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Nissan Navara


Toyota HiLux

Summary

Nissan Navara

I don’t need to tell you this, I’m sure, but Australia knows a thing or two about utes. They’re our best-selling vehicles for a reason, and there’s is really nowhere else on the planet where load-luggers are as revered as they are Down Under. 

Well, except perhaps America. But that's a weird and largely deep-fried land dripping with Trumps, semi-automatic weapons and aluminium foil hats, so let's ignore them for the moment.

And so, when the Nissan Navara dual-cab came under fire for underwhelming coil spring rear suspension and steering slower than a forming stalactite, Nissan knew it had to do something. And when the updated 'Series II' car, which arrived in March last year, failed to completely fix the issue, it knew it had to something else entirely. 

Consider this, then, Nissan's big and brutish Goldilocks - the one they hope is finally just right. 

Safety rating
Engine Type2.3L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.6L/100km
Seating2 seats

Toyota HiLux

Three new models. Three! That’s the number of new variants that have been added to the 2018 Toyota HiLux range.

This is a bit of a smackdown for the ute market, surely? With the Rugged, Rugged X and Rogue models, Toyota is asserting its dominance in the dual-cab pick-up market.

Hell, if the Japanese company was a dog, it would have just cocked its leg while standing near the “Australia” sign and bared its teeth to all the other dogs in the park, particularly that uppity Ford Ranger. “This is my market. Mine!”

That’s because even without these three new variants, the Toyota HiLux was the country’s best-selling vehicle in 2017 for the second year running. It’s on track for a third-straight year in 2018, and the Rugged, Rugged X and Rogue models will only add to its appeal.

These three sit at the top of the regular model range, and they bring the tally of different versions in the HiLux range in Australia to 34 … that’s before you consider alternate transmissions, too.

So, with all-new utes like the Mercedes-Benz X-Class hitting the market, and new derivatives being added to different competitor model lines, do the Toyota HiLux Rugged, Toyota HiLux Rugged X and Toyota HiLux Rogue models offer something worth considering if you’re in the market for a new ute?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.8L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Nissan Navara7.6/10

Kudos to Nissan for listening to its customers, and even more kudos for actually acting their complaints. The changes to the ride and handling (and the tweaking of the technology offering) have made the dual-cab Navara a much better vehicle to put to work.

Is the Navara on your work, play, or family ute shopping list? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.


Toyota HiLux7.3/10

The changes may not be too much more than skin deep, but there’s no doubt that buyers will find value in these newly added models, and I can see why Toyota is putting the emphasis on the Rugged X - it looks more expensive than it is, and it argues a strong case in a busy segment of the market.

Which would you choose? Let us know in the comments section below.

Design

Nissan Navara7/10

Ah, do you like the look of the current Navara? Then we’ve got good news for you; nothing has changed this time around.

The exterior design still looks tough and muscular, and is probably at its best (which is also probably why it’s the most popular version) in dual-cab ST-X guise, what with its silver roof rails and side steps (the latter of which form a kind of 3D body kit). A chrome rear step bumper is standard across the dual-cab range, too. 

Inside, it’s probably not the most modern-feeling interior, but the dimensions are good and it’s clean and functional, and the ambience is raised considerably with the optional leather seats. The cheaper models clearly focus on function over form, but the more expensive models - with their clear and easy-to-use touchscreen (5.0 or 7.0-inch size) in the centre of the dash - are a better bet if you don’t plan on visiting too many worksites.

There’s a a huge number of soft and hardtop tray covers in the options list, but no extra underbody protection listed.


Toyota HiLux8/10

Design changes are the big differences for this trio of new models - and the new-look versions could be enough to spur sales along.

Let’s start with the Rogue model, which has - in this writer’s opinion - the most attractive exterior design to date in this generation. 

It’s a bit of a city-focused show pony, but not quite the full TRD look (there is no body kit or side skirts) - however, it does get a new hexagonal grille, a new front bumper and revised fog-light. It sports more aggressive alloys, but goes without the wheel-arch cladding. 

But it gains a hardtop tray cover for the tub, black sports bar and side-steps. It all adds up to a sportier looking version of the HiLux than anything that has come before it - even the TRD special edition of 2017. This model comes fitted with these goodies straight from the factory. Where is the Toyota HiLux built? Thailand, like the vast majority of utes sold here.

