THE YARD­STICK

Toy­ota’s all-new Hilux has a beefed-up tow­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, de­spite a down­size in en­gine ca­pac­ity.

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

LOAD TEST

TOY­OTA’S eighth-gen­er­a­tion Hilux brought a smaller diesel (down from 3.0 to 2.8 litres) but a big jump in tow­ing ca­pac­ity.

The pay­loads re­main mod­est, how­ever, de­spite an in­crease of the diesel’s GVM from 2780kg to 3000kg, as the ve­hi­cle it­self gained weight that negated much of the ex­tra GVM.

The truth is the Hilux has the low­est pay­load rat­ing of our seven utes, and even the lighter Sr-spec dual-cab pick-up can’t tech­ni­cally carry (by around 40kg) our driver, ob­server, tow­bar and 800kg pal­let of bagged ce­ment that we used to test all the ve­hi­cles.

There are four fold­away tie-down eyes – cast rather than ex­truded metal – in the back of the Hilux’s tub. Once the 800kg pal­let was in and se­cured the rear sus­pen­sion dropped 60mm. In other words, it coped as well as any ri­val and much bet­ter than some.

Once un­der­way up the hill you could feel the nose was a lit­tle up, but steer­ing re­mained nicely pos­i­tive. Im­pres­sive sta­bil­ity, too, with good sway and roll con­trol from the chas­sis and no bot­tom­ing on the bumps. All up, the Hilux feels very com­posed, de­spite be­ing at max pay­load and then a smidge!

The 2.8-litre was also a pol­ished per­former when cop­ing with the 970kg pay­load and hardly felt the weight at all. With 450Nm on tap at just 1600rpm it isn’t far shy of what the con­sid­er­ably big­ger 3.2L fives in the Ford and the Mazda can do – and it cer­tainly felt ev­ery bit as strong as its 450Nm claim. It’s a sweet en­gine and bet­tered all the oth­ers in terms of gen­eral re­fine­ment, though it’s worth not­ing Ford’s Ranger and Mit­subishi’s Triton came close.

The six-speed auto also brought a re­fined feel, with quick and smooth shifts, and it worked nicely with the en­gine in get­ting the 800kg up the hill with a min­i­mum of fuss. It was also good on the de­scent, as it read­ily auto back­shifted

once the brakes had been tapped. Does it need to be ex­plained that this means less re­liance on the gear­box’s man­ual tip-shift?

Not ideal with this new six-speeder, es­pe­cially with so much weight on board, are the very tall fifth and sixth gears, which are both over­drives. Fifth gear here is ac­tu­ally taller than fifth in the su­per­seded five-speed, de­spite the fact that there’s still an ex­tra gear to go!

The long and short of it is that the en­gine can’t of­ten hold sixth at le­gal high­way speeds on un­du­lat­ing roads, even with a light load, so it tends to shuf­fle be­tween fifth and sixth. To put it an­other way, it’s well-geared for Europe.

TOW TEST

WHILE the man­ual Hilux gets the magic 3500kg tow­ing tick, the auto comes in at 3200kg, so our Hilux was matched with the lighter 2800kg trailer weight we used when putting the Triton through its paces.

The Hilux’s 130kw/450nm 2.8 is a very civilised lit­tle en­gine and this is still the case un­der load. It doesn’t have the same launch fac­tor as the Ford/mazda duo, or even the Holden for that mat­ter, but it pulled away con­fi­dently and with pur­pose. The six-speed slid through the cogs well and did its ut­most to keep the revs within the en­gine’s wide torque band. Climb­ing the hill at 3000rpm in sec­ond gear saw the Hilux haul very well.

On the down­hill the trans­mis­sion needed a firm hand and a few mea­sured stabs of the brake pedal to keep things in check.

The rear sus­pen­sion of the Toy­ota feels ev­ery bit as work-ready as the Hilux’s im­age and rep­u­ta­tion would sug­gest. The out­board spring mount­ings proved very sta­ble un­der load and the ve­hi­cle re­mained rea­son­ably flat in cor­ners. It was also easy to steer and con­trol, even when bleed­ing off speed on the down­hill run.

Even though the Hilux en­gine shares the same dis­place­ment as the Holden, the Toy­ota felt a lit­tle more revvy. How­ever, the con­ser­va­tive engi­neer­ing ap­proach that is a hall­mark of the mar­que was ev­i­dent. You get the feel­ing that the Hilux has more to give but is hold­ing back. At our lower 2800kg tow load the Hilux felt like a great all-rounder, but in typ­i­cal Toy­ota fashion, it didn’t want to brag about it.

Rated to tow 3200kg in auto form, the Hilux han­dled 2800kg with ease.

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