HiLux SR is one tough unit
- 2009 Toyota GGN15R HiLux SR 4.0-litre, petrol, 4WD automatic - $35,190 (RRP)
- Metallic Paint $300 (Fitted - Sterling Silver)
- by Matt Brogan
Scratched from end-to-end, caked with mud and gravel inside and out, battered and bruised the length of the tray, plus squeaks and rattles galore, this 'Lux had been given one heck of a hard start to life; and not being one to back away from a challenge, I thought I’d continue the initiation.
So with two weeks up my sleeve, I thought I'd throw some real world R&D at the revamped MY09 HiLux, and with a proper four-wheel-drive system underneath and a very respectable 1115kg (total) payload, the HiLux was not about to get off lightly.
Not much has changed from last year's design, in fact I was hard pressed to spot the difference, but I'm assured it now features a trapezoidal grille and redesigned front bumper - which is said to give the impression of a lower centre of gravity.
I threw a range of tasks at the HiLux, including a long highway drive, urban stop-start mundania and some off-road work, while varying the load carried continually - this was partially assisted due to the timely borrowing of the HiLux during house renovations.
On the highway, HiLux performed well, and the cruise control was a very welcomed addition. Sure the ride was a little stiff due to the wishbone/coil independent sprung front and leaf rear, but I guess that’s to be expected given the vehicle's purpose; and though cabin noise was evident, it was not as intrusive as some of the competitors I’ve driven.
Rough “C” roads weren’t an issue either with steering feel remaining satisfactory and braking well sorted, even over messy corrugated and pot-holed surfaces. The LSD could do with a little more slip when unladen, but as I found out later, it’s one of those things you’re thankful for when loaded to the hilts, and besides, who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of oversteer.
Chore time proved a breeze for the HiLux with round bales carted 'no sweat' at all. Steering remained positive even when laden and stability felt reasonably settled and confident even when pushed to limits most drivers would deem unnecessary. Ground clearance of 177mm was more than ample for farm work.
Perhaps a noteworthy point at this juncture is to pass comment on how good visibility is all round. Reversing in tight spots can be a challenge in some light commercials due to the nose down attitude, but HiLux did not present this issue.
Off-road and loaded is a challenge for most light commercials, and petrol-engine varieties do tend to suffer from a lack of torque when the going gets tough, though this was only partially true with HiLux.
Toyota’s 4.0-litre, V6 is a very capable performer, and although it lacks that low down torque of a diesel, it makes a lot of power up top with 180kW at 5000rpm. The only issue is that the amount of revs needed to develop torque can lead to unnecessary wheelspin which isn’t desirable when things get a little wet.
With 376Nm of torque on hand from 3800rpm, the HiLux has enough pull to do the job, though it isn't what I'd call a stump- puller when loaded to the hilts.
The optional five-speed automatic, as fitted to our test vehicle, manages power effectively and provided gradual throttle input is maintained, it prevents any unnecessary hunting or unexpected changes.
Inside it’s a little on the basic side, but there’s a practicality behind having a vinyl floor and hard wearing seats that’s a little difficult to appreciate until you’ve been out bush. Dust, mud and sweat are no issue for a cabin as robust as this, but that doesn’t mean missing out on a few mod-cons - power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, cruise control, air-conditioning, single CD tuner are all offered as standard.
Up back, the tray offers 1520mm (L) x 1515mm (W) x 450mm (H) in dimension and had no trouble carrying our new three seater couch or my quad bike - provided you dropped the tailgate.
Priced from just $17,990 the MY09 HiLux range is sure to have a model to suit just about any purpose and with the inclusion of ABS and ESP the HiLux could have seen a higher score. With most of the competition offering ABS as standard, this glaring omission saw point lost on safety grounds (ESP is still slow at working its way in to this vehicle category).
Despite all this, ANCAP has seen fit to offer the HiLux a four-star crash rating, and coupled with dual front airbags, safety feels reassured. Personally, I am a little disappointed at the offering of a lap type rear centre seatbelt though.
So is it still unbreakable? Seemingly, yes. Does it still feel like a tough as nails HiLux? My word. Would I recommend buying one? Well, that depends on how you intend using it.
If you live out bush and need a 4WD then go for it, but if you're in town and don't need the howling roundabout tyre noise and added mechanicals, then save a few buck and go a two-wheel-drive, but if a HiLux is on the cards it's still a tough unit and as such, is pretty hard to pass up.
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