Unlike the Rogue, the Rugged and Rugged X models are put down a sort of production line in Australia, where they are fitted with a range of genuine accessories until they get to the point you see here. 

The more affordable Rugged model is based on the SR, and that means rubber floors rather than carpet, and halogen headlights rather than LEDs. But there are a few hardcore elements to the outside that make it stand out, like the steel bullbar, side steps with integrated rock rails, steel sports bar and blackened alloy wheels with Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tyres.

Trainspotters may also notice the outlined Toyota lettering on the tailgate, a few details here and there, and a revised rear bar with integrated tow kit and bright red recovery hooks. 

The Rugged X steps things up even further - it’s based on the SR5 model, and gets a few model-specific extras such as a high-tensile alloy bash plate underbody protection and a winch-compatible streamlined steel bullbar - note the lack of headlight hoops, and the addition of LED driving lights and a broad light bar. At the back there are tail-light surrounds, and you can make your own mind up about those. 

Like the Rugged it has a black honeycomb grille, a snorkel, body cladding and the same alloy wheels - but this time with Dunlop Grandtrek tyres.

None of these models come with a soft top tonneau cover… in fact, not one of the HiLux models in the entire range has one fitted as standard. All three get a rear step bumper, because they’ve still got to be practical. 

The interior remains a bit of a talking point. Toyota took a big step towards SUV-like cabin finishes with the HiLux when it launched in this generation in 2015: there’s a touch screen in every variant, for example.

Because all four are based on the existing dual-cab models, the interior dimensions and practicality remain unchanged compared with the regular versions. But the Rogue and Rugged X gain leather trim which helps set them apart. 

Practicality

Nissan Navara8/10

The single- and king-cab Navara’s dimensions both stretch 5120mm, while the dual-cab version betters that slightly at 5255mm, which means 'boot size', or load lugging ability, varies slightly, too. 

Obviously the cab chassis version with its steel tray prioritises heavy lifting, and your payload is a listed 1356kg in 2WD versions, and 1193kg in 4WD versions in single-cab guise. In the king-cab, those numbers fall slightly to 1256kg and 1178kg in 4WD versions. In the dual-cab cars, expect 1144kg (manual) or 1127kg (automatic). Buyers can opt for a soft or hard tonneau cover or a ute canopy, too.  

The roof rails (standard from the dual-cab ST-X) unlock a world of roof rack options for extra storage space, too. But possibly the biggest practicality perk is the addition of two ISOFIX attachment points (one in each window seat in the second row) to the dual-cab versions of the Navara, finally meaning it can be used as a genuine family vehicle with proper child restraints.

All but the entry-level RX single-cab nab three power sources (the dual-cab pick-ups get a fourth in the tray), and dual-cabs also make use of four cupholders and bottle storage in the doors. 


Toyota HiLux7/10

Dual cab utes with five seats are relatively family friendly, and these three models are expected to appeal to parents and tradies alike - and these three new models are restricted to this body style - so there won’t be any extra cab / space cab versions, and unless you remove the tub yourself and put an aluminium or steel tray on, you won’t be getting the choice of a flat tray cab chassis, either.

I mean, if you look at it this way, the Rogue with its hard tonneau cover and marine carpet-lined tray is like an off-roader with a lot of boot space, with easily enough space for your tool kit or some luggage. And it could be even more practical if you choose to option a canopy, plus you might want to add roof racks or rails on top.

Let’s talk tub dimensions - the internal size of the HiLux tray is 1569mm long, 1645mm wide (and 1109mm between the wheel arches - less the width of the bars of the sports bar - 25mm on each side), while the depth is 470mm. 

Now, inside.

The Rogue and Rugged X versions get the same black-on-black-on-black interior, with perforated leather trim, electric driver’s seat adjustment, front seat heating and new instrument cluster dials with an orange and black design. They’re nice, but they clash with the blue/green graphics of the driver info screen, which still lacks a digital speed readout. The top models have carpet flooring, where the more affordable Rugged model (remember, it’s based on the SR) has rubber floors and cloth seats.

There are cupholders in front of the gear selector if you choose an auto (you get one between the seats in the manual models), plus two pop-out cupholders at the edge of the dashboard that are very handy. You’ll find bottle holders in the doors, and every HiLux has a dual glovebox set-up. I like the shopping bag hooks in the front seatbacks, too. 

