Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Toyota HiLux 2020 review: SR5

The SR5 4x4 Double Cab sits high in the HiLux range.

The best-selling car in Australia is not a car, it’s a ute - the Toyota HiLux. So, it’s a sure bet that not all of them are turning up to worksites, but are instead being used as family taxis.

Double cab 4x4 utes like the HiLux SR5 I tested are popular for families because they have four doors, five seats and the advanced safety systems which you’d find on a regular car, all while offering a bucket on the back for tools and toys, with the benefit of also being a very capable tower and off-roader.

The Double Cab SR5 4x4 lists for $57,240, making it a pretty pricey HiLux, and so it competes with other luxe utes such as the Ford Ranger Wildtrack and Volkswagen Amarok TDI 550 Highline.

I’ve been testing cars for 10 years now and my patience as a father has been tested for five, so how did this Toyota Hilux ute go as a family car for us? Read on to find out.

ShowHide all sections

✅ How does it look?

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.

Compared to the grades below it the SR5 almost looks too nice to be taken onto a worksite. Compared to the grades below it the SR5 almost looks too nice to be taken onto a worksite.

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.

The SR5 comes standard 18-inch alloy wheels. The SR5 comes standard 18-inch alloy wheels.

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.

The hard plastic dash has a “leather grain” and pretend stitching. The hard plastic dash has a “leather grain” and pretend stitching.

The HiLux SR5 4x4 Double Cab is big, so take note of the dimensions: it’s 5330mm end-to-end (a new Toyota RAV4 is 4.6m long, to put that in perspective), 1855mm wide and 1815mm tall.

The SR5 4x4 is 5330mm end-to-end. The SR5 4x4 is 5330mm end-to-end.

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.  

✅ How does it drive?

Every ute owner will tell you how easy it is to accidentally reverse a ute into stuff. I’ve done it myself before in utes I’ve owned, and I once even reversed into a steam roller despite it being giant and yellow (in my defence it was nighttime and parked across my driveway).

So, I’m hyper aware of the risk every time I climb into one because when you’re steering something five-and-a-half-metres long, knowing where the back of it ends is important, especially in car parks.

The steering was accurate and light enough for anyone to easily turn. The steering was accurate and light enough for anyone to easily turn.

A reversing camera and rear parking sensors help (and the HiLux SR5 has them), but if you’ve never owned a ute before you’ll be surprised that despite the safety assistance, it will seem immovable objects will want to throw themselves at the tailgate.

Another part of piloting a ute I was reminded about while driving the SR5 is a firm and jiggly ride. Despite its upmarket exterior the Hilux SR5 4x4 Double Cab is a dressed-up workhorse really built to carry loads. No wonder the ride is uncomfortable compared to an SUV: it has a ladder frame underneath; the rear suspension is leaf springs and it has a rigid axle. That makes it superb for off-roading (with high and low range gears, too), towing (braked towing capacity is 3200kg) and carrying (payload is 955kg), but not great for backs while driving around inner suburbs with nothing in the tray. Put 10 bags of cow poo in the back like I did and the ride settles down.

The SR5 is powered by a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine. The SR5 is powered by a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine.

It’s not all cow poo and crashing into things, though. I found the SR5’s 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine was smooth and quiet, and with 130kW and 420Nm there was plenty of grunt for overtaking on the highway and accelerating quickly when needed. The six-speed automatic also performed well on motorways and in slow, city traffic.

The steering was accurate and light enough for anyone to easily turn, and while the upright seating position was a bit of a shock after testing mainly cars and SUVs lately, I had grown used to it by the time our 400km road trip to the grandparents (pre-COVID-19, of course) was over.

✅ How spacious is it?

The HiLux SR5 Double Cab 4x4 is a five-seater, but it’s not as spacious for people as you might think. See, while there was plenty of room up front for me, my 191cm height and wingspan of 2m meant the rear seating was far from comfy. When I sat behind my driving position my knees touched the seat back and head room is also getting tight.

There is plenty of room in the front. There is plenty of room in the front.

We installed our son’s car seat in the middle of the second row (I’ll explain why in the safety section below), but those back seats are so close to the front that he kept using the centre console armrest up front as an ottoman for his feet.

The rear seating would be far from comfy for taller adults. The rear seating would be far from comfy for taller adults.

If you have a baby capsule, I’d test fit it before buying this ute to see if the device clears the back of the front passenger seat when in a usable position.

I didn’t test to see if it was possible to fit three car seats across the second row, but from my own experience it can be a bit squeezy to do so in most vehicles.   

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

Where do I put the shopping? That’s the question I asked myself standing in the car park, the circulation in my hands being cut off by the 12 bags they were holding. The cabin was already full of people, bags, toys and books. On top of that it was raining, so none of that could go in the tray (our test HilLux didn’t have a tonneau cover) and I wasn’t going to pour all the shopping in there , so we had to wedge it under seats along with a case of beer and bottles of wine. I wasn’t happy about that. An accident would have turned all of that into projectiles.

The ride height of the HiLux SR5 4x4 Double Cab makes getting in and out for adults easier than a regular car, and putting kids into cars seats doesn’t get better than this with no bending required to do them up.

The ride height of the SR5 makes putting kids into cars seats easy with no bending required. The ride height of the SR5 makes putting kids into cars seats easy with no bending required.

If you take a look at the images, you’ll see the standard sidestep works well for kids and also just inside the B-pillar is a handhold moulded in the plastic trim to give them some grip and leverage when hoisting themselves up into the cabin.

It was great to see rear directional air vents in the back row and tinted rear windows, too, but door pockets back there were only large enough to fit a half-eaten apple. 

