I have seen the new Hilux. I have sat in it, I have stroked it’s metal and examined its undercart. In fact I have done everything but drive it. And on that basis alone I have to say it’s going to be an awesome vehicle, says John Oxley.
It looks and feels awesome, with great new styling, a fantastic interior – with a lot more room inside, particularly in the back – plus metallic finishes and hand stitching on the cloth seats of the SR5 model we were shown, as well as a huge iPad-look touchscreen that’s easy to see and intuitive to use.
On top of that there’s a new 2.8-litre engine which produces more power than the old 3-litre, as well as new six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes, better suspension, especially at the rear. There’s also a brand-new chassis which is stronger and more rigid, improving handling as well as lifting towing capacity on some models to 3,500kg.
There’s more ground clearance on 4WD models, while the big news is that there are a lot more models in the mix, including a high-riding high-spec 2WD version that’s sure to take the sales fight back to the Ford Ranger.
There will be a total of 21 models in the Hilux range, nine of them new, including five 2WD variants with the ground clearance of a 4WD.
“These new 2WD variants are for those buyers who want the high riding cab of a 4WD for its better visibility and tougher looks, but don’t need the 4WD go-anywhere capability,” said Spencer Morris, Toyota New Zealand’s general manager of product planning.
Utes made up 20 percent of the new vehicle market in 2014, making it the single most important model segment, with Toyota selling nearly 6,000 Hilux utes, and 2015 sales suggest that trend will continue.
“Toyota has a proud tradition of success in the Ute market,” said Steve Prangnell, Toyota New Zealand’s general manager of sales.
“We believe the all-new Hilux with its great range of new features and technology gives us the ammunition to regain the number one spot in 2016.”
Hilux will be available in four grades, S and SR, aimed at fleet, company and business users. The higher specification SR5 and SR5 Limited offer car and SUV like equipment features.
Fifteen of the models will be powered by a new 2.8-litre diesel engine with 130 kWs. The three S grade 2WD models have a slightly detuned 126kW version. The other three will continue with the four litre V6 petrol engine. Buyers have a choice of six speed automatic or six speed manual gearboxes. A five speed manual is fitted to the three entry level 2WDs.
The manual SR5 and SR5 Limited models have an intelligent manual transmission which is designed to avoid shift shock and ensure smooth gear changes. It also prevents the engine from stalling in first gear when the clutch is not engaged.
While there is four kW more power available from the new engine, it is the 22.4 to 25 percent increase in torque with the new diesel engine that is the Hilux’s main trump card. Peak torque at the low rev range is now from 420 to 450 Nm (depending on model) for more stump-pulling ability.
Fuel economy has been improved up to 10 percent, depending on the model.
“The expanded model mix in our new Hilux range gives us the opportunity to cater for the expanding customer requirements from the Ute segment,” said Steve.
Toyota enjoyed 26 percent of the sales of 4WD Utes in New Zealand last year, although its sales of 2WD models was only 16 percent of the market total.
The braked tow rating of the all-new Hilux rises to a range of 2,500 to 3,500kg, depending on the model, from the outgoing Hilux 2,250 to 2,800kg range, to meet the needs of more recreational and business buyers.
Every new Hilux comes with a comprehensive safety package which includes seven airbags, emergency stop signal, trailer sway control, vehicle stability control and hill start assist. A reversing camera is fitted to all 17 models with a factory fitted wellside.
Three selectable drive modes are also standard on all models, allowing the driver to choose between power, ECO and normal modes.
Standard features on the price-leading S models, include 16 inch steel wheels and a four speaker stereo system. The SR version gets 17 inch steel wheels with all terrain tyres and a six speaker stereo. Both of these models are designed to meet the needs of buyers who need a “work” truck. Other standard features include cruise control and Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio controls.
The SR5 model has 17 inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, satellite navigation, LED headlights, smart key remote central locking and climate control air conditioning. The SR5 Limited adds 18 inch alloy wheels, leather seats and a power adjustable driver’s seat.
Full technical details and equipment specification together with pricing will be announced at the time of the launch at the end of this year.