Toyota HiLux VS Volkswagen Transporter
- Solid safety spec offer
- Decent ownership prospects
- Good range of variants
- Harsh ride unladen
- Cab chassis models have no reversing camera
- Lacking some polish against newer rivals
- Amazing personalisation on offer
- Grunty high grade diesel engines
- Cabin redesign is pretty nice
- Vent placement not great
- Can get expensive to tailor-build
- No rear safety on barn door/cab chassis models
There’s plenty to be said for the new-generation Toyota HiLux, and while a lot of customers will be shopping for the top-of-the-range variants, there’s plenty of value to be found in the work-focused Workmate models.
And that’s what we’re looking at here - a Workmate dual cab, which, while it may look like a 4WD, is actually a high-riding rear-wheel drive dual cab. Or, to be precise, the Workmate 4x2 Double Cab pick-up Hi-Rider.
We spent a bit of time with this updated version of the HiLux ute, and even chucked a bit of load in the back thanks to our mates in the mountains. More on that - and everything else you need to know about the Workmate range - below.
Read More: Toyota HiLux 2021 review
|Engine Type||2.4L turbo|
The Volkswagen Transporter range has been revised for 2021, with the new T6.1 line-up - as VW calls it - retaining an array of options for business buyers.
There’s the traditional vans in both short and long wheelbase, as well as a Crew Van option, and cab-chassis ute versions.
As has long been the case, VW Australia has gone with a relatively complex line-up of models, but also with a huge array of personalisation options for customers to tailor their vehicle to their specific requirements.
As well as that, the new model offers enhanced safety, technology, and a revised look. Is it enough to keep the mid-size VW van in the mix against the impressive Toyota HiAce, Ford Transit Custom and Peugeot Partner? Let’s find out.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
It isn’t as polished as some of its rivals, and doesn’t have as much tech or flair to its offering either. But as a workhorse offering with a solid ownership promise and unquestionable resale value, the Toyota HiLux Workmate - no matter the derivative you choose - remains a compelling option for those who use their ute for work more than play.
Thanks to our mates at Lower Mountains Landscape Supplies for the sandbag load in the Workmate 4x2 Hi-Rider pick-up.
Thanks to our mates at IWP Training for putting 1000kg in the tray of the Workmate 4x2 cab-chassis low-rider.
There are more affordable vans out there to purchase and own. But not many offer the level of personalisation and quality, not to mention ease-of-use and drivability as the VW T6.1 Transporter range.
My pick would be a TDI340 DSG van in LWB, but there are several choices that would suit multiple different user cases.
The most interesting thing about some versions of the Workmate in terms of design is that they haven’t been changed at all.
For the exterior, the Workmate single-cab variants and the low-riding 4x2 dual-cab pick-up don’t see the visual changes of the 4x2 Hi-Rider and 4x4 extra- and dual-cab variants, which score a slightly more aggressive front fascia.
Toyota Australia says it was more important to address the higher grade models with the new look, and that keeping the same front end on the “narrow body” models would help keep costs lower.
That’s all well and good, but it does seem a little weird to do a “major overhaul” of the ute and keep it looking the same. I guess owners of early examples will be happy, as their utes won’t look as outdated?
But the important thing is that HiLux Workmate buyers have so many body styles available to them, and that’s arguably going to matter more than what the ute looks like for a Workmate customer.
We’ll run through some of the important elements here, like dimensions and payloads. First up, let’s size up the versions of the HiLux Workmate (note - your dimensions may vary, depending on the tray body fitted).
If you’re buying a pick-up over a cab-chassis, you’ll know that comes with limitations. The flat bed of a tray back cab-chassis model is always going to offer more practicality - and if you buy a 4x2 or 4x4 single cab, or the 4x4 extra cab, you’re getting a tray back. But we’ve covered off the load space dimensions for the dual cab ute/pick-up below - the figures are the same for the 4x2 and 4x4 models.
