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Toyota Hilux TRD pack 2018 review

Mark Oastler
Contributing Journalist

6 Nov 2017 • 12 min read

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The rise and rise of 4x4 dual cab ute ownership proves these high-riding hay haulers have created a lucrative sweet spot in the Australian car market. 

The Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux are not only runaway leaders of their segment, they recently became the industry’s two top-selling models for the month, ahead of perpetual passenger-car favourites the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3.

Consistently strong demand for Ford’s luxurious, premium-grade Ranger Wildtrak has inspired other marques to produce special versions of their top-shelf 4x4 dual cabs - including Toyota with its TRD-equipped SR5 Hilux.

You might also be interested in the Holden Colorado

image of Holden Colorado Compare to the Toyota HiLux Locate A Dealer Request A Brochure

You might also be interested in the Holden Colorado

image of Holden Colorado Compare to the Toyota HiLux Locate A Dealer Request A Brochure

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development, the in-house competition department with a rich history of global motor sport programs and development of high-performance parts spanning decades. Linking that competition heritage with - of all things - a high-riding 4x4 ute for the second time (the first was about a decade ago) could be seen as another cynical marketing exercise; even more so given that the changes this time are purely cosmetic. rather than racy.

The TRD Accessory Pack is available only on the top-of-the-line Hilux SR5+, with its leather-accented interior trim and power-adjustable driver’s seat. The TRD 'special' is available in a choice of white ($58,990) or black ($59,540) with six-speed manual, or an extra $2000 if you opt for the six-speed automatic.

The TRD package consists of 15 new components. The TRD package consists of 15 new components.

Our test vehicle was black with auto, which, at $61,540 is the most expensive Hilux in the range. It’s also more than Holden’s top-shelf Colorado Z71 auto ($57,190), about line-ball with the Ranger Wildtrak auto ($61,790) and substantially less than VW’s Amarok V6 Ultimate ($67,990).

The TRD package consists of 15 new components. Seven are from TRD, including a luminous red front skid plate, bespoke grille, lower bumper cover, wheel arch flares, mudflaps, floor mats and gear-knob (autos only). The rest of the kit includes matt black 18-inch alloy wheels with 265/60R18 highway tyres, black sports bar, black body side and bonnet mouldings, towing kit, cargo bed liner, soft tonneau cover and taillight covers.

The 18-inch matt black wheels are included in the package. The 18-inch matt black wheels are included in the package.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Well, essentially this whole TRD pack is about just that, design, or, to put it more plainly, bling is the thing.

The eighth generation NG-series Hilux is 5330mm long and 1855mm wide. Its rugged body-on-frame construction rides on a 3085mm wheelbase, with power-assisted rack and pinion steering, front disc brakes/rear drums and an Australian-developed heavy-duty suspension spec for the double wishbone front and leaf-sprung live axle rear. 

The load bed has 1109mm between the wheel arches. The load bed has 1109mm between the wheel arches.

The load bed is 1569mm long, 1645mm wide and 481mm deep with 1109mm between the wheel arches and more than 1.2 cubic metres of load volume. There are also four sturdy and well-placed tie-down points.

Turning circle is a compact 12.6 metres and its excellent off-road credentials include an unprecedented 570mm of rear wheel travel, approach angle of 30 degrees, departure angle of 25 degrees, 279mm ground clearance and useful wading depth of 700mm.

One major gripe is (still) the audio system touchscreen, which has no dials for adjustment. Although these functions can be controlled by buttons on the steering wheel, we reckon the driver should always have the option of using either. The problem with this particular touchscreen is the fingertip accuracy, applied pressure and contact time required to make your selections, which can be as distracting as using a smartphone while driving. We really hope this unit is replaced in the Hilux's inevitable mid-life update.

One major gripe is still the touchscreen, it could do with better tactile controls. One major gripe is still the touchscreen, it could do with better tactile controls.

Our other complaint is about the back seat. In dual-cab utes (apart from giant US pick-ups) these areas are never spacious, particularly for tall passengers. The Hilux is one of the tightest among the major players, with marginal leg and headroom along with big front-seat headrests that block most of the forward vision, which can feel a bit claustrophobic.

The back seat is tight, realistically it's a four seater for real-world adventures. The back seat is tight, realistically it's a four seater for real-world adventures.

And if you're tall and draw the short straw for the slightly elevated central position, with the top of your head touching the roof lining, shoulders rubbing against passengers on either side, knees squeezed together to fit between the front seats and lower legs splayed either side of the transmission tunnel, make sure it’s a (very) short trip. For real-world adventures, the Hilux is realistically a four-seater in our books.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The SR5’s 1GD-FTV engine is a 2.8-litre, four-cylinder, common-rail diesel featuring the latest intercooled variable vane turbocharger technology. With increased efficiency and durability margins, along with substantial NVH gains over previous offerings, this impressively quiet and refined engine produces 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm at 1600-2400rpm.

The SR5's 2.8-litre diesel produces 130kW/450Nm. The SR5's 2.8-litre diesel produces 130kW/450Nm.

The intelligent, electronically controlled AC60 six-speed torque converter automatic is nicely tailored for this application, with numerous dynamic features to maximise the engine’s performance, including ‘Eco’ and ‘Power’ modes, manual sequential-shifting and over-driven fifth and sixth ratios for economical highway cruising. 

