Ute tow review: Toyota Hilux
Toyota’s all-new Hilux has muscled up in its towing capacity despite a downsize in engine capacity
Toyota’s eighth-generation Hilux brought a smaller diesel (down from 3.0 to 2.8 litres) but a big jump in towing capacity from 2,500 up to 3,500kg, at least for the new six-speed manual, while the automatic is rated at 3,200kg.
The payloads remain modest despite an increase of the diesel’s GVM from 2,780 to 3,000kg as the vehicle itself gained some 100kg. In fact, the Toyota Hilux has the lowest payload rating of our seven utes. Even the lighter SR-spec dual-cab pick-up can’t technically carry (by around 40kg) our driver and observer, as well as the 800kg pallet of bagged cement. More walking for the observer!
There are four foldaway – cast rather than extruded metal – tie-down eyes in the back of the Hilux’s tub. The rear suspension dropped 60mm once the 800kg pallet was in and tied down, coping equally with the best here.
You could feel the nose was a little up once underway up the hill, but the steering was still nicely positive. Stability was impressive, too, with good sway and roll control, and no bottoming on the bumps. All up, the Hilux feels very composed despite being at payload, and then a little bit on top of that.
The 2.8-litre is also a polished performer with the 970kg payload and hardly felt the weight at all. With 450Nm on tap at just 1,600rpm, it’s not far shy of what the considerably bigger 3.2 ‘fives’ in the Ford and the Mazda can do, and it certainly feels every bit as strong as its 450Nm claim. It’s a sweet engine, too, bettering all the others here for general refinement, although the Ranger and the Triton come close.
The six-speed auto brings a refined feel with quick and smooth shifts, and works nicely with the engine in getting the 800kg up the hill with the minimum of fuss. It’s also good on the descents as it will auto backshift readily once you tap the brakes, which means less reliance on the gearbox’s ‘manual’ tip-shift.
What’s not so ideal with this new six-speeder, especially with weight on board, is the very tall fifth and sixth gears, which are both overdrives. Fifth in this new six-speed is, in fact, taller than fifth in the superseded five-speed, despite the fact that there’s an extra gear to go!
The long and short of it is that the engine can’t often hold sixth legally at highway speeds on undulating roads (even with a light load), so it tends to shuffle between fifth and sixth. You could put it another way and say it’s geared well for Europe…
While the manual Hilux gets the magic 3.5-tonne tick, the auto comes in at 3.2, so our Hilux used the lighter 2.8-tonne load we shared with the Triton.
The Hilux’s 130kW/450Nm 2.8 is a very civilized little engine, and this was still the case under load. It didn’t have the same launch factor as the Ford/Mazda duo, or even the Holden, but it pulled away confidently and with purpose.
The six-speed shuffled through the cogs well and did its utmost to keep the revs within the engine’s wide torque band. Climbing the hill at 3,000rpm in second gear saw the Hilux haul well. The transmission needed a firm hand on the downhill and a few measured stabs of the brake pedal.
However, the rear suspension of the Toyota feels every bit as work ready as the image would suggest. The outboard spring mountings proved very stable under load, and the Hilux rolled through the corners reasonably flat. The Toyota felt easy to steer and control even when bleeding off speed on the downhill run.
Even though the Hilux donk shares the same displacement as the Holden, the Toyota still feels a little more revvy and flighty when hauling back on a heavy load.
However, the conservative engineering approach – a hallmark of the brand – is very evident. You get the feeling the Toyota has more to give, but is holding back.
The Hilux feels like a great all-rounder at our lower 2.8-tonne rating. But, in typical Toyota fashion, it doesn’t want to brag about it.
TOYOTA HILUX PRICE
Toyota Hilux SR: $46,490
Toyota Hilux SR5: $53,990
Toyota Hilux SR5+: $55,990
*2.8-litre 4x4 dual-cab pick-up manuals only.
TOYOTA HILUX SPECS
2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel
2,075kg to 2,080kg
925kg to 930kg
Towball download (max)
Fuel tank capacity
ADR fuel claim
*4x4 dual-cab pick-up automatics only.