It’s been a long time coming, but finally our tow team has got their hands on the popular Toyota Hilux – New Zealand’s second bestselling vehicle. We were excited to test out this legend and see how she stacked up. First impressions were that the SR5 Cruiser looked tougher than ever with 18” black alloy wheels and a bold new grille. Now we know we’re going to look the part crossing mountains and rivers, but with a boat hooked up, are we going to feel the part?
When Toyota released the eighth-generation Hilux they made everything stronger; we’re talking a thicker frame, stiffer body, new high-torque turbo-diesel engines, advanced six-speed transmissions, beefed-up suspension and brakes, and expanded off-road ability.
The Hilux range is far from small, with an impressive 21 model varieties to choose from. The most basic 2WD double cab version starts at $33,990 all the way up to our test vehicle – the SR5 4WD Cruiser with a cost of $56,990.
Towing assistive features in the Hilux are great with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and more importantly Trailer Sway Control – this system helps the driver to retain control if the trailer becomes unstable. If trailer sway is detected, the system controls the braking of each wheel while simultaneously reducing engine power output and thereby reducing the vehicles speed until the sway is no longer detected.
|At a glance|
|Model||2018 Toyota Hilux SR5|
|Engine||2.8 Turbo Charged|
|Power||130kW at 3400rpm|
|Towing Capacity Braked||3500kg|
|Towing Capacity Unbraked||750kg|
Connecting the trailer was a breeze with the help of a 7” touchscreen unit, transforming into our reversing camera when required.
The ride quality and stability of the Hilux always felt firm but not uncomfortable, reminiscent of the past Hilux’s we’ve come to know and love. The extra weight on the back seemed to help, as even on rough roads, there wasn’t a lot of jiggling about.
On the hill section of our route, we accelerated from 50km/h to 80km/h at around 3600RPM - not quite the performance we were expecting with 450Nm of torque. We also noticed there wasn’t much difference between ‘power’ and ‘normal mode’ whilst towing.
The tranny was smooth and rev-matched well, but it still felt a tad restrictive like many of the other automatics we have tested such as the Holden Colorado or Toyota Highlander.
Overall the Hilux held the road well and cornered confidently with the Haines attached. The four cylinder diesel had enough pick up around the midrange power band, but she certainly isn’t the king when it comes to shear towing grunt.