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Toyota HiLux 2021 review: Rogue family test

The Toyota HiLux Rogue is traditionally a tool of trade - how does it perform as a family car?

When they think of a Toyota HiLux most people would think of a tradie workhorse, or a ute for some serious off-roading. This week I've driven The HiLux Rogue as a family car around the inner suburbs of Sydney, and there was lots to like about it.

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What does it look like?

The exterior is tough but sporty - with 18-inch black alloy wheels, sleek lines, plus a much needed step to clamber into the seats, or the back of the ute tray.

This version has a hard top roller cover for the tray, which opens and closes with the touch of a button, and locks easily with the car's main central locking function.

The cover gives you security and protection to use the back like a giant boot, which is great for family use.

Inside, the HiLux is built for practicality rather than luxury.

  • The exterior is tough but sporty. (image: Dean McCartney) The exterior is tough but sporty. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • With 18-inch black alloy wheels, sleek lines, plus a much needed step to clamber into the seats, or the back of the ute tray. (image: Dean McCartney) With 18-inch black alloy wheels, sleek lines, plus a much needed step to clamber into the seats, or the back of the ute tray. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • Such a big ute isn’t really what my family needs, but I have to confess it was a bit of fun to drive. (image: Dean McCartney) Such a big ute isn’t really what my family needs, but I have to confess it was a bit of fun to drive. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • When they think of a Toyota HiLux most people would think of a tradie workhorse. (image: Dean McCartney) When they think of a Toyota HiLux most people would think of a tradie workhorse. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • The official combined fuel consumption figure is 8.4L/100km. (image: Dean McCartney) The official combined fuel consumption figure is 8.4L/100km. (image: Dean McCartney)

The leather seats are very comfortable and have decent electric adjustments on the driver's side, but not for the passenger, plus the option of heating on a cold day.

They also have a nice perforation which stops them being too sticky on a hot day - sometimes a negative for leather seats.

The console layout is a bit odd. The two cupholders are a weird size, a standard take-away cup gets a bit lost, water bottles also rattle around, and the other storage spaces are in unhelpful positions.

For example, getting your phone in and out of the non-slip tray right at the front is a bit of a squeeze, but it is close to the charging points above it (no wireless charging, which is a shame in a car with this price-tag).

There are also pop-out cup holders on the sides of the dash, but when you've got a hot coffee, and the air con on, a coffee doesn't stay hot for long.

The dash seems to have controls all over the place, though the 8.0-inch screen is in a good position. (image: Dean McCartney) The dash seems to have controls all over the place, though the 8.0-inch screen is in a good position. (image: Dean McCartney)

Two kinda cool extra storage spots are the padded glasses cases near the rear vision mirror, and the double glove box - where the top one acts as a cooler, using an air-conditioner vent.

The middle hold-all is a reasonable size, with a charging point inside, for a standard Australian three point charger.

The dash seems to have controls all over the place, though the 8.0-inch screen is in a good position. The top air vents are positioned well (above the screen rather than below it) meaning air actually blows on your face rather than your body.

In the back seat there are directional air vents with controls, and two cupholders in the flip down middle console. There are also bottle holders in the doors, as well as enough space for an iPad or other bits and pieces.

The leather seats are very comfortable and have decent electric adjustments on the driver's side. (image: Dean McCartney) The leather seats are very comfortable and have decent electric adjustments on the driver's side. (image: Dean McCartney)

How does it drive?

Now, I'll admit I wasn't that excited about testing this car. Such a big ute isn't really what my family needs, but I have to confess it was a bit of fun to drive.

Sitting so high up I couldn't help but feel like I was king of the road, with a bit of a ‘get out of my way' feeling.

The sheer bulk makes you feel safe and pretty tough, and the turbo-diesel engine means there is a decent result when you put your foot down.

