2017 Toyota HiLux Review

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2017 Toyota HiLux Review

Overall Rating


4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars


3 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProBuilt tough; good off-road; huge model range.

  2. ConSparse equipment for the money.

  3. The Pick: 2017 Toyota Hilux SR5 (4x4) Dual Cab Utility

What stands out?

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The new-generation Toyota HiLux has a smooth diesel engine and comes in more varieties than any other ute. You can get it with two-wheel drive or dual-range 4WD, and among three more engine options is a powerful petrol V6. The HiLux is very good off-road, and tows very well. Toyota’s remote-area service is second to none.

What might bug me?

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The workaday appearance of the popular HiLux SR. It comes with black steel wheels and looks like a working ute for a farmer or tradie - but it’s certainly not priced like one.

What body styles are there?

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The HiLux comes in Single-Cab, Extra-Cab and Double-Cab variants, and as both a Pick-Up (with a factory tub at the back) and just a cab on a chassis.

Getting a cab-chassis HiLux lets you fit the tray of your choice at the rear, including designs tailor-made for specific applications. Single-Cabs come only in this form. But you can have an Extra-Cab or Double-Cab as either a cab-chassis or a Pick-Up.

Single-Cabs seat two. The extended Extra-Cab models can seat four, adding two rear jump seats accessed via rear-hinged, rear-opening doors that open only when the front doors are open. Double-Cabs have a conventional four-door arrangement with seating for five.

The HiLux comes as a two-wheel drive vehicle (driving just the rear-wheels), or with dual-range gearing and part-time four-wheel drive. Dual-range gearing allows you to drive comfortably at very slow speeds off-road. Part-time 4WD allows you to drive all four wheels on slippery or soft surfaces off-road, but not on normal sealed roads.

The 2WD models come with standard ride height or as Hi-Rider versions that have the extra ground clearance and underbody protection of the four-wheel-drive models.

The HiLux is classified as a Light Commercial Pick-Up/Cab-Chassis.

What features does every HiLux have?

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Bluetooth phone connectivity, with voice recognition, that can be controlled from the steering-wheel. Cruise control, operated via a stalk on the steering column.

A reversing camera, to help you see behind the vehicle when reversing. (On cab-chassis models, this is an accessory that you can fit with the tray.)

Daytime running lamps, which make the car more visible on overcast days. Air-conditioning.

Nearly every HiLux has both tilt and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, which helps you find a comfortable driving position. (Only the 2WD single-cab working trucks don’t have this.)

Seven airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; a curtain airbag along each side to protect the heads of front and (where applicable) rear outside occupants; and an airbag in front of the driver’s knee to help prevent leg injuries.

Electronic Stability Control, which can help the driver to control a skidding car. This is mandatory on new passenger cars but not light commercial vehicles like the HiLux.

Trailer Sway Control, which helps stabilise the vehicle if a towed trailer is swaying from side to side.

Electronic Traction Control, which helps the car maintain drive on slippery surfaces. This is especially helpful with the 4WD models in difficult going.

All models carry Toyota’s 100,000km, three-year warranty, and capped price servicing.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The diesel powered HiLuxes are the most fuel efficient. There is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder for the Workmate work trucks, and a more powerful 2.8-litre four-cylinder for the rest.

The two diesels return similar fuel figures in official test conditions, but it’s likely the smaller 2.4 unit in the Workmates will be thriftier in real-world use.

The 2.8 diesel is the most widely available in a HiLux. On the official test (city and country combined) it consumes between 7.3 and 9.0 litres/100km, depending on body style, equipment level, driveline and gearbox. Manuals use less fuel than the autos.

The same 2.8 diesel powers the Toyota Fortuner wagon, and a version of it also powers most Prado wagons. It’s a nice engine, if less powerful than the bigger diesels in some other utes.

The main reason you would not choose it is that you want more power for overtaking on the highway, in which case the thirstier 4.0-litre petrol V6 is your only option (and only in a Double-Cab SR or SR5 auto).

