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
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.