4X4 Reviews Vehicles

Toyota’s three new HiLux models

The Toyota HiLux was Australia's best selling vehicle in 2017, and a vast majority of them have this problem.
The Toyota HiLux was Australia's best selling vehicle in 2017, and a vast majority of them have this problem.
Do proper 4X4 accessories make these new models worthy of your attention?

 

 

It’s yet another sign of the rampant growth and progress of this segment: Toyota’s once very humble and spartan HiLux has now been given a mid-life makeover with brand new specifications sporting some proper 4WD accessories.

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Toyota’s SR5 has been king of the HiLux castle for many years, but that specification has topped out, getting outstripped by other makes. But, no longer. Along with the Workmate, SR and SR5, there are three brand new levels of specification. Rugged, Rugged X and Rogue. We’re happy, because they are so much more than just a sticker pack and a silly name. Let’s look at the details.

 

Why?

The ute market is getting fancier and fancier, and Toyota have no doubt been enviously looking at all of the Ranger Wildtraks getting around these days. People are willing to spend a fair amount of money on their ute, probably because it covers all of the family jobs these days, not just trips to the tip and the beach. Toyota no doubt keep a keen eye on all of the modifications that folk like us consider ‘standard’, as well. Let’s have a closer look at these models.

 

RUGGED

Price: $54,990 (manual) | $56,990 (auto)

Based on the SR HiLux, the Rugged model has the full fat bull bar (which is winch-compatible), steel rear bar and slider steps. It’s no frills, otherwise. Rubber floor mats are meant to live in a 4WD, so we’re happy to see them in here. A tub liner will save your paint from inevitable scratching, and 17-inch wheels are a practical choice for an off-roader. Toyota have upped the ante inside, with satellite navigation added on top of the SR spec, as well as digital radio.

 

The Mods

17-inch alloy wheels

Steel bull bar

Steel rear bar with step and towbar

Rear recovery points

Side rock rails

Black flares

Snorkel

Functional sports bar

Tub liner with tailgate protection

 

the Specs

Kerb weight: 2,238kg

Payload: 762kg

Approach angle: 28º

Corner approach angle: 45º

Departure angle: 21º

Running clearance: 253mm

 

RUGGED X

Price: $61,690 (manual) | $63,690 (auto)

It’s the most expensive HiLux now available, giving you some good-looking (and more importantly, practical) inclusions over the SR5 on which it’s based. The steel front bumper is exactly that, and can accommodate a winch. Rated recovery points (made by ARB) are available front and rear, along with a steel rear bar and side steps.

That front bar has a Narva LED light bar tucked away discreetly, along with some extra ‘spread beam driving lights’. The Rugged X also cops a flash new interior, as well as a few subtle stylistic changes.

 

The Mods

17-inch alloy wheels

Steel front bar and bash plate

LED light bar and spread beam driving lights

Front and rear recovery points

Steel rear bar with step and towbar

Side rock rails

Snorkel

Black flares

Functional black sports

Tub liner with tailgate protection

 

The Interior

Black perforated leather-accented seats

Black roof headliner

Front and rear all-weather floor mats

New design instrument cluster

 

The Specs

Kerb weight: 2,252kg

Payload: 748kg

Approach angle: 28º

Corner approach angle: 49º

Departure angle: 21º

Running clearance: 251mm

 

ROGUE

Price: $61,690 (auto only)

The big deal with the HiLux Rogue is that redesigned snout, which was conceived by Toyota’s Melbourne design team in conjunction with Toyota in Thailand. It only comes with an automatic gearbox, and is targeted mainly at the ‘lifestyle segment’. No bar work, but an interior softened up with carpets and updated materials. There’s also a flip-up hard tonneau cover, and a tub lined with marine carpet.

 

The Mods

18-inch alloys

New look front-end

Grey-painted rear bumper with larger step

Functional black sports bar with multiple tie-down points

Body-coloured hard tonneau cover

Marine-grade carpet tub liner

 

The Interior

Black perforated leather-accented seats

Black roof headliner

Front and rear carpet floor mats

New design instrument cluster

 

The Specs

Kerb weight: 2,174kg

Payload: 826kg

Approach angle: 30º

Corner approach angle: 39º

Departure angle: 20º

Running clearance: 216mm

 

The development story

The HiLux is still built in Thailand, based on the designs and tests that took place mostly in Australia. These new developments, which took three years, use accessories that are mostly Aussie-designed and sourced.

 

ARB build the sliders and recovery points, EGR do the ABS plastic canopies, and Narva has supplied the LED driving lights. Another company without much of an aftermarket presence, called Frontline Australasia, does the main bar work. All of these additional parts are fitted in Australia, after they lob in from Thailand.

 

We reckon it’s awesome. One reason why Toyota has always done so well in Australia is because they connect with and listen to grassroots 4WDers and end users, taking on feedback in their designs. The Rugged and Rugged X, in particular, give the HiLux some practical and well-thought-through mods that are genuinely beneficial, not just a cool badge or sticker. Properly rated recovery points deserve special mention for practicality and awesomeness.

 

We like that the sports bar, normally completely useless beyond the aesthetic, now sports some function. It has tie-down points, and a load rating of 75kg. It’s not going to replace a roof rack any time soon, but it’s nice to see that philosophy of genuine practicality and real world usage being used to improve a vehicle.

 

How do they drive?

While not the most powerful nor most refined, the HiLux is a ute that doesn’t give you much room for complaint. A stiff, jiggly ride has been improved through retuned shock absorbers recently, making it a bit more refined on the bitumen.

 

Where the HiLux is a strong performer is off-road. Ground clearance, while it reads about average on paper, seems to be better than others in the real world. And now with some proper steel bits on the front, bum and under the tummy, you can go harder now off-road without smashing bits of plastic. The traction control system remains as one of the best in the ute business, if not #1. The tyres on these vehicles are fairly tame, but perform OK off-road. Going to a decent tyre will no doubt improve things off-road dramatically.

 

We like the Rugged X the most out of this gang, particularly the fact that some proper recovery points can be found front and rear, along with some steel bits where they are most needed. The bumper-style steel bar is quite in vogue, and does give decent protection and improved approach angle. A refreshed interior is also nice.

 

Although, the Rugged is a very nice starting point for an outback tourer. Of course, the full set of hoops on that bull bar does give you the best protection, and can stop skip from ending up in your lap.

 

The Rogue is a nice fresh update, targeted much more towards the ‘lifestyle’ buyer who has off-roading a few extra slots down the list. 18-inch wheels and no bar work means it doesn’t hit the nail on the head for us, but it’s nice nonetheless.

 

Do these new models knock the Wildtrak from its unofficial perch?
Let us know what you think.

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