Dual cab ute
Cargo floor length
Width between wheel arches
As mentioned, the tub models will always suffer compromises that table-top models won’t, and that includes the inability to fit an Aussie pallet (1165mm x 1165mm) between the wheel arches.
Space is one thing, but payload capacity for the different body styles is another matter altogether. Don’t forget, payload will be affected by the tray body fitted if you’re choosing a cab-chassis.
Dual cab ute
Gross vehicle mass (GVM)
2700-3100kg, depending on model, engine, drivetrain
Gross combination mass (GCM)
4x2 low rider: 5200-5250kg
4x2 Hi-Rider: 5650kg
All models: 750kg unbraked
4x2 petrol: 2500kg braked
4x4 diesel: 3500kg braked
Not everyone goes off-road. Both our test vehicles in Workmate spec were 4x2 rear-wheel drive (RWD) models, but that doesn’t mean you won’t consider things like ground clearance - especially if you’re weighing up between a low-riding version and Hi-Rider 2WD.
Here are the dimensions and figures for 4x2 and 4x4 models.
Ground clearance mm
4x2 petrol: 174mm
All other variants: 216mm
4x2 petrol: 23 degrees
All other variants: 29 degrees
Break over/ramp over angle
Not listed by Toyota
4x2 dual cab petrol: 20 degrees
4x4 single cab diesel: 25 degrees
4x4 dual cab diesel, extra cab-chassis, dual cab-chassis: 26 degrees
4x2 Hi-Rider, Workmate 4x4 manual dual cab ute: 27 degrees
There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter. You mightn’t be able to tell them if you’re not looking closely, but that’s only going to help resale values of the existing model…
But the distinct little lines that run back from the headlights (like mascara, I’m told) that say “Transporter” in them are a nice touch, and it’s overall a really neat design. Always has been.
Now, let’s consider some of the other implications of design, namely on the vehicle’s dimensions. Here’s a table to make it easier to digest.
LWB High roof
Single Cab Chassis
Dual Cab Chassis
As you can see, there’s a lot of precision measurements there.
What about the cargo area, then? Here’s a rundown of those figures.
LWB High roof
Single Cab Chassis
Dual Cab Chassis
2572mm (without partition)
2975mm (without partition)
Width between arches
392mm (tray depth)
392mm (tray depth)
The Crewvan versions have a second row in the back, so load length is lessened - there’s 1600mm in the SWB and 1967mm in the LWB. SWB models have six tie-down lashings, while LWB models get eight. The cargo volume for the normal roof SWB Crewvan is 3.5m3, and the LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m3 of cargo space.
That’s all the dimensions taken care of, but you might also be interested in some ‘off road dimensions’ especially if you’re going for a 4Motion version. The vans range between 201mm and 202mm of ground clearance, while Cab Chassis models run 202mm unladen.
There are also optional off road suspension setups available with revised shocks and springs, and even stabilizer bar upgrades if needed. No changes to ride height or approach, departure and breakover angles, though.
What about payload capabilities? Here’s a rundown of load capacity for the vans and cab chassis models, including towing capacity.
Van (SWB, LWB, Crewvan)
951kg to 1220kg
853kg to 1056kg
Gross vehicle mass (GVM)
2800kg (TDI250), 3000kg (all others)
Gross combination mass (GCM)
5500kg (all variants)
750kg unbraked / 2500kg braked
Next, let’s take a look inside the revised cabin of the T6.1 Transporter.
The practicality you get depends on the body style you choose. That’s an obvious statement, sure, but you might be wondering how many seats are in the HiLux Workmate? Single cab models have two seats, extra cab models have four seats, and dual cab variants have five seats.
And the practicality of the respective body styles is unchanged up front, whether you choose the two-, four- or five-seater. Everything forward of the B-pillar is the same.
That means that all HiLux Workmate models get the same dash treatment, including a newly redesigned cluster for the driver with a new digital display that incorporates a digital speedometer, which is a huge helper if your licence has seen better days.
