Car ReviewsQuick Drive

2017 Toyota Hilux V6 Review – Quick Drive

Most manufacturers are dropping diesel, but not Toyota. We go for a quick spin in the Toyota Hilux V6.

DIESEL HAS LONG been the choice of motor for off-roaders and particuarly utes. Historically, diesels were simpler, provided better engine braking, delivered more torque lower in the rev range and have always had the advatnage of greater fuel efficiency than petrols, especially under load.

Fuel efficiency also translates into longer range, important for working and recreational offroaders. And diesel is a lot less flammable than petrol. And diesels have become quieter and more powerful to the point where a petrol engine’s on-road and refinement advantage is reduced to almost nothing; manufacturers have stopped offering petrol 4WDs. For example, Mitsubishi no longer offer petrol Pajero or Triton, there’s no petrol MU-X, hardly any Discovery petrols are bought, the Fortuner is diesel only and the list goes on.

Yet, in my view, diesel has peaked. Diesels are now complex; AdBlue, DPFs, EGRs, multi-stage turbos, common-rail. Petrols are coming back hard on fuel efficiency, and gearboxes with up to nine speeds start to negate the torque advantage of a diesel engine, which is also decreasing. The nail in the coffin will be hybrid drive which will more than fill any slight low-rev torque gap, and dramatically improve petrol fuel efficiency.

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I asked the followers of my 4WD Handbook Facebook page if they’d ever consider a petrol 4WD ute, and was expecting to get a torrent of negativity. But no. Here’s some comments:

“I don’t see much of a need for diesel unless you are doing lots of large desert crossings. These latest ones are much more expensive to maintain than a petrol.”

“I won’t buy a petrol Hilux but will have no issues buying a petrol.” “When my current diesel 4WD needs replacing it will be replaced with a V8 petrol Land Cruiser or Patrol.”

“Diesel just is way overpriced in terms of extra purchase price, service costs and the extra costs of owning a diesel is way greater then what you have in fuel.”

‘l’ll only buy a diesel 4WD if I’m retired and pulling a large off-road van long distances for large parts of the year – otherwise I’m sticking with petrol (and by the time I retire the petrol engines will probably be pretty efficient even towing heavy loads, and there may not be a diesel option by then anyway).”

“After owning diesel for 10 + years and then hopping in a v6 Camry.. yes most definitely.”

Read the full thread here.

And these guys are serious off-roaders who know their 4x4s. Yes, there were pro-diesel comments, but here’s a tip for manufacturers – now’s the time to get back into the petrol game, and if you can offer a powerful petrol ute below the price point of a diesel I think your sales will only be on an upward trajectory as it was also apparent many people see the death of the diesel.

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Toyota has always offered petrol engines in Prado, LC200 and Hilux and with the eighth-gen Hilux it continues the tradition, but with petrol only available for the 4×4 variants in SR and SR5 grade. On test here we have the SR5, same spec as our recent diesel manual extracab test. We won’t recap all the detail in that test and will here focus only on the engine. One little trim difference is that there’s a 220v power outlet in the centre console on dualcabs but not in the extra-cab variants. Not exactly a great location for it, but better than nothing.

The petrol and diesel motors make an interesting comparison.

  • Power: diesel 130kW at 3400rpm, petrol 175kW at 5200rpm
  • Torque: diesel 450Nm @ 1600-2400rpm, petrol 376Nm at 3800rpm
  • Fuel efficiency, 4X4 dualcab: combined/urban/extra urban: diesel 8.5/10.9/7.1 L/100km, petrol 12/16.4/9.4 L/100km (95 RON).

We don’t have torque curves for either engine, but the petrol is well down on torque and uses 40% more fuel than the diesel. However, that’s a newer diesel vs an older petrol, so not quite a fair comparison. If we take the official fuel consumption figures for the combined cycle and work on 15,000km a year then we find the petrol will use around 525L more than the diesel, and that’ll cost around an extra $680. In times past you’d be ahead as the diesel purchase price would be well above petrol, but now both the SR5 4X4 dual-cabs in petrol and diesel are $55,990+ORC.

There are a couple of capability differences; the diesel 4X4 auto can tow 3200kg, the petrol 3000kg, and while both have the same GVM of 3050kg the lighter petrol has a payload of 1000kg vs the diesel’s 925kg.

So much for the figures, now for the driving. As you’d expect, the petrol is quieter than the diesel but it’s not by enough to be significant as the diesel isn’t exactly loud. The six-speed auto shifts smoothly, and there’s more than adequate power so revs don’t need to climb high.

The diesel manual was sluggish, needing to be driven in its Power mode more often than not. Power modes just sharpen the throttle response but don’t actually deliver any more power. In contrast, the petrol is perky even in normal mode, perhaps a little too much in places but you learn to adapt your driving style. The direct handling isn’t bad, but my daughters – experienced assessors of ride quality – described both vehicles as “bouncy” and “like a pogo stick”. Harsh but fair from future automotive journalists, although we need to work on use of cliches.

Into off-road territory and the petrol will follow the diesel anywhere, but will need higher gears to do it and use more fuel in the process. Engine braking isn’t as good with a lower compression ratio, but a 37:1 crawl ratio for the autos isn’t too bad. The autos do get downhill assist control (DAC) over the manuals which helps.

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In summary, the petrol Hilux is a fine vehicle but doesn’t offer a purchase price advantage over the diesel, isn’t significantly quicker in onroad and drinks more fuel so with that you get a shorter range. It also works a bit harder offroad, although still very capable. While the tide is turning against diesels, it’s hard to make a case for anything other than diesel power in this 8th-gen Hilux range.

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is a motoring journalist, offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks, and that's when he isn't racing his Nissan Pulsar. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RobertPepperJourno/ or buy his new ebook!