Uphill task for our top ute
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.