The fourth engine available is a 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol, reserved for 2WD Workmates.

The auto gearboxes are all six-speed units. The bigger diesel also comes in six-speed manual form. Manual gearboxes on Workmates have either five or six speeds.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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Walk past the basic HiLux Workmates and pay more for a HiLux SR and you gain sidesteps (which help you get in and out), carpet on the floor (Workmate floors are bare vinyl), and a driver’s seat that can be adjusted for height.

A 7.0-inch touchscreen replaces the 6.1-inch screen of Workmate models. Toyota Link lets you connect a compatible mobile phone for data transfer.

Sound systems in most SRs have a few more speakers, for a total of four in SR Extra Cabs and six in SR Double Cabs.

HiLux SRs with 4WD have a rear differential lock, which helps you maintain drive in difficult off-road conditions.

Spend more again for a HiLux SR5 – which you can have only as a Pick Up – and you get in addition smart-key entry, which allows you to unlock and start the vehicle without removing the key from your pocket or bag.

Other SR5 cabin features include satellite navigation, a 220-volt outlet for fast charging of laptops and the like, and climate control (which will maintain a set cabin temperature).

HiLux SR5s also look very flash, and different from Workmate and SR models, thanks to lashings of chrome in places such as the front grille, door handles and rear bumper. There is also a chromed sports bar behind the cabin. Tubs and tailgates on SR5s are smooth-sided, rather than carrying the external tie-down hooks and rails of the Workmates and SRs.

Completing the different look, SR5s get shiny, 18-inch aluminium-alloy wheels instead of the 16- and 17-inch black-painted steel wheels of the Workmate and SR. Headlights are self-levelling, long lasting LED units, and the daytime running lamps are LED also.

On an SR5 Double-Cab 4WD you can option part-leather seat trim and a power-adjusted seat for the driver.

If you want those options on an SR5, and you are happy with black or white paint, you can pay a bit more for an SR5 with TRD (Toyota Racing Department) accessories. That will bring you a red skid plate under the engine, a tow bar (with wiring), and a liner and soft cover for the tray, along with different wheels and other cosmetic adjustments.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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The SR5’s 18-inch wheel and tyre combination is more vulnerable to damage off road than the 16s and 17s of the Workmate and SR.

The SR5’s rear tub is less useful for carrying big, tall and wide items than those on Workmates and SRs, because it does not have external tie-down points.

How comfortable is the HiLux?

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The HiLux dashboard is more like a passenger car’s than a commercial vehicle’s, and even Workmate models get a tablet-like touchscreen. Workmates are still somewhat spartan with their vinyl floors, basic cloth seats and scanty features, and are a far cry from the SR5 4WD Dual Cab with its optional leather seats, carpets and more extensive feature set.

In typical Toyota fashion, all the buttons and controls are clearly labelled and easy to use. The tilt and reach steering wheel adjustment (on all but the 2WD single cabs) is an unusual and most welcome comfort feature in a ute.

The diesel engines and the V6 petrol are smooth and offer easy-to-use power. Both diesels are notably quiet by commercial-vehicle diesel standards. The automatic gearbox changes gear smoothly and unobtrusively – it is the best choice with the diesels and the only choice with the V6 petrol.

Like all utes, the HiLux has a bumpy ride without a load in the back but it smooths out when loaded up and at high speeds.

What about safety in a Toyota HiLux?

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With seven airbags, electronic stability control, trailer-sway control and a reversing camera, all HiLuxes have excellent safety. The good news is that even the less costly single-cab 2WDs don’t scrimp on safety compared with the more expensive models, missing out only on the SR5’s auto-levelling LED headlights.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded current HiLux models five stars, its maximum safety score, in September 2015.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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There’s no escaping the fact that the HiLux is a ute and is not a sporty drive. If sporty is what you want then the V6-powered 2WD HiLux SR is the pick of the range, thanks to its superior performance and a low-riding stance that brings better roadholding.

