Toyota HiLux 2023 Review

n 2018 Toyota Australia launched three ‘halo’ variants of its HiLux dual cab 4x4 ute comprising Rugged, Rogue, and top-shelf Rugged X. Although the Rugged had an early departure due to slow sales, the ‘urban adventurer’ Rogue and ‘hardcore off-road’ Rugged X have proven popular with premium-grade HiLux buyers, finding more than 17,000 homes.

They were released in the wake of Ford’s Ranger Raptor, which has proven to be a major disruptor of the 4x4 ute market since its 2018 launch. It's prompted other rivals to create enhanced performance models too, like Nissan’s Navara Pro-4X Warrior and Volkswagen’s Walkinshaw-tweaked Amarok W580 variants

Not surprisingly, Toyota is said to be working on a full-house Raptor rival as a replacement for the Rugged X. And that will follow in the tire tracks of its recently upgraded Rogue, which boasts significant Raptor-inspired suspension, brake and body enhancements. We recently put one to the test to see how it measures up from a tradie’s perspective.

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

The new Rogue, which is now the flagship of the HiLux range, is available only with Toyota's ubiquitous 2.8-liter turbo-diesel and six-speed torque converter automatic for a list price of $70,200 plus ORCs, meaning the latest chassis and body enhancements have not resulted in a price increase.

In addition to these changes (see Design) it's equipped with new 18-inch alloys and 265/60 R18 tires with a full-size spare and retains unique standard luxury features including a locally developed motorized roller cover which is integrated with the vehicle’s central locking system.

It includes an anti-jam function, integrated LED tub lighting, and high levels of weather and dust protection for the loaded tub, which is fully lined with marine carpet. There’s also a stylish composite sports bar/rear window shade and a 3.5-tonne tow bar and wiring harness.

Inside are heated front seats with perforated leather-accented trim and eight-way power adjustment for the driver. There’s also a multi-info driver’s display and a premium nine-speaker JBL audio system, controlled by an 8.0-inch central multimedia touchscreen offering multiple connectivities including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB digital radio, and more.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

With Baja-inspired wide-track suspension, chunky tires, pumped-out bodywork, and formidable rough-country prowess, Ford's Ranger Raptor has established a new benchmark for how premium 4x4 dual-cab utes are expected to look and perform. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Ford should be blushing given how rivals have scrambled to respond.

The design and appearance of the latest Rogue is a good example because while it doesn’t pretend to match the Raptor’s extreme off-road performance, it does imitate Ford's broad-shouldered stance and chassis enhancements.

This is centered around a 20mm boost in ride height to improve off-road approach/ramp-over/departure angles and a substantial 140mm increase in front and rear track width. Up front, this is achieved with longer suspension arms, a wider stabilizer bar, and revised shock absorber angles, while the rear end has a wider axle assembly with the shocks mounted further outboard. The rear axle is also equipped with a stabilizer bar – a first for HiLux – along with ventilated disc brakes replacing the usual drums.

The wider track and stabilizer bars reduce weight transfer during cornering, which results in less body roll, enhanced steering feel, and a more planted and reassuring feel on the road. The upgraded Rogue is easily identified by wider mudguards and wheel-arch extensions to shroud its increased track width.

There’s a high standard of finish for the well-appointed interior, from leather-accented trim with contrasting stitching on the dash, door trims, seats, and steering wheel to the brushed-metal appearance of the dash and door trim inserts. 

Entry-assist handles are fitted to the A and B pillars and there’s adequate space for tall drivers and front passengers. However, tall passengers seated in the rear seat’s outer positions will feel the squeeze of limited head and knee room, while those seated in the center rear position will also compete for shoulder room. It’s always been tight for three adults across the HiLux’s rear seat - and the wider suspension doesn't change that.

Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The 1GD-FTV 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 150kW at 3400rpm and 500Nm between 1600-2800rpm.

The smooth-shifting six-speed torque converter automatic offers three drive modes (Normal/Power/Eco) and the option of sequential manual shifting, which is handy when hauling and/or towing heavy loads in hilly terrain. There’s also part-time, dual-range 4x4 and a lockable rear diff.

