- Legendary reliability and tough as bricks
- Brilliant off-road
- Punchy, effortless turbo-diesel engine
- Bouncy, restless ride on road
- Frequent servicing intervals lead to high ownership costs
- Budget, utilitarian cabin feel
There’s no mistaking the HiLux as an Australian motoring icon – it’s been the country’s best selling new vehicle every year for the past six years. Forever the solid and most dependable choice of the ute world, Toyota has worked hard to update the HiLux in Australia over the years to fend of competition from the loveable Ford Ranger, solid Nissan Navara and rather excellent Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 twins. We jumped behind the wheel of the best selling model of Australia’s best selling car: the 2022 Toyota HiLux SR5 to see how it fares in town and off the beaten track.
The Toyota HiLux might no longer be the newest kid on the block in 2022, with fresher models snapping at its heels, but it still sees buyers flocking to it in droves. So does the HiLux have enough talent to be worthy of its spot at the top of the podium? We find out how the Toyota HiLux fares in town and off-road too.
Price & Equipment: 7/10
Toyota has created a HiLux model for most tastes and budgets. Dual-cab/4×4 models with a pick-up tray in the HiLux range kick off with the base $46,790 Workmate, $54,850 mid-range SR, the SR5 we tested here comes in at $58,750, before moving up to Rogue from $74,940 and finally the top of the range Rugged X from $75,590 (all prices include on road costs for Victoria with other states and territories differing slightly).
Our money would go towards the SR5 model we tested here, as it offers the best blend of equipment and price. The Workmate is too spartan and orientated for fleet buyers, while the pricey Rugged and Rugged X models appear to be be rather overpriced, even if they offer more standard equipment.
The HiLux SR5 comes with pretty much all that’s needed in a ute used as a work vehicle from Monday to Friday. Standard equipment includes an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, inbuilt navigation with live traffic, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 18-inch alloy wheels, a full-size spare wheel, keyless entry and push button start, automatic all-LED frontal lighting, fog lights, a chrome grill and chrome-covered heated and electric-folding exterior mirrors.
Standard safety kit for the 2022 Toyota HiLux SR5 includes seven airbags, low-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, trailer sway control, an alarm, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and ISOFIX points in the outboard rear seats – though auto high beam, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic are features that all D-Max models offer over the HiLux.
The only standard colour on offer with the HiLux is ‘Glacier White’ – every other colour comes at a $675 premium such as ‘Eclipse Black’, our car’s ‘Nebula Blue’, ‘Saturn Blue’, ‘Oxide Bronze’, ‘Graphite’, ‘Silky Sky’, and ‘Crystal Pearl’.
The Toyota HiLux SR5 takes aim at other mid-range utes such as the Ford Ranger XLT, which starts from $57,490 (plus on-road costs) with 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel engine, the current market leader and relatively new Isuzu D-Max LS-U that starts from $55,900 and the good value Mazda BT-50 XTR that starts $55,010.
Performance & Economy: 8/10
The 2022 Toyota HiLux comes with a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, punching out 150kW of power and 500Nm of torque. These are healthy numbers on paper and make the HiLux feel effortless on the road. The HiLux’s outputs also bode well against competitors, such as the rival Ford Ranger’s 2.0-litre twin turbo-diesel which makes 157kW and an identical 500Nm of torque. The HiLux engine feels punchy, especially in the mid-range, where it makes the bulk of its torque.
The HiLux engine is reasonably smooth and quiet unless you mash the throttle hard. Under full acceleration it becomes a tad course and strained, with not much happening past 3,000rpm by way of acceleration. On the open road the HiLux’s engine is perfectly refined, ticking away in sixth gear and eating up long country trips with ease. Around town, the engine’s relaxed and torquey nature means the HiLux feels effortless from the traffic lights, getting up to speed smoothly. The six-speed torque converter automatic might not be the flashiest transmission on offer, but it shifts smoothly and works unobtrusively with the diesel engine. It was revised in 2021 with earlier lock-up of the torque converter, leading to better fuel economy and a more direct feel when driving.
Low-range performance is also commendable in the HiLux. Switching between high and low-range is an easy affair with no excessive clunking or harshness. In low-range settings and with the rear differential locked, the HiLux proves itself to be an off-road hero. It might not be as good as a Jeep Gladiator, but it makes a darn good case for itself off the beaten track. The 2022 Toyota HiLux SR5 has an impressive 3,500kg towing capacity and a useable payload of 1,000kg.
Toyota claims the 2022 Toyota HiLux SR5 will use 8.4L/100km in mixed conditions – we tested the HiLux with a mixture of conditions and we returned a reading of 9.5L/100km, which is close to the claimed figure, even if it might not meet the highs set by the Ford Ranger with its newer powertrain.