On the plus side, both seat backs have map pockets to jam full of dinosaurs, dollies, rocks, leaves and banana bread. There are two cup holders in the fold-down centre armrest for shells and sand and another two up front, while the driver and co-pilot get larger door pockets. The double-opening glovebox is a good size, but the centre console bin is tiny.

The tub in the back might not have been useful for grocery shopping, but my hardware and gardening intake increased dramatically.

The Hilux SR5 4x4 Double Cab’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length, 1645mm in width (at the widest point), while the side panel height is 481mm and the load height is 861mm. That load height is more than any SUV and that’s not convenient for daily domestic use. You might want to invest in a Bed Slide (go to the Toyota Hilux website’s accessories section) which effectively turns the tub into a giant drawer which you can pull out to access gear all the way towards the front.

  • The SR5’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length and 1645mm in width. The SR5’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length and 1645mm in width.
  • The SR5’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length and 1645mm in width. The SR5’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length and 1645mm in width.
  • The SR5’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length and 1645mm in width. The SR5’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length and 1645mm in width.
  • The SR5’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length and 1645mm in width. The SR5’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length and 1645mm in width.
  • The SR5’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length and 1645mm in width. The SR5’s tray dimensions are 1560mm in length and 1645mm in width.

Our test vehicle didn’t have a tub liner and without one you’ll scratch the heck out of the painted metal surface inside if you’re loading in sharp objects. Fortunately, the heavy stuff I was carrying was just bags of mulch and compost, but the accessories section of the Toyota HiLux website has rubber all-weather cargo mats. You’d be crazy not to get one. I’d also get a soft or hard tonneau cover, that way you can use the tray (if it’s clean) as a big boot for bags.

Two USB ports and two 12V outlets can be found up front, and in the centre console bin is a 100W 202V outlet.

✅ How safe is it?

A high level of safety is a priority in a family car and the good news is that the HiLux SR5 4x4 Double Cab is that it scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2019. That was after the HiLux was updated in July of that year with Toyota’s Safety Sense package.

The pack added a stack of advanced tech such as AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure alert and lane keeping assistance, plus adaptive cruise control.

In crash testing the HiLux SR5 4x4 Double Cab scored 96 per cent for adult occupant protection and 87 per cent for child occupant protection.

There are seven airbags: driver and front passenger; drive’s knee; front side; and side curtain shield airbags which cover the second-row windows.

For child seats there are two ISOFIX mounts for the window seats in the second row, but if you have a top-tether seat like my son’s there’s only one anchor point and it’s located in the centre. You can still install a top-tether seat on the window side but it means threading the strap and hook through the headrest struts and then hooking it to the anchor point. For my own piece of mind I installed his seat in the centre of the row – it just seemed more secure to me.

I found the LED headlights great for the country roads around where the grandparents live, and for the poorly lit ones in the city.   

A full-sized alloy wheel is located under the vehicle.

✅ What’s the tech like?

The HiLux SR5 4x4 Double Cab would have to be one of the few remaining new vehicles on the planet not to have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. As a parent I’d count these apps as being pretty important for a family car because they mirror you phone’s screen allowing you to hear and dictate text messages, find destinations using your iPhone or Android device’s maps, and stream music through apps like Spotify. The upcoming HiLux will have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so this in another reason to wait.

The seven-inch media screen is on the small side. The seven-inch media screen is on the small side.

The seven-inch media screen is also on the small side and the lack of a volume control knob means the only way to turn the sound up or down is using the + or – buttons on the display or the switch on the steering wheel. As a Dad or Mum you need to be able turn the volume down pronto for a million reasons on even a trip to the shops (choking, crying, fighting, lost book, runaway dummy) and a switch or synaptic button doesn’t cut it.  Geeze, if it ain’t broke Toyota… it’s like replacing the steering wheel with a buttons that say ‘Left’ and ‘Right’

No USB ports in the second row also doesn’t bode well for long trips with older kids.

There is built in sat nav, however, plus a six-speaker stereo.

✅ How much does it cost to own?

The HiLux SR5 4x4 Double Cab is covered by Toyota’s five-year unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Servicing is recommended by Toyota at relatively short intervals - every six months or 10,000km, but it’s capped at $250 per regular service.

The HiLux SR5 4x4 Double Cab is covered by Toyota’s five-year unlimited-kilometre warranty. The HiLux SR5 4x4 Double Cab is covered by Toyota’s five-year unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Toyota says the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed auto should use 8.4L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads. I drove our test vehicle 534.2km, but my fuel test took in 184.1km of motorways, country roads and city streets, and it needed 21.37L to top the 80L take back up to full. That’s 11.6L/100km by my testing.


The Wrap

The Toyota HiLux SR5 Double Cab 4x4 is a go-anywhere ute that will serve a family well thanks to its excellent safety, five seats, dark tinted rear windows and directional air vents in the second row. A lid of some sort for the tub and a bedliner will make the tray far more family friendly, too.

If you want the same off-road capability but in an even more family practical package, the Toyota Fortuner is the SUV version of the HiLux, and comes with a big boot plus a fold-away third row of seats.

I gave it a family rating of 7/10 because there are a few downsides such as the small cabin, the rough ride and no boot, while the high load height of the tub isn’t convenient for daily family use. My son, on the other hand, gave it full marks. According to him it was the coolest thing I’d ever tested and a real-life Tonka truck. He loved the visibility from high up in his seat and knowing we could drive through a river if we had to.

 

Likes

Advanced safety tech
The big bucket at the back
Smooth and quiet for a diesel

Dislikes

Rear head- and legroom limited
Bumpy ride when unloaded
No boot (would you put your groceries in the tub?)

Scores

Richard:

3.5

The Kids:

5

$55,240

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS