PEOPLE’S CHOICE

TOYOTA HILUX

TOYOTA’S HILUX IS AUSTRALIA’S MOST POPULAR 4X4 AND HAS BEEN FOR THE PAST 11 YEARS.

2015’S MOST POPULAR 4X4S

Despite dropping 1380 sales from 2014 and selling an out-going model for most of the year, the Hilux held its number-one 4x4 sales spot for 2015. If you add sales of 4x2 models, the Hilux was Australia’s third most popular new vehicle overall last year, small passenger cars included.

The Hilux has been the most popular new vehicle overall in Western Australia for the past eight years, Queensland for the past nine years and the Northern Territory for the past 15 years. But where does that leave the new Hilux, which arrived just as 2015 came to a close? In December, Hilux 4x4 sales were just 11 units ahead of the increasingly popular Ford Ranger, so the sales supremacy fight will be on in 2016.

The new Hilux comes in a bigger range that includes 19 4x4 models, five more than before.

For the first time in Hilux history there are two diesel engines, in addition to the 4.0-litre petrol V6 carried over from the previous-gen Hilux. Toyota now offers the V6 in both SR- and SR5-spec, where previously it was only available as an SR5. Given the low cost of fuel and that none of the other popular utes offers a petrol engine, this might be a smart move by Toyota.

What may work against the Hilux, especially in comparison to the Ranger, is that it now has a smaller engine than before, down from 3.0 litres to 2.8 litres, while the new base-spec Workmate has an even smaller engine, a 2.4.

In designing the new Hilux, Toyota’s engineers haven’t tried to build a bigger ute like the Ranger or the Volkswagen Amarok, but instead have set about producing a better version of what they had before.

While the new Hilux is quieter and more refined on the road, the big improvement is seen off-road, thanks to more ground clearance, enhanced rear-wheel travel, and a far more effective traction control system.

It also looks like Toyota has an up-spec Hilux in the wings, which makes sense if you look at the current line-up, where the supposedly midspec SR is more like a Workmate but with the 2.8 engine.