2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 TRD Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 TRD Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
2018 Toyota HiLux SR5 TRD
Pricing $60,990 (+ORC) Warranty Three-Years, 100,000km Safety Five-Star ANCAP Engine 2.8-Litre Four-Cylinder Turbo-Diesel Power/Torque 130kW/450Nm Transmission Six-Speed Automatic (On Test) Body 5330mm (Long); 1855mm (Wide); 1815mm (High) Weight 1775-2080kg (Kerb) Angles 31-Degrees (Approach); 26-Degrees (Departure) Fuel Tank 80 Litres Thirst 7.8L/100km Combined
WHEN IT ARRIVED in March last year, Toyota called the HiLux with TRD Accessories, “the most aggressive-looking production HiLux yet”. And it was right. But then, it had to do something. In standard form, the top-spec HiLux SR5 just couldn’t compete with those buying dual-cab utes with one eye on the thing’s visual impact, because, when you’re clambering up a slippery track how your ute looks is important, right. I jest.
But, that’s the thing, these top-spec dual cab utes are taking over from the top-spec Falcons and Commodores. These are the vehicles people want to be seen in and you only have to look at the sales trajectory of the ute segment to know that, so, how they look is clearly important.
What is the Toyota HiLux with TRD Accessories?
Well, Toyota fitted the SR5-spec HiLux with 15 new components, seven of which come from Toyota Racing Developments (TRD) to launch this top-spec variant. Toyota has recently announced three more spin-off variants.
The most noticeable tweak is the red TRD-branded bash plate and the black TRD grille, TRD lower bumper cover and TRD fender flares. It rides on 18-inch matte black wheels and a black sports bar, as well as black mouldings down the side of the vehicle. There’s also a towbar as standard, soft toneau cover, and TRC mud flaps. Inside, the HiLux TRD gets carpet mats with TRD branding and a TRD gear shifter on automatic variants, as per our test car.
In terms of pricing, the HiLux TRD automatic that we drove lists for $60,990+ORC (subtract $2k from that price for manual variants) which is incredibly steep for a vehicle that’s still very basic. It’s not as expensive as key rivals at Ford or VW but nor does it have the grunt of its key rivals.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there’s no doubt the TRD tweaks have made the HiLux a more aggressive looking vehicle. Indeed, I back-to-back borrowed the TRD variant and the regular SR5 and the regular SR5 looks weedy compared with the TRD variant. And even after being on-sale for months and months, the HiLux TRD continued to attract stares and twisted necks up in my neck of the woods.
Beyond the cosmetic stuff, the HiLux remains the same, so, this article is more of a revisit than a full-blown test.
What’s the interior like?
The last time I was in a HiLux was back in 2016 and then I said the interior felt like that of a current Corolla. And I hold by that statement. Despite the TRD tweaking not really making much of an impact on the interior, the tablet-style infotainment screen and the dashboard design keeps the interior feeling modern.
The tablet-esque screen unfortunately has touch sensitive shortcut buttons rather than hard press-button style switchgear. And, while this make the system look nice and streamlined, you’ve got to make sure your touch is positive and direct. That said, I didn’t have any issue with activating the functionality while stationary or on the move, although my preference is for a physical button.
The system offers basic functionality and there’s no Apple or Android phone mirroring, so, you’ll need to connect your phone via Bluetooth. There’s voice control functionality for making calls, etc, but it’s not a particularly good system. There’s often some delay when selecting music or a podcast on your phone and it plays through the car.
For me, the cabin is okay, but it doesn’t have the same feel as that in competitors like the Ranger or the Amarok. Although, I’ve heard the interior of the HiLux lasts better than that of the Ranger. And, while the plastics, to the touch, feel hard and scratchy they do, at least, suggest they’ll be hard wearing.
Climbing up into the HiLux requires you to use the side step or, if you’re long-legged like me simply step up into the thing. Using side steps to climb into a vehicle can always be a little awkward, although the grab handle is reasonably well located to make pulling yourself up and in a little easier.
Sat behind the wheel there’s ‘enough’ reach and height adjustment while the seats offer more height adjustment than the old generation HiLux (adjustment is electric). Drivers of all shapes and sizes should be able to get comfortable behind the wheel.
The back seat is of a reasonable size and while I’ve heard other motoring writers moan about the head room, I felt comfortable and I’m six-feet tall. There’s good knee, leg and toe-wriggle room, and there’s also a fold down armrest but no rear air vents. The rear seats can be folded 60:40 and while the angle of the seat back is very upright, there’s enough of an angle that it’s okay on longer journeys.