Then there’s the new 8.0-inch touchscreen media system, with buttons and volume/tuning knobs that have been designed to work with heavy gloves, according to Toyota. The old screen - with touch-sensitive controls and no knobs - was lambasted by tradies, so it’s great to see Toyota has listened.
Plus the new screen includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can plug your USB cable in and mirror your phone onto the media screen. It really is a big step forward, and because no Workmate model comes with sat nav GPS, even as an option, this is the way to go if you’re frequently 'lost on the way to the job.' But there is only one USB port - many rivals offer two.
The materials and design are otherwise unchanged, meaning hard-wearing vinyl floors and hard plastic finishes everywhere, but excellent practicality - two cup holders between the seats, two pop-out ones in the sides of the dashboard, bottle holders in the doors (single and dual cab), and a dual glove box with other loose item storage caddies, too.
If you get an extra cab you could consider it a two seater with additional secure storage, and many of the newer utes coming out have actually deleted the seats due to apparent safety concerns. But the Toyota still has two extra seats in the back.
The dual cab Workmate models don’t get the 60/40 split-fold rear seat base, but you can still fold up the entire seat base to allow additional storage - you don’t want to wreck the fabric on the rear seats with dirty tools, or grimy hardware.
If you do happen to have people in the back, the space isn’t as good as some other double cab models out there. Knee room is tight, headroom could be better, and there are those fixed grab handles that eat into the space. You might need to keep your hardhat on, too, as they’re certainly heatbuttable.
The dual cab’s back seat has twin map pockets and bottle holders in the doors, but no fold down armrest, no cup holders and no air vents.
The cabin of the VW Transporter has always been a thoughtful place, a suitable workspace for those who don’t just drive places, but also do paperwork in their ‘mobile office’.
That comes down to a clever level of storage, amenities and comfort.
Let’s start with storage, as there are caddies and cubbies for loose items, documents and more. On the dash top there’s a folder holder, and there’s a shelf section above the glovebox. There are cup holders on top of the edges of the dash, too, and the door pockets have huge storage trenches with bottle holders.
Seat comfort is excellent, with good adjustment for the driver, and reach/rake adjustment for the leather-lined steering wheel, which is standard in all grades. The only thing missing is a grab handle to haul yourself into the seat if you’re shorter.
There’s a manual handbrake down on the floor to the left of the driver which is a reach for shorties, too (I wonder if the next-gen model might finally get an electric park brake?), and the new dashboard design has repositioned one of the driver’s air-vents a long way from them. The air-conditioning in one of the test vans was also a bit weak for a warm Aussie day.
But the dash design is attractive and certainly more modern than before, with more angular finishes and new media screens across the range. Though they aren’t that new compared to the brand’s non-commercial offerings, with the 6.5-inch touchscreen unit still offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and two USB-C ports (so you’ll need an adaptor or a new phone cable).
In the Crewvan the back seat space was comfortable but lacking a few features. At the very least, for tradie mums and dads there are dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points with two top-tether attachment hooks in the rear door area above the cargo hold. The back seat is removable if you only need it sometimes, too.
Price and features
You will find the Workmate badge on the most bodystyles of any HiLux in the line-up. You can get it in single cab-chassis, extra cab-chassis, extra cab ute, and dual cab-chassis and dual cab ute body styles.
And then there’s the choice of petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, and whether you want it in low-riding or high-riding (Hi-Rider, as Toyota calls it) 2WD/4x2/rear-wheel drive versions, or in a more hardcore 4WD (or 4x4).