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

Toyota claims a combined average of 8.4L/100km but the dash display was showing 11.1 at the end of our 347km test, which was mostly city and suburban driving and did not include our usual GVM test (see Practicality).

Our figure, calculated from fuel bowser and trip meter readings and with only short use of the Power and Eco modes, was slightly higher than the dash display at 11.5L/100km which is a bit thirsty. So, based on our figures, you could expect a real-world driving range of around 700km from its 80-liter tank.

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

Deducting the Rogue’s 2231kg curb weight from its 3050kg GVM results in an 819kg payload rating which is far from class-leading. However, it is rated to tow up to class-benchmark 3500kg of the braked trailer but with its 5850kg GCM (how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time) that would leave an impractical 119kg of payload capacity. In other words, the weight of a driver and not much else.

A more practical approach for owners would be to base its tow rating on the 3050kg GVM, which drops the trailer weight from 3500kg to 2800kg but retains the full 819kg payload rating. This would suit most towing requirements, as few (if any) Rogue owners would need to tow more than 3000kg.

The load tub floor is 1550mm long and 1520mm wide with 1110mm between the wheel arches, which means it can’t fit a standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallet but could take an 800 x 1200mm Euro pallet.

However, given that the upper load length is shortened by the roller-cover assembly and the loaded tub has no front anchorage points, you could not safely secure a loaded pallet or any other heavy payload. That makes the Rogue impractical for many trade duties, but we suspect such limitations are of no concern to the ‘urban adventurers’ it’s aimed at.

Front cabin storage includes a large-bottle holder and storage bin in each front door, an overhead glasses holder plus upper and lower gloveboxes with handy a/c cooling in the top one. The center console has a shallow storage tray up front, two small bottle/cup holders and a storage nook in the center, and a box at the back with a padded lid that doubles as an elbow rest.

  • In the back, there's a large-bottle holder and a small storage bin. (image credit: Mark Oastler)
  • There's a large-bottle holder and storage bin in both front doors. (image credit: Mark Oastler)
  • In the back, there's a large-bottle holder and a small storage bin. (image credit: Mark Oastler)
  • ere's a large-bottle holder and storage bin in both front doors. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Rear passengers get a large-bottle holder and small storage bin in each rear door, pouches on the front seat backrests, and a pair of small bottle/cup holders in the fold-down center armrest. The split-fold base cushions can swing up to access two underfloor storage compartments, or be stored in vertical positions if more internal load space is needed.

What’s it like as a daily driver?

The suspension changes make it feel more firmly planted on the road. There’s also a sharper steering response, with less body roll ensuring it sits flatter when cornering. 

Overall ride quality is still on the firm side (like all HiLux utes) and can get a bit jittery over bumps when unladen. During normal driving, it’s hard to pick any difference in braking performance with the addition of rear disc brakes, which is a credit to Toyota for refining the previous front disc/rear drum arrangement. Even so, ventilated discs have inherently better cooling than drums, so are better suited to ‘spirited’ driving.

The leather-appointed front seats are comfortable and supportive, which combined with the height-and-each adjustable steering wheel and eight-way powered seat adjustment ensures drivers of all sizes can find a good position. 

Noise suppression and overall refinement are excellent, particularly at highway speeds where the engine operates comfortably in its peak torque zone, with 1800rpm at 100km/h and 2000rpm at 110km/h.  

What’s it like for tradie use?

We couldn’t do our usual GVM test due to the absence of front load anchorage points in the tub. It would have required trying to secure around 700kg using only two rear anchorages, which was a safety risk we weren’t prepared to take.

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

Maximum five-star ANCAP rating (achieved 2019) with seven airbags, AEB with pedestrian and daylight cyclist detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, active cruise control, road sign assist, downhill assist and trailer sway control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, surround-view camera and more. There are ISOFIX child seat mounting points on the two outer rear seating positions and three top-tether mounts, along with a rear-view camera.

Ownership – What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The HiLux is covered by Toyota's five years/unlimited km warranty with a capped price of $260 for each of the first six scheduled services. However, the service intervals are relatively short at six months/10,000km whichever occurs first.

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