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Motoring Top Stories

Hitting a new HiLux

CarsGuide logo CarsGuide 13/01/2018 Matt Campbell

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Video provided by Seven News

To say that Toyota is really hitting its stride with HiLux sales is like suggesting that Steve Smith is in reasonable form, or that Lionel Messi is quite good at football.

The Toyota HiLux has just wrapped up the title of best-selling vehicle in Australia for the second year running, and the good news for buyers is that the Toyota HiLux 2018 range has seen some tweaks and changes to keep us all interested.

The model range still consists of 4x2 and 4x4 models, and you can still get single-cab, extra-cab and double-cab variants as well. But the makeup of the range has changed, with 10 existing variants having been axed in favour of 10 new versions. For those playing along at home, there are a whopping 31 different versions of the HiLux available in Australia.

The range consists of the entry-grade WorkMate, mid-range SR and SR+, and high-spec SR5 and SR5+ models spread across those different drivetrain and body-style types.

You’ve obviously decided on doing extra research on the Toyota HiLux since you’re reading this, but there’s some seriously strong competition in this class: utes like the Ford Ranger, Volkswagen Amarok, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max and Holden Colorado are all worthy alternatives, depending on what you want.

So, with so many options to choose from, if you’re going to buy a Toyota HiLux, which one should you buy? 

This comprehensive range review of the 2018 Toyota HiLux will help you figure it out.

Design

Nothing has changed cosmetically for the 2018 Toyota HiLux, but there are heaps of standard items that spunk up the style on top-spec models, while there are also plenty of optional accessories.

Toyota offers a hard-top tray cover, for example, and you can get a soft-top tonneau cover - but not one of the HiLux models has either fitted as standard.

Toyota offers a hard-top tray cover, and a soft-top tonneau cover - but not one of the HiLux models has either fitted as standard. © CarsGuide.com.au Toyota offers a hard-top tray cover, and a soft-top tonneau cover - but not one of the HiLux models has either fitted as standard. You’ll find side steps on models from SR up, and you’ll have to get either a 4x2 Hi-Rider or 4x4 if you want underbody protection. Every pick-up version of the HiLux comes with a rear step bumper, so clambering into the tub will be easy if you need to. But unlike some competitors, there’s no tub-liner fitted standard in any model.

You’ll have to hit up eBay’s Thailand sellers if you want a body kit or side skirts, but you’ll get alloys on the SR, SR+, SR5 and SR5+ models, which add some snazz to the exterior design.

You need to get the SR5 if you want the best looking model there is - that’s not unusual, most top-spec versions look better than the cheaper models in the range. Bigger wheels, LED headlights and a bit more bling by way of a chrome sports bar and side steps certainly help in that regard.

The SR5 has LED headlights. © CarsGuide.com.au The SR5 has LED headlights. The interior remains a bit of a talking point. Toyota took a big step towards SUV-like cabin finishes with the HiLux when it launched in this generation in 2015: there’s a touchscreen in every variant, for example.

The model you choose will ultimately determine the interior dimensions and practicality you have access to. A two-seat single cab, for example, has a lot less in the way of creature comforts, while the four-seat extra cab or five-seat dual cab models have not only more size, but also better usability, and - if you go for the top-spec model with the optional interior pack, you’ll even get leather.

Practicality

It goes without saying: a dual cab is the most person-friendly version, with five seats on offer (including rear seat air vents in the SR5 and SR5+ models), but you’ll make do with the smallest of the trays available. In terms of ute-ness, you may as well put a hard tonneau cover on and use it as though it's a big, high-riding sedan that has plenty of boot space. Or you could get a ute canopy and pretend it’s an SUV… and while you’re at it, why not throw some roof racks or rails on top, and maybe a luggage pod?

It goes without saying: a dual cab is the most person-friendly version, with five seats on offer. © CarsGuide.com.au It goes without saying: a dual cab is the most person-friendly version, with five seats on offer. Choose the extra cab/space cab and you won’t be making friends with whoever has to ride in the back - it’s super cramped, but there are pop-out side windows, unlike most of the other extra cab models out there, and the rear ‘seats’ (if you can call them that) are removable if you just want to clip in your tools. The advantage is that the tub dimensions are more generous in size.

And you should choose a single cab if you only need to take one other occupant with you and you need to prioritise maximum cargo capacity. In fact, a cab chassis with an aluminium or steel tray is just about the most practical ute you can get - with fold-down or removable sides, you can make it a flat tray if you need to.

