King re­stored

THE HILUX IS BACK AS AUS­TRALIA’S MOST POP­U­LAR 4X4, AF­TER ITS 12-YEAR RUN ATOP THE 4X4 SALES CHARTS WAS BRO­KEN LAST YEAR BY THE RANGER.

4 x 4 Australia - - Report Card -

THE HILUX is not just the best-sell­ing 4x4 in Aus­tralia, it’s the coun­try’s best­selling new car over­all; the only ute to achieve that dis­tinc­tion. It first got there in 2016, af­ter 12 years as Aus­tralia’s best-sell­ing 4x4. Last year, how­ever, the Hilux was de­posed as Aus­tralia’s best­selling 4x4 by the Ford Ranger. Toy­ota re­sponded by flesh­ing out the Hilux model range by fit­ting al­loys and sat-nav to the work-spec SR to cre­ate the SR+, and adding heated seats to the SR5+ to match top-spec ri­vals. Then came a range of ac­ces­sorised mod­els, first the TRD and then more re­cently the Rogue, Rugged and Rugged X.

Com­pared to the first six months of 2017, Hilux 4x4 sales are up 12.2 per cent, suf­fi­cient to see it squeeze back in front of the Ranger by a mere 21 units, de­spite Hilux buy­ers no longer hav­ing the op­tion of the petrol V6. Dual-cabs make up 86 per cent of Hilux 4x4 sales, with sin­gle and ex­tended cabs evenly split in the re­main­ing 14 per cent.

Some­what con­tro­ver­sially, Toy­ota de­cided to down­size from a 3.0-litre diesel four to a 2.8-litre four in this lat­est gen­er­a­tion Hilux, which puts it at a dis­ad­van­tage against the no­tably big­ger 3.2-litre five-cylin­der en­gine in the Ranger, in a mar­ket where smaller en­gines are seen to work harder than big­ger en­gines to do the same job.

While the 2.8 is well short of the Ranger – let alone the Amarok V6 – in per­for­mance, it is a quiet, re­fined and nicely flex­i­ble en­gine. Three-quar­ters of all Hilux 4x4 buy­ers opt for the sixspeed au­to­matic de­spite its ten­dency to shuf­fle be­tween fifth and sixth gears at le­gal high­way speeds on un­du­lat­ing roads, which makes the man­ual the bet­ter choice for coun­try driv­ing.

There’s no doubt­ing the Hilux’s of­froad abil­ity, though, which is as good as it gets in its class. Build qual­ity, day-to-day own­er­ship prac­ti­cal­ity and af­ter­mar­ket sup­port are also sec­ond to none, but the Hilux’s cabin size and max­i­mum tow and load ca­pa­bil­ity is be­hind most ri­vals.

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