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Toyota Hilux review

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    Electronic stability control is a significant on-road safety bonus and traction control makes a huge difference off-road.

Overlander magazine's Fraser Stronach road tests the updated Toyota Hilux.

It took a while but Toyota has finally added electronic traction and stability control to its HiLux SR5 dual-cab diesel. There are additional changes to the SR5 as well, and some other upgrades down the model range, but the addition of the electronic chassis controls to the SR5 is really the main-event news.

You may not think that this isn't anything to get too excited about and, if this is the case, you probably need to think again. Electronic stability control is a significant on-road safety bonus while traction control can make a huge difference off-road.

In the case of a vehicle like the HiLux, the addition of these electronic controls are even more deeply felt due to the design compromises that are inherent with all utes.

Toyota, of course, is not the first to introduce these upgrades to mainstream Japanese utes as both Mitsubishi, with its Triton and Nissan with its Navara, beating Toyota to the punch.

Nissan's situation is much the same as Toyota with the electronic controls only available on its top-spec dual-cab 4WD diesel (the ST-X) whereas Mitsubishi has traction and stability control available right across its 4WD Triton range, either standard or as an option.

We drove the HiLux on some moderately difficult off-road tracks and while a HiLux without traction control would have probably made it through, the addition of traction control makes it that much easier for both the driver and vehicle.

The essential off-road limitation with all utes (at least when they are unladen) is a lack of weight on the rear wheels. Add in the fact that a leaf-sprung live axle, standard fare on the rear of all the utes in this class, doesn't have the travel of a good coil-sprung live axle, and you can quickly struggle for traction in more slippery or demanding terrain.

To overcome this, most drivers simply use a little more momentum to get up, over or through any tricky bit. In practice this generally works well but it does risk more damage to the vehicle. The beauty of traction control is that you can tackle the worst bits at a far easier pace and if one or more wheels start to lose traction and spin, the traction control will intervene as good as instantaneously to stop the wheel spinning without any interaction by the driver. In a word, the addition of traction control has pushed the HiLux right up to the front of the pack off road once again.

The only notable change for 2011 is the wheel and tyre package have been changed from the 255/70R15s used previously to 265/65R17s. The 15s were good in terms of off-road practicality, but the ever-diminishing choice of 15-inch tyres was a problem. The 17s also improve the on-road steering and handling, especially the turn-in precision.

As ever, the HiLux diesel offers an excellent spread of power, even though it may be down on claimed maximum power, and high levels of refinement. At this stage however, Toyota is yet to upgrade the towing capacity which, at 2250kg, is now well behind the class average.

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 38 comments

  • Its your driving thats crap bud !

    dervdave of UK Posted on 14 December 2012 7:29am
  • Its your driving thats crap bud !

    dervdave of UK Posted on 14 December 2012 7:28am
  • Tram did you deflate your tyres! you seem very inexperienced in 4x4 driving, hehe

    Victor A of melbourne Posted on 06 July 2012 7:49pm
  • @tram, just because its a 4x4 it don’t mean you can go anywhere. As you took it out on the first day I’m assuming it still had the stock ‘cheese cutter’ tyres on it, and thats why you would of got bogged down in the sand. With upgraded tyres you will be surprised where the lux can get you.

    shaun Posted on 24 February 2012 2:55pm
  • I’ve got a hilux sr5 and I hate it! It gets bogged everywhere! I took it to the beach on the first day I got it and it got bogged! They are pieces of crap!

    Tram of Timbucktoo Posted on 20 February 2012 8:07pm
  • I get a Hilux SR as a company vehicle purpose built for extreme conditions and it cops it all. It’s covered from head to foot in mud, driven hard across unsealed country roads and even where there are no roads to speak of, through water crossing - you name it, I do it! And believe me when they say they are unbreakable ... they are unbreakable and I’ve tried very hard to break my one.

    HT of middleofnowhere Posted on 26 October 2011 12:57pm
  • I have just sold my SR5 hilux2006 model and brought the new nissan pathfinder ti550, I acknowledge that the pathy is not a ute but it does fill my requirements at the moment,the reason for the change the hilux was down on towing capacity, fuel economy when towing, manouverability, and gross combined mass, the pathfinder covers all this which is what I require, the Hilux performed well off road, and I have no compiants in that department I shall have to wait for the anual fishing trip up north to let you know how the pathfinder performs off road, but at the moment it beats the hilux hands down and it is a v6 turbo deisel…. let the debate continue.