Space for adults isn’t terrific, nor is it terrible. With the driver’s seat set to my driving position (I’m 183cm tall), I had just enough kneeroom, while toe room was a little tight, and shoulder space would be a squeeze with three across.

There are ISOFIX and top tether child-seat anchor points, but taller occupants in dual cab models will need to watch their heads on the grab-handles when going seriously off-road. Rear-seat air vents are fitted to Rogue and Rugged X, but not Rugged.

The HiLux remains one of the only dual cabs with reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel (not even the new Merc ute has that!), and seat comfort and support is very good. 

The touch screen multimedia infotainment system isn’t terrific - there are better examples in the Volkswagen Amarok or Ford Ranger, both of which feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring, too. You can’t get that in any Toyota in Australia at the time of writing. The Rugged, Rugged X and Rogue all have sat nav / GPS navigation and DAB+ digital radio.

Price and features

Nissan Navara8/10

It’s the usual complicated range for this updated Navara, which can be had in a staggering 26 different flavours across a full McDonald’s menu of models, be it single-cab, king-cab or dual-cab, and in a pick-up or cab chassis body style.

The cheapest option is the 4x2 RX single-cab, which starts at $25,990, vs the most expensive model, the ST-X Dual-Cab four wheel drive with its list price of $54,490. And there’s a Navara to fill every possible gap in between, with a price guide that’s just slightly longer than <i> The Lord of The Rings. We won’t publish every cost here (and that’s just the RRP, let alone the drive-away price…). Suffice it to say, how much you pay is up to you - it all depends on where in the model comparison you land.

The easiest way to break down this review is to sort them by trim levels, so hold onto your hats as we dive straight in.

The Navara single-cab chassis with four-wheel drive is the only configuration in which you’ll find a DX, and it features 15-inch steel wheels, cloth seats, auto headlights, manual air conditioning and cruise control.

Expect a simple stereo set-up with a single CD player (not a CD changer) and Bluetooth audio streaming, but no DVD player, DAB radio or a fancy sound system with all that subwoofer business.

The RX (which you can have in single-, king- or dual-cab) gives you 16-inch steel wheels, chrome around the front grille, door handles or mirrors, keyless entry and central locking, powered windows and a reversing camera that beams its image onto the rearview mirror as there’s no multimedia screen at this level. The dual-cab RX also gets updated suspension (which we’ll come back to), six speakers and two new ISOFIX attachment points. 

A dual-cab-only SL model then splits the range, adding a LED headlights with daytime running lights/driving lights (but not HID, xenon or projector), improved tech with a five-inch infotainment screen, sidesteps and an electronic locking rear differential/diff lock on 4WD-equipped cars. 

Next, the ST (available in king- or dual-cab) adds plenty of niceties like 16-inch alloy rims, leather-wrapped steering wheel and handbrake and an upgraded multimedia set-up courtesy of a bigger 7.0-inch touchscreen. The ST-X (available in king- or dual-cab) adds push-button start, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloys (yep, we’ve skipped 17 inch alloy wheels) and rear parking sensors. With no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you won’t be able rely on your iPhone’s GPS as a navigation system, but worry not - sat nav is standard from the ST on up.

Also new is a digital speedo that will be standard on all SL, ST and ST-X grades from June. No word yet on a N-Sport sports edition, but watch this space.

Now, if you thought the model list was an epic, just wait until you get a hold of the accessories list. Every conceivable bull bar, snorkel, ladder rack, sports/nudge bar and floor mats are on offer here, along with too many clever ways to carry your tool kit. 

A dual battery system, though, will be an aftermarket job, as will specialist all terrain tyres or off-road tyres and flares or wheelarch extensions. Speaking of options, leather seats only arrive as part of a leather option pack, along with a sunroof in the sunroof option pack. 

So, colours; 'Cosmic Black', 'Burning Red', 'Brilliant Silver', 'Deep Sapphire' (or blue, to us common folk), 'Hornet Gold' (the closest you’ll come to orange), 'Slate Grey', 'White Diamond' and 'Polar White' are on offer across most of the range, with premium paint an extra $550. 


