Toyota Hilux SR5 Cruiser
As well equipped as it is priced, Toyota’s latest special edition Hilux, the SR5 Cruiser is an impressive drive, on and off the road. Ross Mackay explains why.
The SR5 Cruiser 4WD is the latest linetopping turbo-diesel double cab ute from the company that, if it didn’t quite create the sub-category, at the very least seeded then pretty much owned it for more than 20 years. The new ‘Cruiser model (available in 2 and 4WD configurations) sits above the SR5 and replaces the outgoing SR5 Limited in Toyota New Zealand’s 21-strong 2018 Hilux range. It is immediately distinguished by a new front end anchored by a larger main (upper) grille, new bumper revised front bumper and LED fog lights combo. The new front is complemented by 18-inch gloss metallic black alloy wheels with 265/60 tyres, black door mirrors, door handles, and new black rear bumper. Which is all very well, but the key selling point of any of the latest model Hiluxes is the improvement in rear ride quality. Gone (finally) is the stiff, vertical kick over sharp ridges, in its place a compliance born out of a wholesale change in rear leaf spring orientation and relative rates. Ride is still firm, laden as well as unladen, but it is no longer a deal-breaker. Nor, from feedback from my ute-owning/ Mtb-riding mates, is the way the thing now looks because the new front end treatment has certainly given the ‘Cruiser some previously lacking ‘attitude.’ With the choice (at the push of a button) of running in Eco or Power modes it’d be rude to be too hard on the ‘smooth-runningif-a-little-bland-in-the-delivery-stakes’ 2.8 litre diesel which powers the latest (eighthgeneration) model. While you wouldn’t want to be in a hurry if all you had was the (default) Eco mode, push the Pwr button and the common-rail turbodiesel four-banger literally comes alive. It’s not the smoothest (that’d be Nissan’s twin-turbo 2.4l), quietest (the Nissan again) or the most characterful (Ford/mazda 3.2l five-cylinder) but it is perfectly suited to the silky-smooth six-speed transmission and is as much at home literally just ticking over in 4L off the road as it is in 4H towing up to 3500kgs. Drive options (2H, 4H and 4L) are accessed by a rotary dial on the dashboard and with the diff lock rocker switch are both easily accessed and simple to use. Toyota has really played to its strengths in creating the SR5 Cruiser. Not only is Hilux’s popularity with tradies, families, SME business owners and public utilities well known and well founded, the new – low – price point of just $56,990 is unprecedented for a leather-trimmed, range-topping premium model. OK, you’re not getting a load lid, ‘sailplane’ sportsbar or even nudge bar or tray liner for that price. So from that point of view you can’t really compare the SR5 Cruiser directly – say – with the Wildtrak version of Ford’s Ranger or Holden’s Z71 Colorado. I still think that you’re going to be seeing a lot of these distinctive new SR5 Cruisers on (and, no doubt, off) our roads however as word gets out about how well they now ride, and are specced/equipped, and the very real value for money they now represent.