“The Hilux has forged its reputation for unbreakable reliability, toughness and off-road ability in the harshest environments, although the current production model is classier, more comfortable and nicer to drive than ever before.” - AutoExpress
Eight generations of Hilux. That’s how long Toyota's amazing workhorse has been around. Regular revisions and updates have seen the ute soldier through even the harshest (sales) battles, and the Hilux remains Australia’s most popular new passenger vehicle, with only the Ford Ranger managing a decent attempt at dethroning it (and even then, it sits two places lower on the sales charts).
Tough, dependable, and durable, the new Hilux now adds a few more keywords to the list. It’s also a more comfortable, more practical, and more refined ute now, building off of the previous generations strengths and filling gaps wherever they might’ve been. And now that Toyota’s gone to calling it a ‘comfortable leisure 4x4,’ this might just be all the car you’ll ever need.
“It looks so sleek. But remove your tongue from your cheek. It might have felt the designer’s touch, but this is along the lines of putting a bouncer in a shirt and tie. He might be vaguely more presentable, but you’re still aware that he’s there to do a job.” - TopGear UK
Although the bones of the 8th-gen Hilux may be borrowed from the ute that came before it, you really wouldn’t guess it from the onset. The new ute bears a significant redesign on the front, where it wears slim, swept-back headlights, linked by a svelte upper grille. Form is not without function; The Hilux has a protruding nose with a receding chin, and that’s there to ensure that it maintains an advantage on approach angles. Still a ute, after all.
The sides of the Hilux see some smaller revisions to make it a little more striking, like the panel creases and chromed door handles. The windowline now features a rounded element to it, making it look a bit more car-like. The wheel arches are now flared and squared, lending it more masculinity. The rear, however, looks largely similar to the outgoing model, and that’s perfectly understandable: There isn’t much you can do with the rear of a ute, is there?
Engine and Drivetrain
“This engine [2.8-litre diesel] is a standout. … It is considerably smoother in building momentum and startlingly quieter than the gruff old [3.0-litre diesel] engine.” - CarAdvice
The Hilux is available in Australia with no less than four engines and two transmissions. The’s the 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol, available in the base 2WD Workmate variants, while stepping up will see the use of a 2.4-litre diesel. The widest-available engine through the range is the 2.8-litre diesel (a new unit, replacing the outgoing 3.0-litre oil burner), while the highest-spec cars employ a 4.0-litre V6 petrol.
The diesels will undoubtedly be the pick of the range, with the 2.8-litre likely to be the best seller. All the engines employed are refined and relatively frugal, and the six-speed automatic is of particular note, shuffling through the gears smoothly and almost imperceptibly. There are two manuals available, with five or six speeds, depending on variant. Manuals also benefit from a ‘rev-matching’ system when downshifting, to make progress smoother on road.
“You won’t find a ‘hand-knurled aluminium’ knob anywhere in the car, but the materials and switchgear feel like they will stay as they are for a very long time. The Hilux has forged its reputation on longevity, after all.” -CarAdvice
With one in eight new cars sold Down Under a ute, and with an increasing number of them being employed as family cars, it’s more important than ever that the Hilux delivers the goodies on the inside, too. What has been described as a massive leap forward, the interior of Toyota’s ute is now classier and better designed than before, and features clever features to keep even the fussiest buyers happy.
Features of note are things like the standard-fit touchscreen ICE unit, that resembles a floating tablet somewhat. There’s also a dash-top cooler box, that pipes in the air conditioning to keep drinks cool. The seats are also very comfortable, though the ‘jump seats’ in Extra Cab bodies are only really suitable for children on short journeys.
Behind the Wheel
“Even on its all-terrain tyres, the new Hilux has vastly improved on-road manners. It still can't mask its height, weight or truck-like underpinnings like a modern SUV can, but it's certainly more conventional and comfortable in the way it tackles Australia's huge variation in road conditions.” - Drive
This is a ute, and even the best-handling high-riders will leave enthusiastic drivers wanting. That said, the Hilux is now a decent steer, thanks to a stiffened chassis and slightly more communicative steering. Acceleration is smooth and linear, especially when paired with the 6-speed automatic. The manual boxes, both the five- and six-speed units, enjoy a very natural throw and a clutch that’s easy to modulate on the go.