Toyota HiLux8/10

How much does each of the new models in the HiLux range cost? Well, here’s a price list - a guide to the price of each model (plus on-road costs, or the RRP / list price) which will hopefully make it easy to do a models comparison in your head.

First off, the Rugged. It is based on the SR model, and is priced at $54,990 for the six-speed manual version and $56,990 for the six-speed automatic.

Every HiLux comes with central locking, a digital clock, cruise control, power steering, electric windows and Toyota’s world-renowned ice-cold air-conditioning. There’s a sound system with six speakers (no subwoofer), plus a touch screen with radio, CD player and MP3 capability, plus USB and Bluetooth. DAB digital radio is fitted, but you can forget smartphone mirroring technology.

Now, clearly these models have been shopping in the Toyota genuine accessories catalogue, with a heavy-duty hooped premium steel bullbar fitted to the Rugged model (forget the nudge bar, hey?), along with a snorkel, plus there are 17-inch alloy rims with Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tyres.

The Rugged model also gets a heavy-duty steel rear bar with integrated step, a towbar, towball and tongue (and seven-pin flat trailer wiring harness), rear recovery points, side rock rails, black body side mouldings, a snorkel, a black sports bar with multiple tie-down points, a tub liner with tailgate protection, a black tailgate handle, plus dark grey badges and Rugged decals.

The Rugged X is based on the SR5 model, and is priced at $61,690 for the manual and $63,690 for the auto.

Being based on the high-spec SR5 it has features like smart key and push-button start, dual-zone climate control AC, plus LED headlights and LED daytime running lights (they are great if you do a lot of driving at night - better than HID or projectors, for sure - and definitely an improvement on the halogens in the Rugged). And gone is the chrome sports bar of the SR5, in favour of a black one. 

Inside, the Rugged X and Rogue share the same interior - that means new black perforated leather-accented seats with seat heating and electric adjustment up front, plus metallic black ornamentation, a black roof headliner, front and rear carpet floor mats, a new instrument cluster design with white illumination and orange needles.

You can tell a Rugged X from the outside by its 17-inch alloys (identical to Rugged), heavy-duty steel front bar and bash plate, revised grille design, LED light bar and spread beam driving lights, front and rear recovery points, heavy-duty steel rear bar with integrated step, side rock rails, snorkel, towball and tongue (with seven-pin flat trailer wiring harness).

It also has black wheel-arch and body side mouldings, a black sports bar with multiple tie-down points, a tub liner with tailgate protection, gloss black exterior mirror caps and door handles, matte black tail lamp surrounds, a black tailgate handle and dark grey badges and Rugged X decals.

While the Rogue model isn’t quite the TRD special of last year, it could be considered like a sports pack for the SR5. Sadly, no model is available with a sunroof, even as an option.

The Rogue model is auto only, and is priced at $61,690 - and comes with an identical interior to the Rugged X - but it is visually differentiated a lot more on the outside.

The Rogue wears model-specific 18-inch rims, a 'premium new style' front bumper and revised grille, grey-painted rear bumper with larger step, towball and tongue (with seven-pin flat trailer wiring harness), a black sports bar with tie-down points, body-coloured hard tonneau cover, marine-grade carpet tub liner (great if you’re a keen fisherman or boating enthusiast) gloss black exterior mirror caps and door handles, plus  a black tailgate handle and dark grey badges and Rogue decals.

Colour options for the HiLux Rugged, Rugged X and Rogue models at launch are: Silver Sky, Graphite (grey), Crystal Pearl White, Eclipse Black and Glacier White. You can’t get these models in Nebula Blue or Olympia Red at the moment, and there is no green paint option available.

Safety-wise, all HiLux models come with electronic stability control (ESP / VSC) and seven airbags - see the safety section below for more info.

Engine & trans

Nissan Navara8/10

There are two diesel engines on offer here; a twin-turbocharged diesel good for 140kW at 3750rpm and 450Nm at 1500pm, and a 2.3-litre diesel engine equipped with a single turbocharger that will generate 120kW at 3750rpm and 403Nm of torque at 1500rpm. Those engine specs don't seem that dissimilar, sure (and yes, the engine size is identical), but the extra horsepower makes a difference on the road. 

