Volkswagen Amarok V6 2017 Review
CarsGuide joined the Volkswagen Australia crew on a 1200km cross-country odyssey that took in three states and more than a thousand kilometres of dirt roads.
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How do you make an extremely popular model even more popular? Give buyers more choice.
That’s the mantra that seems to have been behind the Toyota HiLux 2018 update, which saw the big-selling pick-up gain a few new items and a couple of extra model grades across the line-up, including this new model, the Toyota HiLux SR+.
This new variant takes the work-focused SR model and adds alloy wheels and satellite navigation, and essentially fills the spot of the old SR5 - but unlike that model, the SR+ keeps vinyl flooring instead of carpet, and it still has the more work-oriented tub design, with twin levers rather than a central handle to open up the tailgate, and exposed tie-down hooks because this ain’t no show pony.
The big seller remains the SR5, and now there’s a slightly more luxe version of that model, the SR5+, which adds leather-accented seats and electric adjustment for the driver’s seat.
|Toyota HiLux 2018: SR (4X4)|
|Engine Type||2.8L turbo|
The 2018 Toyota HiLux refresh was hardly a mid-life update - very little has changed since this generation HiLux went on sale in 2015, but the new 17-inch alloy wheels give the SR+ a point of difference over the SR. Personally, I prefer the black steelies of the SR.
As mentioned above, the SR+ (as with the SR and WorkMate variants below it on the totem pole) doesn’t have the smooth-sided tub of the SR5 version, and those twin handles literally double the amount of effort required to open and close the tailgate, but for what reason?
There’s a rear window protection rail that doubles as a rack, which is handy considering the tub size of the HiLux dual-cab (and most dual-cab utes, for that matter) is not overly useful when it comes to transporting lengthy items. The tray measures 1569mm long, 1645mm wide (1109mm between the arches, too small for an Aussie pallet) and 481mm deep. SR+ doesn’t get a tub-liner, either.
The SR+ model’s black plastic grille and side-steps, combined with its halogen headlights, certainly demarcate this as a lower-range offering. Those new rims aren’t fooling anyone into thinking this is an SR5 or SR5+, both of which get the streamline style-side tub, a chrome roll-bar, chrome grille and LED headlights.
There are more spacious dual-cab utes - if you have four burly lads that you expect to be sharing the space on the way to and from the worksite, there’ll be a short straw drawn for whoever ends up in the middle seat. It is tight back there, and legroom isn’t great for those in the window seats, either. If you’re a taller adult and the road is rough, you will need to make sure you don’t come into contact with the hard plastic grab handles in the back row. They don’t retract like most competitor utes, and could be a hazard in some instances.
That said, if you’re considering the HiLux SR+ as a sort of dual-purpose vehicle, it does have goodies like dual ISOFIX child-seat anchor points, which not all of its rivals can boast. And it has a clever split-folding seat base in the rear, which allows you to keep your tools out of the weather. You can’t drop the seat-back, but it has three top-tether attachment points behind the head-rests.
There is a flip-down centre arm-rest with cupholders in the rear, two cupholders between the front seats, and door pockets that are big enough for bottles in all four doors.
The SR+ model costs $2000 more than the existing SR variant, pushing the list price to $50,560 for the automatic version tested here - which isn’t a massive ask considering the exorbitant dollars a lot of dual-cab utes ask. You can get a manual version if you want - it’ll cost you two grand less … or, as it happens, the same as an SR auto, minus the plus. Confused? Sorry!
It feels workhorse spec - but the 7.0-inch touchscreen media system belies those roots, with USB and auxiliary inputs
It is, of course, a 4x4 dual-cab ute, but those “hose-out” floors are perhaps not ideal for the modern-day dual-purpose ute that many people are after. Or, if you’re kids are particularly grubby, it could be exactly what you need. There’s no doubting that fifty grand will get you a helluva lot of family car elsewhere, if you are looking here, though.
You get fabric seats, and the SR model’s steering wheel and gear-knob are plastic rather than leather-lined. It feels workhorse spec - but the 7.0-inch touchscreen media system belies those roots, with USB and auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and even a good old-fashioned CD player.
Along with sat nav, SR+ models gain DAB+ digital radio reception. The system itself is reasonably easy to use, but the lack of any tactile knob for the volume control can make adjustments a little frustrating, especially if you’re a passenger. The screen isn’t overly responsive, either, meaning inputting sat nav addresses might take a little bit of learning, but the software did its job fine. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology.