The model mix for Workmate versions is as complex as it sounds, so here’s a neat table to make it a bit simpler! Just note, the price list you see below represents the cost of the ute before on-roads costs - that’s known as the MSRP or the RRP, and it’s not a drive-away price.
|Drivetrain||Body type||Engine and Transmission||List pricing (Before on-road costs)|
|4x2||Single cab-chassis- low rider||2.7L petrol, five-speed manual||$23,590|
|2.7L petrol, six-speed auto||$25,590|
|Single cab shassis Hi-Rider||2.4L turbo diesel, six-speed manual||$28,830|
|Dual cab ute low-rider||2.7L petrol, five-speed manual||$33,070|
|2.7L petrol, six-speed auto||$35,070|
|Dual cab ute Hi-Rider||2.4L turbo diesel six-speed manual||$40,160|
|2.4L turbo diesel six-speed auto||$42,160|
|4x4||Single cab-chassis||2.4L turbo diesel six-speed auto||$39,520|
|Extra cab-chassis||2.4L turbo diesel six-speed auto||$45,220|
|Dual cab-chassis||2.4L turbo diesel six-speed auto||$47,290|
|Dual cab ute||2.4L turbo diesel six-speed manual||$46,790|
|2.4L turbo diesel six-speed auto||$48,790|
You get the same general level of specification on all the Workmate models, with standard equipment incorporating standard steel wheels - black 16-inch diameter for 4x2 models, while 4x4 single cab versions get silver 17-inch rims, and there are black 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tyres on 4x4 extra cab and dual cab variants.
All Workmate models have standard auto halogen headlights, vinyl flooring and all-weather floor mats, cloth seat trim, a 4.2-inch digital display with digital speedo readout, and a new 8.0-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
And while you get the choice of petrol or diesel, the latter models - across all trim lines - score a new variable-flow control power-steering pump. More on that in the driving section.
There are other accessories available from the Toyota parts catalogue as you’d expect, including: bull bar, tow bar, nudge bar, ladder rack, side steps, bonnet protector, tub liner, canopy, and more.
You might be curious about safety technology - and it's great to see Toyota doesn’t pick and choose between the variants as to which model gets what. There’s a decent array of safety technology fitted for the most part, and we’ll cover that off in the safety section below.
What about colours? Workmate models can be had in white (no cost), while the premium paint choices are silver, grey, black or blue (all $600).
This is going to be complicated.
There are so many ways to build your VW Transporter T6.1 that you almost need a maths degree to ascertain the number of possible combinations and permutations.
Suffice to say, though, that the range starts under forty grand for a basic, low-powered manual front-wheel drive (FWD) short wheelbase (SWB), through to a high grade 4Motion all-wheel drive (4WD) long wheelbase (LWB) with a dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission.
To make it easier - we hope! - here is a table to break down the Transporter van line-up for you. All Transporter vans come with a two-seat layout as standard, but you can option a bench front passenger seat (pushing accommodation to three seats) for $610 more. The cab-chassis single-cab and dual-cab versions both have a three-seat front setup (so, total three seats in single cab, six in dual cab).
VW TRANSPORTER T6.1 VAN RANGE
5-sp manual FWD
6-sp manual FWD
7-sp DSG FWD
7-sp DSG AWD
7-sp DSG FWD
7-sp DSG AWD
6-sp manual FWD
7-sp DSG FWD
7-sp DSG AWD
7-sp DSG FWD
7-sp DSG AWD
There’s also the Transporter Crew Van range, with those versions getting a five-seat layout with a removable second-row bench. The bench has dual ISOFIX points built into the outboard positions, and there are top-tether restraints in the rear roof.
VW TRANSPORTER T6.1 CREW VAN RANGE
7-sp DSG FWD
7-sp DSG AWD
7-sp DSG FWD
7-sp DSG AWD
You may have noted that the entry-level and higher-spec powertrains aren’t available in the Crew Van, but they are the go-to options for the cab-chassis versions of the Transporter.
Below is a price list of the Transporter Single Cab and Transporter Dual Cab models, all of which come with a factory fit tray.
VW TRANSPORTER T6.1 CAB CHASSIS RANGE
LWB Single Cab
7-sp DSG FWD
7-sp DSG AWD
LWB Double Cab
7-sp DSG FWD
7-sp DSG AWD
Okay, so what about standard equipment for the Transporter range? All grades have standard halogen headlights and daytime running lights, and 16- or 17-inch steel wheels (with optional alloys for the TD340 and TDI450), cloth interior trim, LED interior lighting for cabin and cargo area, rubber floors in the cabin, a multimedia system with a 6.5-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two USB-C ports and Bluetooth connectivity. You can option navigation for $1600, but there’s a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto headlights, and auto wipers.