Both can be paired with a six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed automatic transmission, feeding power to two or all four wheels, depending on whether you opt for a 4x2 or 4x4 model. There is no petrol on offer, and you can forget hybrid or LPG. 

A diesel particulate filter (DPF) is fitted, of course, and should you see the warning light pop on, a cruise at more than 80km/h will be required to burn off the nasties.

The biggest news here is the overhaul of the rear suspension in most of the dual-cab cars (a significant cause of complaint in the outgoing model). New and stiffer dual-rate springs on SL, ST and ST-X dual-cab cars have massively improved this Navara’s driveability when carrying a load, and the steering has been made significantly faster, too.

Expect a towing capacity of 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked) across the Navara range - which are good pulling statistics - and a towbar pack will set you back around $1000. The gross vehicle weight is 2910kg across the range. 

Nissan doesn’t quote performance figures (like 0-100 acceleration or top speed), but then, this isn’t a car you’ll be lapping Mount Panorama in. So instead, let's focus on ground clearance (max 230mm) and turning circle (11.8m).

In the question of timing belt or chain, the Navara uses a chain, but for other ownership issues, like engine issues (say you’re blowing black smoke), automatic gearbox problems, clutch, injector or gearbox issues or for oil type or capacity, keep an eye on out Navara owners page.


Toyota HiLux7/10

The specifications rundown is easy for these three new models. All of them are 4x4 (4WD) - there’s no 4x2 (RWD) on offer, and each runs the same turbo diesel drivetrain, and therefore the same engine specs.

Each of these HiLux models has the same engine size - a 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel with a single turbocharger and diesel particulate filter. And if you’re wondering whether the HiLux has a timing belt or chain, the answer is the latter.

As for horsepower, there is 130kW of power available, and torque varies from 420Nm in models with the six-speed manual transmission up to 450Nm in the automatic gearbox.

And you can forget diesel vs petrol - it’s an oil-burners only party in HiLuxville. That also means no LPG version, and this ute has a proper four-wheel drive system, so it’s not AWD.

The Rugged and Rugged X models both come with a towbar and the HiLux has a towing capacity of 750kg for a trailer without brakes, while automatic 4x4 models have a maximum braked capacity of 3200kg. Opt for a pick-up 4x4 with a clutch and you get the class-benchmark 3500kg capacity.

Fuel tank capacity is generous in all models: 80 litres in size, easily enough to ensure long range between fills.

What about load carrying capacity? Well, it’s a heck of a lot lower than the regular models, because of the extra weight.

The Rogue model is the best for payload, with a capacity of 826 kilograms. That’s about 100kg lower than the standard SR5.

The Rugged is rated at 765kg, while the Rugged X is pretty poorly at 748kg.

The gross vehicle weight / gross vehicle mass (GVM) is 3000kg for dual-cab 4x4 models.

Fuel consumption

Nissan Navara8/10

The claimed fuel consumption (diesel) for the single turbo engine is between 6.4L/100km and 7.1L/100km, depending on which model you plonk it in, while the claimed fuel economy (diesel) for the twin-turbo option is between 6.5L to 7.0L/100km on the combined cycle.

The Navara’s 80-litre fuel tank capacity promises a long range no matter the engine, with the mileage near enough identical.


Toyota HiLux7/10

Fuel consumption figures depend on the transmission you choose - but the diesel fuel economy for this 2.8-litre turbo-diesel is decent by class standards.

The 4x4 manual Rugged or Rugged X models are said to use 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres (which works out to 12.6 kilometres per litre), while the auto version of those two grades uses 8.6L/100km (11.6km L).

The Rogue model is auto only, and uses a little less fuel than its siblings: the claim is 8.5L/100km (11.7km L).

For what it's worth, we saw 11.2L/100km (8.9 km L) on a mix of open road, slow crawl and mid-speed gravel testing.

And like I said before - at this level, there is no petrol option. No matter, you’ll get better mileage out of a diesel, anyway. If you’re really into fuel saving, there’s an Eco Mode that dulls throttle response and the air-conditioning ferocity to help cut fuel use, while 'Power Mode' sharpens up acceleration.

Driving

Nissan Navara8/10

This big news here is what’s happening under the skin. Nissan is being refreshingly upfront about the owner complaints surrounding the old car. Namely soft suspension that just couldn’t handle a heavy load, and steering that felt slow and cumbersome.

