2016 HILUX SR5+ REVIEW
By STUART MARTIN
Price: from $57,990 plus options and on-road costs
Engine/Trans: 130kW/450Nm 2.8-litre turbodiesel / 6-speed auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.5 l/100km combined
Construction: Body on chassis
Suspension: Independent front / Live rear axle
Towing: 750kg unbraked / 3200kg braked
“Baby, come back” was the soundtrack for the HiLux ad campaign, but it was also being sung loudly inside Toyota’s sales department.
The dominant force in the light-commercial ute world is finally renewed and steps squarely into the personal space of the Ranger, shoving its elongated snout straight into the blunt Ford’s grille.
In top-spec SR5+ guise it’s a $57,990 proposition with the six-speed auto – not a small amount of money but the King of 4WD utes has been upgraded to even put the term value in the mix.
Now powered by the 2.8-litre turbodiesel particle-filter equipped four-cylinder shared (minus some balance shafts) with the Prado, it offers 130kW and 25 per cent more torque, peaking at 450Nm (20Nm more than with the six speed manual) between 1600 and 2400rpm.
The new power plant’s broader torque range is immediately apparent and it’s noticeably improved under load, with a strong in-gear surge; throttle response is further sharpened to good effect using the Power mode.
The six speed auto lays claim to a fuel economy figure of 8.5 litres per 100km from the 80-litre tank, despite being longer, wider and tipping the scales at 2075kg (a 210kg increase).
The weight gain has come from the 20 per cent improvement in torsional rigidity, a thicker front stabiliser bar, longer and repositioned rear leaf springs and larger-diameter dampers to help sort out the ride.
Toyota has upgraded the safety features list with the addition of a driver’s knee airbag to the usual six, as well as having stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes (although still using rear drums), trailer sway control, hill start and descent control.
Unlike its Ford foe, there’s a reversing camera standard range-wide, as is reach and rake adjustable steering, something still not offered in many of its key rivals.
It runs part-time 4WD but not a set-up that allows for open centre diff on-road 4WD running in the way of the Triton, which adds to the flexibility.
The SR5 sits on 18-inch alloy wheels (wrapped in road-biased OE compromise tyres) is a quiet open road cruiser for a workhorse ute, although the four-cylinder thrum does intrude a little under acceleration.
Cabin comfort is good, offering decent room for four adults – child seat users get straps instead of a solid hook, a system also used in the Navara, a fussy set-up that’s not an appealing system to use.
The SR5 runs LED low-beam headlights, keyless entry and ignition, digital radio reception, satnav with touchscreen controls, climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, side-steps, a 220-volt domestic plug for charging devices in the centre console and 12-volt outlets. The “+” options (a $2000 jump over the SR5) adds power-adjustment to the driver’s seat and leather trim.
The off-road side of the specs sheet shows low range, clever electronic traction aids and a standard rear differential lock that will help take the big ute off the beaten track, but neither the diff lock or the transfer case set speed records for operating pace.
Locally-developed underbody protection is also reassuring, even thought Toyota is claiming 279mm of ground clearance – a revision of its wagon sibling Fortuner’s clearance to 225mm has cast some doubt over the Hilux number, but the brand maintains that’s the number for HiLux.
An approach angle 31 degrees and departure angle of 26 degrees give confidence when approaching sharp and steep terrain, and it fusses little when it comes to traversing it. The electronics groan sporadically when assisting but for the most part the dual-cab climbs without complaint, with better travel from the leaf-sprung rear end.
The HiLux tray is useful without being as big as the Ford, with a slightly lower payload at 925kg; when the tray is empty the ride is acceptable without being exceptional, improving once a couple of hundred kilograms has been added. The towing brigade will want to take note that only the lower-torque HiLux manual rates at 3500kg; the auto slips to braked towing capacity of 3200kg.
The HiLux is a much better beast than the outgoing veteran, but has fallen just short of being the segment leader – the dual-cab ute market is a much closer field than it once was as a result. The “unbreakable” mantra often quoted in the same breath as the HiLux model name will bring it back to near the top of sales charts but it’s not completed the giant leap required to replicate its previous market dominance.