HILUX’S HALO HEROES

HILUX GETS TOUGH WITH NEW OFFROAD-FOCUSED EDITIONS.

TOYOTA HILUX ROGUE, RUGGED AND RUGGED X

TOYOTA has launched a threepronged attack on the 4x4 dual-cab market with the release of a trio of new Hilux ‘halo’ (or hero) models – Rogue, Rugged and Rugged X – that will sit above the SR5 in the Hilux range. The trio is launched as Hilux celebrates 50 years on the market, and is aimed at the prospective buyer who is looking for a vehicle that is ready to go off the beaten track straight from the showroom floor, with each model featuring integrated touring accessories that buyers would otherwise have to go to aftermarket suppliers for. In terms of drivetrain, the Hilux’s 130kW 2.8TD powerplant and six-speed auto and manual gearbox carry over into these new models.

The two Rugged variants (both available in manual and auto form) are the result of three years of development and are aimed at the bush tourer, while the autoonly Rogue variant targets the burgeoning lifestyle/family market, and thus includes features unique to that buyer. The Rogue is the urban adventurer’s choice, according to Toyota, and was designed in Australia but engineered in Thailand for a global market.

Toyota is confident of selling 6000 of these new models (roughly 60-70 per cent Rugged variants, 30-40 per cent Rogue), and is confident they address the current market’s demands. The addition of the Rogue was part of a dual strategy from Toyota, where one model would account for the style and sophistication of the urbanbased buyer, while the other was for those keen to get well off the beaten track.

The decision to offer three new vehicles was influenced by Toyota’s research into dual-cab ute sales, where it was found that the top-end SR5 accounted for one-quarter of all Hilux sales, with buyers spending an average of $2000 on further accessorising their rigs after initial purchase.

Each of the three new Hiluxes offer a different mix of equipment, with the two touring-oriented vehicles sharing many, while the Rogue offers a more selective list, as well as some unique additions.

RUGGED X AND RUGGED

THE top-end model Rugged X is based on the previous range-topping SR5, with a raft of equipment added as standard. Pricing starts at $61,690 for the six-speed manual and tops out at $63,690 for the auto. The Rugged X features plenty of standard off-road goodies – all Aussiedesigned and engineered – including a low-profile steel front bar with integrated 660mm LED light bar punching out 120 Watts, 20W LED driving lights, bash plates, rated recovery hooks front (8000kg) and rear, chassis-mounted side rock rails, snorkel, sports bar, steel rear bar, tub liner, front/rear all-weather floor mats, towball and tongue (tow rating is 3500kg for manual, 3200kg for auto), reversing camera, leather seats (powered driver seat) and black-accented exterior mods. The 17-inch alloy wheels are shod with Dunlop Grandtrek 265/65R17 rubber.

To compensate for the additional weight up front with fitment of the bar, bash plates and recovery hooks, Toyota has included uprated front springs. These springs are the same ones that have been used by Toyota previously for fitment to Hilux models that owners have added factory bullbars to, so are well proved. All up – and in short – it’s a bush-ready fit-out by Toyota that you can drive from the dealer with full factory warranty cover on all equipment.

The new equipment is more than cosmetic; the low-profile front bar on the Rugged X is manufactured by Brisbanebased Frontline 4X4, while the side rock rails and recovery hooks are ARB designs. The idea behind the front bar was to ensure that front overhang – and thus, approach angle – was not unduly affected, while the fitment of the integrated light bar provides a much tidier appearance. The Rugged X approach angle is 28 degrees, but it is the side/corner approach angle that has been most affected – in a positive way. The standard Hilux corner approach angle is 35 degrees; the Rugged X bar’s aggressively cut-in corners lifts this up to an impressive 49 degrees. The steel rear bar is also a – excuse the pun – rugged unit that keeps the overhang short and the ute’s rear well protected.