And so that’s exactly where they focussed their attention this time around. For one, the rear suspension has been completely re-worked, with stiffer dual-rate springs at the back, which made light work of the 650 kilograms we towed at launch - and that’s honestly not something you could say about the out-going car, in which a heavy load would make the Navara feel overly bouncy, and not exactly confidence-inspiring.

And the steering is now significantly faster, too, which makes you feel far more connected with the front tyres, removing the vagueness the old car served up.

They’re the big changes, and they’ve genuinely changed the character of the dual cab cars for the better. We’ve now towed more than a tonne, attacked some twisty stuff without a load on-board and we’re now carrying some weight in the back, and it’s really handled everything with ease.

The only real downside is that for every action there’s an equal and opposite opposite reaction, and so it will come as no surprise that stiffening the suspension has made the Navara feel a little harder without a load on board, and it can feel like it’s skipping over bumps in the road, which you can feel lightly tugging on the steering wheel.  But across the board, the changes have been a real bonus for anyone who is going to be putting their Navara to work.

Our time behind the wheel was largely road (and some pretty straightforward gravel), so we’ll leave the off-road ability review to our own Marcus 'Crafty' Craft a little later. Hell, even Melbourne’s perennially dodgy weather held up, so we couldn’t even challenge the wading depth.


Toyota HiLux7/10

It’s just like the regular HiLux. Funny, that…

There are no significant changes to the hardware - the drivetrain is the same, the steering is the same, the brakes are the same. Only the Rugged and Rugged X versions get new front springs to help deal with the extra weight of the bullbar and underbody protection.

We spent a lot of time driving on outback highways, with the odd small town (Hawker, Parachilna, Port Augusta) the only urban interludes. On roads like these you’re not typically asking much of the engine, and that was the case here.

When it came to overtaking moves I found out what the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel and six-speed automatic was about. In Eco mode it’s a bit gutless (adding an extra 200 kilograms of bolt-on bits will do that), but in normal or Power mode, the drivetrain is willing and punchy enough.

In the past I’ve found the auto can be a bit fussy at low speeds, in particular when you’re applying the brakes while going down a hill. However, for the most part, the drivetrain is perfectly suitable for this application.

Hey, a bigger engine - or even just a tweak to the outputs - would have been welcome for these special new additions to the range, but if you want a more torque-laden drive, you ought to look at the Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado or Volkswagen Amarok.

Underpinning the HiLux is double wishbone front suspension and leaf-spring rear suspension, and I have to say, the ride is terser than many rivals with nothing in the tray - and the slower you go, the worse it is.

However, as I’ve found, a few kilos in the tub will settle things nicely. Just be careful how many kilos, because the payload is pretty low in these new hardcore models - in fact, the heaviest model, the Rugged X, felt probably the most settled on the road.

As for steering, the hydraulic power steering is pretty well sorted, with good weighting and nice response. It isn’t as quick or easy to twirl as a Ranger, but nor is it as heavy as, say, a BT-50, or as slow as a Navara or X-Class… it’s a nice middle ground.

The 17-inch alloy wheels of the Rugged and Rugged X models alloy buyers to easily change to more aggressive all terrain or mud terrain tyres if they want to upgrade, while the 18s of the Rogue model would more likely see replacement with 20s, or 22s, or who knows… Just a shame it misses out on those wheel arch extensions.

Now, for the off road review - that was a big focus on the launch, particularly for the Rugged X - and I was certainly able to get an idea of its capabilities. If there was a separate section, it’d be at least an 8/10. Maybe even a 9/10.

The extra kit has had an impact on ground clearance - surprisingly, all three new models have less ground clearance mm than the SR5 dual cab. That model has 279mm, where according to Toyota the Rogue has just 216mm, while the Rugged has 253mm and the Rugged X 251mm.

The wading depth mm remains the same - 700mm - but approach and departure angles have changed. Again, the regular SR5 has a 31 approach angle degrees, where the Rugged and Rugged X models have 28, and Rogue has 30.

However, the big improvement according to Toyota is the corner approach angle: it sits at 39 degrees for the Rogue, 45 for the Rugged and 49 for the Rugged X.