So, what’s the space like inside? Well, you get cupholders in front of the gear selector if it’s an auto (you get one between the seats in the manual models), plus two pop-out cupholders at the edge of the dashboard that are very handy. There are bottle holders in the doors, and every HiLux has a dual glovebox setup - just watch out, the edge is quite sharp.

There are two pop-out cupholders at the edge of the dashboard. © CarsGuide.com.au There are two pop-out cupholders at the edge of the dashboard. If you choose an extra cab model you will forego child-seat anchor points, and those in dual-cab models will need to watch their heads on the grab-handles when off-roading, because they’re hard and not retractable like most others - if you hit your head, it’ll hurt. 

The HiLux is one of the only utes out there with reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel, which is good, and the level of seat comfort and support is commendable. 

Every HiLux has a touchscreen multimedia infotainment system which is a bit fiddly to use - you’ll find better examples in a Volkswagen Amarok or Ford Ranger, both of which feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring, too.

Every HiLux has a touchscreen multimedia infotainment system which is a bit fiddly to use. (2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 model shown) © CarsGuide.com.au Every HiLux has a touchscreen multimedia infotainment system which is a bit fiddly to use. (2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 model shown)

Price and features

How much does each model in the HiLux range cost? I could give you a price list, but here’s a more comprehensive guide of each model, its price (plus on-road costs / rrp) and what you get: a sort of models comparison for the HiLux range - WorkMate vs SR vs SR+ vs SR5 vs SR5+. All the prices you see below are plus on-road costs.

First off, the entry-level WorkMate.

You can get the WorkMate as a low-riding single-cab-chassis with a 2.7-litre petrol engine at $20,990 for the manual or $22,990 for the auto. There’s a turbo-diesel manual version (all WorkMate models have a 2.4-litre oil-burner), priced at $24,990.

Then there’s the WorkMate 4x2 double-cab pick-up, again with the choice of a petrol manual ($30,690), petrol auto ($32,690) or diesel manual ($33,990). If you want a higher-riding dual-cab, but don’t need off-road ability, the new WorkMate Hi-Rider with its diesel auto drivetrain could be for you - it’s priced at $39,490.

The WorkMate range can also be had in 4x4 guise. There’s the single-cab-chassis diesel manual ($36,990), along with the newly added extra-cab-chassis diesel with an auto ($42,490) and dual-cab-chassis diesel auto ($44,490). 

If you prefer the pick-up body, you can have the 4x4 WorkMate in that form with a diesel manual drivetrain ($43,990) or diesel auto ($45,990). 

Next up the range is the SR. Again, you can have it in an array of different body-styles, but all SR models are diesel (a more powerful 2.8-litre turbo-diesel) with the choice of manual or auto gearbox. We’ll start off with 4x2 models.

You can’t option any sort of sports pack or sunroof in the HiLux range.

There’s a 4x2 extra-cab Hi-Rider with a standard auto gearbox that costs $40,910, and is in the pick-up body-style. If you prefer a double-cab pick-up, there’s the SR 4x2 manual ($39,910) or auto ($41,910).

The biggest-selling variant in the HiLux range is the SR5. © CarsGuide.com.au The biggest-selling variant in the HiLux range is the SR5. Then there’s the 4x4 range. 

It kicks off with a single-cab-chassis 4x4 diesel manual, at $39,410, and you can have that as an auto at $41,410.

The extra-cab-chassis SR 4x4 lists at $42,910 for the manual, and adds two grand for the auto ($44,910).

Choose a double-cab SR 4x4 cab-chassis and you’ll pay $45,060 for the manual version, and $47,060 for the auto.

The final SR models are the dual-cab pick-up 4x4s, which again come in manual ($46,560) and auto ($48,560).

The newly added SR+ model is essentially an SR 4x4 pick-up model with a pack that includes sat-nav and alloy wheels. It’s available as a manual ($48,560) or auto ($50,560). 

The biggest-selling variant in the range is the SR5. And while it used to be reserved for 4x4 grades, you can now get the SR5 as a 4x2 Hi-Rider dual-cab pick-up with a diesel auto drivetrain ($49,490).

There’s an SR5 4x4 extra-cab pick-up model, also with a diesel auto drivetrain, priced at $54,440. It’s new for 2018 as well.

Then there are the ultra-popular dual-cab 4x4 pick-up models, available in diesel manual ($54,440) or auto ($56,440).

The most fruit-filled spec in the range is the SR5+, which is essentially a premium interior pack for the SR5 that sees the addition of leather seats and electric seat adjustment for the driver (it adds $2000 to the list price, pushing the manual to $56,440 and the auto to $58,440).