However, you’re more likely to enjoy the HiLux in 4WD guise, and as an off-road adventure machine in particular. The HiLux is extremely capable off-road, thanks to its long-travel suspension, especially at the rear, and its very effective off-road tuned electronic traction control. It backs that up with excellent underbody protection and – for additional peace of mind – Toyota’s industry-leading remote-area service.

How is life in the rear seats?

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The Extra Cab’s two jump seats are good only for extremely short drives, even for kids.

The Double Cab rear seat isn’t as comfortable as those in as a mid-sized 4WD wagon such as Toyota’s own Prado, and isn’t as wide as seats in bigger utes such as Amarok, Ranger, BT-50, Colorado and D-Max. But still it isn’t bad for two adults and a child, or three bigger children.

There are two ISOFIX child seat restraints in Double-Cabs. Four-wheel drive and Hi-Rider 2WD models are a good height for getting small children in and out.

How is it for carrying stuff, and for towing?

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Excellent - it’s a ute. And the HiLux is also very good at towing.

How much you can carry depends on which Hilux you get. Fewer seats in the cab means more length in the tray and more weight you can put there (because there’s less weight in the cab).

Legally, a HiLux is rated to carry less than many similar utes. Even so, the HiLux with the least capacity – the SR5 Double Cab four-wheel drive – can carry 740kg in the tray (37 bags of cement) and a driver and passenger, and still be legal. All other variants can carry more.

In practice, you can pack a HiLux SR5 to the legal limit and it handles the weight quite easily. Its robust chassis still feels stable with that sort of load, and the 2.8-litre diesel – the pick of the engines for carrying heavy loads – has no trouble with the weight.

When it comes to towing, some HiLuxes are rated for braked trailers of 3500kg – but that is only those that have the 2.8 diesel, a manual gearbox and four-wheel-drive. All other HiLuxes are rated lower, with some as low as 2500kg.

HiLuxes with the 2.8 diesel and automatic transmission (a popular choice) are rated to tow 3200kg. That is less than most similar vehicles but would easily let you haul legally a 20-foot tandem-axle road caravan, or a double float carrying two large horses.

In practice the HiLux tows this sort of load well and feels stable and composed on the road, thanks to its robust chassis. The 2.8 diesel is also up to the task. It is noticeably quieter under load than engines in other utes, even if some are more powerful and don’t feel steep hills as much.

In any ute, extreme care should be taken when carrying or towing big loads.

Where does Toyota make the HiLux?

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All 31 variants of the HiLux sold in Australia are built in Thailand.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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A four-wheel drive system that you can also use on sealed surfaces. Full-time 4WD comes with Volkswagen Amarok automatics and the more expensive of the Mitsubishi Tritons, for example. It is easier to operate and potentially safer than the HiLux’s part-time 4WD system.

Active cruise control – which slows you automatically to the speed of a car in front – and forward collision warning. These are optional on Ford Ranger XLT and Wildtrak models, for example.

A more powerful diesel: diesel versions of the Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado, in particular, offer more performance than the most powerful diesel HiLuxes.

The most expensive Amaroks and Rangers have heated front seats, while the top-spec Nissan Navara has those and an optional sunroof.

Other utes you might consider include the Mazda BT-50 and the Isuzu D-Max.

Are there plans to update the HiLux soon?

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This all-new, eighth-generation HiLux arrived in late 2015 and won’t be replaced with a comprehensively new ute until about 2025.

About March 2017, Toyota added cosmetically enhanced TRD variants of the SR5 Double-Cab. You can expect other minor adjustments to the package and range from time to time.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The SR5 diesel automatic 4WD is the pick as a family vehicle for both day-to-day transport and weekend recreation, especially for those wanting off-road ability.

However, given the HiLux comes in 31 variants that range from basic work vehicles up to well-equipped family utes, there should be a HiLux for everyone. No other manufacturer offers such a wide range in utes.