    Bruce Howatson of wa Posted on 13 July 2011 8:32pm
  • David, I don’t own mine its free but i have had a 2010 Hilux sr duel cab auto for 6 months and I’m not impressed this is the first and last Hilux i will have. I made the error of accepting this car without testing it out first i figured everyone who raves about them cant be to far of the mark. i let the reputation guide me. I was expecting good things from this ute but did not receive them. The ute is resonably well built and works well off road i have been away quite a few times in it so far. but i will not agree with you on the fuel economy comfort and towing ability. Yes it can tow and is fairly stable doing so but the brakes are not up to the task and the engine lacks real torque. hence the 2200KG towing limit and fuel use of 12L per hundred on the freeway unloaded (what economy do you get in L/100K?).  The debate has been not that you don’t see them around or that people buy them just that they are not better than every other ute out there my experience has taught me the opposite. what other utes have you personally owned or ran how can you be subjective if you have only had Hiluxes.  Three of my staff are hilux owners and they even admit that there current rig is better in some ways

    jason of melb Posted on 24 March 2011 4:33pm
  • As an owner of many Toyota Hiluxes over the years, the current model is a great ute. Having done 74,000 country kilometres in our current model, towing included my experiences have been all good, you give me the impression that you are full of bullsh*t , feeding everyone on here a load of rubbish. Go bush and you will see many Hiluxes, the mines use them, they have tried other makes and just go straight back to the Hilux. Have been up north many times, no issues, seen many other brands being towed or on trailers or tow trucks broken down. The diesel is great, the more you tow with them the better they get, fuel economy is great. The comfort is good, nothing falls off them, that is all you need.

    David S. of South Aust. Posted on 22 March 2011 11:05pm
  • No detail like original Hilux. Wait until 2013 if you want to spend 55k on SR5 4cyl diesel. Fat rip off ? at least the TRD looked good. Toyota cashing in on current sh*t front shape available.

    SHRALP CARROLL of BRONTE BEACH Posted on 12 March 2011 8:05am
  • Shane, your delusional mate. The Hilux’s are a good truck but people are tragics when it comes to following them and feeling the need to tell everyone how great they are. Also to defend Isuzu the running gear in them leaves the Hilux for dead. They have been in the game of making brilliant diesel motors vehicles for a long time and in fact have designed and built a few diesels for toyota. As well as this toyota are a shareholder with Isuzu so even they see that Isuzu are good at what they do. As far as reliability goes the current offering from Isuzu the d-max easily matches the Hilux and i’d say the Isuzu donk would be a better bet long term.

    Chris of QLD Posted on 28 February 2011 10:20pm
  • Jason - i will ... cheers !!

    Shane of Central Queensland Posted on 23 February 2011 2:22pm
  • Shane you clearly do not read any of the posts correctly. So mate continue to live in your own world and enjoy your own company.

    jason of melb Posted on 23 February 2011 8:35am
  • Jason - The popularity and varied use of the Hilux in many markets throughout the world is true - Africa, Middle East, Europe, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Australia, Artic / Antartica, ... it is true so why deny it. Besides, it is not my opinion - it is fact. Want proof - visit wikipedia and read up about the global versatility and different adaptations of the Hilux for yourself While i’m at it - the Hilux is also sold in Latin and South America and many Asian countries while in North America a modified version known as the Tacoma is the biggest selling mid-size pickup truck. BBC aka Top Gear has also demonstrated the sturdiness of the humble ‘Lux’ in a number of episodes including the dubbed ‘Top Gear Polar Special’. As for only 20% of Hilux sales in Australia are purchased by private buyers, it is not my opinion but statistics obtained by VFACTS - a quick research online outlines the details. Again .. i ask - you name me a single mid-size commercial vehicle that is as commonly used in world as the Hilux. If you want to know why i bother - because of all the reasons i have taken the time to highlight today ... that’s why !!

    Shane of Central Queensland Posted on 22 February 2011 4:55pm
  • So much bitching, get a room girls

    Blah Blah Blah of Brisbane Posted on 22 February 2011 4:13pm
  • I have stated my opinions and why i stand by them. I need justify nothing to you. Your utter tripe is boring me. State your personal opinion and regard it as just that and that alone. You only speak one opinion and not pure fact. i do pity you for you inability to determine between the two it must cause you to be a very twisted individual.
    I don’t think the Hilux is special you do I don’t buy them for my fleet you would. seriously look at you continued repatriation of pointless irrelevant tripe and think long and hard why you bother.

    jason of melb Posted on 22 February 2011 2:37pm
  • Att: Jason - According to VFACTS which is the offical automotive statistics organisation in Australia, only 20% of all Hilux’s sold in Australia are to private buyers. Just thought i will give you some ‘official’ figures and as for the rest of my comments below - just thought i would refresh your memory as to why the Hilux has such a solid reputation not just in Australia but in many countries around the world especially considering the many and varying tasks they are utilised for. Not exactly sure what you mean about less industrial and more private adopted but anyway ... enjoy the reading.