Standard safety tech is improved compared to the previous version - a full rundown can be found in the safety section below - but there’s a reversing camera on all van models (if not equipped with barn doors), while the cab-chassis versions miss out on this important technology.
VW has long forged a position of “build it the way you want it” in the van market, and the T6.1 range is no different. There are hundreds of potential variations on the theme, though note that the standard layout for van models is a kerb-side sliding door and a tailgate. You can option a driver’s side slider ($1300; with power latching - $1520), a kerb-side power latching sliding door ($290), fully electric doors ($860 kerb only, $3600 kerb and driver), side windows ($420 per), sliding side windows ($920 per side), a fixed partition with window ($710), rear airconditioning setup ($1220) or the Transport Package, with a fixed partition (no window), full side plywood trim, two additional tie-downs and side lashing points ($1690).
Choose a van and want the High Roof pack, and you must have barn doors at the back, which deletes the availability of a reversing camera, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. And it’ll cost you between $1790 and $2090, depending on the variant.
A lot of vans may be white, but colours are important for business buyers. There are multiple colour options, including five solid paint options at no cost: Candy White, Ascot Grey, Cherry Red, Luminous Orange and Pure Grey. If you’re willing to pay $1300 you can have your vehicle coated in any of the following hues: Reflex Silver, Indium Grey, Starlight Blue, Ravenna Blue, Deep Black, Mojave Beige, Copper Bronze, Fortana Red or Bay Leaf Green.
Note, for full colour coding it will cost you an additional $1130 (bumpers, mirrors, handles, grille) for vans, and a little less for the cab chassis models to have colour-matched bumpers ($800).
Engine & trans
While there has been a lot of noise around the HiLux finally getting a big power bump - that up-spec 2.8-litre engine isn’t available in the Workmate models.
Instead, Workmate variants get a choice of a petrol motor or a smaller capacity diesel unit.
The engine in the range-opening Workmate 4x2 models is the 2.7-litre petrol four-cylinder, known as the 2TR-FE. It has outputs of 122kW of power (at 5200rpm) and 245Nm of torque (at 4000rpm), and is available with a five-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic transmission.
The diesel option in the Workmate 4x2 and 4x4 models is a 2.4-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine known as 2GD-FTV. Power is rated at 110kW (at 3400rpm) and torque is 400Nm (from 1600-2000rpm).
There is the choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox in 4x2 and 4x4 applications in the Workmate range.
So, no 2.8L, no hybrid, no electric… no nonsense, I guess?
Plenty of options here.
You guessed it - it’s easier to show you in the below table.
2.0L turbo-diesel four-cylinder
2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder
2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder
81kW at 3500rpm
110kW at 3250-3750rpm
146kW at 4000rpm
250Nm at 1250-3100rpm
340Nm at 1500-3000rpm
450Nm at 1400-2400rpm
6-sp man/7-sp DSG
Having three different outputs to choose from could be a compelling argument for some. If you know you’re okay with a low output manual, then why spend up to a more powerful unit?
Fuel consumption varies depending on the powertrain you choose.
The fuel economy king isn’t the petrol, which has claimed fuel consumption of: 11.1L/100km (4x2 cab-chassis manual); 10.9L/100km (4x2 cab-chassis auto); 10.7L/100km (4x2 dual cab manual); and 10.4L/100km (4x2 dual cab auto).
On test in the 4x2 manual single cab-chassis, with a load, and without, we averaged 11.4L/100km. And it was only a short loaded drive test.
The diesel versions of the Workmate offer better promise of lower fuel consumption, with fuel use in the 4x2 diesel Workmate models pegged at 7.8L/100km for the single cab-chassis manual, while the 4x2 dual cab pick-up claims 6.9L/100km and 7.5L/100km for the manual and auto respectively.
