This is one going to be one of those moments where you mutter to yourself: “#$%$ @#4% @@!#”. That’s because of what I’m about to tell you.
Here goes: there’s a new HiLux coming in a couple of months. It’s not a completely new version, just an update, but it’s been given a new, tougher look and more equipment.
What I’m trying to say is if, like me, you’re the kind of person who will be a bit disappointed every time you pull up in the old HiLux next to the new HiLux that came out almost straight after you bought yours, then wait.
Keep in mind, though, that an all-new HiLux will be launched over the coming years and will make both look old. Damned if you do or don’t, eh? That’s cars… or utes.
For now, let’s look at the current version.
I tested the SR5 which is the fancy HiLux in the range. Well it used to be, until the Rogue, Rugged and Rugged X arrived last year looking like stand-by vehicles for a new Mad Max film with all their snorkels and black bits. There are none of those add-on bits with the SR5 – not unless you option it up yourself using the massive accessories list.
According to my five-year-old son the colour of ours was Fire Truck (actually called Olympia Red), and it wore the standard 18-inch alloy wheels. The steel sports bar is also standard, along with the chrome rear bumper and black honeycomb mesh grille with its shiny metal-looking (because it’s plastic) frame. To a lot of people it will look just like another ute, but to those who know it’s unmistakably a HiLux and up there with the Ranger and Amarok as one of the most handsome utes on the market. It’s hard for anybody to miss what brand it is though, with the iconic T O Y O T A lettering plastered across the tailgate.
Compared to the grades below it the SR5 almost looks too nice to be taken onto a worksite – it’d be like wearing your going-out pants to mow the lawn - but by gosh you’d look swish doing it.
That premium exterior doesn’t quite make it all the way into the cabin, though. The hard plastic dash has a “leather grain” and pretend stitching, the seat upholstery is called premium fabric in the specs sheet but is better known as vinyl, and the media display looks a little aftermarket and small. That’s disappointing for a $60K vehicle and it’s not as refined or high-end feeling as the cabins of the Ford Ranger Wildtrack and VW Amarok TDI 550 Highline.
You’ll hear the HiLux SR5 referred to as a pick-up, and even Toyota calls it that, and strictly speaking it is one, because by definition a ute has a tray (or tub) which is connected to the cabin as one continuous piece, whereas a pick-up is traditionally built as a cabin with a tray or tub attached to the chassis.