2015 Toyota HiLux Review: Black Edition

Rating: 6.0
$28,030 $33,330 Dealer
  • Fuel Economy
  • Engine Power
  • CO2 Emissions
  • ANCAP Rating
Limited to 1000 units, the Toyota hills Black Edition makes the most of what might be the current model's final fling.
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A HiLux is a HiLux is a HiLux. So the ancient proverb goes anyway. (Note: There is no ancient proverb relating to the HiLux. The current model has been around a long time, but not quite that long).

What we have in the CarAdvice garage for this review looks a little different to every other HiLux though. Subtle certainly, but definitely different. This is the 2015 Toyota HiLux Black Edition - in white. I know, we thought the same thing too.

The HiLux Black Edition is going to be available in a limited run of less than 1000 vehicles. If the continued success of Toyota’s long-serving tough truck is any indication, they won’t last long either. When you’re on a good thing and all that…

During my week behind the wheel, which included a lengthy run to the far South Coast of NSW, I was stopped regularly. What is it mate? Where did you get the bodykit? That thing looks awesome! Is it on sale yet? What do they cost? I’m going to my Toyota dealer tomorrow. Granted I was probably approached by dyed in the wool HiLux fans, but they loved it. Seems the exterior modifications have done the trick with the HiLux faithful.

So, what do you get? After all, that’s the most important part of any new vehicle buying equation isn’t it? You can read our specific pricing and specification story here. In short though, the white HiLux Black Edition (manual) starts at $53,240 plus on-road costs, which translates to $1500 more than the equivalent SR5. Black paint is – strangely – an option costing $550, while an automatic transmission costs an extra $2750. So our white test vehicle with auto starts at $55,990.

There are some extra inclusions over and above the range-topping SR5 model, on which the Black Edition is based – namely the 17-inch alloy wheels, black side steps, black sports bar and all-black, leather highlighted trim. Interestingly, trainspotters will notice the TRD badges, it’s been a while since we’ve seen them on a Toyota in Australia.

Standard stability control and traction control for all 4WD models mean the HiLux Black Edition gets the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.

I prefer the white exterior, but I dislike black cars immensely (especially when it comes to keeping them clean) so that’s purely a personal thing. Having looked closely at both the black and white versions in the flesh, the white body certainly makes the most visually of the exterior enhancements.

Stylistically, the LED daytime running lights result in a subtle improvement to the frontal visage, the first time a HiLux in Australia has been fitted from the factory with them. The extensively tweaked lower section of the front bumper is the most noticeable Black Edition feature once you get past the LEDs, and the ageing HiLux looks the better for the front-end treatment too.

When it comes to settling in behind the wheel, the HiLux Black Edition looks and feels, wait for it, like a HiLux. There’s that immediate familiarity you’d expect that is both a positive and a negative. Positive in that you know what you’re going to get, negative in that it really is now high time for a change.

That’s the shortfall for the HiLux in 2014. It’s not an awful 4WD dual cab truck by any means, but the fact remains that the competition has moved the game forward significantly. Alborz made a similar point in his recent HiLux review as well, noting that his test vehicle did everything you’d expect but no longer set the standard it used to. As did Matt when he reviewed an SR5 model recently too.

The Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger and even the Mazda BT-50 are now significantly better vehicles to drive around town than the HiLux. The Amarok especially is more car-like than any other dual cab and delivers (finally) an interior that is more refined, insulated and well executed than dual cab truck owners could ever previously dream of.

The Amarok is also the best in terms of negating the major issue with any dual cab truck – that being the unladen ride. It’s not perfect, and it’s not up to the standard of a Touareg for example, but the Amarok is the most comfortable dual cab 4WD on the road when there’s an empty tray out back. The HiLux is never unsafe, but it skips over poor road surfaces and doesn’t insulate ruts and bumps well when the tray is empty. On the flip side, put 250kg in the tray and the ride settles down significantly.

The 3.0-litre turbo diesel continues it’s long run of service under the HiLux bonnet and it’s an adequate – if somewhat agricultural – performer. 126kW and 343Nm get the job done, and the HiLux can also tow up to it’s maximum (2500kg) easily enough.

The five-speed automatic fitted to our test rig is both familiar and competent, but is easily trumped by the Amarok’s exceptional eight-speed ‘box which sits at the head of the class. Continuing in service from 2005, the 3.0-litre oiler is rattly (especially at startup), a little loud and as unrefined as you remember diesel engines used to be, another area where the Amarok has made some gains.

The ADR fuel claim of 8.7L/100km isn’t outrageous either, with my lengthy test over the week returning 9.5L/100km on the computer readout. I did plenty of freeway driving too, which would have helped that number a little, but in our experience the HiLux rarely creeps much higher, even around town in traffic. Take a look at our mega dual cab comparison if you want to closely compare the options.

Where the Black Edition does work well is in a styling sense. There’s a fair bit in that at the top end of the dual cab pricing list too, just take a look at the number of cosmetically modified Rangers you see on the road. The Black Edition HiLux is a handsome looking vehicle and it certainly stands out in the sea of other HiLux models getting around. Buyers will be attracted to that, especially if they are owners of a current model HiLux and want to upgrade to the newest version.

Buyers in more remote areas continue to be well served in a dealer and servicing sense, not to mention the fact that Toyotas hold their value strongly on the second hand market. The HiLux has rarely suffered significant issues in the past, and any faults are rectified quickly by Toyota to ensure a generally sold ownership experience. HiLux isn’t the number one by accident.

Alborz scored the HiLux as a 6/10 in his most recent review of the SR5 model, and aside from the extra aesthetic trim fitted to the Black Edition, we’ve tested essentially the same vehicle. Therefore the HiLux once again scores a middle of the road 6/10.

The HiLux in any trim grade remains a reliable and tough as nails workhorse but here’s the rub. In top spec trim, think SR5 or this limited Black Edition, few dual cabs are ever used to properly get dirty on a worksite or thumping around in the bush. Therefore, they need to be better at the crucial, day-to-day stuff. Things like riding unladen on poor road surfaces, safety, and second row seating comfort, storage solutions and general interior ergonomics not to mention fit and finish and refinement.

That’s where the competition has most moved ahead. I assume the next HiLux will address these current shortfalls. It needs to. The competition has moved on and the HiLux must once again raise the bar.

Click on the Photos tab for more images by Glen Sullivan.