    Shane of Central Queensland Posted on 22 February 2011 1:03pm
  • Cont? It is no secret that in Africa the Hilux as well as the rugged 70 Series Cruiser has been the preferred choice as a work hack for many years not just with local farmers and safari park operators but local industries, mines and warlords. In fact, Warlords in places like Africa and Afghanistan have used the ‘Lux’ as light armoured vehicles for many years hence why it has become a common sight. India and Pakistan use the ‘lux for identical purposes while in the challenging and often freezing countryside of Northern and North Eastern Europe the ‘Lux’ is again a commonly used commercial vehicle for many different purposes. In Australia, once again as with any Toyota 4WD or commercial hack ... the Hilux has long been the preferred choice among our tradies, farmers, industries and mining sector and as i previously highlighted was deemed the most suitable utility vehicle for use in most extreme environment on Earth - the Artic and Antarctica. In fact - the Artic Trucks aka Hilux has certainly made a name for itself. So despite your figures that you so kindly highlighted ... name one single commercial hack that is even remotely common or as widely used around the world as the Lux.

    Shane of Central Queensland Posted on 22 February 2011 12:49pm
  • Shane. Put aside your ignorance for once please. You continue on about reputation but this is based on history true but not actually relevant. You have given nothing to back up your statements but your own subjective opinion. The numbers are facts this is what can be measured. I’m not making any on what is the better vehicle but what is more capable to conduct the task I need. You will always back Toyota to the hills you have a loyalty to the brand I do not so I use the numbers and they have proven to be accurate from experience. And I will DARE dispute your opinion if I don?t agree with you so don?t DARE try and use your bullying tactics on me I WILL NOT be intimidated in agreeing with you. I agree the Hilux has a well built reputation but the new model is not the old model and I don?t think it is as good in many ways but it is better in some. as stated the Hilux may be capable but if exceeding the number quoted that it is illegal and pointless to do so in this time of OH&S domination you cannot overload a vehicle and get away with it event if the vehicle is physically capable. It is legally not so cannot be used to do the job. This is why my fleet is not Hilux’s.

    jason of melb Posted on 22 February 2011 12:44pm
  • Jason - There is alot more to any vehicle then output alone. Some competitor vehicles may boost improved figures on paper but unless they can perform their duties as a commercial vehicle day-in / day-out with minimal fuss then it means absolutely nothing particuarly to the vast majority of customers who use them as work hacks.  Fact is, the Hilux has rightfully established a solid reputation for very good reasons because for many generations with the current model making no exception has proven it’s integrity as reliable, dependable, durable, robust and steadfast workhorse in some of the most challenging, hot, humid, dusty, arid and remote conditions that can be found anywhere on earth which includes Australia, Africa, Middle East India, Pakistan and even Afghanistan among other places.  In fact - even modified examples of the diesel Hilux are utilised in Antartica and was clearly explained the diesel ‘Lux’ is the preferred choice of vehicle because it was the most suitable so dare try to tell me because some other commercial vehicles boost improved specs that it automatically gives them a pass as a better vehicle because quite frankly that is an absolute load of rot.

    Shane of Central Queensland Posted on 22 February 2011 12:21pm
  • Shane i will give you a run down on the simple facts. as you wish

    (all supplied by manufacture based on space cab)
    The hilux has the second lowest power output @126KW (Mazda ford twins 115KW)
    The lowest torque output @ 343Nm
    The lowest GVM @2710
    The lowes GCM @4980 nearly 1T lower than the competition
    The highest Kurb weight @1795
    the lowest carrying capacity @915Kg this also has to accomodate the weight of the driver tray fuel any passengers leaving lets call it 700Kg of tray carrying capacity.
    the lowest towing capacity @2250KG.

    this is why i say the hilux is becoming less industrial and more private. compare these figures to the other utes avalible (D40 navara excluded thats in the same boat).
    this is not nessaceraly a attack on the hilux just back up for my argument. you can ask me the figures on any of the utes i have them all i did my research before ordering my fleet.

    yes the hilux has a great reputation and sells well but this is not because of its specification based on pure numbers it doesnt cut the mustard. i know from experiance it is able to carry more than specified but the insurance company wont care when the regect your clim when it goes belly up

    jason of melb Posted on 22 February 2011 11:03am
  • a lot would be a large amount or a great number. or if you will a higher percentage of total sales.

    jason of melb Posted on 22 February 2011 10:37am
  • Jason - you stated the Hilux sells alot to the private sector ... what do you classify as ‘alot’?