Ride & Handling: 7/10
2021 also brought further refinements to the way the Toyota HiLux drove. Toyota worked hard to make the HiLux feel more car-like, by retuning the rear suspension in an effort to suppress the bouncy, almost nauseating ride some utes deliver when unladen. Have Toyota’s updates worked? We’re pleased to report the ride comfort has substantially improved compared to HiLuxes of old, with much less of the disconnected, pogo-ing action we’ve learnt to despise. Having said this, the HiLux remains far from perfect, and quite a way off the Ranger which for now, remains the ride comfort leader.
But not only is the ride smoother than before, the suspension now gels more cohesively to create a more sophisticated driving experience. The HiLux’s handling feels secure and grip levels are adequate in the dry and in the wet. This is a large ute however, so don’t set your expectation hot-hatch high as the HiLux has rather slow hydraulic steering and rolls quite bit through corners.
On gravel roads, the HiLux felt surefooted, with a trusty ESC tune and an ABS braking calibration which lent confidence to the braking system. Ground clearance is 216mm, wading depth 700mm, and approach and departure angles at 29 degrees and 26 degrees respectively.
Once again, the HiLux proved itself as a superb off-road tool, making easy progress through steep inclines and muddy ruts. No wonder it has a such an enviable following of tradies who use it as a work tool during the week, and go on adventuring on weekends. It truly manages to be capable off-road and decent on road too.
Interior & Practicality: 7/10
The Toyota HiLux SR5 doesn’t have a plush interior to match its circa $60,000 asking price. Everything feels built to last however, with a simple, utilitarian feel. The dashboard, door trims and centre console are all made of hard plastic and look rather cheap. We have no doubt the interior will be hard wearing, however, but we did expect a little more from a ute which is a workhorse during the week, and a toy on the weekends. Put simply, there are acres of hard, shiny plastics and some flimsy and cheap feeling elements throughout the interior. The interior might feel too utilitarian for some. Those after the plushest ute interior should either wait for the new Ford Ranger or look at an Isuzu D-Max or Mazda BT-50.
Up front, the comfortable seats and door trims are leather-accented, thanks to the $2,500 Premium Interior option pack. The Toyota HiLux offers a commanding driving position, with ample adjustment to suit most buyers. The dashboard design might now be starting to feel dated, but all controls are well laid out, in a simple and clean manner. No awards for flamboyant design here, either. There’s decent storage for drink bottles in the door bins and for loose ads and ends in the centre console.
The 8.0-inch infotainment screen mounted in the centre of the dashboard is responsive and runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Its controls fall nicely to hand and it is nicely placed within the line of sight of the driver. It doesn’t look particularly clear or sharp, and is lacking brightness compared to Ford’s excellent Sync 3 screen in the Ranger. But it does features a rather large bezel with physical shortcut buttons, which are always welcome.
The instruments are analogue and house a small screen showing a digital speedo and trip computer. They’re perfectly legible but once again, they echo the theme of utilitarian simplicity. Less convincing is the steering wheel which features shiny, fake leather wrapping and feels downright cheap in the hand.
The 2022 Toyota HiLux SR5 fares well in the back seats however, with rear air vents and decent rear space for two passengers or three at a squeeze. On the flip side sadly, there are no USB ports back there, and the seats don’t recline for further comfort.
The tray of the 2022 Toyota HiLux SR5 measures in at 1,560mm in length and 1,520mm wide (1,000mm between the arches) making it slightly larger than the Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max.
Service & Warranty: 6.5/10
The 2022 Toyota HiLux SR5 comes with the brand’s ubiquitous five-year warranty with unlimited-kilometre coverage for private use and 160,000km coverage for commercial use. Toyota will also extend the engine and driveline warranty a further two years on a conditional basis. Like Toyota passenger cars, there is no roadside assistance on offer. Servicing the HiLux SR5 isn’t cheap. Intervals are a mediocre six months or 10,000km, whichever comes first and cost $250 per service. The capped price guarantee also runs out after just four visits/two years.
That’s stingy, pricey and inconvenient compared with the 12 month intervals and generally lower costs of some key rivals. The 2022 Ford Ranger features a five year warranty as well, but with up to seven years of roadside assistance if serviced through a Ford dealership. The Ranger has lifetime capped price servicing with the first five years/75,000km of servicing totalling a cheap $1,586 ($317 per year) thanks to the its longer 15,000km/12 month service intervals.
The 2022 Toyota HiLux SR5 DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.1/10
The 2022 Toyota HiLux has certainly moved in the right direction with its improved performance and improved comfort. It’s superbly capable off-road and features a punchy engine, all along with the promise of Toyota’s legendary reputation for longevity and quality. Sadly it’s also expensive to service, has a low-rent interior and has a relatively steep asking price.
On merit, should it continue to be Australia’s most popular vehicle? We’re not so sure. It still feels too utilitarian to be a true jack of all trades, even if it lives up to its impressive heritage of being Australia’s most loved vehicle for the past six years. The 2022 Toyota HiLux SR5 just manages to tick enough boxes to be a good choice, but make sure to check out key rivals from Ford, Mazda and Isuzu.