UTES are more than just a way to get around. They’re a lifestyle, one that’s built an almost cult-like following with some of the more hardcore fellow ute owners.
And I’ve learned more about Club Ute in recent weeks, having covered plenty of predominantly city kays, where utes are prevalent.
There’s a ute peak-hour (it’s over by about 7.45am and kicks off again at 2.30pm) and a general ute understanding in traffic.
And it pays dividends when dicing for a gap on clogged roads.
Ute-to-ute is so much easier when merging, with merely a glance to acknowledge such courteousness (although, then again, it could be the sheer bulk of the Hilux – bullbar, snorkel and all – that creates openings that didn’t exist moments earlier).
The ute respect works much better in identical vehicles. Spot another Hilux SR5 and I’m almost certain to get a sideways glance and a steady but deliberate raise of a finger off the steering wheel.
But it’s the ability to launch anything at the tray whenever you want that’s the biggest ute win. This month it was a woodfired oven to practice my pizza-making.
The full 300kg disaster was forklifted into the back of the Hilux, where it was a fraction too wide to snug down between the inner wheelarches.
All that extra weight in the tail softened the ride just enough to make it borderline comfortable, adding a healthy dose of compliance to the rear end. And the 450Nm felt almost as strong as ever, comfortably lugging from its 1600rpm peak.
The wooden crate in which said oven was packed dug hard into the extra-cost-option plastic tray liner, but it flexed back into shape once the delicate job of removing the load had been achieved at the other end.
I’m less enamoured than ever with the Hilux’s unladen suspension behaviour, though. The rear end bucks around and does nothing for general comfort levels, which becomes an issue over bumpy roads with the family on board. The kids somehow think it’s fun, the missus less so.
Points are made up with the digital radio tuner, although the speakers are terrible; any hint of bass and they start woofing and croaking. A $60K car laced with leather should have a better sound system than this.
Then there’s the touchscreen, which continues to be a source of frustration when it comes to big volume adjustments and flicking between stations.
Overall, though, the Hilux is a welcome addition to the garage and one that continues to get regular use as a family car, around-town runner and light-duty hauler.
Read part four of our long-term review of the Toyota Hilux SR5 here.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of Wheels magazine.