The 2020 Toyota HiLux, Australia’s annual best-selling car for four years straight, is about as ubiquitous as it gets on our roads.
And while other models and segments see shrinking numbers, the HiLux looks poised to continue its dominance for years to come. Who knows, it might become the automotive equivalent of the Queensland Maroon’s historic eight-in-a-row.
We have a 2020 Toyota HiLux Rogue on test, which has an asking price of $62,490. This makes it the second most expensive ticket into a HiLux, behind the more off-road-focussed Rugged X.
With a new model of HiLux on the horizon, does this current model stack up well? While the Ford Ranger has given it the odd tune-up when comparing only 4x4 ute sales, adding 4x2 sales numbers paints a picture of HiLux ascendancy in the Australian automotive landscape.
This 2020 HiLux Rogue doesn’t reinvent the wheel for this breed of 4x4 ute. For the most part, it’s all the same that we know, and that many seem to love.
It’s not the most powerful ute in the segment, nor is it the most tech-laden or comfortable. And, even with a major facelift on the horizon, it isn’t the strongest in terms of outright value. Regardless, the HiLux sells like hotcakes, going out of fashion, on all cylinders.
The most reliable? Toyota does harbour and propagate this enviable reputation amongst Australians, and this is no doubt part of the model’s success. But, the HiLux has enjoyed a less than perfect run in recent times. Issues surrounding faulty diesel particulate filters, which are the subject of an ongoing class action, are the headline act in this regard.
Toyota tells us the problem is a problem no more, with a manual burn switch being installed on all Toyotas with the 2.8-litre 1GD-FTV motor as part of the solution. We experienced no problems with our test HiLux at least, and could certainly smell the particulate filter getting hot on a couple of occasions.
One area where the HiLux holds an unassailable strength over its competition is resale value. Without dipping into details that could be seen as either inaccurate or anecdotal, the Toyota HiLux (like other Toyota 4WDs) is undoubtedly the strongest in this regard.
This Rogue specification is based upon the HiLux SR5 auto, which starts from $57,240 before on-road costs. Throw in the SR5's $2000 premium interior option as standard Rogue kit, and you’ve got a comparable spec before you add in the unique Rogue goodies.
So, what do you get for the additional $3250 in spend? There’s a more serious sports bar that’s mounted properly into the tub, and works in concert with a hard-lid tonneau cover.
Along with some additional brackets and seals around the tailgate, the HiLux Rogue’s tub is now sealed up against water, and also lockable. After putting the garden hose to work in the driveway, spraying into panel gaps and corners, I can say with some conviction that the tub is actually well sealed. And that’s no mean feat, because some ute tailgates can show plenty of daylight (let alone water and dust) through the gaps.
The hard lid locks through the HiLux’s central locking system, making it easier than most to secure.
Under that lid, the Rogue’s tub is carpeted using velcro strips to hold the matting in place. Perhaps not so suited to a concreter or landscaper, this change is the biggest hint that the HiLux Rogue is aimed squarely at recreational and family users. Toyota uses the term ‘urban adventurer’ in its press material, but I’m not 100 per cent sure on exactly what that entails.
While the Rogue did originally enter the market with a unique facelifted look, other members of the HiLux range from SR and above have since fallen into line.
Inside, only the black headlining separates the Rogue from SR5, remembering that the premium interior option (with heated leather seats and power adjustment for the driver) has already been ticked. Finished off with 18-inch black alloy wheels, some black exterior details and unique badging, that’s the complete Rogue package.
Good value? I think it’s not too bad. However, it does feel expensive when compared to a HiLux Rugged X. Although it costs an extra $2000 on top of the Rogue, and not everyone wants or needs things like rock sliders, recovery points, a snorkel and a bullbar, these additions seem to add more substance and engineering to the package.
Like the rest of the high-spec HiLux range, there's only one power plant: a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine that makes 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm at 1600–2400rpm. And if you opt for Rogue specification, there’s no manual option: six-speed automatic only. It’s torquey in the right places and responsive enough, and never really leaves the HiLux feeling underpowered. Although, you don’t have to look far to find more grunt for similar (or less) money, if that’s important to you.
