“More evolution than revolution” is the overused phrase to describe Toyota’s HiLux, but when referring to the latest incarnation of New Zealand’s longest loved ute, the statement is very true.
At one point not so long ago — December in fact — the HiLux took a huge hit, as its 30-year reputation of being New Zealand’s favourite truck had finally run its course, with Ford’s Ranger taking top sales spot.
However, with the arrival of the latest generation HiLux, Toyota could reclaim the crown, because the long-serving ute has evolved and evolved in just about every respect.
It is bigger, it is more stylish, it is smarter, better equipped, more comfortable, more capable and quieter than ever before and, what’s more, it can lay claim to all of the aforementioned in the face of its competition.
And let’s face it, the competition has been sharpened up of late, so for the HiLux to actually trump (pardon the potentially Presidential pun) all the trucks in the New Zealand market is no mean feat.
At the heart of the HiLux is a relatively small — but sophisticated — 2.8 litre turbo diesel engine, mated to a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
Go with the auto, and the tree-pulling torque of 450Nm from 1600 to 2400rpm is your reward. Opt for the manual and you only get 420Nm but from a more accessible 1400 to 2600rpm rev range — and the manual is more fun to use than it is a liability in traffic.
You’ll also find the combination of manual with cruise control and long distance returns some pretty impressive fuel consumption figures. Over a week’s worth of driving, the demonstrator SR5 Extra cab Hilux came back to the dealership with an 8.7 litre per 100km trip computer reading.
This is an individual case out of a staggering range of vehicles, however.
HiLux comes with a total of 12 4WD versions, petrol and diesel options, double, extra, single cab or cab chassis body styles, and either SR5 Limited, SR5 or standard specification choices.
The 2WD line-up is also extensive, with nine variations to choose from, including a 5-speed manual as well as the 6-speed manual/auto transmission options, top-end PreRunner, SR5 and SR specification levels and, again, petrol or diesel engine selection.
While every HiLux is 5-star ANCAP safety-rated incorporating Toyota’s Vehicle Stability Control, ABS brakes, seven airbags as a minimum (Extra and Double cab models gain rear curtain airbags) and boasts more than 200 individual accessories to personalise your truck, the biggest thing to shout about with the new HiLux is the lack of noise.
No, it’s not a B2 Stealth bomber per se, but it could be considered such out of all the utes available in this country. The HiLux of today is so quiet, you can hear Crumpie’s ghost whisper in your ear: “She’s a bit of alright, this truck, mate.”