From the tray forward, Toyota's new and improved HiLux models feel and look like a passenger sedan.

By Tom Oltoff

There is no doubt that Toyota thinks big when it comes to releasing its new models, but this relates more to the range rather than the physical size.

Toyota’s new generation HiLux has 30 models, with a choice of two- and four-wheel drive; three cabins; three engines; automatic and manual transmission and three equipment levels.

There has to be something there to suit every buyer. Production of the Toyota HiLux began in Japan in 1967. More than 12.5 million HiLux vehicles have been produced for 130 world markets.

Nearly half a million of these have come to Australia since the first 4x2 arrived in 1971 and the 4x4 followed in 1980. The latest generation, the seventh, will be sourced from Toyota’s ultra-modern plant in Thailand.

The fact that Australians have a thing for utilities is well known: combined sales in Australia last year reached nearly 138,000 units. HiLuxes accounted for 28,000 or 20 per cent of these, making it the market leader in the 4x4 segment. Most head up north with 35 per cent of HiLux utilities sold in the NT.

The 2005 HiLux range is completely new, offering more interior space, greater load area, better performance and economy and higher comfort and equipment levels. The new model is dimensionally slightly larger, has new engines and suspensions and a wider choice of equipment combinations.

Features and equipment
High on the list of new features are the V6 four litre petrol engine and the turbo charged Electronic Direct Injection diesel, both available in the 4x4 and 4x2 models.

The V6 petrol produces 175kW of power at 5200rpm and 376Nm of torque at 3800rpm. The gutsy three litre diesel has 120kW at 3400rpm and 343Nm of torque available between 1400rpm and 3200rpm – great for pulling big loads.

The diesel, like the petrol engine, can be mated to a manual or automatic transmission.

The entry-level HiLux Work Mate 4x2 uses the 2.7 litre four-cylinder petrol engine that manages to produce a most respectable 118kW of power and is matched to a five-speed manual gearbox. For towing, however, the four litre petrol or three litre turbodiesel engines are the obvious choices.

Among the 30 models are 14 4x2 models and 16 4x4 variants. There is a choice of Single Cab, Xtra Cab and Double Cab, as well as Work Mate, SR and top-of-the-range SR5 equipment levels.

Add to this the different engines and transmissions and it should be possible to satisfy the most fastidious buyer and a wide range of needs.

All models have new chassis, suspension and brake components. Both the body and chassis are stronger while the coil spring front suspension and upgraded rear suspension provide excellent ride and handling qualities.

From the driver’s seat the HiLux looks and feels more like a car than a rugged workhorse.
A new five-speed, Lexus-inspired, electronically controlled automatic transmission is available to match up with the four litre petrol engine. It can be driven as a normal automatic by selecting ‘D’ or in a sequential manual mode.

State-of-the-art shift technology manages the shift pattern according to road conditions and driver behaviour. Throttle position, engine speed, vehicle speed and brake operation are monitored to determine the best gear for the prevailing conditions, both going up- and downhill.

CW’s test SR5 Xtra Cab came with driver and front passenger airbags, ABS anti-skid braking, 15in alloy wheels, sports bar, rear bumper with step, electric mirrors, air-conditioning, leather steering wheel, four-speaker MP3-compatible audio system with six-CD in-dash changer, height-adjustment driver seat, trip computer, cruise control, engine immobiliser and remote keyless entry.

To all these goodies and more can be added an alloy nudge bar, airbag-compatible bull bar, hard or soft tonneau cover, roof racks, bonnet and headlight protector, high or low roof canopy, tray liner seat covers and rubber floor mats.

While the Xtra cab does have a couple of seats in the back, they will only suit a couple of children for short distances. We found the extra space most useful as it accommodated all our gear, including an esky without having to resort to using the tray.

On the road the HiLux behaved more like a sedan – the ride was excellent and a long way removed from the somewhat jarring ride of previous models, particularly when they are unladen.

Towing notes
Toyota’s towing specs for both the 2WD and 4WD models are 2250kg with 225kg permitted on the ball. Like other commercial-type vehicles it is necessary to check the Gross Combination Mass before loading the ute and hitching on a heavy van.

