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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 the suspension was designed for the Workmate and SR variants (identified by black steel 17-inch wheels and tyres with taller, cushioning sidewalls). The SR5’s fancy 18inch alloys look the business but the tyres are a different construction, leading to a busier ride. But with 300kg in the back, it’s as smooth as a Ford Ranger XLT or a VW Amarok.
2 By ute standards, the are brilliant brakes
Most utes still have front discs and rear drum brakes — 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, the biggest brake calipers and so the largest swept area on the front discs. This delivers a reassuring and precise pedal feel. In comparison, the 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 the ute tub and towing a 600kg trailer, we averaged a 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 the next stop; it 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; you can only tap icons for previously saved or favourite destinations. A volume dial also would be a welcome addition to the touchscreen. It would be faster and more effective than the buttons on the steering wheel or the icons on the central display. Especially on bumpy roads.
5 It needs a digital speed display
As the flagship, the SR5 has a superb digital display screen between the brightly lit analog dials in front of the driver. What a shame, then, there is no digital speed readout. It would certainly make it easier when switching speed zones — and there was no shortage of these. As with many cars, the analog needle itself covers a few km/h gradations.