The 4x4 Workmate models claim: 7.4L/100km (single cab-chassis manual); 8.0L/100km (extra cab-chassis and dual cab-chassis auto); 7.1L/100km (dual cab pick-up manual) and 7.8L/100km (dual cab pick-up auto).
When we tested the diesel auto 4x2 Hi-Rider dual cab, we saw a return of 8.4L/100km across loaded (600kg of sand bags) and unloaded testing.
The fuel consumption figures for the different models in the range vary depending on the application.
Again, rather than run though it all van by van, here’s a breakdown in a table.
Combined cycle fuel consumption - van models
6.9L/100km (FWD man)
7.5L/100km (FWD man)
8.3L/100km (FWD/AWD DSG)
7.3L/100km (FWD DSG)
Combined cycle fuel consumption - cab-chassis models (FWD)
7.6L/100km (single cab FWD DSG)
7.5L/100km (dual cab FWD DSG)
Combined cycle fuel consumption - cab-chassis models (AWD)
8.4L/100km (single cab AWD DSG)
8.3L/100k m (dual cab AWD DSG)
Fuel tank capacity for the base model TDI250 is 70L, while the rest of the range has 80L fuel tank size.
The TDI250 has engine start stop-technology, but doesn’t have AdBlue. The manual TDI340 and 4Motion TDI340 and TDI450 models doesn’t have either of those efficiency measures. The TDI340 DSG FWD is the only one with AdBlue and start-stop.
I first sampled the 4x2 Workmate Hi-Rider 2.4-litre diesel auto, and it came across as a really solid proposition for those who don’t need the bells and whistles or a 4x4 system.
In fact, I bet that this sort of ute would be as well suited to the majority of buyers who spend up big on an SR5 dual cab 4x4 but never actually go off-road.
Indeed, that’s the great thing about the HiLux Workmate range - if you know you don’t need 4x4, there are plenty of 4x2 options available.
And the Hi-Rider diesel model has the advantage that it is rated to tow the maximum 3500kg capacity, but the disadvantage for hard-working tradies - especially those shorter in stature - is that it’s a step up into the cab (no side steps), and a running jump into the tub - unless you option the new rear Tub Step accessory, which is mounted to the rear corner of the chassis and allows easier tub access.
And while this isn’t strictly a driving impression, the strangest thing about the HiLux is that you’re getting some really advanced features for a work ready ute.
It’s becoming the norm, but it does seem weird when you sit inside and see your digital speedometer, with the knowledge that there’s autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and a lane departure system - yet you’re gripping a polyurethane steering wheel, sitting on cloth seats and your feet are placed on rubber floors - there’s not even height adjustment for the driver’s seat, and the sound system only has four speakers.
Anyway, the diesel dual cab is pretty impressive. There’s nothing wrong with the 2.4-litre’s engine tune, and in some instances it actually feels almost as peppy as the 2.8L I sampled in the SR5+.
But it does have some noticeable engine noise, and just like the other powertrain there is some noticeable shuffling between gears - the six-speed auto seems to aim to keep things in the best torque band, which is no bad thing, but you can hear it doing so. It gets along pretty well, and I had no trouble keeping pace with traffic.
The transmission doesn’t seem to exhibit the same grade logic downhill downshifting as the SR5 does. And there's some turbo lag noticeable with 600kg of weight on board (from our mates at Lower Mountains Landscape Supplies).
With that weight on board the brakes have a slightly soft feel to them, but they are progressive and easy to predict whether loaded or not.
The steering is light but still has a bit of feel to it at lower pace, while at speeds above 80km/h there is a level of vagueness, which is exacerbated when there's weight over the rear axle.
The suspension is reasonable without a load on board. Not as good as Ranger or Amarok, but better than the last HiLux. And while you can still feel small inconsistencies and it gets the jitters at low speeds, the ride becomes spongier with weight on board. In fact it's very comfortable at higher speed with that much mass in the back.
