Ford Ranger 2015 review
Joshua Dowling road tests and reviews the updated Frod Ranger ute, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
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Pick-up trucks, particularly sporty dual-cab models, are huge sellers in Australia these days. By far the biggest player in the segment is the long-running Toyota HiLux.
An all-new Toyota HiLux, the eighth generation, has just gone on sale and must be seriously worrying the opposition as many thousands of potential buyers have already expressed interest. Some have even signed up to buy a HiLux before knowing the price. Why? To get to the front of what threatens to be a long queue.
It’s well known that many pick-up buyers these days aren't looking for a hard working vehicle. So the all-new HiLux has been designed to sit in a spot somewhere between a full-on light commercial and a passenger SUV. Not that Toyota will ever ignore the person who does want a full-on tough working pick-up.
The about-to-be-superseded Toyota HiLux has built up a reputation for being rough 'n' tough and all-but unbreakable. That image is vitally important to Toyota so the designers were instructed to make sure it remains.
Australian engineers, particularly those in the body strength and suspension fields, have played a major part in the gen-eight HiLux, beginning work six years ago. "We didn’t even know what it looked like back then," smiled Max Gillard, the head of Toyota's technical centre in Australia when I chatted to him about his work.
Countless thousands of hours of Australian design and testing - including some 650,000km of road testing in everything from high-summer running on dirt tracks in the outback to slow, grinding traffic in Melbourne - honed the HiLux. The result is a rugged pick-up that suits many buyers globally.
A softer version of the HiLux was also designed, principally for the Asian markets, where comfort takes priority over ruggedness. These aren’t sold in Australia - a wise move given the nature of our drivers.
Some 650,000km of road testing in everything from high-summer running on dirt tracks in the outback to slow, grinding traffic
Toyota's commercial vehicle chief engineer, Hiiroki Nakajima, visited Australia to talk to the media about the HiLux, indicating the importance of our market to the world's biggest car maker.
New HiLux is big and bold in its shape, but not outrageously so. As a sign of the times it's longer and wider than the gen-seven, but is slightly lower. The grille certainly stands out and the way its shape wraps around into the lights gives a look of solidity. There's a large central air intake with distinctive cut-outs for the fog lights below and to the side. The guards have a pumped shape due to being squared off.
There is a full range of body options: single-cab, extra-cab and dual-cab. With cab-chassis variants available in all variants. For someone who doesn't require 4WD, but likes its tougher looks, Toyota has produced a Hi-Rider with added ground clearance.
Two new four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines are likely to make up the bulk of HiLux orders, they have capacities of 2.4L or 2.8L. Our on-road and off-road testing of the new engines showed them to be easy to live with in real-world conditions.
Petrol powerplants are a 2.7L four-cylinder, and for those really looking for sophistication in their HiLux can go for a 4.0L petrol V6.
It makes dumb drivers look good by doing the rev-matching for them during down-changes
Power transmission in the lower-cost models is by a conventional five-speed manual. The topline HiLux SR5 gets a fascinating six-speed 'intelligent' manual - intelligent in that it makes dumb drivers look good by doing the rev-matching for them during down-changes. There are six-speed automatic options in all variants.
There are 31 variants of the new Toyota HiLux pick-up: 12 with 2WD and 19 using 4WD. This split certainly shows that buyers are serious about getting down and dirty, not just swanning around in the suburbs looking macho.
Toyota's media launch of the HiLux involved heavy-duty off-road driving at the Anglesea proving ground near Geelong, Victoria. This made a lot of sense because country owners give their pick-ups a tough life. The HiLux handled the various tests – hillclimbs and descents, water crossings of 700mm, severe rocks, and just plain rough-as-guts roads - very competently.
We even towed a 2.5-tonne caravan, albeit briefly, to check out the HiLux's electronic trailer stability system. Though there's some sway, it's minimal and gives the driver peace of mind.
We then did a 200km on-road drive program. New HiLux is bang up to date in noise and vibration minimisation for the pick-up class providing a relaxed atmosphere.
Undulating road surfaces do cause the suspension grief at times, with a ride that's less well contained than we anticipated. This is proof the Toyota pick-up is a full-on working vehicle, not a cool suburban toy.
Toyota Australia is extraordinarily conservative in its operations, particularly when addressing the media, so when it says that sometime during 2018 an Australian will buy the millionth HiLux sold here, you can be sure it's very confident in continuing very strong sales. In our opinion that confidence is well placed.
Cab chassis prices start at $20,990 for a manual 4x2 Single Cab 2.7L petrol and run through to $46,990 for an automatic 4x4 SR Double Cab 2.8L diesel. Pick-ups range from $30,690 for a manual 4x2 Workman Double Cab 2.7L petrol to $57,990 for an automatic 4x4 SR5+ Double Cab 2.8L diesel (ex. on-roads).
What do you think about the all-new Toyota Hilux? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
|SR||3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN||$12,880 – 29,990||2015 Toyota HiLux 2015 SR Pricing and Specs|
|SR (4X4)||3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN||$19,950 – 40,492||2015 Toyota HiLux 2015 SR (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|SR Hi-Rider||2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$25,990 – 29,980||2015 Toyota HiLux 2015 SR Hi-Rider Pricing and Specs|
|SR5||4.0L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$20,600 – 27,940||2015 Toyota HiLux 2015 SR5 Pricing and Specs|