Thoughtful and targeted Toyota HiLux upgrade

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Toyota HiLux is defending its position as the most sold pickup in the world – after 10 years as the best-selling 4x4 and 17 years as the number one commercial – against the onslaught of new dual-cab utilities launched this year.

This eighth generation HiLux launch is a once in a decade event and the upgrade has been thoughtful, thorough and targeted according to specific owner feedback.

Crucially much of the development has been conducted here in Australia and at the Australian Automotive Research Centre in Anglesea.

At the Research Centre, Toyota has constructed its own extreme off road test facilities to enhance what it has found to be the toughest road conditions in the world.

Sets benchmark

The result is that the Australian specification sets the benchmark and is employed for other “rugged” suspension markets such as South Africa and the Middle East.

In a vehicle already noted for near indestructibility, further improvements to strength and off road capability come from a larger cross section ladder chassis with a 20% increase in torsional rigidity, a stiffer body thanks to 45% more weld points and an increase in high tensile and galvanised steel.

The beefed-up suspension has longer leaf springs with 20% more wheel articulation, bigger dampers and larger disc brakes, along with greater under body protection.

There’s a standard rear diff lock on SR models and three optional factory bull bars, all airbag compatible, plus a factory winch hidden behind a folding numberplate.

Turbo diesel family

HiLux also brings a new family of high torque turbo diesel engines, headed by the SR5’s 2.8L four-cylinder.

It delivers 450Nm of torque, a gain of 25% over the previous 3.0L and in 4x4 variants, comes with the choice of six-speed manual or auto.

Despite around 120kg increase in kerb weight for the SR5, the government fuel consumption test figure has dropped from 9.3 to 8.5L/100km.

Arguably the most significant change to the Dual-Cab 4x4 utility market over recent years has come from the influence of private buyers seeking more car-like comfort and refinement.

To this end, Toyota appointed a passenger vehicle engineer to head the commercially based HiLux development, with particular attention paid to ride comfort, driveline smoothness and cabin noise insulation.

Cabin presentation

This SR5 HiLux marks a significant step up in cabin presentation, seat design and comfort as well as the overall reduction in noise, vibration and harshness.

That said, there is no disguising the commercially based road feel of the HiLux, compared to a large SUV, given its loading and towing capability.

Overall, there are 31 new HiLux variants, three equipment levels, three body styles and four engines catering for everything from a two-wheel-drive single cab chassis for $20,990 plus on road costs, to a unique 4x4 mining company fit-out and top of the range SR5-plus for $57,990.

Options include Toyota Link features; digital audio, premium instrumentation, 4.2-inch colour screen, 220V power socket, powered driver’s seat and hill descent assist in the auto.

Talking points

The new HiLux has a tougher chassis and body frame, plus more off road capability. Improvements include a refined driveline and a quieter more welcoming cabin. Anglesea in Victoria is the home of the Australian Automotive Research Centre, where Toyota has built an extreme off-road test facility.

Written by Ernest Litera
December 02, 2015