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Toyota HiLux 2020 review: SR off-road test

Dual-cab utes are the greatest thing since slice bread – just ask any one of the shed-ton of Aussie buyers who have bought – and keep buying – these enormously popular vehicles.

The upper- to top-spec variants are high on everyone’s wish-list – and even the limited and special edition examples have their place in the market – but there’s also plenty of room for utes that hold ample appeal in terms of good ol’ basic work-and-life practicality, rather than the leather-wrapped everything, heated anything, and sports bar-equipped spec-trific leanings of their stablemates.

And that’s where utes such as the Hilux SR comes in. It’s a workhorse, but one which slots in above the base-spec Hilux, the Workmate, and so it gets a few more features and an option or two.

We’ve recently reported on details of the 2021 HiLux, but, in the meantime, is it worth your while considering a current-generation SR? Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

A turbo-diesel Hilux SR dual-cab with a six-speed automatic transmission has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $49,515 (plus ORCs).

However, our test vehicle also had premium paint ($600), as well as the $2000 option* of satellite navigation and 17-inch alloy wheels, instead of steelies. (* That’s only available on the 4X4 dual‑cab Hilux pick-up-style variants.)

So, as tested, our SR was $52,115.

This dual-cab will set you back around 50k. This dual-cab will set you back around 50k.

Standard features include 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen, cloth seats, vinyl floor covering, an air-conditioned cooler box up front, and side steps. Driver-assist gear includes cruise control, downhill assist, reversing camera, and a rear diff lock. 

Otherwise it’s all rather bare bones – with dial-operated air-con and fan speeds, among plenty of other basic things – which is fine by me.

By the way, there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The SR is slightly upmarket of the base-spec Workmate Hilux, but not by much. 

It looks like a current-model Hilux in the pick-up style, just minus any of the fancy aftermarket-style trimmings you might expect, such as nudge-bars or bullbars and snorkels, because you’ve seen a lot of Rogue, Rugged and Rugged X variants around.

It's slightly upmarket, but not by much. It's slightly upmarket, but not by much.

How practical is the space inside?

The interior is basic and user-friendly, with all controls easy to swiftly find and operate, even on the fly. 

The seats are cloth, the floor is vinyl and hard plastic everywhere means the entire interior space is able to cop a work-day or weekend-away muddying without a fuss.

There is a variety of storage options including cupholders, door pockets, glove box, sunglass case and a shallow space behind the shifter for your phone.

It’s a well-built interior that’s not flash, but it makes a lot of sense. It’s a well-built interior that’s not flash, but it makes a lot of sense.

The rear seat is a 60/40 split-fold arrangement with fold-down armrest, sporting two cupholders, plus storage underneath.

There are no air vents back there though and mind your head on the protruding grab handles as on previous drives our testers have head butted those on rough terrain.

It’s a well-built interior that’s not flash, but it makes a lot of sense.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

It’s a working truck so don’t be surprised with the very workmanlike engine. It’s a working truck so don’t be surprised with the very workmanlike engine.

The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm at 1600–2400rpm), a six-speed automatic transmission, a selectable 4WD system and a rear diff lock.

It’s a working truck so don’t be surprised with the very workmanlike engine; it’s not the most powerful thing around, nor the torquiest – look to a V6 dual-cab ute for those measures – but it does the job, albeit in a rather gruff kind of way.

What's it like as a daily driver?

From the get-go, you absolutely know you’re in a ute. 

Unladen ride is firm, borders on harsh, but that’s no surprise if you’ve spent any time whatsoever in a ute and it’s on par with some rivals.

Ride and handling are pretty good, with its Aussie-tuned suspension (including traditional-ute leaf-springs at the rear) doing a decent job of sorting everything evenly, and it was only ever rattled by very severe bumps, wash-outs, and ruts at lower speeds, i.e. during low-range 4WDing.

For a 1955kg ute that’s 5330mm long, 1815mm high and 1855mm wide, the Hilux is easy to manoeuvre around town and in the bush.

Steering, telescopic adjustable only, is well weighted, with a light precision to it that’s very welcome.

