Last year the Toyota HiLux already received a minor update, but it's this version that can be considered the first major overhaul since the latest version of Australia's top-selling vehicle was released back in 2015. This upgrade mainly comes in the form of the 2.8L diesel engine, which now produces 20kW more power and 50Nm more torque. Because of this, the HiLux is now capable of towing 3.5 tonne and it's happy to do so. Paired with the automatic transmission regulating is power is a breeze, without any jerky downshift or any loss of power when putting your foot down.
Add to this a sharper and more rugged look, more tech and improved comfort, and you'll quickly notice why it's place on the throne is very well deserved.
Whether you’re on the worksite or the side of a mountain, the Toyota HiLux will do its job. But let's first talk about where you'll probably see the HiLux most: on the bitumen. The improved engine is also quieter than before, while giving you some extra grunt (now up to 150kW and 420Nm) from lower revs, and getting more decisive shifts from the six-speed auto. Both welcome improvements.
With a five-star safety rating, the Toyota HiLux remains one of the safest utes in the segment. It now has added Toyota Safety Sense intelligent technology like speed signs alert, and the Pre-Collision Safety (PCS) system that has been designed to alert you when a frontal collision is likely.
Once you're off the bitumen you can turn the park and reverse sensors off though, but you do want to make use of the rear diff lock, low range 4WD and Downhill Assist Control, giving you all the control over the new HiLux you need off road.
Thanks to the upgraded suspension, the ride is more comfortable than ever before, making even the drive to your favourite off-road destination a pleasure. Even from the backseat - a notoriously uncomfortable place in most ute's - you'll be happy to go on a road trip. The seating seems to be more supportive, the bench more reclined, both attributing to less stress on the lower back.
The unladen ride is much more comfortable than before and without losing its load-carrying ability of 995kg in the bed. Longer leaf springs are designed to suppress road vibrations, while recalibrated spring rates, shock absorbers, bushes and cabin mounts are designed to improve ride comfort and cabin refinement.
There is a larger infotainment screen now comes with with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but otherwise there are no changes in terms of tech: one USB port inside the cabin, plus two 12V sockets. There’s also a household power socket in the centre console to run a laptop if necessary. And don't forget the new-look instrument panel, with analogue dials flanking a 4.2-inch LCD info display with digital speedo readout and several other new functions.
And last but not least, the HiLux SR5 now comes standard with smart entry and smart start. No more searching for keys in pockets or bags, get in, push a button and you’re away.
The HiLux is available as a Single, Extra and Double-Cab, with the choice of 4x2 or 4x4. That makes a total of 33-variants - too much to all name - but they start at just under $25k for a Single Cab 4x2 Workmate with a manual transmission to give you an idea.
After that you've got the choice of three engines (2.7-litre petrol, 2.4-litre turbo-diesel and 2.8-litre turbo-diesel) and five equipment grades – Workmate, SR, SR5, Rogue and Rugged X.
Entry into the dual-cab range now starts just under $50k with the top-of-the-line SR5+ Auto, with powered driver’s seats and heated front seats with leather-accented trim, puts you over $60k. The most popular model – the Toyota HiLux SR5 double-cab pick-up we drove – sets you back around $60k when equipped with a six-speed manual transmission.
Like every Toyota, the HiLux comes with a five year/unlimited kilometre Toyota factory warranty and service intervals remain at six months/10,000km whichever comes first. The first four routine visits are capped at $250 each under the Toyota Service Advantage program.
When the last Hilux was a new model, car buyers didn’t expect anything out of commercial vehicles other than to be durable, practical and cheap to own and run. As long as it came through at the moment you needed it, it got the thumbs up.
The new Hilux has sharpened all the points of the last model, and has further improved on recent models from all manufacturers, which find that commercial vehicles need not be rough and ready as they once were. The Hilux specifically, has been a vehicle that has recognised the dual purpose of utes for a while now, and the latest model only improves on that. Now fitted with the latest safety features and more power, you can rest assured that it will stay on top of the best-selling list for many years to come.