You can’t option any sort of sports pack or sunroof in the HiLux range - yep, the TRD pack is done! For now…

Top of the range SR5 models come with features like a chrome sports bar, smart key and push button start, an alarm, dual-zone climate control AC, and you get 18-inch alloy wheels on this version - there are 17-inch alloys on the SR+, 17-inch steelies on the SR and WorkMate (4x4) models, and 16-inch steelies on the WorkMate (4x2) models. Every HiLux has a full-size spare tyre/spare wheel.

The SR5 models come with push button start. © CarsGuide.com.au The SR5 models come with push button start. You have to choose the SR5 if you want LED headlights and LED daytime running lights - definitely better if you do a lot of driving at night. Every model below has halogen headlights/DRLs - there are no HID or projector lamps available in lower-grade versions.

Every HiLux comes with central locking, a digital clock, cruise control, power steering, electric windows and Toyota’s world-renowned, ice-cold air-conditioning.

The sound system consists of either two speakers (WorkMate - all body-types), four speakers (SR, SR+ and SR5 extra cab), or six speakers (SR, SR+ and SR5 double cab), meaning you’ll need to BYO subwoofer. In every HiLux there is a touch screen (6.1-inch in WorkMate, 7.0-inch in everything else) with radio CD player, MP3 compatibility, USB port, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and SR+ and SR5 models have DAB digital radio, alongside the sat nav / GPS / navigation system (whatever you’d like to call it). There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology, and none of the multimedia systems feature a DVD player, either.

There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology of the HiLux. (2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 model shown) © CarsGuide.com.au There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology of the HiLux. (2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 model shown) On the safety front, there’s electronic stability control (ESP / VSC) and seven airbags in every model - read the safety section below for more info.

Of course there’s a comprehensive range of genuine Toyota accessories, including a bullbar (three different versions, actually), a winch setup, nudge bar, snorkel, ladder rack / roof rack, a utility box for your tool kit, a tub and tailgate liner, and there is a choice of four different rims available (in both 17- and 18-inch varieties). For the inside of the cabin there are optional rubber or carpet floor mats, canvas or fabric seat covers, and an emergency first aid pack. 

Colour options for the HiLux range include Silver Sky, Graphite (grey), Nebula Blue, Eclipse Black, Glacier White for the single-cab models, while extra-cab versions get the option of Olympia Red, and SR5 versions have the additional choice of Crystal Pearl white. There is no green paint option available - remember when green was the hero colour of the HiLux SR5 dual-cab, with its silver wheel-arches? Those were the days…

Engine & trans

Prepare for things to potentially get confusing - we’re about to delve into specifications. I’ve done my best to make this as concise as it can be, but with so many variants the configurations seem endless: 4x4 or 4WD; 4x2 or RWD; diesel vs petrol; torque and horsepower; engine specs; manual vs automatic… I promise this will all be cleared up below!

The entry point to the range is the petrol WorkMate, which has a 2.7-litre four-cylinder. It comes with the choice of a five-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic gearbox, and is rear-wheel drive only. Power is rated at 122kW, and torque at 225Nm.

There is a choice of engine size when it comes to the diesel models, both of  which come with a turbocharger and diesel particulate filter: there’s the 2.4-litre turbo motor in the WorkMate model, and the 2.8-litre in the SR, SR+ and SR5.

The entry point to the range is the petrol WorkMate, which has a 2.7-litre four-cylinder.

The 2.4-litre is offered with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, and rear- or four-wheel drive. Power for the 2.4 is stated at 110kW, while torque varies depending on the gearbox: 343Nm for the manual and 400Nm for the auto (oh, and that 400Nm output is for all 4x4 models, manual or auto).

The 2.8-litre also has the choice of six-speed manual or auto, and rear- or four-wheel drive. Its power rating is pegged at 130kW, and torque varies from 420Nm in the manual to 450Nm in the auto.

The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel produce 130kW, and torque varies from 420Nm in the manual to 450Nm in the auto. (2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 model shown) © CarsGuide.com.au The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel produce 130kW, and torque varies from 420Nm in the manual to 450Nm in the auto. (2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 model shown) If you’re the sort of person who loses sleep at night worrying if your HiLux has a timing belt or chain, fear not - all HiLux models have a timing chain.

Thankfully we don’t need to worry about LPG or AWD, right?

If you fit a towbar there’s towing capacity of 750kg for a trailer without brakes on any HiLux, while things get a little more complex when it comes to trailers with brakes.

