Col­lec­tor's Item

Toy­ota’s Hilux is the only pop­u­lar dual-cab 4x4 with the op­tion of a petrol en­gine. How does it stand up in a world where diesel power rules?

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

THE UTE you see here may at first glance look like any other new Hilux, but in fact it’s rare enough to one day be­come a col­lec­tor’s item. Why? Be­cause it’s pow­ered by a petrol en­gine, and petrol en­gines are al­most non-ex­is­tent among to­day’s crop of pop­u­lar 4x4 one-tonne utes. Only Toy­ota of­fers a petrol en­gine in this class, and even then just one per cent of new Hilux 4x4s sold have the petrol en­gine: a 4.0-litre V6. The rest are pow­ered by ei­ther the 2.4- or the 2.8-litre diesels.

All of which begs the ques­tion: Is a petrol en­gine that bad an idea when it comes to pow­er­ing a 4x4 dual cab these days, that it’s now nearly ex­tinct due to the surge in pop­u­lar­ity of turbo-diesels? It wasn’t al­ways this way. Just 10 years ago Toy­ota, Holden, Ford, Nis­san, Mit­subishi and Mazda all of­fered petrolpow­ered 4x4 dual-cabs.

Truth be told I can’t ex­actly re­mem­ber the last petrol dual-cab 4x4 I drove before I jumped into this Hilux V6, but first im­pres­sions were that this de­serves bet­ter than just one per cent of Hilux sales.

Jump­ing in the V6 was a rev­e­la­tion af­ter driv­ing seven pop­u­lar diesel dual-cabs for last month’s ute load and tow test. Ex­tremely quiet, re­fined and smooth, it was al­most like some­thing from an­other planet. Flex­i­ble power de­liv­ery, too, and with a good amount of stick pro­vided you put your boot in. With a max­i­mum of 175kw on tap it has one-third more power than the Hilux’s 2.8-litre diesel.

The 4.0-litre V6 in ques­tion is a de­tuned ver­sion of the 207kw V6 in the Prado 150. One of the no­table dif­fer­ences is that the 207kw en­gine has vari­able valve tim­ing on both in­let and ex­haust cams, while the 175kw en­gine only has vari­able in­let-valve tim­ing – this alone doesn’t ac­count for the dif­fer­ence in power out­put, though.

The Hilux’s V6 is mated to the new six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion that backs the 2.8-litre diesel and it’s the only gear­box op­tion. Both fifth and sixth gears in the six-speed auto are over­drive gears, and very tall ones at that. Sur­pris­ingly the V6 also car­ries the same fi­naldrive gear­ing as the diesel, which is un­usual given the V6 has far less torque than the diesel at low and mid­dle en­gine speeds, needs nearly 2000 more rpm to make its max­i­mum power, and has a much higher red­line.

The tall fi­nal-drive gear­ing takes the edge off the ac­cel­er­a­tion, as you’d ex­pect. Tellingly,

With a max­i­mum of 175kw on tap, the petrol V6 has one-third more power than the 2.8-litre diesel

mov­ing the shifter across to the ‘Sport’ side of the ’box at high­way speeds drops the box from sixth straight to fourth – it doesn’t even bother with fifth. So for per­for­mance driv­ing you ef­fec­tively have a four-speed auto, leav­ing fifth and sixth only for light-throt­tle cruising. It also means there’s a lot of shuf­fling be­tween fourth, fifth and sixth at le­gal high­way speeds on un­du­lat­ing, give-and-take roads. The tall gear­ing no doubt at­tempts to ad­dress the ele­phant in the room, namely fuel con­sump­tion. The of­fi­cial ADR fig­ures tell the story at least in terms of rel­a­tiv­ity with the diesel. Ac­cord­ing to the widely quoted ‘com­bined-cy­cle’ fig­ure, the V6 uses 41 per cent more fuel than the 2.8-litre diesel auto. In the ‘ur­ban cy­cle’ (town driv­ing) the V6 does even worse, us­ing 50 per cent more fuel than the diesel. How­ever, things im­prove with the ‘ex­trau­r­ban cy­cle’ (coun­try driv­ing) where the V6 only uses 30 per cent more fuel. Our real-world test saw the V6 av­er­age 13.6L/100km in con­di­tions that would see the 2.8-litre diesel (auto) av­er­age around 10.5L/100km, which is around a 30 per cent dif­fer­ence.

This heav­ier con­sump­tion means that at $1.30 per litre for both diesel and petrol, the V6 driver would be fork­ing out around $4.00 more for ev­ery 100km trav­elled than the diesel driver. How­ever, how fuel costs ac­tu­ally pan out are de­pen­dent on the rel­a­tive cost of petrol and diesel, which varies from metro to coun­try within any one state, and from state to state as well. The V6 is also op­ti­mised for more ex­pen­sive pre­mium 95RON un­leaded; although, it ap­pears to run fine on reg­u­lar 91RON un­leaded.

Re­gard­less of rel­a­tive fuel costs, one thing you can’t avoid with the V6 com­pared to the diesel is fill­ing up more of­ten; although, the V6 is more pleas­ant to fill up. No hunt­ing or queu­ing for the diesel pump and no smelly, slip­pery diesel to con­tend with, which is so of­ten the case with poorly main­tained servo fore­courts.

For new-car buy­ers, Toy­ota’s ‘Ser­vice Ad­van­tage’ pric­ing means the petrol buyer doesn’t get a ser­vice-cost ad­van­tage over the diesel dur­ing the three-year war­ranty pe­riod. Be­yond that, though, the petrol V6 should be cheaper and sim­pler to ser­vice than the most com­plex turbo-diesel.

At both SR and SR5 spec the V6 is the same price as an equiv­a­lent diesel auto, which is ob­vi­ously no in­cen­tive to buy given the poorer fuel econ­omy – it’s a pity Toy­ota hasn’t seen fit to dis­count the V6 over the diesel. A $4000 dis­count, for ex­am­ple, means you could drive some­where around 100,000km in the V6 before you’d ‘spend’ the ini­tial sav­ings, if both petrol and diesel was around $1.30 per litre.

Al­ter­nately, Toy­ota could drop in the Prado’s 207kw V6 and lower the fi­nal-drive gear­ing to ramp up the fun fac­tor. Then you wouldn’t be so con­cerned about fuel econ­omy!

The seven-inch touch­screen high­lights a re­fresh­ingly mod­ern in­te­rior.

Toy­ota’s length­ened the leaf springs down back to im­prove per­for­mance on dusty trails.

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