The turbo-diesel engine means there is a decent result when you put your foot down. (image: Dean McCartney) The turbo-diesel engine means there is a decent result when you put your foot down. (image: Dean McCartney)

As a family car the kids did love being up so high, and having the ute tray was really handy for hauling around bikes, skateboards and other stuff kids seem to collect.

A few downsides to the drive for me. Without a load in the back the suspension is pretty rough. You really feel every bump.

The turning circle is also massive, like driving a truck. The other thing you'll notice is the noise. This is not a quiet car, given it is, at its heart, a working diesel ute.

How spacious is it?

The front seats are very comfortable, with plenty of headroom. However the back seat has limited legroom for adults, although it's totally fine for kids or shorties.

The real space is in the back of the tray - there is plenty of room for equipment, shopping and all the stuff families haul around.

The back seat has limited legroom for adults, although it's totally fine for kids or shorties. (image: Dean McCartney) The back seat has limited legroom for adults, although it's totally fine for kids or shorties. (image: Dean McCartney)

How easy is it to use every day?

With keyless entry and start, you can just get in and go.

As a suburban car, the large turning circle is a negative, but on the plus side, driving a car this size people tend to let you in when in traffic!

This version has a hard top roller cover for the tray. (image: Dean McCartney) This version has a hard top roller cover for the tray. (image: Dean McCartney)

How safe is it?

From a safety perspective the HiLux has most modern safety features - seven airbags cover not only the driver and front passenger, plus the whole back seat as well. The Rogue scores a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.

On-board tech includes high-speed active cruise control, AEB, lane departure alert and road sign assist.

The Rogue is one of the few in the HiLux range to have a rear camera and parking sensors. The rear camera is reasonable quality, but oddly sits off to the side so the central marker doesn't actually line up with the tow bar.

The HiLux Rogue is covered by Toyota's five year/unlimited km warranty. (image: Dean McCartney) The HiLux Rogue is covered by Toyota's five year/unlimited km warranty. (image: Dean McCartney)

Now, my main beef with the HiLux as a car for a family with young children is when it comes to fitting child seats.

There are two ISOFIX points in the back seat. But I'm used to using the top tethers, and that's where it gets tricky. The attachment is via a cloth loop under the headrest, which doesn't seem as safe an actual metal hook.

Getting the tether straps tightened once the strap is connected is the real trick, and not something you'd want to do often. It certainly tested my patience!

What's the tech like?

The sound system isn't bad at all, but the raised speakers on the dashboard look like they've been added after the build, which is a bit of a strange design.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect via a cable meaning the functionality of your phone can be used when driving. It's a shame it's not wireless at this price point.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect via a cable meaning the functionality of your phone can be used when driving. (image: Dean McCartney) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect via a cable meaning the functionality of your phone can be used when driving. (image: Dean McCartney)

How much does it cost to own?

The HiLux Rogue is priced at $68,990 before on road costs - which is a big chunk of cash, significantly more than an equivalent Ford Ranger, or even Volkswagen Amarok.

The official combined fuel consumption figure is 8.4L/100km, but my drive around the suburbs and city commute returned an average of 10.0L/100km.

Emergency assistance is provided for the duration of the warranty. (image: Dean McCartney) Emergency assistance is provided for the duration of the warranty. (image: Dean McCartney)

The recommended service interval is six months/10,000km, whichever comes first, which is short, although the price per visit is just $250 (for the first four services).

The HiLux Rogue is covered by Toyota's five year/unlimited km warranty, with the engine and driveline covered for a further two years if you stick to the annual service schedule.

Emergency assistance is provided for the duration of the warranty.


The Wrap

So, this ute is powerful and tough on the road, but as a practical family car, especially for those with young children, it wouldn't be my first choice (unless I was towing big loads or off-roading).

For that reason I scored 7.0 out of 10 stars, but the kids gave it 7.5, just for the novelty of being in a truck.

Likes

Covered ute tray
Height on the road
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Dislikes

Tricky install for kids' car seats
Large turning circle
Firm suspension

Scores

Kate:

3.5

The Kids:

3.8

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