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Toyota HiLux 2023 review: SR5+ - GVM test

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The eighth-generation HiLux, launched locally in 2015, reigns as not only Australia’s top-selling ute but also the nation’s top-selling motor vehicle for the past seven years.

Although now in its eighth year in local showrooms, Toyota has been unrelenting in keeping its maturing but still capable warrior looking fresh with a facelift or two, engineering upgrades and model revisions. Yet it has never strayed far from the fundamentals that keep it number one.

Given that its replacement could arrive by as early as 2025, in keeping with Toyota’s usual decade-plus life cycle for each HiLux generation, we figured it was time for a revisit to see if it’s still worthy of its coveted market leadership.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our dual-cab ute test vehicle is the popular SR5+ model grade which sits below the wide-track Rogue and premium GR Sport on the HiLux model ladder. 

It’s available only with Toyota’s ubiquitous 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, like our example, for a list price of $64,430 before on-road costs. 

So, that’s $2500 more than the standard SR5 to add a ‘plus’ symbol to its model name. For that extra spend you get a premium interior package comprising leather-accented upholstery, heated front seats and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.

The SR5+ wears 18-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The SR5+ wears 18-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

And that’s in addition to desirable features included as SR5 standard equipment, starting with 18-inch alloys and 265/60R18 tyres with a full-size alloy spare. There’s also LED headlights/DRLs/fog lights, chrome mirrors/door handles/step-type rear bumper, polished stainless-steel sports bar, privacy glass, side-steps and a shark-fin antenna. The only notable omission here is a protective liner for the load tub.

The well-appointed interior offers keyless entry/start, premium grade steering wheel and gear-knob, dual-zone climate control, air-conditioned cooler box, driver’s 4.2-inch colour multi-info display, one USB-A port, one 220-volt and two 12-volt accessory sockets and more.

The six-speaker infotainment system is controlled by an 8.0-inch touchscreen display which offers multiple connectivity including Apple and Android devices plus DAB+ digital radio. The screen also projects imagery for the reversing camera.

Inside is a 8.0-inch touchscreen. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Inside is a 8.0-inch touchscreen. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

It may be getting older but it still exudes quality, particularly in terms of overall fit and finish and the understated style of its interior design with a tasteful blend of satin chrome, piano black and contrasting shades of grey trim.

There are large handles on the A and B pillars to assist occupants when climbing aboard. However, the rear seating is notoriously tight for tall people (180cm-plus) but given the HiLux’s enduring popularity we can only assume most owners do not carry tall folks back there often enough for it to be a problem.

The HiLux is getting old, but still looks good. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The HiLux is getting old, but still looks good. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

For example, I’m 186cm and when sitting in the rear seat, with the driver’s seat in my position, my knees are pressed firmly into its backrest and my head is rubbing on the roof lining. 

It gets worse in the slightly higher centre seat with adults either side of me, which we also tested (well, it is rated to carry up to five occupants). That results in shoulders compressed, my head pressed firmly into the roof lining, my knees squeezed together between the front seat backrests and my feet splayed either side of the transmission tunnel. I hope the next-gen has more rear seat space. 

The rear seats need more space. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The rear seats need more space. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

With its 2110kg kerb weight and 3050kg GVM, the SR5+ has a 940kg payload rating. It also has a class-benchmark 3500kg braked tow rating but to stay below its 5850kg GCM (how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time) while towing that weight, the payload would have to be reduced by a whopping 700kg. And that would leave only 240kg of legal payload capacity, which could be used up by three occupants without luggage.

The tray measures in at 1570mm long, 1645mm wide and 495mm deep. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The tray measures in at 1570mm long, 1645mm wide and 495mm deep. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Alternatively, you could simply lower the trailer weight limit by the same 700kg to 2800kg (which is still a sizeable trailer) and retain the SR5’s maximum payload, which is not only more practical but also safer for towing. Few if any owners would need to tow 3500kg anyway.

The unlined load tub is 1570mm long, 1645mm wide and 495mm deep. With 1105mm between the wheel housings, it can’t fit a standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallet but will take a Euro. There are four load-anchorage points but the hefty tailgate has no lower/raise assistance.

