5 June 2018

Toyota Hilux 2018 Car Review

Toyota’s Hilux had a bit of an update heading into Fieldays, and we sampled the double-cab auto PreRunner SR5, a relatively billy-basics wellside two-wheel-drive variant.

Toyota Hilux ute jm 18
Toyota Hilux
Toyota Hilux ute jm10 18
Toyota Hilux
Toyota Hilux ute jm9 18
Toyota Hilux
Toyota Hilux ute jm5 18
Toyota Hilux
Toyota Hilux ute jm11 18
Toyota Hilux

Toyota says the changes – notably more versions with 2WD, more with an auto transmission available, a 3.5-ton tow rating for all PreRunner and 4WD variants and a diff lock for PreRunner – were all introduced after market feedback, though a cynic might instead cite a better ability to combat the popularity of Ford’s Ranger.

Compare PreRunner to its immediate predecessors and there are small visual cues to the update, including black outside door handles on this version, and the easy-to-clean PVC vinyl floor covering instead of carpet – here masked by rubber mats, thrown in for free as part of Toyota’s new Drive Happy project. And when it rains, you’ll appreciate the variable intermittent setting on those wipers. But it’s when you have it working hard that the difference to this rear-drive double cab is most obvious, thanks to that boost to the tow rating, and the diff lock you can access if the going gets slippery, more useful than you might think given all PreRunners get the same ride height as 4WD Hiluxes do, and a 700mm wading depth.

Not that we had the opportunity to try that, though we did add a tray-load of scoria to see how it’d go with a load on.

Climb aboard, and you’ll find the clearly laid-out cab with its large touch screen, rugged-looking materials, and fabric seats. Our shortest tester found the seat squab a little long, but it was eventually possible to offset that via other manual seat and wheel adjustments.

Specification includes the nowadays virtually standard suite of stability control, ABS brakes, air con and airbags – seven for Hilux – with this SR PreRunner also getting cruise control, daytime running lamps, hill-start assist, trailersway control, emergency stop signal, a reverse camera (it’s now standard for every Hilux) and eco/power drive modes.

The tow bar? That package is an option, installed for $1183.

Fire the engine, and there’s the usual rumble of a diesel at idle, this 2.8-litre turbo variant making light work of the everyday commute section of our test, especially given the auto has 30Nm more torque than the manual, and that torque is all on top from 1600rpm. On the open road though, you may find performance a whisker less impressive as it starts to run out of puff much over 3000rpm, still, who needs speeding tickets.

We’re told Toyota also did a bit of work to the rear leaf springs, and made a few small tweaks here and there to reduce noise and vibration, and reduce the Hilux’s notoriously jiggly ride compared to most of the competition. If so, it was barely noticeable to our fussy tester. What did make an enormous difference was the load. With a three-quarter-cubic-metre pile of drainage scoria aboard the jiggle had all but gone, ride settled, handling settled, and the improvement was well worth the slight reduction in acceleration vigour.

Naturally there are still quite a few Hilux versions – 19 to be exact, according to a price list that starts with the $36,390 2WD S single cab chassis five-speed manual, and tops out at the $62,690 4WD SR5 double cab, six-speed auto.

But they’re all powered by that same turbo-diesel engine, for fewer and fewer buyers were opting for the V6 petrol or, for that matter, the 4WD extra-cab manual Hilux.

Getting it right is important to a company’s bottom line in a market selling so many utes – last year 36,854 of them found new owners, and Hilux can no longer guarantee top spot. That means Toyota must keep an eye on what Ford is doing with the excellent Ranger which regularly challenges Hilux as NZ’s top model, as well as to new entriants to the bracket, like Mercedes.

It will be interesting to see whether these small improvements are enough to keep Hilux at the top of the sales podium as the the year heads into its second half.

Tempted? Consider sticking a sack of sand out back to improve ride, and keep it standard otherwise. Nowadays so many utes are covered in bling that a charcoal or black Hilux, with these black-painted steel wheels and the black door handles, could look very Stealth Bomber indeed – giving you a custom ute at a standard price.

At a glance


Toyota Hilux 2.8TD PreRunner SR Double Cab auto


 2.8-litre turbo-diesel



ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

 130kW at 3400rpm, 450Nm at 1600-2400rpm


 Six-speed auto (a manual is available)

Fuel economy


Towing capacity




Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload


Safety systems

7 airbags

Trailer sway control

2 Isofix, 2 child seat anchors

Reversing camera

Steering wheel controls for ausio/phone/info display

Bluetooth handsfree

Voice recognition


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