An hon­est job for ex­cel­lent value can­not be beaten, JOSHUA DOWL­ING writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

WANT proof the Aus­tralian econ­omy is pow­er­ing? Most buy­ers of Toy­ota HiLux ute are choos­ing top-of-therange SR5 that stretches be­yond $60,000 by time it’s in traf­fic.

That’s why there red hot deals on the Work­mate and SR double cab 4WD mod­els from $41,990 drive-away, up to $6600 off.

Buy­ers chas­ing a bit more chrome and some ex­tra crea­ture com­forts are over­look­ing these af­ford­able mod­els, which are dis­tin­guished by love-em-or-hate-em black steel wheels.

Hav­ing tested the Work­mate, the cheap­est HiLux dual-cab 4WD, I can’t fig­ure out why you need one with works. Es­pe­cially at cur­rent price, a shade un­der $42K un­til end of June.

The version we tested, the auto at $43,990 drive-away (add $550 for me­tal­lic paint), is a big head start on the full RRP of $50,664 drive-away.

Un­like SR and SR5, with 2.8litre turbo diesel power, Work­mate has 2.4-litre but gets the same sus­pen­sion, un­der­body protection, up­graded brakes, seven airbags, sta­bil­ity con­trol and rear cam­era as the dearer mod­els.

Tow­ing ca­pa­bil­ity is down only slightly: 3000kg ver­sus 3200kg for the SR and SR5 auto.

The Work­mate’s pay­load beats

brethren: 955kg ver­sus 920kg on the SR and 925kg the SR5.

Other dif­fer­ences: Work­mate has a vinyl floor, cloth seats and an auto-up driver’s win­dow. The SR gains (in ad­di­tion to 2.8-litre diesel) a painted front bumper, height ad­justable seat side­step rails.

The 2.4-litre feels perky — it’s next to im­pos­si­ble to pick the dif­fer­ence from the 2.8.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, 2.4 has more torque (400Nm) than pre­vi­ous HiLux 3.0-litre (343Nm), and not much less than the 2.8 (450Nm). The ex­tra grunt com­bined with sixspeed auto gives Work­mate more

enough oomph, al­though none of these trucks can ever be mis­taken for any­thing other a work­horse.

The 2.4 is lit­tle nois­ier than the 2.8 in our ex­pe­ri­ence (in par­tic­u­lar there is an in­duc­tion hiss­ing noise near driver’s side front fen­der; Toy­ota says this nor­mal).

But econ­omy is im­pres­sive. With its 80L fuel tank, the­o­ret­i­cal range is 960km — un­laden and on the open road rather than stop-start city driv­ing).

The sin­gle big­gest sur­prise is just how com­fort­able Work­mate over bumps thanks to its 17-inch steel wheels and cushy tyres (ver­sus the SR5’s 18s).

Toy­ota ought be com­mended for not com­pro­mis­ing on heavy duty ca­pa­bil­ity of its HiLux range but it needs to find a way to make SR5 feel as plush (com­par­a­tively speak­ing).

Which to buy? If the bud­get al­lows, it may be worth step­ping up to SR ($46,990 drive-away manual, auto adds $2000), a sav­ing of $4300 off full RRP.

For now, buy­ers Work­mate can laugh all the way the bank.

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