From $20,990 ‘MLRP’ (Workmate 2.7 Cab-Chassis Manual)
Wolves. They’re wild, untamed, raw hunting machines that show no mercy. They stalk their prey, hunt it to where they want it before taking it down. Wolves then, would appear to be the perfect metaphor for the Toyota Hilux… or is it?
After over a decade of basically the same vehicle, 2015 bought a long awaited update to the most “unbreakable” car on the planet. But where has the wild, raw Wolf of old gone? In it’s place is a sleek, tech-filled, city-friendly motor vehicle.
Now, let’s not jump to conclusions here. Yes the engine is now smaller – displacing 2.8 litres instead of the traditional 3.0 – but somehow, thanks to the sorcery of the Japanese eggheads at Toyota City (yes they have an entire city dedicated to themselves) it now has more power, a lot more power.
Whilst the old 3.0 litre model had to make do with a measly 360Nm, this new, smaller, more efficient Hilux packs a serious punch, weighing in a 450Nm and full boost. That’s enough to tow your house – let alone the 3.5 tonnes now available thanks to a completely revised, well, everything really.
Toyota really out did themselves here. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Hilux. Yes they are tough and dependable, but I always found the ride to be unpleasant, the turbo lag frustrating and the lack of go in 5th gear insufferable. So naturally, stepping into this new model I had my reservations. But, like any first date, I kept an open mind.
Boy, am I glad I did.
They should have called it the Toyota Hilux E400 – yes it’s that good. Let’s break it down.
Ride and Handling
The ride is better than any 4×4 ute on the market. There, I said it. Okay whilst it isn’t exactly Mercedes quality, it is another universe compared to it’s predecessor. Driving around rural roads, it absorbs every bump thrown at it. I stopped trying to avoid the potholes after a short time because it made really no difference whether I hit them or not – in fact, it caused more discomfort slaloming around them than it did just to gracefully float over it.
The steering in the new model has taken a turn for the best too. Whilst they have completely modernised the model with electric power steering, they tried and true hydraulic rack feels as light and smooth as an electric setup. It’s precise, almost guided in it’s accuracy. A slight movement of your hand and it will take an average bend with ease.
When you decide to venture off-road, the computer systems feel as if they are compensating for you and the same effort is required whether in High or Low 4.
Underneath, the Lux is still riding on leafs, but they have revised their mounting which for the most part, rides comfortable on tarmac. As with any ute, having a load in the back improves the overall ride but unless you’re planning on taking a bush track to get to work, you’ll barely notice the bounce from the back.
This is where the new Hilux really comes alive. Every model in the lineup now features a touch screen display – the first ute in it’s class to do so. Packed with features such as bluetooth, iPod connectivity and digital radio, the Hilux has welcomed itself into the modern world – better late than never right?
The dash also has an interactive LCD display, with the flagship model – the SR5 – featuring a 4.2 inch colour display that shows you everything from average speed, fuel economy and ever directions fed from the GPS built into the touch screen in the centre. The SR5 also features dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, day-time LED’s and a ton of chrome.
The SR model’s make do with regular Air conditioning, but on the plus side, you no longer have to fork out an extra $2000 to have it fitted before you drive it home – just don’t mention the Land Cruiser ute…
All models now have seven airbags, central locking and power windows. Variant’s with a tub also come with a reverse camera – this can be optioned onto the tray back models. Cruise control now comes standard across the range – and it works!
As mentioned earlier, the new engines on offer all provide more power, but it’s the new gearboxes that make it all worthwhile. Toyota have finally done away with the old, laggy 5 speed and have fitted the new Hilux with the option of a 6-speed manual or auto box.
The gearing is now sublime. Taking off from a standstill in either guise the lag is minimal and the acceleration smooth. Once coasting along the highway, a simple push of the throttle will have you accelerating up a hill or past a truck (or god forbid, a caravan). No need to shift down, just go.
The manual models are slightly down on torque and as such have a lower towing capacity (3.2 tonnes), but 300kg turns you off buying a car, you need to reassess the class of vehicle you are buying. For me, the auto is the only way to go. It’s smooth, fast, responsive and if you are going off road, pluck it in tiptronic and enjoy – no more burnt out clutches or squeaky pedals.
The 4×4 models also come with a new function called Downhill Assist Control (DAC), which operates similar to a crawl function, operating the brakes and engine speed to slowly progress down a steep decline without the need to ride the brakes.
Electronic diff-locks and a dial to engage 4WD is now fitted to make life easier, as well as Hill-Start Assist and a sport button to give a bit of extra grunt when required.
The new Hilux is a masterclass in what Toyota can do given the time and the inclination. That being said, from the outside, the tough, unbreakable image seems to have faded into 2015 and a soft-roader has emerged in it’s place. It almost appears as if it belongs parked outside a trendy bar in Surry Hills with a hipster builder putting nothing but his tool belt in the tray. But don’t be fooled – the 2016 Hilux isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it’s as serious and tough as ever, with some class thrown in.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10