I also tested out the back seat with the front driver’s seat set in position for me, and the measurements I got were 71cm from the seat back (of the back seat) to back of the driver’s seat which is scalloped, as is the front passenger seat. From the seat base to the ceiling measured 94cm.
If you look at the back of the dual-cab HiLux you’ll notice there’s only one top tether point but that both outboard seats have ISOFIX mounts, meaning you could theoretically fit three child seats. The law in Australia requires you to use a top tether strap on all child car restraints, including ISOFIX compatible seats, but with only one top tether point in the HiLux, both outboard seats need to have their top tether straps fitted to the middle tether point via a routing strap.
The tray is measures 1569mm long by 1645mm at its widest point and 1100mm between the wheel arches. Side panel height is 481mm. The loading height is 861mm, making it easy-ish for taller drivers to climb in the back of the tray without too much struggle. There are four tie down points in each corner although more would be handy. The HiLux TRD has a tub liner.
What’s it like to drive?
Under the bonnet of the HiLux TRS is an untouched 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel which makes 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm of torque from 1600-2400rpm. Our test car was mated to a six-speed automatic. While it’s a shame Toyota didn’t take the opportunity to turn up the power and torque, even just a little bit, the HiLux doesn’t feel like a slug. And, on a nice even throttle, the six-speed automatic is smooth.
It’s only when you’re placing it under pressure, like going from light throttle to heavy when overtaking, that it can feel a little harsh in its kick down. But there’s more than enough power for climbing hills and keeping up with traffic on the highway.
The other notable is how quiet the HiLux is now. With the launch of this new-generation HiLux, Toyota’s engineers insulated the thing to within an inch of its life, with more insulation in the engine bay and a thicker dash silencer and thicker weather seals. I’m not suggesting its whisper quiet in the cabin, but road noise, bitumen and dirt, is nice and suppressed.
And the ride, on both bitumen and dirt is just as impressive. There’s none of the vibration of the old HiLux and its cornering stance is much flatter than before too. It’s still not as good as the ride in a Ranger, but it’s damn close. But that all changes when you hit the dirt, where it feels like the tune on the HiLux is better suited to rocking and rolling across ruts and bumps.
The HiLux is only a part-time 4×4 and because utes can be a bit skittish in the wet or whenever the back-end becomes light (in two-wheel drive) Toyota’s tuned an aggressive traction and stability controls, and while the system does a good job of stopping the car from getting out of shape, it’s very intrusive, to the point where it will just about bring the car to a halt.
Ground clearance is 225mm and there’s even articulation on both sides of the vehicle and, off-road, I’d suggest the HiLux is more capable than the Ford Ranger, despite the Ranger being better on-road and more comfortable in the cabin. And then there’s the HiLux’s ace which is Active Traction Control (A-TRC) this is an excellent traction control system that works quickly, cleanly and to very good effect when driving off-road. Indeed, it will negate the need to drop into low range in many instances, or engage the rear differential lock. Just remember that activating the rear differential lock will disengage A-TRC.
To switch between 2H, 4H is as difficult as turning a dial; the rear locker requires you to press a button as does activating DAC. The transmission must be in neutral to select low range. And accessing the spare wheel wheel winch (the spare is slung under the back and could probably be relocated to improve clearance at the back) is done by inserting the jack handle through a hole above the rear bumper.
What about safety features?
The new Toyota HiLux got a five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2016 with a score of 34.45 out of 37. Across the range it gets seven airbags, including driver, front passenger, driver’s knee, front-seat side and side curtain-shield airbags. All pick-up variants get a reversing camera as standard as well as stability and traction controls, hill start assist for use on- or off-road, the SR5 variant gets downhill assist control, an electronically controlled rear differential lock, and low range. The HiLux also features Trailer Sway Control which works by using brake control and engine output control to help minimise sway from a trailer/caravan.
There are no active safety feature, like either autonomous emergency braking or lane departure warning. Toyota has this kit and it would be nice to see the system from the current Camry, even though it’s not perfect, added to a refreshed HiLux.
So, what do we think?
The HiLux was already a proven commodity so it’s just determining whether the TRD bits and bobs are worth the extra coin. Mechanically, this thing is the same as an SR5. On a range-wide note, the three-year, 100,000km warranty is poor although the capped price servicing of between $180-$240 depending on the fuel type makes budgeting easier.