From the get-go, you absolutely know you’re in a ute.  From the get-go, you absolutely know you’re in a ute. 

NVH levels are nicely subdued with a real quiet feel to the Hilux cabin.

The engine feels a little underpowered and the six-speed auto is not the sharpest, most modern auto in the ute market, but this combination does the job with minimal fuss.

The SR rides on the optional 17-inch alloy wheels and Dunlop Grandtrek AT tyres (265/65R17).

What's it like for touring?

Off-road, the SR is very capable.

Driving potholed dirt tracks and gravel roads on the way to our informal testing and proving ground of deep muddy ruts and soft coastal sand, the SR’s suspension – coil-sprung front and leaf-sprung rear end – smacked through anything more than knuckle-deep irregularities quite severely. It’s a rough ride in the ladder-frame HiLux.

But there’s no denying its capability in low-speed, low-range 4WDing. It’s simple enough to cycle from H2 (2WD) to H4 (4WD high-range) and then L4 (4WD low-range) via the dial to the left of the steering wheel and then you’re off and running. 

There’s actionable torque at the lower end of the rev range and, while it’s not the torquiest ute in the market – many have more than 500Nm, the V6 Amarok has 550Nm – it’s still plenty enough grunt to keep the ute moving through tricky terrain at a sustained and controlled pace. 

Off-road, the SR is very capable. Off-road, the SR is very capable.

For even more dirt-grabbing grip, press the rear diff lock button, below and to the left of that dial.

The SR has 216mm of ground clearance, a wading depth of 700mm and a turning circle of 11.8m. It also has approach, departure and ramp-over angles of 30, 20 and 25 degrees respectively. None of those measures will mean a hell of a lot to you until you’re faced with a rocky hill-climb, a deep creek crossing or a tight-one-way track. In a nutshell, the HiLux is adequately booted and suited for the bush.

There have been serious issues around Toyota's Diesel Particulate Filter and Toyota has taken steps to address those, but do your research and factor that into your buying decision.

Payload is listed as 955kg. Payload is listed as 955kg.

In terms of carrying stuff, the tray is 1569mm long, 1645mm wide, 1109mm wide between the wheel-arches, and 470mm deep.

Payload is listed as 955kg. Unbraked towing capacity is 750kg; braked towing capacity is a claimed 3200kg.

There is a huge range of accessories – Toyota Genuine and top-quality aftermarket – for the Hilux and that includes everything from bullbars to snorkels, through to roof racks, tonneau covers and canopies.

The HiLux’s full-sized spare is mounted under the ute.

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption is listed as 8.5L/100km. The trip computer showed an average of 10.4L/100km after more than 200km of mixed driving, including some low-range 4WDing. We did not get a fill-to-fill fuel-consumption figure on this test, but we have most recently recorded 12L/100km in an SR5.

The Hilux has an 80-litre fuel tank.

Fuel consumption is listed as 8.5L/100km. Fuel consumption is listed as 8.5L/100km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The SR has a five-star ANCAP rating, from July 2019. It has seven airbags (driver and front passenger, driver’s knee, front side, and side curtain shield), AEB (operational from 10-80km/h), lane keep assist with lane departure warning, a reversing camera, rear diff lock and downhill assist.

There are two ISOFIX mounts in the second-row outer seats and one top-tether anchor point in the centre.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Hilux has a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. Capped price servicing is applicable on all HiLux diesel models, for the first three years or 60,000kms up to a limit of six services. The cost is $250 per service.

Capped price servicing is applicable on all HiLux diesel models. Capped price servicing is applicable on all HiLux diesel models.

The SR is a reasonably priced dual-cab ute in the grand scheme of things and it makes sense as a great platform for an accessorised work and/or touring vehicle.

It's not the most refined or most comfortable ute available – with an overall harsh riding nature – but it’s a solid, capable workhorse.

This great all-rounder strikes a good balance between price, equipment levels and being actually built for purpose, whether that’s work or play. 

$44,590

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3/5

Adventure score

3.5/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide

$44,590

Based on new car retail price