Next up we drove the petrol cab-chassis, and it offered up a few surprises.
First, let’s consider the loaded up driving impressions - thanks to a load of 1000kg in the tray courtesy of our mates at IWP Training.
The engine pulls harder than expected, and while it has a torque deficit compared to the diesels, there’s a decent drivability and rev-happiness that the petrol offers.
The smooth and short gearshift is a nice surprise, too (we also had a D-Max SX on site, and it had a longer, notchier throw). The gearing is pretty well suited to this type of hard work driving.
It's surprising how urgent the engine response is. It's super easy to drive with that much weight on board, but I did keep going for a sixth gear that doesn’t exist in the manual Workmate petrol.
It sounds like it’s working harder than it is - the engine is quite audible, and at times it can sound more asthmatic than its actual response.
In fact, if you were gonna be running around with this much weight in the back of your work ute you could be doing a lot worse than a 4x2 petrol Workmate cab chassis. It offers enough poke, and also has good quality – both in terms of ride and comfort and control and general drivability. It is well and truly made for this job.
The lower centre of gravity assists in making the HiLux feel more planted and deal with the weight better than a high riding two-wheel drive, with less pitching fore and aft and nice feel on the road.
The steering - which hasn’t seen the addition of that new variable control system, as it’s only fitted to diesel models - is quite good, and even the breaking performance is commendable with that much mass in the tray.
But without weight in the back it’s still punishingly firm in terms of the suspension. The rear-end bucks and jumps over bumps, never feeling as though it’s as surefooted as it could be.
The D-Max we had with us showed up the HiLux hugely in that respect. If you don’t hit any bumpy sections, it’s smooth to drive in. But as soon as you hit a sharp edge or any sort of inconsistency in the surface below it can be quite violent in its response.
The drive experience is very good.
At the launch event of the new T6.1 Transporter range, I drove a selection of different models some with weight and some without.
First was a TDI340 Crewvan with 260kgloaded in, and it was a really nicely sorted drive.
There was very good ride compliance and comfort. The suspension setup didn’t feel fussy or clunky, and it rode very well. The steering was excellent and very easy to judge, and it was easy to park thanks to its rear side glazing and good sized mirrors - though they aren’t dual pane like some rivals but there is blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, as well as a good reversing camera that made reversing into tight spots easier than it probably should be.
The TDI340 powertrain offers a really sweet combination, with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic allowing quick and clever shifts. There’s not much to complain about here, and the powertrain is easy to judge even at takeoff from a standing start - the engine’s start-stop system, DSG and diesel lag wasn’t too inhibitive. It felt really well sorted and certainly powerful enough for the vast majority of van drivers’ needs.
One complaint on our 25C degree test day was that the air conditioning was a little weak, not quite as cold as we would’ve thought it should be.
I also drove the base model TDI250 five-speed manual as well. This one didn’t have any weight in it and that was probably a calculated move on VW’s PR team’s part, as it is perhaps a little bit underdone in terms of grunt. With no load it was adequate in terms of the pulling power on urban streets but I do think it might struggle at payload limit.
I also tested the LWB TDI340 DSG unladen, which was easy to steer despite the extra length, offered great ride compliance and comfort (thanks to the extra 400mm of wheelbase), and good steering as well. For me, the TDI340 is the sweet spot for engines – you don’t really need the TDI450 as the 340 is perfectly suitable.
If you do want extra everything, or if all-wheel drive is a must for your vehicle, then the twin-turbo TDI450 is the go. VW’s 4Motion system is excellent at helping you pull a lot of mass without fuss. I drove it in the crew cab chassis, which was surprisingly speedy with 500kg in the tray.
Toyota was at the front of the pack for safety tech in utes - for a couple of months. But it’s still impressive that the entire HiLux line-up has the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating as per 2019 criteria. And there’s a good reason for that.
