Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Toyota HiLux 2022 review: Workmate petrol manual 4x2 single-cab cab-chassis - GVM test

This 4x2 WorkMate is the cheapest entry point for HiLux ownership. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Tradies score

4/5

Up to the end of November the Toyota HiLux 4x4 was outsold by Ford’s Ranger 4x4 in 2021, but the HiLux continued to maintain top spot in Australian ute sales because of its firm grip on the work-focused 4x2 market, in which it commands an enviable sales share of around 40 per cent.

Toyota offers a selection of 4x2 HiLux model grades, body/chassis types and drivetrains in a segment that attracts many government and commercial fleet buyers along with tradies needing tough, reliable and low-priced workhorses with solid resale values.

Toyota’s continued dominance of this market segment prompted CarsGuide to sample one of many HiLux models on offer - in this case, the only one without a diesel engine or ‘Hi-Rider’ suspension.

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

Our test vehicle is the WorkMate single cab-chassis, which along with a dual cab ute variant represents the base model in the 4x2 line-up.

It comes standard with a 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and five-speed manual transmission (six-speed automatic optional) for a list price of $24,225. Our example is fitted with Toyota’s general purpose aluminium (GPA) tray and optional Silver Sky metallic paint, which results in a driveaway price of $30,522. No doubt fleet buyers and ABN holders can crunch sharper deals.

This 4x2 WorkMate is the cheapest entry point for HiLux ownership with a bare-boned specification tailored for hard yakka. There are no fancy alloys here, just 16-inch black-painted steel wheels with 215/65R16C tyres and a full-size spare. Inside you’ll find practical easy-clean vinyl flooring, basic fabric-trimmed driver and single passenger seats with minimal adjustment, no intermittent wipers and conspicuous blank inserts where buttons and switches are found in higher-grade models.

The Workmate comes with 16-inch black-painted steel wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The Workmate comes with 16-inch black-painted steel wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Even so, there are numerous features that you would perhaps not expect at this level like remote keyless entry, grab handles on the A pillars, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, adaptive cruise control and two-speaker infotainment system with 8.0-inch colour touchscreen (thankfully now with knob adjustments for volume/tuning), steering wheel-mounted controls and multiple connectivity including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Toyota also hasn’t scrimped on safety, with AEB, seven airbags and more.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The base-grade WorkMate sticks with the original NG HiLux frontal styling rather than the later trapezoidal grille found on higher-grade models, along with hard-wearing black plastic in areas prone to high wear like the front bumper/lower front fascia, door mirrors and handles. Even so, there’s the usual high standard of finish and rock-solid build quality you’d expect in a HiLux.

There’s the usual high standard of finish and rock-solid build quality. (image credit: Mark Oastler) There’s the usual high standard of finish and rock-solid build quality. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The standard issue 2TR-FE 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with dual variable valve timing (VVT-i) offers competent performance under heavy loads. However, its maximum power and torque are tapped much higher in the rev range than a diesel equivalent, with 122kW at 5200rpm and a relatively modest 245Nm at 4000rpm.

Featuring a 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with dual variable valve timing. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Featuring a 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with dual variable valve timing. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The manual gearbox is a five-speeder with an overdriven (0.838:1) top gear primarily for highway operation, while its short 4.3:1 first gear and 4.1:1 final-drive combination is ample for getting heavy loads underway from standing starts.

How much fuel does it consume?

Toyota claims an official combined figure of 11.1L/100km and the dash display was showing 13.1 at the end of our test which covered 317km, of which about a third was under maximum payload. That was pretty close to our number, calculated from fuel bowser and tripmeter readings, which was slightly better at 12.9L/100km.

Even so, the petrol engine is considerably thirstier than the 2.4 litre turbo-diesel we previously tested in the same vehicle (but no longer available) with the same payload. On that occasion, the diesel returned a much thriftier 8.9L/100km which was a substantial 4.0L/100km less than the petrol. So, based on our figures, you could also expect a correspondingly shorter driving range of around 620km from its 80-litre tank.

How practical is the space inside?

Single cabs are usually limited for storage options, but Toyota does a good job here with a large-bottle holder and storage bin in each door, pop-out cup/small-bottle holders on each side of the lower dashboard, upper and lower glovebox compartments (the upper not chilled, the lower lockable) and an overhead glasses holder. The centre console has an open storage bin up front, another beside the handbrake and two more cup/small-bottle holders at the rear.

