Hilux scores a makeover

Cockburn Gazette - - DRIVEWAY - Sam Jeremic

THE Toy­ota Hilux is king of Aus­tralia’s roads, be­ing the big­gest-sell­ing ve­hi­cle in the land for the past four years and look­ing likely to make it five in a row when 2020 wraps up.

It’s even more dom­i­nant in WA, where it’s look­ing at its 13th straight year atop the sales podium.

So the big­gest up­date to the range since the cur­rent eighth gen­er­a­tion ar­rived in 2015 is a big deal, es­pe­cially given the Ford Ranger is hot on its sales heels, and has sur­passed the Hilux in 4x4 sales in re­cent times.

Toy­ota has turned to Aus­tralia for a large amount of the up­dated Hilux’s de­vel­op­ment and test­ing.

The lat­ter was per­formed through­out the coun­try, with the be­lief if a ve­hi­cle can han­dle Aus­tralian con­di­tions (and our cus­tomers), it can suc­ceed any­where. Af­ter win­ning plau­dits from global HQ for its work on the pre­vi­ous Rogue and Rugged X vari­ants, the lo­cal team had ex­ten­sive in­put into the de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing of the new line-up as a whole.

And there were im­prove­ments to be made, de­spite the Hilux’s sales dom­i­nance.

As with most ute line-ups, the range is ex­haus­tive: 34 vari­ants cov­er­ing 4x2 or 4x4, cab-chas­sis and pick-up body styles and sin­gle, king and dual cab sizes.

The 2.8-litre four-cylin­der turbo-diesel au­to­matic, which ac­counts for most sales, has had a power bump from 150kW and 500Nm, a jump of 20kW and 50Nm (a 2.4-litre diesel and 2.7-litre petrol re­main avail­able).

Fuel econ­omy and emis­sions have also been im­proved. There was a fo­cus on im­prov­ing per­for­mance on high­ways and when tow­ing, with all auto 4x4s now rated to pull 3500kg.

The torque curve is now flat­ter and wider and the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion’s soft­ware re­cal­i­brated to allow for bet­ter per­for­mance when over­tak­ing or tow­ing.

Toy­ota also says the en­gine’s diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter — which has been a source of headaches since 2015 and has re­sulted in an on­go­ing class ac­tion law­suit — has had its soft­ware and hard­ware tweaked to avoid any fu­ture prob­lems.

Work has also been done to the sus­pen­sion to im­prove ride qual­ity with an empty tray af­ter feed­back that it was pre­vi­ously too firm. The rear end has had most of the at­ten­tion, with leaf springs and shock ab­sorbers tweaked for a more com­fort­able ride, but Toy­ota stresses there have been no con­ces­sions made to body con­trol when a load is on board, nor wheel ar­tic­u­la­tion when off-road.

There have also been changes un­der­neath to bet­ter in­su­late against noise.

A new vari­able flow con­trol power-steer­ing pump al­lows for more di­rect steer­ing feel on nar­row, wind­ing coun­try roads, and also less re­sis­tance when park­ing.

When the ve­hi­cle is in 4L, the steer­ing cal­i­bra­tions change set­tings once again.

In­te­rior de­sign is largely un­changed save for knobs to con­trol the touch­screen, but new stan­dard fea­tures in­clude voice recog­ni­tion and Ap­ple CarPlay/An­droid Auto/ myToy­ota smart­phone mir­ror­ing, while the top-spec SR5 has satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion and dig­i­tal ra­dio.

More than 60 new ac­ces­sories have been cre­ated and now in­clude a lock­able trun­dle drawer for tray top vari­ants, a tub liner with rail cap­ping, 18-inch al­loy wheels, and a rear chas­sis-mounted in­te­grated step to allow eas­ier ac­cess to the tub. There will once again be flag­ship Rogue and Rugged X flag­ship vari­ants.

How­ever, they will not be ar­riv­ing un­til later in the year.

Toy­ota has con­firmed the more road-bi­ased Rogue will have a re­mote­con­trolled mo­torised roller ton­neau cover, while the Rugged X will score a Toy­ota-branded bash plate and smaller, more off-road-friendly 17-inch wheels.

Both score a JBL pre­mium au­dio sys­tem.

Pric­ing is yet to be revealed, but given the SR5+ dual cab 4x4 auto now costs from $62,420, it will likely be push­ing the $70K mark, not in­clud­ing on-road costs.

As with other re­cent Toy­ota mod­els, pric­ing is up across the board.

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