All HiLux models come with standard fit auto emergency braking (AEB) that works at speeds from 50km/h-180km/h, as well as pedestrian and cyclist detection operational from 10km/h-80km/h.
The HiLux gets a lane departure warning system with lane keeping assist that works by braking the wheels it needs to, in order to pull you into line - but it still runs hydraulic steering, so it can’t do full-scale lane keeping assistance.
Also standard is speed sign recognition and warning, and adaptive cruise control on manual and auto models. You can even just hit ‘set’ on the cruise control to raise or lower your speed to whatever the speed sign says.
While the spec is pretty good, there’s no blind spot monitoring or rear cross traffic alert, and - in a very disappointing continuation of the theme - Toyota still doesn’t offer a reversing camera on cab-chassis models. You get a rear-view camera standard on all pick-up models, though.
There are dual front, front side, driver’s knee and full-length curtain, for a total of seven airbags no matter the body style.
The dual cab versions have two ISOFIX outboard attachments and two loop-style top-tethers for baby seats.
There have been advancements to the Transporter’s safety technology list, but the current generation model doesn’t have an ANCAP crash test safety score, and nor did the pre-facelift vehicle.
All models now come with low speed (up to 30km/h) autonomous emergency braking (AEB) designed for city driving, though it doesn’t have pedestrian or cyclist detection like some rivals. There is blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a reversing camera on van models with the tailgate fitted (barn doors and cab-chassis models miss out on the camera, blind spot and RCTA).
There’s a driver fatigue detection system, and van models score crosswind assist as part of the traction control and stability control system, while all models get the brand’s electronic differential lock to prevent slippage. There’s also multi-collision braking, which ensures you won’t careen into other vehicles after an impact.
Those who want it can option lane keep assist with lane departure warning, though similarly priced vans from rival makers don’t ask extra money for that.
There are dual front, front side and curtain airbags for all models. There is no second-row airbag coverage for Crewvan and dual-cab-chassis models.
If you’re looking for a van with more safety technology, be sure to take a squiz at the Toyota HiAce, Ford Transit Custom and Peugeot Expert.
Toyota has one of the strongest reputations in the Australian new car market when it comes to ownership and reliability.
However, with the HiLux, there have been a few issues over its head, specifically around the diesel particulate filter (DPF). You can read more about it at our Toyota HiLux problems page, as well as any other Toyota HiLux complaints, concerns, reliability issues or recalls.
Suffice it to say, the brand says it has your back no matter what. And it has a strong ownership promise on paper, too.
All models have a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which can carry on to seven years/unlimited km if you maintain logbook servicing - it doesn’t even need to have been at a Toyota dealer, either. So long as you maintain it on schedule, the brand will back it for that extended period.
The bad news is that you need to service the HiLux more regularly than most of its competitors. The brand says it has no plans to increase service intervals to meet the current standard of 12 months/15,000km.
Instead, HiLux owners have to take their ute in to get serviced twice a year, with maintenance intervals set every six months or 10,000km, whichever happens soonest.
Diesel services are $250 a pop. That means you’ve got an annual $500 bill for maintenance for diesel models, which is higher than many rivals (Triton: $299/year). Petrol versions cost $220 per visit, so $440 a year.
Further, Toyota doesn’t include no-cost roadside assistance, either. You’ll have to sign up for it, at about $100 a year.
Strong on warranty cover, yes, but you may have to pay over the odds in order to sustain it.
As with most van sellers in Australia, VW offers a competitive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
There’s one year of roadside assist included for all new models sold. That can be refreshed if you service with VW, up to 10 years.
The cost of maintenance depends on the drivetrain that you choose in your Transporter. We took an average of the five year Price service plan to give you an idea of annual costs of maintenance, but just remember these are set at 12 month/15,000km intervals. The TDI250 and TDI340 models will cost you $588.40 per annum on average. That’s high. But choose the TDI450 in FWD and the average cost is $636.40 per annum, and the 4Motion model is dearer again at $678.80 (avg).
Comparatively this is an expensive van to own.