mr pop­u­lar

TOY­OTA HILUX

Earthmovers & Excavators - - Tow Test -

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 from 2500 up to 3500kg, at least for the new six-speed man­ual, while the au­to­matic is rated at 3200kg.

The pay­loads re­main mod­est de­spite an in­crease of the diesel’s GVM from 2780 to 3000kg as the ve­hi­cle it­self gained some 100kg. In fact, the Hilux has the low­est pay­load rat­ing of our seven utes. Even the lighter SR-spec dual-cab pick-up can’t tech­ni­cally carry (by around 40kg) our driver and ob­server, as well as the 800kg pal­let of bagged ce­ment.

More walk­ing for the ob­server!

There are four fold­away – cast rather than ex­truded metal – tie-down eyes in the back of the Hilux’s tub. The rear sus­pen­sion dropped 60mm once the 800kg pal­let was in and tied down, cop­ing equally with the best here.

You could feel the nose was a lit­tle up once un­der­way up the hill, but the steer­ing was still nicely pos­i­tive. Sta­bil­ity was im­pres­sive, too, with good sway and roll con­trol, and no bot­tom­ing on the bumps. All up, the Hilux feels very com­posed de­spite be­ing at pay­load, and then a lit­tle bit on top of that.

The 2.8-litre is also a pol­ished per­former with the 970kg pay­load and hardly felt the weight at all. With 450Nm on tap at just 1600rpm, it’s not far shy of what the con­sid­er­ably big­ger 3.2 ‘fives’ in the Ford and the Mazda can do, and it cer­tainly feels ev­ery bit as strong as its 450Nm claim. It’s a sweet en­gine, too, bet­ter­ing all the oth­ers here for gen­eral re­fine­ment, although the Ranger and the Triton come close.

The six-speed auto brings a re­fined feel with quick and smooth shifts, and works nicely with the en­gine in get­ting the 800kg up the hill with the min­i­mum of fuss.

It’s also good on the de­scents as it will auto back­shift read­ily once you tap the brakes, which means less re­liance on the gear­box’s ‘man­ual’ tip-shift.

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

The long and short of it is that the en­gine can’t of­ten hold sixth legally at high­way speeds on un­du­lat­ing roads (even with a light load), so it tends to shuf­fle be­tween fifth and sixth. You could say it’s geared well for Europe…

TOW TEST

While the man­ual Hilux gets the magic 3.5-tonne tick, the auto comes in at 3.2, so our Hilux used the lighter 2.8-tonne load shared with the Triton.

The Hilux’s 130kW/450Nm 2.8 is a very civilised lit­tle en­gine, and this was still the case un­der load. It didn’t have the same launch fac­tor as the Ford/Mazda duo, or even the Holden, but it pulled away con­fi­dently and with pur­pose.

The six-speed shuf­fled 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 well. The trans­mis­sion needed a firm hand down­hill and a few mea­sured stabs of the brake pedal.

How­ever, the rear sus­pen­sion of the Toy­ota feels ev­ery bit as work ready as the im­age would sug­gest. The out­board spring mount­ings proved very sta­ble un­der load, and the Hilux rolled through the cor­ners rea­son­ably flat. The Toy­ota felt easy to steer and con­trol even when bleed­ing off speed on the down­hill run.

Even though the Hilux donk shares the same dis­place­ment as the Holden, the Toy­ota still feels a lit­tle more revvy and flighty when haul­ing back on a heavy load. How­ever, the con­ser­va­tive en­gi­neer­ing ap­proach – a hall­mark of the brand – is very ev­i­dent. You get the feel­ing the Toy­ota has more to give, but is hold­ing back. The Hilux feels like a great all-rounder at our lower 2.8-tonne rat­ing. But, in typ­i­cal Toy­ota fash­ion, it doesn’t want to brag about it.

Toy­ota’s all-new Hilux has mus­cled up in its tow­ing ca­pac­ity de­spite a down­size in en­gine ca­pac­ity

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