Toy­ota Hilux

Toy­ota’s dou­ble cab SR5 4WD Hilux may not sit at the top of the truck tree for Toy­ota, but for sure, it’s the bread and but­ter model of the ex­ten­sive Hilux range.

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This par­tic­u­lar ex­am­ple may not suit all com­ers, equipped as it is with a man­ual six-speed trans­mis­sion, but for those who don’t mind – or pre­fer to have – three ped­als un­der­foot, Hilux has your ute, and it’s got a par­tic­u­larly clever lit­tle trick in that six pack. Dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing the SR5 from the other nine 4WDS in the 21-strong Hilux range, is a lit­tle, seem­ingly in­no­cent lit­tle but­ton, la­belled I-MT, which stands for drum­roll please: in­tel­li­gent Man­ual Trans­mis­sion. What’s in­tel­li­gent about it? Well, this stick shift is al­most clever enough to fool you into think­ing you are driv­ing an au­to­matic, be­cause what I-MT does is mit­i­gate the shift shock in­her­ent in con­ven­tional man­u­als. It does this in the same way as a mo­tor­cy­cle quick­shifter or au­to­blip­per, match­ing the en­gine speed with the speed of the trans­mis­sion. The sys­tem is most no­tice­able on a down­shift, when you can clearly see the matchup hap­pen­ing. The rev counter kicks up the RPMS, while the trans­mis­sion catches up to smoothly slip into the next gear with­out the as­so­ci­ated ‘lurch’ sen­sa­tion that up­sets rear seat oc­cu­pants or sends loose cargo slid­ing around in the tray. Once we worked out what it was do­ing, the I-MT quickly be­came our favourite gad­get on­board the Hilux, which is not ex­actly light on cool stuff, be­ing an SR5 model and there­fore get­ting slightly up­graded ev­ery­thing in com­par­i­son to the reg­u­lar va­ri­ety ‘Lux. Hilux has been some­what over­shad­owed by its com­pe­ti­tion in re­cent years, but reg­is­tra­tion fig­ures not­with­stand­ing, it still has a hard­core le­gion of fans who are happy to keep sup­port­ing the model re­gard­less. ‘Lux loy­al­ists are go­ing to be well im­pressed with the eighth gen­er­a­tion, which is play­ing a very good game of keep­ing up with the Jones’s – es­pe­cially in the SR5 ver­sions. Some might mourn the loss of the stubby 4WD stick se­lec­tor, but the dial up sys­tem is ti­dier and just as ef­fec­tive, much like the en­gine in fact. The Hilux now runs a 2.8-litre, four­cylin­der, turbo diesel with a 130kw power out­put and re­spectable 420Nm of stump­sling­ing torque within a com­fort­ably low 1400 to 2600rpm range. OK, not as spec­tac­u­lar as the young up­start utes who went on a cam­paign to win the ‘’torque race’’, but Toy­ota sim­ply didn’t feel the need to take part in a spit­ting con­test, fo­cus­ing more on im­prov­ing a tried and true en­gine in line with con­sumer de­mand based on work­a­bil­ity. Yes, some styling changes have hap­pened, and styling is al­ways go­ing to be sub­jec­tive, but the Hilux look is dis­tinc­tive with­out be­ing jar­ring, so that’s a win. Con­ces­sions to mod­ern con­trivances? Yep. There’s a whack­ing great sev­eninch touch­screen for au­dio, app ac­cess, re­vers­ing cam­era and SUNA nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem for starters and Toy­ota’s voice com­mand sys­tem is one of the bet­ter ones on the mar­ket. Ride qual­ity over­all is good, though a lit­tle load in the back end def­i­nitely shows the ‘Lux in a bet­ter light. Heft­ing a 3500kg towed ve­hi­cle – which the SR5 is rated for – will likely smooth things out a whole lot more. The Toy­ota Hilux then, is not go­ing qui­etly into the dark – far from it if the cur­rent it­er­a­tion is any­thing to go by. Toy­ota is play­ing a long game with the Hilux and I sus­pect there are a few more hands to play be­fore the big play­ers call, and the strong-handed Hilux still has un­shown aces.

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