Toyota HiLux - best-selling pickup 2013 (SR5 turbo-diesel shown)There’s no denying the Toyota HiLux, now into its ninth straight year as Australia’s best-selling four-wheel drive vehicle, continues to do the heavy lifting when it comes to the company’s sales.

The worthy workhorse led the way last year with buyers taking 29,344 HiLux 4WD variants, more than 7500 ahead of its nearest rival, and set an Australian record for 4WD sales in a year. A year in which Australian total sales of light-commercial vehicles passed 200,000 for the first time.

Last year, HiLux 4WD and 2WD deliveries totalled 39,931 combined, making HiLux the third biggest-selling vehicle overall. There’s no letting up now with the double-cab variants being given a boost in safety and convenience.

Toyota_HiLux_rearOf the 11 double-cabs, in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive forms, now on offer, I drove the top-of-the-range 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel SR5 4×4 auto (aka the Big Red Truck), on the market at $54,490, plus on-road costs.

Most importantly, all 4×4 HiLux double-cab variants now have the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating thanks to the standard fitment of stability and traction control, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution. Stability control was previously a $1500 option on the 4×4 mid-range SR grade, but is now fitted to all as standard.

A front passenger seat-belt reminder is now part of the package on 4×4 vehicles, while double-cabs gain a three-point seatbelt for the centre-rear seating position.

All five occupants have generous legroom and headroom, plus plenty of storage in the doors pockets. Despite all this apparent pampering, sensibly easy-clean rubber mats are fitted to accommodate grubby work boots when required.

A rubber mat was fitted in the rear tray of our test HiLux along with fixed tie-down rings to secure loads in danger of slipping while on the move. Climbing into and down from the cabin could cause problem for the elderly and mobility challenged, thought that’s unavoidable in this style of light truck.

The driver is well catered for with HiLux SR5 versions featuring a reversing camera and a satellite navigation system with Suna live traffic updates, projected via a centrally located 6.1-inch colour screen with metallic silver surround contrasting with the dark coloured dashboard.

Steering wheel switches operate a multi-information display, telephone and voice recognition. The MID, viewed on a liquid crystal display, shows current and average fuel consumption, average vehicle speed, cruising range, outside temperature, a compass and time, while Optitron dials clearly display speed, engine revs and fuel tank/coolant temperature.

Auxiliary and USB inputs, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, plus audio control switches on the steering wheel hub, complete the infotainment updates.

The HiLux on test was powered by a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel, engine mated with a new five-speed automatic transmission replacing the previous four-speed unit.

HiLux’s 126 kW / 343 Nm turbo-diesel is a modern unit with common-rail direct injection and a variable-vane turbocharger. Toyota says it has been designed for a wide range of users including mineworkers, farmers and other businesspeople who require a tough, reliable vehicle.

The maker says fuel consumption and emissions have been improved by more than six per cent to 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres. The best fuel figure we got was 9.7 litres per kilometre on mainly commuting between home and hospital to visit a new grandson.

With 17-inch wheels shod with 225/70 all-terrain tyres the SR5 double-cab produced an all-right ride on sealed roads, if a little choppy on uneven surfaces. Cabin noise was only a minor intrusion with the engine under load, while all-round visibility was a good thing made even better by the fitment of the rear-view camera.

Price changes with the expanded feature list are limited to between 1.2 and just under 3.0 per cent. The entry price for the HiLux range remains from $18,990, with 4×2 double-cabs now priced from $27,490, the 4x4s from $40,990.

Every new HiLux is covered by the capped-price Toyota Service Advantage at a maximum of $170 per service.

Workhorse is too utilitarian a word for the HiLux 3.0 D-4D SR5 with its potential for hard work backed by all the trimmings to make the job easy, even enjoyable.

MODEL RANGE (All Double Cab)
HiLux 2.7-litre 4-cyl petrol Workmate 4×2 manual Pick-Up $27,490
HiLux 2.7-litre 4-cyl petrol Workmate 4×2 auto Pick-Up $29,740
HiLux 3.0-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel SR 4×2 manual Pick-Up $33,990
HiLux 4.0-litre V6 petrol SR 4×2 auto Pick-Up $38,490
HiLux 4.0-litre V6 petrol SR5 4×2 auto Pick-Up $$45,990

HiLux 3.0-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel SR 4×4 manual Cab-Chassis $40,990

HiLux 3.0-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel SR 4×4 manual Pick-Up $42,490
HiLux 3.0-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel SR 4×4 auto $45,240
HiLux 3.0-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel SR5 4×4 manual $51,740
HiLux 3.0-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel SR5 4×4 auto $54,490
HiLux 4.0-litre V6 petrol SR5 4×4 automatic $54,490
Leather-accented seats – 4×4 SR5 turbo-diesel Double Cab pick-ups: $1500 (new)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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