Up­hill task for our top ute

The Advertiser - Motoring - - NEWS -

THE Toy­ota HiLux, Aus­tralia’s favourite work­horse for more than three decades, has been among the Top Three sellers out­right for the past four years.

But it’s fac­ing its big­gest chal­lenge yet, un­der fire from a re­vamped Ford Ranger and a long list of re­newed ri­vals.

The HiLux is man­ag­ing to stay ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion, buoyed by the ar­rival of the first all-new model in 10 years in late 2015. Sales are up but ri­vals are clos­ing the gap.

If we ex­clude the two-door tradie mod­els and tally only sales of the more pop­u­lar four­door 4WD utes, the HiLux has the slimmest year-to-date mar­gin yet: 6911 de­liv­er­ies ver­sus the Ford Ranger’s 6638 in the first three months of 2016.

With such a fierce bat­tle un­der way it was time to get reac­quainted with the HiLux and live with the new edi­tion for a while. The 2.8-litre turbo diesel en­gine’s barely run-in but we’re al­ready ap­pre­ci­at­ing its re­fine­ment and its fuel ef­fi­ciency.

The steer­ing is heav­ier than on ear­lier mod­els but the new HiLux also sits more planted on the road than be­fore.

Un­laden, the rear end can be a bit bouncy but that’s be­cause all new HiLuxes come with heavy duty sus­pen­sion.

Other items from the note­book: we like the $55,000 flag­ship SR5’s sen­sor key, su­per-bright head­lights and high-beams. The stan­dard rear cam­era has saved us from dent­ing the chrome bumper but we’d be hap­pier if the guid­ing lines turned with the steer­ing.

We also wish the HiLux SR5 had a tray liner and cour­tesy lights un­der the sports bar (as the Ford Ranger XLT does) as stan­dard. A dig­i­tal speedo also would be handy to keep up with the ever chang­ing speed zones.

So far, though, the HiLux hasn’t skipped a beat (no sur­prises there) and we’re en­joy­ing re­dis­cov­er­ing what the fuss is all about.

Faacci­ing iittss bi­iggesstt ccha­al­l­l­lenge:: Toy­ot­taa Hi­iLux

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