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Car reviews - Toyota - Hilux - range

The Car

24 Mar 2005

TOYOTA’S seventh-generation HiLux utility has arrived in Australia and will bring customers more of everything that has made it the Japanese brand’s top-selling light commercial vehicle.

On sale from April, the redesigned HiLux is substantially bigger in all dimensions, more powerful, more refined, more comfortable, safer and, importantly, represents better value.

Built on an all-new ladder chassis and employing new engines and suspension, the new HiLux range comprises some 30 variants (up from 27) – opening with the $20,990 four-cylinder Work Mate single-cab/chassis and closing with the flagship turbo-diesel dual-cab SR5 at $51,850.

Offering a wider choice of body, powertrain and equipment grade combinations, the new range again includes the choice of 4x2 and 4x4 drivetrains and either single, “Xtra” and double-cab body options – each with cab/chassis or style-side pick-up tray options.

The entry-level Work Mate equipment grade (4x2 only) also continues alongside the SR and range-topping SR5 variant, but is now available in dual-cab guise as well.

Also available for the first time are a six-cylinder 4x2 and the option of an automatic transmission in turbo-diesel 4x4 models.

All Gen VII HiLux variants come with twin front airbags and front seatbelt pretensioners, but while anti-lock brakes are standard in the top-shelf SR5 and optional in SR, ABS remains unavailable on lesser HiLux variants.

Air-conditioning is standard only on SR5 versions.

A wider footprint and new double wishbone front coil suspension improve stability, handling, ride quality and active safety, while the new body and chassis design and new safety equipment improve passive safety.

Claimed to be some 50 per cent stiffer than before, the substantially larger new HiLux is 345mm longer, 60mm wider, 75mm higher, offers a 155mm-longer tray (165mm longer on dual-cabs), a 235mm-longer wheelbase and now accommodates a 190cm driver in comfort partly thanks to 240mm of fore-aft seat travel.

More efficient rack-and-pinion steering also replaces the current recirculating ball and nut system, while headlights and brakes have also been upgraded.

Perhaps the biggest news within the extended HiLux range is the choice of three new engines.

Exclusive to single/double-cab Work Mate 4x2 manual variants is a new entry-level 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 118kW at 5200rpm 241Nm of torque at 3800rpm.

First seen in the new-generation HiAce van launched earlier this month, the new four-cylinder employs a DOHC cylinder head with VVT-i variable intake valve timing to bring a 14kW performance gain over the previous 2.7-litre petrol engine.

Available in single, Xtra and double-cab 4x2 and 4x4 variants is a new 4.0-litre quad-cam VVT-i petrol V6 lifted from Toyota’s Prado SUV exclusively for Australia and producing 175kW at 5200rpm and a big 376Nm of torque from 3800rpm in auto guise - or 343Nm between 2400 and 4800rpm in manual form.

That’s 68 per cent more power and 65 per cent more torque than the 3.4 it replaces.

Completing the quantum leap in performance is a new 3.0-litre DOHC inline four-cylinder intercooled turbo-diesel with common rail direct injection and twin balance shafts.

Available only in single-cab/chassis and double-cab pick-up SR trim (4x2) and in single, Xtra and double-cab 4x4 guises, the new oil-burner produces 120kW at 3400rpm and 343Nm of torque from just 1400rpm – significantly up on both versions of the current HiLux diesel.

Fuel consumption has dropped to 11.2l/100km for the 2.7, 8.5l/100km for the diesel and 13.3l/100km (single-cab manual) for the V6.

All models offer a shift-on-the-move two-speed transfer case and both V6 and turbo-diesel engines can be mated to a new five-speed automatic transmission, which attracts a premium of either $1540 or $2040 depending on the variant. All auto versions include cruise control as standard.

SR5 spec includes alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers, chrome doorhandles, power (chrome) mirrors, dual horns, leather-wrap steering wheel, Optitron instruments, ABS, air-con, six-CD/MP3 audio, fabric seat trim and driver’s seat height adjust.

In what Toyota describes as better value than ever, prices have been held to specification-adjusted levels of the previous model.

In short, that means the base Work Mate, which represents 60 per cent of current HiLux sales, increases in price by $1970 (was $19,020, now $20,990) but adds $2200 worth of equipment like twin airbags, pretensioners, 14kW more power, tilt-adjustable rack-and-pinion steering, immobiliser and a CD player.

Similarly, the V6 auto Xtra-cab SR pick-up, at $29,990, gains 71kW of power, a five-speed auto, keyless entry and dual airbags valued at $5000 for $1690 more. Toyota also says its nearest rival is the $400 cheaper Rodeo, which doesn’t offer dual airbags, power windows, a five-speed auto or 175kW.

Complementing the first all-new HiLux since 1997 and the seventh since 1970 is the biggest ever range of genuine Toyota accessories, including six airbag-compatible alloy and steel bullbars.

Described by Toyota as the world’s most popular one-tonner, HiLux has found 12.5 million new homes globally since 1967, including about 450,000 in Australia since 1972 (4x2) and 1980 (4x4) – around the same number produced annually.

That number is expected to increase dramatically when Toyota’s Thailand plant, which has doubled capacity and replaces Japan as Australia’s HiLux supplier, delivers more than 600,000 vehicles annually to 140 countries as part of its International Multi-purpose Vehicle (IMV) project.

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Did you know?

Also based on the new HiLux/IMV platform are a range of vehicles including a people-mover and an SUV dubbed Fortuna, which are already on sale in Thailand but won’t be sold in Australia for fear of cannibalising existing models like Rav4 and Kluger

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