HiLux 4x2 models are capable of 2500kg for models with the 2.7-litre petrol (manual gearbox or automatic transmission) and 2.4-litre turbo-diesel (manual only), while the 2.4-litre diesel auto and 2.8-litre diesel (manual and auto) models can tow up to 2800kg.

HiLux 4x4 models are have a turbo diesel engine, and in cab-chassis automatic configuration are capable of 3000kg towing. Cab-chassis models with a clutch, as well as all automatic 4x4 models, can do 3200kg. The manual pick-up 4x4 is good for the benchmark 3500kg capacity. 

Happily, fuel-tank capacity is generous in all models: the size for every HiLux on the market is 80 litres - easily enough to ensure long range between fills. Well, that’ll depend on how much load capacity you plan to use, I guess.

The HiLux doesn’t offer the best carrying capacity of its competitive set. The high-end dual-cab SR5 4x4, for instance, can only cope with 925kg, while the SR dual-cab 4x4 is rated at 920kg - the lowest in the HiLux range. The best is the base manual WorkMate, with a payload capacity of 1225kg.

Toyota offers a hard-top tray cover, and you can get a soft-top tonneau cover - but not one of the HiLux models has either fitted as standard. © CarsGuide.com.au Toyota offers a hard-top tray cover, and you can get a soft-top tonneau cover - but not one of the HiLux models has either fitted as standard. The gross vehicle weight / gross vehicle mass (GVM) is 3000kg for single- and dual-cab 4x4 models, 3050kg for the extra-cab 4x4, and hugely variable across the 4x2 range (from 2700-3050kg, depending on spec).

Fuel consumption

Fuel consumption figures depend on the variant you choose: if you buy a petrol model, you’ll use more of that particular type of fuel, while the improved mileage you get thanks to diesel fuel economy sees the vast majority of HiLux models utilise that combustion process. 

Here’s how it shakes out in terms of claimed fuel use in litres per 100 kilometres (L/100km) and kilometres per litre (km L), because some people think that’s a more logical way of measuring it.

First, the petrol engine - you’ll use between 11.1L/100km for the manual (9.0km L), or 10.9L/100km for the auto (9.2km L). Bank on using more than that in the real world - up to 50 per cent more, if you’re loaded up.

If you’re buying a diesel, the 2.4-litre has less power but better economy. Claimed consumption ranges from 7.1L/100km (14.1km L) to 8.5L/100km (11.8km L). You’ll see pretty close to those claims if you’re not hauling heaps of weight, but expect to use around 10.0L/100km (or 10km L).

The bigger, more powerful 2.8-litre turbo diesel has a broader range of applications than any other engine in the lineup, and its variance is greater in terms of claimed fuel use. The claims for it range from 7.3L/100km (13.7km L) to 9.2L/100km (10.9km L). In the real world you’ll generally use about 11.0L/100km if you’re loaded up (9.1km L).

If being a miser is your thing, there’s an Eco Mode that dulls throttle response and the air-conditioning ferocity to help cut fuel use, while Power Mode sharpens up the go-pedal action.

Driving

The majority of my time in the Toyota HiLux 2018 model range has been spent in the 4x4 dual-cab models: you know, the ones that the vast majority of people buy.

I drove the SR+ first up, and was impressed with how robust it felt. Every single version of the HiLux has a strong drivetrain, but the 2.8-litre turbo diesel with the six-speed automatic is the one most people get - and they could do a lot worse. 

You could buy the manual, which has less pulling power and isn't as instantaneous in its zing - there's some thought required when it comes to shifting, but thankfully the iMT - intelligent manual transmission - system will rev-match on the downshift, allaying some lagginess between gears that is evident because the ratios are quite long. 

You really feel like you could take on anything in a HiLux.

Admittedly, the auto can be a bit fussy at low speeds, particularly if you’re braking down hills, but for the most part it is largely inoffensive. And while its torque outputs mightn’t best rivals like the Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado or Volkswagen Amarok, it pulls honestly, and it's the one you should buy if you can deal with a lower towing rating.

You really feel like you could take on anything in a HiLux - maybe that’s because it isn’t as comfortable as some of its more polished dual-cab competitors. The ride is terser than many in the field, but if you put weight in the tub, it settles pretty well. The steering of the HiLux is well judged, though, with nice weighting and good response - it isn’t as hefty as some of the other utes out there.

The 17-inch alloy wheels of the SR and SR+ models aren’t quite as attractive as the 18s of the SR5, but they are more easily fitted with off-road tyres. If you go for more aggressive all-terrain tyres or mud-terrain rubber, you may need to consider wheel-arch extensions - like those fitted to the SR5 TRD special from 2017.

