There’s no question about it: the Toyota Hilux has come a long way since its introduction to the Australian market back in 1968.
When it first arrived in Australia, equipped with a 1.5L engine, the little ute quickly gained a following as a reliable vehicle with serious work horse credentials. This tradition has carried through for more than four decades.
But the new Hilux is no longer a little ute but a great big one, sporting a Deluxe standard of finish and with a powerful diesel or petrol engine under the bonnet making a statement that this car is here to work… or play on weekends.
Reviewed here is the middle of the range SR two door cab chassis Hilux in petrol form, equipped with a 4L V6 engine. While this model is available as both manual and auto transmissions, I was happy to drive the five speed auto shifter which made both city and country driving an absolute breeze.
The SR designation sees a vinyl floor and cloth covers on the wide and comfortable bucket seats as standard fare yet there was plenty of luxury in the overall make up thanks to power windows, power door locks, an excellent four speaker sound system, steering wheel controls, cruise control and audio input jacks for iPod and MP3 player.
While it’s not quite up to the highest level like the SR5, there is a fair bit of fruit on the tree just the same. There is also quite a lot of useful storage compartments within the cabin including cup and drink holders plus a lockable glove box. I was also quite happy with the dash layout: everything was easily identified and within easy reach.
Power wise, few could complain of the V6 engine’s ability; not with 175kW of power and 343Nm of torque on hand courtesy of the DOHC variable Valve Timing multi point fuel injected petrol engine.
Smooth as silk, the very willing engine seemed to have as much toe as a Roman sandal but yet could be driven quite comfortably and docilely around town. A 3m long steel tray at the rear testified to the Hilux SR’s serious work intentions and its ability to carry heavy loads day in, day out.
Towing would be an easy business for the SR Hilux petrol. It’s rated for a 750kg payload with an unbraked trailer and 2250kg on the tow ball for a braked trailer. The fuel tank’s capacity is 76L and with a fuel consumption of around 14.4L per 100km (Toyota claimed it’s 13.1L/100km but I could not match those figures) from a mix of city and out of town driving, expect a range of around 530km. This is reasonable but certainly not a lot to write home about, especially if you’re towing a big fat fiberglass boat on the back.
The Hilux SR 4x4 single cab (or cab/chassis) was a pleasing car to drive thanks to the seamless engine/auto shifter combination.
Ride was surprisingly good for a work horse style vehicle thanks to independent double wishbone and coil springs mated to gas dampers and an anti-roll bar up front. At the rear a rigid live axle, leaf spring set up mated to double action gas dampened struts sorted out bumps and minor road imperfections quite well.
Around town the ride was very smooth, while out on back roads or corrugated surfaces one could feel the firmness of the leaf springs somewhat as is par for the course for work horse style utes like this one.
I would love to have taken the SR Hilux 4x4 for a serious off road run but circumstances prevented it. That aside, the vehicle’s off road ability has been established long before this model graced the market. With the SR’s high ground clearance, excellent approach and departure angles plus a good degree of wheel, the Hilux in either high or low range with all four wheels engaged is a very serious off road vehicle indeed.
The Hilux SR is very suited to beach work and for example towing a camper or boat up along Fraser Island’s beach would be a very stress free excursion thanks to the vehicle’s over all capability.
The test Hilux was equipped with strong side steps as well and I regard these as vital for side body protection in that they prevent sticks and the like from coming off the wheels to damage the body.
The Hilux SR 4x4 cab/chassis comes home for around $44,000 with all on road charges included.Reads: 3351