The rear tub’s sports bar is more than just a tacked-on visual accessory; Toyota engineered this bar to cope with a vertical load of up to 75kg, or a secured (tied-down/attached) load of 200kg. The bar is a sturdy four-piece jobbie that is floor-mounted for the additional strength needed for these load ratings. Clever, we reckon. Just as clever is the standard rock rails; during the launch program, we were asked by Toyota to drive over a large pile of rocks to test the rails’ effectiveness and they performed perfectly. The rails’ strong flat section slid the Hilux over the obstacle easily, while the upswept outer tubing was barely touched, making them a huge step-up from the stock items on regular Hilux models.

Cosmetically, the Rugged X cops a blacked-out bonnet (complete with love ’em or hate ’em RUGGED lettering across the front of it), while all bar work and rock rails are powdercoated black. The black-out theme continues with the rear mirrors and door handles in black gloss, with black matte tail-light surrounds finishing it off. The Rugged X gains a model-specific colour – Inferno Orange – on top of Glacier White, Crystal Pearl, Silver Sky, Graphite and Eclipse Black, all of which are available across the three models.

Hop inside the Rugged X and its more black; leather-accent seats, black dash, metallic black highlights on doors, gear lever, console and steering wheel, and the headlining is also black. Batman would be all over it…

Instrumentation is, yep, blacked-out to an extent as well, and includes tacho, speedo and a multi-info read-out. The infotainment system utilises a 7-inch screen and features sat-nav, radio, Bluetooth, CD player (yes, really), and the Toyota Link app that gels with your smartphone.

The Rugged model is based on the Hilux SR and priced at $54,990 for the manual, with the auto a $2K premium. The Rugged loses some top-spec features such as rear passenger air-con vents, power adjust driver’s seat and leather-accented pews, while adding a little bit more to the bush-tough side of the ledger, mainly in the protective sense. The steel front bar on Rugged is unique to this model and includes a tubed top section for maximum front-end/headlight protection, with Toyota aiming this bar design specifically at hardcore outback tourers and rural owners.

ROGUE

TOYOTA believes the auto-only HiLux Rogue, at $61,90, best addresses the emerging ‘urban adventurers’ buyers’ market for a vehicle capable of the ‘big trip’ but actually spending most of its time in urban environs. As a result, the Rogue’s design and style is fairly well removed from its ‘rougher’ stablemates.

Standard features differ significantly from the Rugged variants. Gone are the steel bullbar, rock rails, and steel rear bar, but the clever sports bar stays, as does the towbar/towball and seven-pin wiring setup. A Rogue-only feature that, surprisingly, is not an option on the others, is the hardshell tonneau cover. This cover operates on gas struts and includes an interior light and is secured via the vehicle’s central locking system. Upping the luxo feel, its tray-liner is marine-grade synthetic carpet material.

Styling-wise, the Rogue offers a slightly aggressive appearance, thanks to its bluff front end and the use of black paint accents around the vehicle. The Rogue’s shorter side-on profile at the front also contributes to a better approach angle – at 30 degrees – than that of its bush-oriented stablemates (both Ruggeds measure 28 degrees). The Rogue rolls on 18-inch alloys and runs 265/60R18 rubber, but does have less ground clearance: 216mm as opposed to 251 and 253mm.

The Rogue interior is identical to Rugged X, with the heated front leather-accent seats (driver power-adjustable), infotainment system and rear air-con vents all surrounded by plenty of black.

TEST LOOP

THE test loop at the Flinders Ranges launch event comprised a mix of on-road and off-road driving, with the latter a mix of flat outback roads and rocky tracks, as well as a dedicated off-road loop that included plenty of short and steep ascents and descents, and the rock rails obstacle test. As expected the Hilux’s unchanged 2.8TD engine does its job effectively and without fuss – thanks to the ample torque on tap low down in the rev range. It was business as usual in terms of how these new models drove – a definite case of when you’re on a good thing, stick to it...

The Rugged also has a slightly different rear steel bar, but shares the same uprated front springs, side rock rails, black body mouldings, snorkel, sports bar, tub liner and rear-view camera as the X. Instrumentation is a tad more basic than X; although, the Rugged still gets sat-nav, Bluetooth and infotainment setup.