Toyota Hilux has a New Look
A cheaper and better-equipped Hilux.
Such is Australia's love affair with the ute that the Toyota Hilux has been the best selling car in Australia on five occasions.
Best selling car that is, not just utility, with sales even managing to eclipse Holden's perennial Commodore. But, when sales took an unexpected dive earlier this year, Toyota wasn't going to take it sitting down.
The Big T has unveiled a new look - and in some cases cheaper and better-equipped Hilux - in a selective response to rivals. Launched here in 1968 and now built in Thailand, the number of models has grown over the years, to a total of 35 with this the latest one.
The emphasis is clearly on cheaper diesel offerings, with the removal of four poorly performing petrol V6s and the introduction of seven new diesel variants, including a no frills Workmate - the latter no doubt a response to the Chinese threat.
New Hilux also marks a milestone of another kind, with the inclusion for the first time of speed camera warnings in GPS units - soon to be rolled out across the entire fleet. Part of Hilux's phenomenal success can be attributed to its broad appeal, with buyers falling roughly into two camps.
On the other hand there's the tradies looking for a cheap, reliable workhorse, while on the other the growth has been in sporty 4x4 dual cab models that double as family transport.
While engines and transmissions have not changed, the look is more car-like and contemporary, with all new sheet metal from the windscreen forward and a redesigned dash inside. There's a new grille, bumper and lights along with new wheel arch flares and mirrors that incorporate turn signals. The bonnet scoop on diesels has also been moved to the centre. Inside, there's a new dash and changes have been made to make the interior quieter too, with a tacho and Bluetooth now standard.
In terms of safety, for those considering Hilux as a family car, the good news is that anti-lock brakes are now standard. The not so good news is that stability control is not, standard on only four models, with side/curtain airbags available with only 14 of the 18 4x4 models - and none of the 4x2s. The rear centre seatbelt remains a two-point lap design too and air conditioning is a $2051 option on most models.
We're unlikely to see a major turnaround until the release of an all new Hilux which will probably not be for another three or four years. In the meantime, Ford and Mazda are getting ready to launch their all-new utes and the Chinese have just added a diesel to the Great Wall ute.
Toyota says it is "rejuvenating" Hilux with substantial improvements to specification as well as aggressive new pricing. Small increases in price have it explains have been offset by the inclusion of additional equipment. The range consists of single, extra and double cab models in Workmate, SR and SR5 grades, with 2.7 four and 4.0-litre V6 petrol engines and a 3.0-litre four cylinder diesel.
There are five new WorkMates and two Extra Cab SRs. Prices kick off at $18,990 (up $500) for the four cylinder 4x2 petrol single cab Workmate cab-chassis, with a diesel version of the Workmate now available from $24,490. The 4x4 version of the single cab Workmate cab-chassis with a diesel is priced from $31,990. The top spec diesel 4x4 SR5 with all the bells and whistles is $53,490.