
67kW @ 4000rpm
196Nm @ 2400rpm
205/70 R16 tyres
66 litre fuel tank
Braked trailer 1800kg
Unbraked trailer 700kg
Four speaker stereo