Five things we learnt about Toy­ota’s top seller

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - Joshua Dowl­ing

1 Load it up and it drives better

There have been plenty of com­ments about the HiLux SR5 being too firm over bumps — even by ute stan­dards. But we sus­pect that’s be­cause we tend to test them empty. It turns out sus­pen­sion was de­signed for the Work­mate and SR vari­ants (iden­ti­fied by black steel 17-inch wheels tyres with taller, cush­ion­ing side­walls). The SR5’s fancy 18inch al­loys look busi­ness but the tyres are a dif­fer­ent con­struc­tion, lead­ing to busier ride. But with 300kg in the back, it’s as smooth as Ford Ranger XLT or VW Amarok.

2 By ute stan­dards, the brakes are bril­liant

Most utes still have front discs and rear drum — and we would wel­come four-wheel discs on fu­ture ver­sions of such vehicles. But the HiLux has the largest front brakes among its disc/drum peers, big­gest brake calipers and so the largest swept area on front discs. This de­liv­ers a re­as­sur­ing pre­cise pedal feel. In comparison, Ranger’s pedal is so soft it feels as if it has drum brakes all-round.

3 Fuel econ­omy is pretty good

Un­laden, we got into 9L/100km ter­ri­tory on the open road. But with 300kg in ute tub and tow­ing a 600kg trailer, av­er­aged still im­pres­sive 11.5L over 5000km of high­way driv­ing to far north Queens­land and stop-start commuting in Syd­ney. The warn­ing light shows empty when there is still 15L or so in the 80L tank. Thank good­ness Toy­ota pro­vides am­ple warn­ing. I mis­cal­cu­lated dis­tances be­tween re­mote towns and made it on fumes to

next stop; took 77L once I found a bowser.

4 The nav­i­ga­tion needs im­prove­ment In outback ar­eas, the built-in nav­i­ga­tion rou­tinely selected longer and less di­rect routes than did Ap­ple or Google Maps. Toy­ota won’t let you add ad­dresses on the move; can only tap icons for pre­vi­ously saved favourite des­ti­na­tions. A vol­ume dial also would be a wel­come ad­di­tion to touch­screen. It faster and more ef­fec­tive than the but­tons on steer­ing wheel or the icons central dis­play. Es­pe­cially bumpy roads. 5 It needs a dig­i­tal speed dis­play

As the flag­ship, the SR5 has su­perb screen be­tween brightly lit ana­log di­als in front of driver. What a shame, then, there is no dig­i­tal speed read­out. It would cer­tainly make it eas­ier when switch­ing zones — and there was short­age of these. As with many cars, the ana­log nee­dle it­self cov­ers a few km/h gra­da­tions.

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