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.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

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.

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