The departure angle degrees has changed, too, due to the standard-fit tow bar: it’s 21 degrees for the Rugged and Rugged X, and 20 degrees for the Rogue. The standard SR5 with no bar is 26 degrees.

When you’re off-roading, the turning circle is also important: it’s identical for the three new models (and the existing models) at 12.6 metres. That’s pretty large - but the steering response and feel is impressive off-road.

Thankfully there’s less chrome to clean on these new models, because off-roading is a lot of fun in them.

We went on some 4H high-range-friendly gravel roads, which is where Toyota’s local engineering efforts with the HiLux shines through most. It remains settled and comfortable even if the surface gets rutted and rough.

We also did a more hardcore 4L low-range test, which included giving the rock rails a workout by intentionally pivoting on the edge of a boulder on a course set up by Toyota, and also found out the angles are pretty impressive first hand. Unfortunately there was no water in the river to verify the wading depth and ability of the snorkel. And yeah, there’s a rear differential lock in all models, but we didn’t need it - the same can be said for the hill descent control (which is reserved for the SR5-based Rugged X and Rogue).

Shame the Rugged model doesn’t get the same leather steering wheel as the Rogue and Rugged X. It’s a much nicer thing to hold.

It’s decent to drive, but not the best in class. And we’d have to put it against some competitors to see where it sits, but those after city-friendly comfort should still consider the Ranger and Amarok over this ute.

Safety

Nissan Navara7/10

New stuff? Well, there’s the new ISOFIX attachment points in the back of the dual-cab cars, adding two legitimate child seat anchor points that can transform the Navara into a family car. The backseat is more than big enough to fit two baby car seats, too, but I wouldn't want to be squeezed between them. 

There’s a new reversing camera, too, which features on everything from the Navara king-cab RX model and up. Beyond that, expect an airbag count of seven (two front, two front-side seat, two side-curtain and driver’s knee) as well as the usual suite of traction and braking aids including, ESP, ABS, and EBD. 

Only the Dual-Cab  ST-X get rear parking sensors, along with hill descent control and hill start assist in four-wheel drive cars.

The Nissan Navara (single-cab) was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when assessed in 2015.

So, where is the Nissan Navara built? Ours arrive from Thailand.


Toyota HiLux7/10

The Toyota HiLux scored the maximum five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating in 2015, and it hasn’t changed since. Even with the new front end treatment of each of these models, Toyota says the score remains intact.

Standard safety features across the range include electronic stability control with trailer sway control and seven airbags (dual front, front side, curtain and driver’s knee).

A reverse camera is standard. Buyers will need to pay Toyota’s dealership accessories team to fit rear parking sensors.

Unlike some competitor utes such as the Mercedes X-Class and Ford Ranger, there is no advanced safety tech - no lane departure warning and no forward collision warning, let alone auto emergency braking (AEB). Oddly, you can get AEB and lane-keeping assist in the European-market HiLux, but Toyota Australia says that hasn’t been adopted here because of model timing. Seems a poor argument, really.

Every double-cab HiLux has dual outboard ISOFIX child seat anchor points - great for a baby seat or two, plus there are three top tether hooks for child restraints.

Ownership

Nissan Navara7/10

The Navara range is covered by a three-year/100,000km manufacturer warranty (though there are dealership extended warranty programs available), and will require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 20,000km.

The 'myNIssan Service Certainty' capped price servicing Navara program limits the service costs for the first six services to between $547 and $744 per dealership visit. 

There's a full-size spare tyre, too. Handy when you get a flat. And the owner's manual is filled with handy hints. 

For all problems, including reliability ratings, common faults, issues, complained and defects, keep an eye on our Navara owner’s page.


Toyota HiLux7/10

You really need to look hard and ask around to find out about common problems, faults, automatic transmission problems, injector issues and suspension complaints for the current-generation HiLux. Check out our Toyota HiLux problems page.

Maintenance costs for the HiLux are easy to calculate. Service costs follow a capped price servicing plan, and intervals are set at six months/10,000km - which is a lot more regular than some competitors. Toyota’s Service Advantage capped price plan sees private owners pay $240 per service for diesel utes.

The Japanese company backs its vehicles with the bare minimum three-year/100,000km warranty, which is pretty short - but with the reputation for reliability and durability the HiLux has, it’s easy to see why it’s the default choice. Plus you can expect strong resale value