    Shane of Central Qld Posted on 21 February 2011 6:20pm
  • Shane they do sell well on their reputation. Reputation does not necessarily mean better. I have experienced older Hilux’s and now have a current model and you know my thoughts on it. you fail to state how you come to the supposed fact that the Isuzu source vehicle does not carry a good reputation. as a commercial vehicle the now divided sales of Holden and Isuzu badged units sells very well and the vast majority of those sales are to the industrial sector not private.
    the Hilux makes a LOT of private sales compared to the more industrial Isuzu. people in the private market pay the premium for the image or status the reputation carries. Thats why the sell premium cars at such an inflated price.
    i don’t have any interest in arguing the point on what is the better ute we disagree on certain point there. but if you are to make statements provide your evidence yopu demand it of anyone who disagrees with you so walk your own line.
    we treat or vehicles as tools and maintain them by the book and we have enjoyed nothing but reliability and toughness with our Isuzu fleet. and grief with our brief foray into Hilux territory. I’m only stating on my own experience so reputation counts for nothing here

    jason of melb Posted on 21 February 2011 2:26pm
  • Jason - There is a reason why the Hilux has established a solid reputation among tradies, industries, mining and farming communities that the Isuzu (and Rodeo) has struggled to achieve. They sell by the thousands in this segment of the market for very good reasons and don’t dare tell me it has got to do with price because you highlighted the Hilux commands a premium which is in fact correct. Besides, you don’t have to pay the premium for a ‘lux’ because someone else will. As I mentioned in an earlier statement - I drive commercial vehicles most shifts at work (Rio Tinto) and the Hilux is undeniably one the strongest and most reliable performers despite what some critics say. Trust me, Rio Tinto doesn’t exactly express much love or care towards any of their vehicles - Toyota or not, I certainly wouldn’t buy a vehicle privately from Rio Tinto after it has been in their ownership.

    Shane of Central Queensland Posted on 18 February 2011 5:10pm
  • I?m not sure how you quantify your statement that the Isuzu?s fall short of the Lux ? They are solid reliable and strong efficient and are a fantastic work tool. They lack some refinement but this suits there industrial application better. We have found them to be more rugged and capable then the Lux’s we have had in the past and now use them exclusively for service applications. I will admit the 3.5 v6 that was briefly in the RA series was a lemon. But the vehicle never has been and has a very strong and long reputation as a tough reliable work ute. I do maintain that the Hilux along with most other models is getting softer and moving away from the work hack it used to be just push a panel on the current series. I dented mine leaning on it filling up. I drove a rodeo for 6 years and now drive a Lux, and to tell you the truth, I would not pay the premium for the Lux if it were my personal car $50K it is not worth. When my Rodeo was $34K and in a number of ways better as far as my use goes.

    jason of melb Posted on 17 February 2011 5:05pm
  • att : My experiences with the ‘lux are obviuosly different to yours. As for your comment that the Hilux is becoming more private orientated then industrial - i do not agree. As i stated previously, the Hilux has proven it’s ability and durability as a commercial vehicle for many years and the current model makes no exception. As for Isuzu, traditionally they have predomiantely fallen short of Toyota commercial vehicles as reliable and durable work utes. You must also bare-in-mind ... although the Lux is designed and engineered as a commercial vehicle, the overwhelming majority of Lux’s sold are destined as work hacks and get treated accordingly ... very little love or care. Yet despite this, they remain a hardy ute. And yes ... even Toyota commercial and 4WD vehicles need some care and ‘correct’ maintenace as scheduled.