The 18-inch alloy wheels of the SR5 are more attractive than those on the SR and SR+. (2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 model shown) © CarsGuide.com.au The 18-inch alloy wheels of the SR5 are more attractive than those on the SR and SR+. (2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 model shown) Even the lowest-spec WorkMate model has 16s nowadays, so you can forget chucking on a set of 15 inch alloy rims. Not that anyone would want to… right?

I’ve driven single-cab WorkMate models in the past, and without weight in the tray they can offer a punishing ride. The petrol engine pulls well, though, and it drives in a compact way: the steering is weighty but direct, and there’s decent over-shoulder vision when parking.

And now for the off road review of the HiLux, because I spent quite a bit of time testing the ability of the SR5+ 4x4. Not enough to cover the chrome in mud… but enough to get an idea of the capabilities on offer.

First, let’s talk numbers - I guess you could call them performance figures - specific to the bulk-selling SR5 dual-cab: 279 (ground clearance mm); 700 (wading depth mm); 31 (approach angle degrees); 26 (departure angle degrees). Those are what really matter for off-roading, as well as the rear differential lock (on SR, SR+, SR5 and SR5+ models), but the turning circle is also important: it’s 12.6m in the HiLux, which is pretty large - but the steering response is good off-road, and the leather steering wheel is a pleasure to hold.

The bulk-selling SR5 dual-cab has a 279mm ground clearance mm. (2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 model shown) © CarsGuide.com.au The bulk-selling SR5 dual-cab has a 279mm ground clearance mm. (2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 model shown) The way the HiLux behaves on gravel surfaces is testament to the amount of local engineering that has been done. It is very good in these instances, but sadly it is hard to live with in most other situations. 

Apparently there have been some very subtle changes to the double wishbone front suspension and leaf-spring rear suspension to help soften the ride to a small degree. But it hasn’t been enough to make the HiLux anything close to comfortable on paved country roads, because it jostles and juggles its heft over potholes and pockmarks, never offering the level of pliancy that the best utes in the class manage - we’re talking the Ranger and Amarok, here. It’s not firm enough that you’ll get air over bumps, but nor is it far from that.

Things like the HiLux’s sprint time (0 100, or 0-100km/h, depending who you speak to) may not seem important, but being able to gather speed easily through ready acceleration is vital, whether you’re off road or not. 

Safety

The Toyota HiLux attracted the maximum five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating in 2015. It hasn’t changed since. Standard safety features across the range include electronic stability control with trailer sway control and seven airbags (dual front, front side, curtain and driver’s knee).

A reverse camera is standard on pick-up models only, while cab-chassis versions will see buyers need to pay an extra cost to Toyota’s accessories team. Rear parking sensors are a dealer fit accessory on all variants. 

Unfortunately there is no advanced safety tech like you’ll find in the Ford Ranger - no lane-departure warning and no forward collision warning, let alone auto emergency braking (AEB).

If you have kids then the dual-cab models in the HiLux range will appeal most: every double-cab has ISOFIX child seat anchor points - a bonus if you need to fit a baby seat or two - and there’s also a top-tether hook. You can’t get child restraints in the extra cab (or single cab, obviously).

Where is the Toyota HiLux built? Thailand, like almost every other ute competitor in the segment.

Ownership

Toyota has a reputation for hassle-free motoring, but there may be some common problems, faults, automatic transmission problems, injector issues and suspension complaints about the HiLux that you’d like to read up on. Check out our Toyota HiLux problems page.

Service costs for the HiLux are simple - maintenance is covered by a capped-price-servicing plan, with intervals of six months/10,000km - which is a lot more regular than some competitors. Toyota’s Service Advantage capped price plan sees private owners pay $240 per service for diesel utes, and $180 for petrol models. 

The Japanese company backs its vehicles with the bare minimum three-year/100,000km warranty, which is pretty short, but the HiLux’s reputation for reliability and durability is hard to argue against. Another thing that’s hard to argue against is the resale value on offer: older HiLux models still fetch good value on the used-car market.

Verdict

If you want a Toyota HiLux, you’d be hard-pressed not to go for the top-spec SR5, or even the SR5+ model. It has the most features, is the most attractive and will hold its value better than any of the others.

But if you need a proper work ute, one that is up for the daily grind - but not up in the air like most other utes out there - it’d be hard to look past the most affordable model in the range, the WorkMate single-cab.

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