In terms of performance, the 2.8-litre diesel is more than adequate for most applications, which is probably why Toyota Australia thought it best to offer that engine with most variants. It returns an acceptable 10.7l/100km in the real world (manufacturer claims 9.3l/100km). The ride itself is decently comfortable, though all variants suffer from the usual jittery rear end when traveling with an empty bed.
Safety & Technology
“The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has awarded all Hilux models five stars, its maximum safety score.” - WhichCar
The Hilux is easily one of the safest utes out there, with more safety kit than some mainstream alternatives in other segments. All variants enjoy a suite of seven airbags, electronic stability control, trailer-sway control, and a reversing camera. Only the SR5 models and above enjoy an exclusive feature, that being a pair of self-levelling automatic LED headlights.
ANCAP gave the Toyota Hilux is maximum safety rating of 5-stars, which is applicable across the board. It must be noted that the Hilux does not offer any active driver aid features, be it as standard or as an option. The Ford Ranger, the Hiluxes biggest rival, offers active cruise control, forward collision warning, and blind spot motoring. The Toyota does claw back some points by featuring ISOFIX mounts for the rear seats in double-cab models.
The Hilux does its best to be the best ute for all people, and with no less than 31 possible body style combinations, it certainly positions itself well to do just that. Its wide range of ability means that it’s a strong contender for most buyers, regardless if they’re looking for a family car or a workhorse.
We recommend the SR5 diesel automatic 4WD, as it’s the most ‘middle-of-the-road’ model of the lot, with enough creature comforts to satisfy daily drivers, and enough outright ability to satisfy most needs.
WhichCar.com.au - 8/10 - “The new-generation Toyota Hilux has a smooth diesel engine and comes in more varieties than any other ute. You can get it with two-wheel drive or dual-range 4WD, and among three more engine options is a powerful petrol V6. The Hilux is very good off-road, and Toyota’s remote-area service is second to none.”
Drive - 8/10 - “In the end though, the Hilux has never been more appealing across a wider section of the general public ? from city slickers to farmers, the working class and the adventurous. It is more comfortable on the road, more capable off the road and with even more models to choose from it will almost certainly steamroll its way to the top spot.”
CarAdvice - 8.5/10 - “As far as well-rounded utes in this segment go, there are plenty, but the 2016 Toyota HiLux may well be the best of the bunch. It is more refined yet more rugged than before, and it also has better equipment and more technology.”
Motoring - 7/10 - “In short, the HiLux is more refined and more dynamic than before – and let’s face it, it needed to be. Increased towing capacity, load-hauling and off-road ability also add to its increasingly all-round appeal.”
CarMagazine UK - 8/10 - “The Hilux will continue to be a big seller. Yes, it may not be the most efficient, the cheapest or the most comfortable, but the Hilux is a proven product that has built up a huge reputation as a practical and agile performer.”
AutoExpress UK - 8/10 - “The Hilux has forged its reputation for unbreakable reliability, toughness and off-road ability in the harshest environments, although the current production model is classier, more comfortable and nicer to drive than ever before. But Toyota hasn't forgotten practicality, as the latest model has the widest load bay yet and an improved payload capacity. Yet it still retains the legendary rugged durability that makes the Hilux so famous around the world.”
TopGear UK - 8/10 - “Why should you be interested in it? Because it’s probably the toughest mass produced piece of machinery on earth. Toyota would have you believe it’s now more comfortable than ever, and that might be true, but don’t assume that means it’s as cosy and habitable as a Land Rover Discovery or Honda CR-V. The thing you must remember is that the Hilux is a tool.”
AutoTrader - 8/10 - “As so often when considering a pick-up, the answer to this question depends very much on where you’re coming from. Anyone who’s been driving an older pick-up for a few years will love the new Hilux, but if you’re an SUV-owner who fancies something that little bit different, be warned that the new Hilux is just that: different. Very different to what you’re used to, in fact.”