Kapi-Mana News : January 24th 2012
43 KAPI-MANA NEWS, JANUARY 24, 2012 MOTORING ITAL TION ONLINE 3944515 Popular Hilux give a bit of a facelift What's the newly facelifted Toyota Hilux like? Not much different to the pre-facelift model, says Rob Maetzig -- but that's no bad thing. Beaut ute: The Toyota Hilux SR5 given a facelift this year. DRIVE STATS TOYOTA HILUX DOUBLE-CAB 4WD POWER PLANT: In-line four cylinder 16-valve DOHC direct injection turbocharged diesel, 126kW at 3600rpm, 343Nm at 1400-3500rpm. RUNNING GEAR: Part-time four- wheel drive. As tested, four- speed automatic transmission. Fully independent double wishbone front suspension, leaf springs at the rear. ABS brakes with brake-force distribution and brake assist, stability control. HOW BIG: Length 5260mm, width 1835mm, height 1860mm, wheelbase 3085mm. HOW MUCH: Standard grade $56,990, SR5 $61,890. WHAT'S GOOD: Better specification, pricing has been improved. WHAT'S NOT: Drivetrain is starting to feel dated. OUR VERDICT: It'll be interesting to see if the facelift can combine with Hilux's formidable reputation to allow it to maintain market leadership for the next 18 months. Recently I was in Australia covering the national media launch of Ford s new ute, the Ranger. We d flown in to Adelaide from an outback town where the drive programme had been held and I was behind the wheel of a Ranger and heading towards our evening s hotel accommodation. I didn t take a lot of notice of another ute heading in the opposite direction -- until the driver stuck his arm out the win- dow and gave me the finger. And why did that man do that? I can only presume it was because I was driving a Ford Ranger and he was driving a Toyota Hilux. If so it would have underlined the massive popularity the Hilux enjoys all over the world. Of course, when it comes to loyalty to motor vehicle marques the Aussies are a lot more demonstra- tive than we Kiwis -- particularly when Falcons and Commodores are involved -- but there s still a large and very loyal Hilux cus- tomer base in New Zealand who wouldn t dream of switching to anything else. The big Toyota has been New Zealand s most popular ute for the last 29 years and even though a widening selection of very good brand-new utes are now entering the Kiwi market, there s next to no chance that any of them will knock Hilux off that top spot. Now, it has to be said that the new Ford Ranger and its half- brother the Mazda BT-50 are both superior to the Toyota Hilux. They have to be, because they are newer. They are bigger, more powerful, they carry more stan- dard specification and they drive more comfortably. But the Hilux should never be under-estimated because it remains a very good ute. It just has to be remembered that this particular model is now six years old -- and I remember when the vehicle was launched some journalists moaned about how big it was! The Hilux facelift is a mild one though. Although the entire front end is new you wouldn t really know it and on the inside there s a new instrument panel layout, new audio units and for the top SR5 model there s climate-controlled air conditioning and a touch- screen audio unit. From the safety perspective all 4WD versions get side and curtain shield airbags and all the double- cab models get electronic stability control. That means all the single- cab and extra-cab versions don t get this important safety feature, which I think is unfortunate given the level of safety specification that is aboard the brand-new ute models coming into the Kiwi mar- ket. No changes have been made to the Hilux drivetrains, which means in the case of the diesel models they will continue with their 126kW/343Nm 3.0-litre turbodiesel until the next full model change in 2013. While this engine now trails in the wake of such power plants as the magnificent five-cylinder 3.2-litre turbodiesel aboard the Ranger and the BT-50, which offers 147kW of power and 470Nm of torque, it is still an excellent engine that is quite capable of taking the Hilux to some pretty interesting and rugged places. I rediscovered that fact recently when I had two of the facelifted models for road test -- firstly a standard grade double-cab, fol- lowed by the flash SR5 model. Mechanically there s no differ- ence between the pair but there is considerable difference in specifi- cation. The most visual differences are that the $56,990 standard double-cab Hilux has steel 17-inch wheels, tie-down hooks on the outside of the well- side deck and a left-right latch mechanism for the tailgate. Meanwhile the $61,890 SR5 gets alloys, the tie-down hooks are on the inside of the deck and the tailgate has a centre release mechanism. This ute also gets the climate-control air conditioning, the better audio system, different front seats, plenty of chrome touches on the interior, and -- for the smokers -- an illuminated ashtray. Whether the SR5 is $4900 bet- ter than the standard version is obviously up to the consumer to decide but the top version has tra- ditionally been a popular model because of all that extra specifi- cation. That illustrates one of the most important modern-day motoring trends -- that more and more people are opting for fully loaded double-cab utes for their everyday transport, replacing wagons and people-movers.
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