In terms of fuel economy, the HiLux plonks itself right in the middle of the pack. While the claimed fuel economy is 8.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, our time with the Rogue was slightly higher than that: around 9.5L/100km, but that included a day of low speed, low-range beach driving.
Four-wheel-drive capability comes through a part-time 4x4 driveline, with a dial-operated 4WD and low-range activation. Along with Toyota's well-tuned off-road traction-control system, there’s also a locking rear differential. Although, you unfortunately can’t use both of these at the same time.
Regardless, the HiLux is one of the most capable and confident off-roaders when compared to the rest of the segment. Rear end articulation is impressive, and combines well with a tidy underbody design and decent clearance to make a solid off-roader.
In our testing, we spent the majority of our time off-road on sand. At a popular spot on the NSW Central Coast, and not long after lockdown had been lifted, the beach had clearly seen stacks of traffic over the weekend. It was soft and rutted, with high tide making things a little more treacherous.
With tyre pressures set correctly, the HiLux barely broke a sweat in these conditions. And we know from previous testing that the HiLux is capable of much tougher conditions. If this is what the supposed ‘urban adventurer’ is looking to do in their time, the HiLux is plenty capable.
With a kerb mass of 2174kg (a HiLux SR5 is 2045kg), the HiLux Rogue gets a proportionately lower payload of 826kg. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the Rogue gets a softer or more compliant ride. While it’s easy to criticise a 4x4 ute for having that typically firm and jiggly ride, it’s normally with good reason: payload and raw utility.
However, this Rogue’s premise precludes it from the real payload-pounding activities. It’s more about some camping and recovery gear in the back, or your weekly grocery shop and all seats occupied. Unfortunately, this leaves the HiLux feeling firm and jittery around town, without any good reason. If Toyota were able to soften things off a little for some extra comfort in the Rogue, it would have helped piece the package together.
Inside, it’s all textbook HiLux SR5. Cliffs Notes: Good, but not great. The interior of the HiLux still feels relatively modern inside, with smatterings of trapezoidal shapes, and four cupholders combine with twin gloveboxes and a decent centre console for storage and practicality. It’s comfortable and spacious enough, with tilt and rake adjustment helping with ergonomics. While the black headlining might help church things up a little, that's the extent of unique Rogue-ness in the cabin.
There are two 12V plugs below the single-zone climate control, but we found the single USB port was a bit lacking in grunt. While it was dishing out navigation and music, there weren’t enough amps on offer to increase the state of charge. So, throw a USB adapter into one of the 12V plugs, then.
I can report, however, that the 220V household outlet hidden away in the centre console works a treat, and charged my Macbook up without any trouble.
The soon-to-land HiLux update will fix the lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and will hopefully throw in a volume knob and digital speed readout for good measure. These updates will make the HiLux much easier to live with day to day.
Steady and constant updates to the HiLux give good active safety credentials: autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control being recent and worthy additions. However, no parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring feel like an omission at this pricepoint.
Servicing for the HiLux, if you follow Toyota’s six-monthly schedules, does work out to be expensive. $240 per visit works out to be $480 per year or $1440 for the first three years or 60,000km. Things go up haphazardly from there: $342.55, $740.39, $521.46 and $434.60 leaves a total of $3479.
While six-monthly servicing schedules might irk some, those who constantly drive in dusty, hot or hard conditions would likely appreciate the shorter intervals.
Toyota’s five-year and unlimited-kilometre warranty for the HiLux is a good one, especially if you’re planning on spending a lot of time at the tiller.
More grunt is never a bad thing in a 4x4 ute, and the extra 50Nm promised by Toyota for the new HiLux will be nice. Throw in some better interior tech and revised suspension, and the 2021 updates will seem to make a good thing better.
That doesn’t leave this model out in the cold, however. It’s still a strong choice in the field, with good performance in the most important disciplines for a 4x4 ute. The Rogue is an interesting take on the HiLux, with a bit more urban usability over typical utility that in some ways feels like a bit of a conundrum.
Regardless, it still plays to the same strengths of the model: it’s a tidy performer on-road, with good brakes and steering in particular. Off-road, it’s still one of the best in the segment.
The on-road ride does feel a little firm, however, and there are some big gaps on the technology front that betray the HiLux’s age. And considering how people are using their 4x4 utes these days, such considerations are more important than ever.