Toyota does a good job here with storage in each door. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Toyota does a good job here with storage in each door. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The expansive GPA tray, which internally measures 1777mm wide and 2550mm long, has rattle-free drop-sides, a robust front bulkhead frame/rear window protector, 16 internal load anchorage points and four external rope rails along each underside.

With its 1495kg kerb weight and 2700kg GVM, this WorkMate has a sizeable 1205kg payload rating. The aluminium tray adds 140kg to the kerb weight which reduces the payload by the same amount to 1065kg, but that still makes it a genuine one tonner.

It can also tow up to 2500kg of braked trailer and, typical of Toyota light commercials, its 5200kg GCM means it can legally tow its maximum trailer weight while carrying its maximum payload. That makes it very versatile in tackling a variety of load-hauling tasks.

What’s it like as a daily driver?

The stiff rear leaf springs are designed to cope with big loads, so without some decent weight over the rear wheels this vehicle can at times feel like it has zero suspension movement, particularly on corrugated dirt roads and heavily-patched bitumen roads. You can feel every bump as a solid thud through your bum and lower back, which can become tiring after a while.

Even so, the cabin looks good and is reasonably quiet. With the height and reach adjustable steering wheel, most drivers can find a comfortable position despite the seat having no height or rake adjustment and limited backrest angle due to the closeness of the cabin’s rear bulkhead. Although there’s no dedicated left footrest, there’s enough space beside the clutch pedal to stretch your leg.

The cabin looks good and is reasonably quiet. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The cabin looks good and is reasonably quiet. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Steering is nicely weighted, braking is reassuringly strong, clutch pedal pressure is as light as a Corolla’s and the five-speed manual shift action is decisive, although we did find the downshift across the gate from third to second a bit notchy at times and hesitant to engage.

As previously mentioned, the 2.7 litre petrol engine needs higher rpm than a diesel to access its peak performance, so its relatively short overdrive on fifth gear is consistent with this requirement during highway use. However, thanks to dual variable valve timing, it does offer greater flexibility and pulling performance at lower revs than you might expect.

So, as a daily driver our only major gripe is the harsh ride quality without a load. We also noted that excessive play in the handbrake lever when not engaged would trigger the handbrake warning alarm over larger bumps, which occurred quite often.

What’s it like for tradie use?

We inflated the tyres to the pressures recommended on the placard and forklifted 975kg on board, which with driver equalled its 1065kg (with tray) payload rating.

The stout rear springs only compressed 50mm, leaving a substantial 60mm of bump-stop clearance and not the slightest risk of bottoming-out over large bumps and dips. As expected, the ride quality was transformed, providing a demonstrably smoother feel over all surfaces with good all-round stability and negligible reduction in steering and braking response.

In city and suburban driving, the short first gear and diff ratio made light work of getting this payload moving when the traffic lights turned green, while at highway speeds quick downshifts from fifth to third were required on hills to keep the engine spinning at or near its peak outputs to maintain momentum.

We forklifted 975kg on board. (image credit: Mark Oastler) We forklifted 975kg on board. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

It displayed good flexibility on our 13 per cent gradient 2.0km set climb at 60km/h. It easily cleared this climb in second gear so we tried it again in third, with revs dropping as low as 1600rpm at 40km/h on the steepest pinch as it determinedly continued to chug its way to the summit. So, it’s not as peaky as its power and modest torque figures might suggest.

Engine-braking in second gear on the descent was good too, spinning up to 4500rpm on overrun (5600rpm redline) with only one short tap of the brakes required to keep below the 60km/h limit. So, if you have to regularly haul heavy loads on a variety of roads, including hills, this would be a capable workhorse.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

It has the maximum five-star ANCAP rating (achieved in 2015), seven airbags, pre-collision safety system (aka AEB) with pedestrian and daytime cyclist protection, road speed-sign assist and active cruise control. However, there’s no trailer sway control which is a noticeable omission if you need to tow, nor parking sensors or reversing camera.

The Workmate has the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The Workmate has the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

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

It can easily carry more than a tonne and has excellent crash safety, an ‘unbreakable’ reputation and strong resale value.

So, even with its harsh unladen ride and thirsty petrol engine, this is still a competent ‘work mate’ in every sense.

And for less than $25K is the cheapest entry point to ownership of Australia’s favourite ute, which no doubt has enduring appeal for many.

$26,225

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Tradies score

4/5
Price Guide

$26,225

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.