THE much-anticipated release of Toyota’s eighth-generation new HiLux is great news for four-wheel-drive enthusiasts, families, tradies and now the towing community as well.
The new HiLux boasts a thicker, stronger frame, increased off-road protection, and in the SR and SR5 4WD variants fitted with a heavy-duty tow bar, now has a maximum braked towing capacity of 3500kg with the six-speed ‘intelligent’ manual (a new feature that helps eliminate shift shock) and 3200kg with the six-speed automatic transmission.
This is fantastic news, whether it be for towing a boat, work trailer or the growing percentage of off-road caravans built more robustly for Australian conditions, with their need for additional water, food storage, solar and batteries to allow travellers the ability to stay longer in remote spots.
The additional towing capability will open up many more options for people, all while maintaining a midsize 4WD stature for affordability and the convenience of commuting around town.
Over the past few months we had the great opportunity to jump inside the new models and tow in a variety of areas from 4WD testing facilities in Victoria to inland NSW and far north Queensland.
First impressions of the exterior begin with the bold new look that has more on (and off) road presence due to the larger body, being 70mm longer and 20mm wider, which in turn gives you a great feeling of extra cabin space when jumping inside too.
The interior is notably different to the outgoing model. In the models we had the chance to drive, the first thing that grabs your eye is the tablet-like touchscreen, which is fantastic for connectivity and easier viewing of features, especially for those with a reversing camera.
A variety of other electronic conveniences and a newly styled dash and seating give a nice blend of workhorse ute and SUV. The 2.8-litre turbo diesel was the variant we hitched the larger van to.
This top-spec powertrain has gained performance, with a very considerable 25 percent more torque than its three-litre predecessor, now up to 450nm. This was noticeable when hitched up to a van loaded to about 3000kg and travelling off-road. On one track, after passing through a creek crossing we faced a steep, rocky and muddy incline, which normally we would tow up with the likes of an LC70 or 200 Series LandCruiser.
With low-range 4WD engaged, we steadily edged up and the HiLux worked its way up with awesome ability. The vehicle feels very capable and the more rigid frame with new suspension package provides more comfort coupled with the feel of a firmer stance, especially when towing.
Another huge product line release that is especially of interest for travellers is the huge array of genuine accessories that have been working alongside the new HiLux in its development over the past four years.
We had a very privileged insight into this development with the Melbourne Genuine Accessories engineering team last year, and we saw first-hand the lengths of testing that go into making sure these accessories perform in harmony with the vehicle, not just in terms of look and fit, but more importantly with the safety systems such as airbag deployment in the unlikely event of a crash.
One test we saw involved a HiLux on a corrugated track with what looked like a hundred tiny sensors glued all over the front bar, running data through to a laptop inside the cabin to test for any minute fatigue.
The amount of time spent doing all this means safety is unparalleled, especially when coupled with access to crash-test data, which allows the engineers to produce ‘crash boxes’ fitted between the front bar and chassis. These are designed to collapse under the extreme pressures of an impact in a way that deploys the airbags. The new steel and alloy front bars for the 4WD HiLux are both winch compatible, and on that note the genuine winch is a WARN 9000lb model with a clip-locked, fold-up cover for protection when not in use.
For the more adventurous traveller’s needs, a new sleek snorkel has 25 percent more airflow efficiency than other models, with a reversible head (ideal when following in a dusty convoy) and an OE seal kit for better sealing protection when fitting through the guard. Canopies now synchronise with the vehicle’s central locking system and seal kits are available for the rear tailgate for more remote getaways.
Hard-lid ute tops also feature central locking, one-handed operation, an LED light and a safety release pull if accidentally locked inside.
Toyota is rolling out a new technology in dealerships called ‘Showroom 360’, which is a touchscreen that allows guests to easily select their vehicle, model, colour and accessories of choice to build and see their dream package on screen.
For those who have waited for this next generation, the new model will be sure to impress with its much-improved comfort, convenience, performance and capability, blended with the attributes that have made Toyota the brand it is today: durability and reliability.The industry has been buzzing with the new HiLux’s anticipated release, and rightly so. We feel this new model will make for a fantastic new car choice, especially thanks to the uprated towing capacities.
Safe and enjoyable travels, from all the Gall family! For further details, visit www.toyota.com.au/hilux