The Bluetooth phone connectivity is simple to figure out, and it connects/reconnects quickly when you’re getting in and out of the vehicle a lot. There are some slower elements, though, like the reversing camera, which can take a good 10 seconds to get itself showing up - almost as long as it takes you to start up, choose reverse and get out of the parking space you’re in.
I did like the way the system remembered your volume preferences between different audio sources
I did like the way the system remembered your volume preferences between different audio sources - I was listening to a podcast at decent noise, and when I changed to radio my ears weren’t blasted, because the system remembered the last volume setting on that mode.
This SR+ spec has a payload of 930kg, which is less than key competitors, most of which have more than 1000kg of tray capacity.
On test - in our brand-spanking SR+ with just 150km on the clock at collection - we saw 10.1L/100km over a mix of urban, highway and country road driving. No off-road, no load-lugging… not terrific, but fine, and we suspect once it has a few more miles under its tyres that average would drop a little further.
The words that come to mind are ‘rugged’ and ‘robust’, because at the helm of the HiLux you feel like you could take on anything - it has a go anywhere hard edge to it, but that is also to its detriment, because it simply isn’t anywhere near as comfortable as some of its more polished dual-cab competitors.
I’ve driven this generation of HiLux extensively off-road, and its impressive approach and departure angles (31 and 26 degrees, respectively) and its huge 279mm ground clearance and 700mm wading depth make for simple progress on seriously gnarly terrain. Some of its electronics aren’t quite as clever as the competition, but the hardware for hardcore off-roaders is all there.
On the road, though, is where you’ll likely spend most of your time, and the HiLux’s sharp suspension can make for jolting and jittering progress on rougher road surfaces. On the freeway or around town (so long as there aren’t many speedhumps and sharp edges) it fares reasonably well, but buy a Navara, Amarok or Ranger if you want supreme suburban comfort. Or just chuck some weight in the tray - that settles the rear end down significantly, improving ride comfort notably. There is no doubt the HiLux comes into its element with mass over the rear axle.
The steering of the HiLux is well judged, offering good response and nice weighting, without being as cumbersome as some of the heavier-set utes it fights against.
Its overly aggressive grade control engine braking will drop back gears and hold onto them, and can do so to an annoying extent - particular if you're not loaded up with weight or towing. In fact, the gearbox can be finicky, often grabbing a gear lower than you probably really need when you're approaching intersections. There's one intersection on my test loop that typically is a 'slow, then go' T-junction, where a good auto will drop to second gear and allow you to roll through. The 'Lux drops to first gear every time, without fail - and without reason to do so.
Otherwise, the drive experience is pretty good - the engine is punchy enough and decently refined, while the automatic does a good job at keeping pace on the highway or country roads.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Buyers will get a reversing camera and seven airbags when they choose a HiLux dual-cab, as well as ABS, ESC and hill descent control, hill-start assist, emergency brake assist (EBA) and electronic brake distribution (EBD) and trailer sway control. There’s a rear differential lock, which could certainly make for safer progress on some surfaces.
The Toyota HiLux managed the maximum ANCAP crash test score of five stars when it was tested in 2015.
One of Toyota’s greatest talking points is its ownership credentials - the company’s vehicles are known for being unbreakable, and also affordable to own.
That’s certainly the case with the HiLux, which has a reputation that precedes it. But there is no denying that the service intervals are sub-standard, with maintenance due every six months or 10,000km (up to three years/60,000km). Toyota has its guaranteed low-price servicing plan called Toyota Advantage ($240 per visit), but some buyers mightn’t be eligible and may have to pay what’s called the “Maximum Logbook Service Price”. Make sure you’re eligible for the more affordable plan.
There is no denying that the Toyota HiLux 2018 update has seen some important inclusions. This new SR+ model is a vital gap-filler for the brand that will appeal to a certain few buyers who want some extras over the regular SR.
|Rogue (4X4)||2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$42,600 – 54,450||2018 Toyota HiLux 2018 Rogue (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|Rugged (4X4)||2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$39,300 – 50,270||2018 Toyota HiLux 2018 Rugged (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|Rugged X (4X4)||2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$42,600 – 54,450||2018 Toyota HiLux 2018 Rugged X (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|SR (4X4)||2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$29,700 – 38,830||2018 Toyota HiLux 2018 SR (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|