Final fling for ute king ahead of new model’s arrival

Death, taxes and losing money on cars are essentially life certainties.

On the latter, unless you’re picking up classic Ferraris, Jags, Holdens or Fords, the chances of your vehicle appreciating are next to zero.

Those passionate about retaining value should look no further than the Toyota off-roader family. LandCruisers, Prados and HiLuxes possess some of the best resale figures on the market.

The HiLux has been Australia’s most popular vehicle for the past four years, primed by strong support through the business sector. Next month the 2021 models arrive with a new design along with improved infotainment and more firepower from the diesel engine.

That means the current variant is in run-out, although don’t expect big discounts.

The SR5 is among the most sought-after in the dual-cab HiLux range and at about $61,700 drive-away it means a solid investment … but at least it’ll only drop about $10-15k over five years, even with big kilometres on the clock.

While the 2021 model Toyota HiLux arrives in August, the SR5 variant remains sought-after.
While the 2021 model Toyota HiLux arrives in August, the SR5 variant remains sought-after.

VALUE

Sitting atop the basic HiLux range (there are fancier Rugged models with extra kit), the SR5 has 18-inch alloys, climate control aircon, satnav and a 4.2-inch touchscreen display, while leather trim and heated front seats with electric adjustability cost $2000 extra.

The cabin design has a predominantly black colour scheme, with a simplistic design of buttons and dials. Some mod-cons are missing, like smartphone mirroring applications Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from the infotainment system — but these will be addressed in the next iteration coming soon, along with a touchscreen which nearly doubles in size.

Anyone keen on getting the latest gear could retrofit an aftermarket system.

Metallic paint adds about $620 to the drive-away price, with white the only base colour which doesn’t attract a premium. Also available are pearl, silver, graphite, black, red and blue.

All Toyotas now come with a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, which is now the industry standard. Kia, SsangYong and MG offer seven years (a few others have also dabbled, including Mitsubishi with the Triton but with a 150,000km restriction).

Servicing is among the cheapest you’ll find. Services are $250 each for the first six, but the intervals are short at six months or every 10,000km.

The leather trim and electric seat adjustment costs about $2000 more.
The leather trim and electric seat adjustment costs about $2000 more.

SAFETY

Last year Toyota made a running change to the HiLux range and added autonomous emergency braking that can slam on the brakes if the driver fails to act quick enough to avoid collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians. That led to the HiLux being awarded a five-star rating by crash safety authority ANCAP, as lane keeping functionality to autonomously steer the HiLux within lines, radar cruise control and road sign assist (which keeps a constant eye on speed zones) was also added to the tech repertoire.

While the 2021 model Toyota HiLux arrives in August, the SR5 variant remains sought-after.
While the 2021 model Toyota HiLux arrives in August, the SR5 variant remains sought-after.

COMFORT

Being the range-topper, luxury levels are impressive for a dual-cab. Ford has played a pivotal role in raising the comfort bar of utes, and there is good reason the blue oval is number two on the sales charts.

Although the HiLux can have a lumpy ride, particularly when unladen, and on rough roads. Toyota claims to have addressed this in the new model courtesy of suspension upgrades.

Once aboard it’s not horrible, just don’t expect it to ride like Ford Falcons or Holden Commodores of old.

The uncomplicated nature of Toyota cabins means there is a well-labelled simplistic layout of buttons, dials and toggles which need little explanation.

Ample space front and back means there is room for the whole family. Storage options, including dual cup-holders in the console and bottles which can slot into the doors are useful, but some extra space for phones, keys and wallets would be useful.

The rear seat can fold 60-40 for additional flexibility with tools.

The Toyota HiLux has received several running changes since being launched in 2015.
The Toyota HiLux has received several running changes since being launched in 2015.

DRIVING

Strong and robust, the four-cylinder turbo diesel is a reliable unit.

It’s not fast, although most owners aren’t chasing quarter mile records in dual-cabs. Getting away from the lights is no issue, while tackling inclines is undertaken with little fuss.

There were previously some issues with the particulate filter that saw the exhaust blow white smoke, but a manual regeneration switch fix is now standard on all models that “cleanses” the system.

Those who find the HiLux needs more poke can wait for the new model, which will have about 15 per cent more power while torque is bolstered by 11 per cent. Towing with the automatic transmission is also currently restricted to 3200kg (also improving to 3500kg with the 2021 model).

When the going gets tough is when the HiLux does its best work. We’ve driven it across mountains, soft sand and everything in between in both high and low range.

Like all big utes they are long, so parking in the urban jungle takes some patience and practise. Reversing is often the best option in tight car parks.

While the 2021 model Toyota HiLux arrives in August, the SR5 variant remains sought-after.
While the 2021 model Toyota HiLux arrives in August, the SR5 variant remains sought-after.

HEAD SAYS

There are more comfortable utes around but I’ll sacrifice a smoother ride for an unbreakable reputation.

HEART SAYS

Nothing but Toyota. No matter where I go in this big brown land I’ll have support and parts. And if I want to sell it, I’ll just about get my money back.

While the 2021 model Toyota HiLux arrives in August, the SR5 variant remains sought-after.
While the 2021 model Toyota HiLux arrives in August, the SR5 variant remains sought-after.

ALTERNATIVES

MITSUBISHI TRITON GSR $54,990 D/A

Offering a similar driving experience to the HiLux, this model comes with $1500 worth of free accessories which can include kit like a roll-top tonneau, leather trim, black alloys and sports bar. Powered by a 133kW/430Nm 2.4-litre turbo diesel, towing 3100kg, currently available with a seven-year warranty.

FORD RANGER XLT $61,111 D/A

The best ute to drive by a comfortable margin with a more powerful 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre 5-cyl turbo diesel. We’ve also seen prices in the mid-$50,000 realm for the XLT, and leather trim is an option. Five-year warranty, $299 per service and towing of 3500kg.

The Toyota HiLux is a capable performer on and off road.
The Toyota HiLux is a capable performer on and off road.

VERDICT

Toyota has rusted-on supporters for good reason. The HiLux has earned an enviable reputation, which you pay for, with a confident and reliable performance on and off road.

AT A GLANCE

TOYOTA HILUX SR5

PRICE $61,670 drive-away (excellent resale)

WARRANTY/SERVICES 5 yrs/unlim’ km; $1500 for 3 yrs (both good)

ENGINE 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 130kW/450Nm (bit underdone)

SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, active cruise control, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist (solid list)

THIRST 8.5L/100km (9.3 on test)

SPARE Full-size (perfect)

PAYLOAD 955kg (fine)



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