The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - In The Garage -

IT’S time to hand back the keys to our Toy­ota HiLux SR5 af­ter liv­ing with it over the ex­tended sum­mer.

We have a long list of things we like about Toy­ota’s tough truck and an equally lengthy “to do” list.

The good news first: it’s ex­tremely eco­nom­i­cal (for a two-tonne pick-up) if you don’t thrash it. We av­er­aged 8.8L/100km over the life of the loan. It was al­ways un­laden but of­ten tow­ing.

The LED low-beam head­lights are su­perb; the high-beams are OK but could do with a boost.

The (new, larger) brakes have a sharp, re­as­sur­ing bite com­pared to ri­vals (and sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter in feel than the Ford Ranger).

The HiLux qual­ity over­all im­presses, from the “thwack” sound as the doors close on their dou­ble-sealed rub­bers, to the tough door trims that can han­dle an ac­ci­den­tal scrape of a boot.

It took a while to get ac­cus­tomed to the SR5’s firm sus­pen­sion, although it would be bet­ter if Toy­ota could iron out the bumps — if do­ing so didn’t come at the ex­pense of its off-road abil­ity.

The HiLux rides bet­ter with a cou­ple of hun­dred ki­los in the back; even a jet ski and trailer (500kg com­bined) was an im­prove­ment.

The au­dio unit needs a vol­ume dial; you can mute the sound with a but­ton on the steer­ing wheel but some­times you just want to change vol­ume quickly, not turn it off. The au­dio screen can be hard to see in day­light.

Fur­ther wishes: could the power win­dow and door lock switches il­lu­mi­nate as soon as the car is un­locked? That way, I could find the lock switch at night (I live in a dodgy area).

The au­dio unit needs Ap­ple Car Play and the dig­i­tal ra­dio an­tenna needs to be moved from di­rectly in front of the driver. This will be tricky to fix: the ra­dio and AC dis­plays re­flect in the rear win­dow at night, very dis­tract­ing.

Ex­tend­able sun vi­sors would take the side glare out of long country drives; add a van­ity mir­ror while you’re at it.

The last thing we no­ticed: to save money Toy­ota has sim­ply painted the grain­fin­ished front bumper from the base model. Pre­vi­ous SR5s had a smooth fin­ish on the painted bumper.

We’d still take a HiLux hands down over the com­pe­ti­tion — es­pe­cially if hold­ing on to it be­yond the three-year warranty.

With the com­pe­ti­tion clos­ing in, Toy­ota needs to make these and other changes (adding radar cruise con­trol and auto emer­gency brak­ing, for ex­am­ple) if it is to stay on top.

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