Sitting forlornly in our shed is an old HiLux, with hose-out trim, a column-shift and a radio that's not familiar with Frequency Modulation - a proper workhorse.

Fast-forward to 2011 and Toyota are selling them by the boatload - more than 700,000 so far and it is still a regular podium finisher each month in the vehicle sales figures, not just for LCVs either - and it's not hard to see why.

Explore the 2011 Toyota HiLux Range

Fleets grab plenty but it's a versatile family truckster as well. We're in the HiLux SR5 dual-cab turbodiesel and bidding it farewell as the market leader prepares for an updated range arriving before year-end.


The list price of $53,690 didn't change despite some extra safety gear bing added last year, but for that pricetag you're shelling out for something a little more comfortable than a hose-out hack.

It sits on 17in alloys and has the obligatory alloy sports bar and side steps, as well as cloth trim, carpeted floors, power windows, remote central locking, cruise control, air conditioning, a tilt-only steering wheel (it's showing its age there), a trip computer, Bluetooth link for the phone and music, a USB port within the four-speaker sound system, front sports seats, tinted rear windows.


While this is hardly the segment for cutting-edge technology, it's no longer a complete backwater either. The HiLux is propelled by a three-litre direct-injection common-rail turbodiesel four-cylinder, which offers up a useful 126kW and 343Nm, the latter on tap from 1400 through to 3400rpm,  just shy of the peak power arrival.

The forced-induction is taken care of by a variable-vane turbocharger for better response. The test car was equipped with the standard five-speed manual but there's also a four-speed auto on offer.

The front end has a double-wishbone suspension set-up but the rear remains leaf-sprung, which works when loaded but is a little jittery (something that afflicts most models in this class) when empty.


Big, square, robust and rugged - it'll never be mistaken for a Renault concept car or a Mazda Le Mans racer - but it is certainly fit for purpose. The short-trayed dual-cab is fast-becoming the weapon of choice for those in the trades with toys and tykes to be transported on the weekends.


The safety side of the features list was upgraded late last year, so the SR5 now has dual front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes (upgraded last year to include brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, but still using rear drums).

The front seatbelts get pre-tensioners and all outboard seating positions get lap-sash belts - the back seat middle passenger makes do with a lap-only belt.


The SR5's talents were put to the test on a number of fronts during our time in the car. Its rear tray isn't overly long (dual cab trays generally aren't) but it was enough for a large load of pine fence posts, with tie-down rings to help keep them all in place.

The single-cab's 1805mm tray would be more useful that the 1520mm cargo bay on the dual cab, but drop the tailgate down for longer loads and the only way you'll miss out is if a speed camera can't see your number plates. But we wouldn't do anything illegal like that ....

There's no electronic trickery within the 4WD system either - a part-time rear/four-wheel drive system with low range and a rear limited slip differential is more than enough to get the HiLux lurching and clambering over all manner of obstacles.

Even with all-terrain "jack-of-all-trades" tyres, the dual-cab easily dealt with loose-surfaced dirt and greasy, muddy back-tracks with little concern for getting stuck.

Even on the tarmac, the HiLux is not as ponderous as you'd expect - in fact a mercy dash for hard-to-find water pipe supplies for an urgent repair showed it can cover ground at a decent rate. The ute has 210mm ground clearance (which makes the sidesteps compulsory for those smaller of stature to get in and out).


The yardstick is starting to show its age a little but remains the one to beat in what is fast becoming a popular segment. The HiLux is under siege from Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford, Holden, Mazda and even Volkswagen, among others, but it remains the one to beat.

The SR5 doesn't want for much and is a useful, versatile and well-equipped workhorse that has little trouble completing family duties out of hours.