    Shane of Central Queensland Posted on 17 February 2011 3:02pm
  • Shane, that consumption is 100% correct for my diesel and Toyota tell me that there is nothing wrong with that. VE do have the petrol engine utes as well great power consumption isn?t that bad in reality but about 50% have been unreliable the others faultless. I?ll have to admit I just got it back from the dealer after two days. New callipers rotor and pads and the brakes are much better. Seems they have been dragging since new. Recalibration of gearbox is an improvement. Brakes still are not fantastic but acceptable. I cannot agree in full with you they do the job just in a lot of cases there main shortfalls is the low torque low carrying capacity and towing capacity. They are becoming less industrial and more private. There are other utes on the market that make better work trucks. We cannot legally use Hilux’s as our service vehicles due to their low carrying and towing capacity. We are very happy with our Holden badged Isuzu?s for this job and are obliged to use Hilux’s for management.

    jason of melb Posted on 17 February 2011 8:39am
  • Jason - I doubt your stated consumption figures are correct because the diesel engine is relatively frugal however the 4.0 v6 can be thirsty. At work, we only have the diesel powered utes and the ‘lux’ has been a very good work hack. Privately, i don’t own a Hilux but my sister and her husband do (diesel SR5) and they love it. As for your criticism regarding the 4-speed box, I agree and believe Toyota will be doing a ‘technical upgrade’ with the Hilux about mid-year ... be interesting to see comes of it. Despite some shortfalls, the Hilux proves it’s worth and integrity as a commercial vehicle everyday with tradies, industries, mines and farming communities utilising them by the thousands and quite frankly - they do the job and do it well.

    Shane of Central Queensland Posted on 16 February 2011 4:56pm
  • Patch it is a diesel and i didn’t buy it its a company car.  Its the lack of range that gets me and the limited fuel stations I can use with the fuel card.

    jason of melb Posted on 16 February 2011 2:49pm
  • Jason buy a diesel next time if your crying about fuel consumption

    Patch of Coburg Posted on 16 February 2011 1:50pm
  • Shane, it doesn’t take two days to replace worn brake pads.  The Hilux is capable. the brakes are sub par the do the job just and that’s it.  Mine is not as reliable as it should be and uses to much fuel this is FACT sorry if you do not like it.
    I have been off road on a number of occasions so far it is very good off road but consumption jumps to 22Ltr per 100 using mostly low range so I’m only getting just over 300k’s to the tank.
    the ability of this ute to tow does not compare favourably to its competitors. it will pull 2T but it doesn’t do it well it does need more torque and at least a 5 speed box standard. and a trans cooler is badly needed it is a better car than some of its direct competitors but not a better ute.
    Toyota have the means to make it much better that it is and for the price they charge it should be. So why isnt it?

    jason of melb Posted on 16 February 2011 1:25pm
  • Att: Jason - Please ... don’t talk sh*t

    I work for Rio Tinto and drive the ‘Lux’ (amoung other utes) most shifts. I know what the Hilux can and cannot do - it is a capable and reliable ute.

    If the brakes are shot at 20 000km’s then may i advice you to stop drivng it like a racecar. The only explanation for brakes to wear out prematurely on any vehicle and not just the the Hilux is from abuse.

    Shane of Central Queensland Posted on 15 February 2011 4:57pm
  • mine uses 12ltrs per 100 just to pull its self down the freeway.
    struggles to tow 1.2 ton and uses atleast 20l to do so.
    20,000K’s and the brakes are shot and need complete replacement.
    gearbox issues. sr5 5 speed box must be a lot better that th sr’s 4 speed box.
    this is a veiw shared by many who all drive the same POS SR’s we now all have

    jason of melb Posted on 15 February 2011 3:17pm
  • It worries me to see so many people in this types of transport moving from passenger cars. The Hilux has only just got ECS and TC, where this safety equipment has been standard on nearly all passenger cars for a couple of years!

    Why do tradie cars miss out on safety gear?

    Dave S Posted on 15 February 2011 3:11pm
  • My sister (and her husband) who live at Jabiru (NT) have a late model diesel Hilux SR5 and absolutely love it. They frequently tow 2 horses in a float which they say the ‘lux’ does it easier then the 5.0 V8 AU Falcon ute they had previously. Apart from complete mechanical reliability, they did however have drama’s with the CD player when they first got the it.

    Shane of Central Queensland Posted on 15 February 2011 1:07pm
  • I have easily towed around 2,100kg with an Auto Diesel SR5. 343nm gets the job done and isnt too thirsty doing it. It is comparable with our 4.8L Patrol wagon, which is rated at 3,500kg and has 420nm.

    SV Posted on 15 February 2011 12:06pm
  • Cant tow 2250Kg with its lack of torque anyway

    jason of melb Posted on 15 February 2011 11:46am
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