With so many models it is difficult to provide all the details but generally speaking, if you load the HiLux to its maximum Gross Vehicle Mass, it is not possible to tow the maximum.

Conversely if you tow the maximum you may not be able to use the total 1.2 tonne payload capacity.

In reality very few people, particularly owners of an Xtra Cab or Double Cab model, would load the ute to its maximum while towing a two tonne-plus trailer.

Toyota wisely recommends that a trailer is loaded to give a ball or tongue load that is 10 per cent of the total trailer load. The use of suitable hitches is also suggested.

To prove that not everyone at Toyota understands the towing scene, the owner manual includes the warning: “Do not use axle-mounted hitches, as they can cause damage to the axle housing, wheel bearings, wheels or tyres”.

Although I have seen axle-mounted hitches advertised in US magazines a few decades ago, I’m not aware of these ever being used Down Under.

Fuel economy
We had been told to expect a HiLux 4WD turbodiesel. On collection day it turned out to be a 2WD with the four litre petrol engine.

While CW never knocks back the offer to try out a vehicle, in this case I was a little concerned about the amount of fuel the Prado-derived petrol engine might use – we were to be pleasantly surprised.

As part of the exercise was to try out one of the SA-based Heaslip Campers prototype Gourmet Getaway units, and we had to attend a conference in Port Lincoln, we decided to tow the trailer to Port Augusta, go solo to Port Lincoln and return and hitch the trailer back on to head home. This resulted in driving 700km solo and towing for 600km.

The HiLux was fitted with a trip computer that provided useful data including instant and average fuel consumption. Initially the average consumption read 9.1, which seemed too good to be true. But then we realised that this was ‘kilometres per litre’. With the help of the manual this was changed to ‘litres per 100 kilometres’, which makes more sense when it comes to consumption.

The first leg from Adelaide to Port Augusta with the trailer in tow gave us 14.1L/100km with the cruise control set at 100km/h where possible.

Based on this information we reckoned on about 11 or 12 on the solo run, but once we unhitched the trailer we soon realised that without a load behind, the HiLux was going to be very frugal. By the time we reached Port Lincoln the engine had managed to maintain an average speed of 92km/h while using fuel at the rate of 9.8L/100km.

The return journey under similar conditions was even better, with 9.4L/100km while averaging 97km/h. Of course, this was under rather ideal highway driving conditions.

Once we hooked the trailer back on, consumption increased to 14.2L/100km. It could be argued that when the HiLux engine has to work harder it gets a lot thirstier, but as the 14L/100km is quite respectable for a 4.0 litre petrol engine, it shows that Toyota has ensured that for day-to-day operation, the Hilux can be economical. It seemed to us that when towing a full-size van the consumption at 80-90km/h would most likely be under 20L/100km.

What do we reckon?
While there was nothing wrong with the previous HiLux utility range, the new models have taken a big leap forward.

I’m not a lover of vehicles that feel like you are driving a truck. I realise that some do, but as far as the new HiLux is concerned, I’d happily drive it every day. It’s comfortable, responsive and easy to drive, yet it is a very capable all-terrain type of vehicle.

For further information on the HiLux or to obtain a brochure freecall 1800 356 554, or for other enquiries freecall 1800 252 097; Sydney (02) 9710 3955. Toyota website:

Toyota HiLux 2005 4x2 SR5 utility
Engine: 4.0L V6 petrol with variable valve timing
Max. power: 175kW@5200rpm
Max. torque: 376Nm@3800rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Length: 5255mm
Width: 1760mm
Height: 16805mm
Wheelbase: 3085mm
Ground clearance: 177mm
Kerb mass: 1600kg
Front axle load: 1200kg
Rear axle load: 1520kg max.
Payload: Up to 1695kg
Gross Vehicle Mass: 2740kg
Gross Combination Mass: 4600kg
Fuel tank capacity: 76 litres
Towing capacity: 2250kg (maximum towbar download 225kg)
Note: Dimensions and weights stated are for the Xtra Cab SR5 2WD and can vary with different models and configurations.
Published : Sunday, 31 July 2005
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