KING re­stored

The Hilux is back as Australia most pop­u­lar 4WD after its 12-year run at the top 4WD sales charts was bro­ken last year by the Ford Ranger

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Ute Review: Toyota Hilux -

The Hilux is so pop­u­lar it’s not just the best-sell­ing 4WD, ute or oth­er­wise, it’s Australia’s best-sell­ing new ‘car’ over­all, the only ute to achieve that dis­tinc­tion. Up to mid-year’s end Hilux 4WD mod­els alone out­sold Australia’s most pop­u­lar pas­sen­ger car, the Toyota Corolla. For ev­ery three Hilux 4WDs it sells, Toyota also sells one Hilux 2WD, which puts the Hilux even fur­ther out front in the over­all sales race.

Last year, how­ever, the Hilux was de­posed as Australia’s best-sell­ing 4WD ute by the Ford Ranger. Toyota re­sponded by flesh­ing out the Hilux model range, fit­ting al­loys and sat-nav to the work-spec SR to cre­ate the SR+, and adding heated seats to the SR5+ to match top-spec ri­vals. Then came a range of ac­ces­sorised mod­els, first the TRD and then more re­cently the Rogue, Rugged and Rugged X.

Com­pared with the first six months of 2017 Hilux 4WD sales are up 12.2 per cent, suf­fi­cient to see it squeeze back in front of Ranger by a mere 21 units, de­spite Hilux buy­ers no longer hav­ing the op­tion of the petrol V6. Dual-cabs make up 86 per cent of Hilux 4WD sales with sin­gle and ex­tended cabs evenly split in the re­main­ing 14 per cent. Some­what con­tro­ver­sially, Toyota de­cided to down­size from a three-litre diesel four to a 2.8-litre four in this lat­est-gen­er­a­tion Hilux, which puts it at a dis­ad­van­tage against the no­tably big­ger 3.2-litre five-cylin­der en­gine in the Ranger in a mar­ket where big en­gines are seen to not have to work as hard as smaller en­gines to do the same job.

While the 2.8 is well short of the Ranger in per­for­mance, let alone the Amarok V6, it is a quiet, re­fined and nicely flex­i­ble en­gine. Three-quar­ters of all Hilux 4WD buy­ers opt for the sixspeed au­to­matic de­spite its ten­dency to shuf­fle be­tween fifth and sixth gears at le­gal high­way speeds on un­du­lat­ing roads, which makes the man­ual the bet­ter choice for coun­try driv­ing.

There’s no doubt­ing the Hilux off-road abil­ity how­ever, which is as good as it gets in its class. Build qual­ity, day-to-day own­er­ship prac­ti­cal­ity and after-mar­ket sup­port are also sec­ond to none but Hilux loses to most ri­vals in cabin size and max­i­mum tow and load ca­pa­bil­ity.

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