We loaded 770kg into the tub. (image credit: Mark Oastler) We loaded 770kg into the tub. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Cabin storage starts with a large-bottle holder and narrow bin in each front door plus an overhead glasses holder, upper and lower gloveboxes (with the upper having access to air-con) and pop-out cup holders on either side of the dash.

The centre console offers open storage up front, two small-bottle/cup-holders in the centre and a small lidded box at the back, with a padded and contoured lid that doubles as an elbow rest. 

Rear passengers get a bottle-holder and bin in each door, pockets on each front seat backrest and a fold-down centre armrest with two more cup-holders. The 60/40-split seat bases can swing up and be stored vertically if more internal cargo space if required. This also reveals two handy underfloor storage compartments.

Each door has a bottle-holder. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Each door has a bottle-holder. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Under the bonnet – what are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

The 1GD-FTV 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 150kW at 3000-3400rpm (with auto transmission) and a peak of 500Nm across a 1200rpm-wide torque band between 1600-2800rpm.

The turbo-diesel engine produces 150kW/500Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The turbo-diesel engine produces 150kW/500Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The smooth-shifting six-speed torque converter automatic offers three drive modes (Normal/Power/Eco) and the option of sequential manual-shifting, while economical highway cruising is assured with overdrive on fifth and sixth gears. There’s also part-time, dual-range 4x4 and a switchable rear diff-lock.

Efficiency – what is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

Toyota claims an official combined figure of 7.9L/100km but the dash display was claiming 10.3 at the end of our 260km test, of which about one third of that distance was hauling its maximum payload.

Our own figure crunched from fuel bowser and tripmeter readings came in at 9.6 which is excellent single-digit economy during ‘real world’ driving. So, based on our figure, you could expect a lengthy driving range of around 800km from its 80-litre tank.

Driving - what’s it like to drive?

Given its cosy cabin feel, the SR5 is surprisingly accommodating for tall drivers like me, particularly our ‘plus’ version with its heated and eight-way power-adjustable leather-accented driver’s seat. Combined with the height/reach adjustable steering wheel and large left footrest, it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position.   

HiLux unladen ride quality has always been on the firm side and it can become quite jiggly over bumps, corrugations and other road irregularities. The hydraulic power-assisted steering has a noticeably different feel to the more common electro-mechanical systems, being slightly heavier and more linear in its weight changes between parking and highway speeds.

The engine can be a bit noisy higher up the rpm range, but it’s not overly intrusive and there’s no need to rev it hard anyway. With maximum torque between 1600-2800rpm, most driving tasks can best be achieved within those numbers given that there’s a healthy 500Nm on offer. Highway cruising produces low tyre and wind noise, along with minimal engine noise given that 110km/h can be maintained with less than 2000rpm.

To test its heavy load-hauling ability we loaded 770kg into the load tub, which combined with our crew of two equalled a total payload of around 930kg that just snuck in under the 940kg threshold. 

Ride quality improves when carrying the one-tonne payloads they’re designed for. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Ride quality improves when carrying the one-tonne payloads they’re designed for. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The rear leaf springs compressed 60mm, which still left around 40mm of bump-stop clearance that was more than ample in ensuring there was no bottoming-out during our GVM test.

As we’ve discovered during previous weight-testing of HiLux utes, the ride quality noticeably improves when carrying the one-tonne payloads they’re primarily designed for. The big increase in sprung weight creates a smoother and more cushioned ride that irons out all but the largest bumps. 

The SR5+ also easily cleared our 13 per cent gradient 2.0km-long set climb at 60km/h. It self-shifted down to fourth gear and 2250rpm, where it tapped maximum torque to efficiently haul this load to the summit.

Engine-braking on the way down wasn’t as strong. In a manually-selected second gear, there wasn’t enough retardation on overrun to stop the tachometer needle spinning as high as 4250rpm (soft redline 4400rpm) before I had to push the middle pedal. Fortunately, the front disc/rear drum brakes were effective in keeping us within the posted 60km/h speed limit.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

We’ve tested numerous eighth-gen HiLux utes and they all have excellent heavy load-hauling capabilities. Combined with solid build quality, an ‘unbreakable’ reputation and healthy resale values, it’s not hard to see why the HiLux is so enduringly popular, particularly in more luxurious SR5+ specification like this one. Just make sure you don’t need to carry basketballers in the rear seat. 


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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.