The dual-range, part-time 4x4 transmission features a low 36.1:1 crawl ratio and rear diff lock. There’s also a well-calibrated traction control system, which self-cancels when the diff lock is engaged, plus downhill assist control (auto only).

How much fuel does it consume?

Toyota’s official combined figure is 8.5L/100km and at the end of our test the dash display was showing 10.8L/100km. However, that was actually higher than our own numbers crunched from trip meter and fuel bowsers, which came in at a thrifty 10.3L/100km. Based on these figures, you can expect a driving range of around 780km from its 80-litre tank.

How practical is the space inside?

A 2080kg kerb weight and 3000kg GVM allows for a legal payload of 920kg, so you can’t call the TRD Hilux a genuine ‘one tonner’ like numerous rivals. It’s also rated to tow up to 3200kg of braked trailer, but with a GCM of 5650kg that 920kg payload has to be reduced by a substantial 550kg, or more than half a tonne, to legally do it. That would also leave a payload of only 370kg, which four big Aussie adults would use up without any luggage. So do your sums first if you’re planning to max-out the tow-ball.

Numerous cabin-storage options include a bottle holder and storage pocket in each front door, pop-out cup holders on each side of the dash, a dual-compartment glove box (including an A/C-connected drink cooler in the top compartment) and centre console with open storage cubby, two cup holders, small oddments tray and a lidded box with padded top, which doubles as an arm rest. There’s also a roof-mounted sunglasses holder.

Rear passengers don't have to do with a lack of bottle-holders. Rear passengers don't have to do with a lack of bottle-holders.

Rear-seat passengers get a drink bottle holder and storage pocket in each door, plus two cup holders in the centre fold-down armrest and storage pockets on the front seat backrests. The 60/40 split-fold rear seat base can be swung up and strapped into a vertical position if more cargo space is required.

What's it like to drive?

If there’s one word that describes the Hilux it would have to be ‘refinement’. It’s more than good; it’s outstanding, and the equal of any competitor, including the benchmark VW Amarok. Full marks to Toyota for achieving the kind of build integrity and steel-block solidity that provides such a solid and reassuring feel behind the wheel.

Acceleration, however, can best be described as adequate. The heavy-duty suspension package, tailored for merciless cross-country use, provides acceptable ride quality on sealed roads when empty or lightly loaded, with the usual kick in the back from the leaf-sprung rear over bigger bumps.

Where the Hilux really shines is under heavy loads, particularly when it comes to ride quality. With 800kg in the load bed and a 100kg driver, we were only 20kg under the 920kg maximum rating. The nose rose 15mm and the big rear leaf springs compressed only 55mm, which was nowhere near the bump rubbers, given the generous 570mm of rear wheel travel.

The HiLux really shines under load. The HiLux really shines under load.

This heavy-duty suspension package, combined with the engine’s ample 450Nm of torque and the six-speed auto’s useful spread of ratios, made light work of lugging maximum payload up our 2.0km 13 per cent gradient set climb. The auto quickly self-shifted its way down to third gear before pulling like a train at 2400rpm and 60km/h all the way to the top, with minimal throttle angle. 

Engine braking on the way down, in a manually selected second gear, wasn’t so strong as it struggled to restrain the payload with engine braking alone. Regular brake applications were required to stop the engine spinning freely towards its 4400rpm redline on over-run. 

On the highway with the cruise control engaged, the Hilux proved a competent and pleasant cruiser thanks to a comfortable driving position and impressive quietness. Low engine, tyre and wind noise allowed conversations without raised voices. The gearing was excellent in this role, with the tacho showing only 1500rpm at 100km/h and 1700rpm at 110km/h. The six-speed auto seamlessly downshifted on hills to fifth (2200rpm) and sometimes fourth (3000rpm) to maintain the set speed without fuss.

We didn’t venture too far off road during this test, because we have previously tested an SR5 in the toughest conditions at the Melbourne 4x4 Training and Proving Ground, in which it excelled.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Hilux gets a maximum ANCAP five star rating. Passive-safety features include two front airbags, two front seat-side airbags, driver’s knee airbag and cabin-length side curtain airbags. Rear seat gets ISOFIX child seat restraints on the two outer seating positions, plus three child seat top tethers, three headrests and three lap-sash seatbelts. There's also a reversing camera and LED daytime running lights. Active safety stability control menu includes traction control, downhill assist control, trailer-sway control, hill-start assist, emergency brake assist (EBA) and electronic brake distribution (EBD), but sadly no AEB.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Three-year/100,000km warranty. Service intervals six months/10,000km. Capped price of $240 for each of the first six services for three years or 60,000km, whichever comes first. 

We don’t get too excited about car companies exploiting famous factory high performance icons (in this case TRD) to boost sales of a special edition that is purely cosmetic - and particularly when it’s applied to a diesel workhorse. However, we also understand Toyota’s need to make its products stand out, so the Hilux TRD ticks both boxes. If its 15 factory-fitted accessories are worth the extra coin over a standard SR5 is a value-for-money question which only you can answer.

Is the TRD Hilux the Ranger Wildtrak's equal?


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