Why this is Australia’s favourite car
The Toyota HiLux has been Australia's best selling vehicle for the better part of the past decade. And becuase of that success Toyota has added more expensive models to the range to draw in even more buyers looking for high-end utes for weekend adventures. The Rugged X is its most rough-and-tumble ute. Here is everything you need to know about it and why it is so popular.
Toyota's range-topping HiLux Rugged X is a response to two trends: the success of high-end ute such as Ford's Ranger Wildtrak and owners' desire to customise their cars with off-road accessories. Based on the well-equipped HiLux SR5, the Rugged X adds new wheels, underbody armour, tow points, metal bumpers, LED light bar and more. At $62,990 drive-away, with extra gear and five-year warranty, the HiLux represents decent value. Servicing is cheap at $250 a visit, though six-month intervals are more frequent than we like. As the HiLux is the best-selling vehicle in the country, you won't get burnt when selling.
Few utes are truly comfortable to drive but the Rugged X makes an effort, its heated leather seats with power driver adjustment helping the driver to relax at the wheel. Climate control and smart keys assist. Dated by modern standards, the cabin doesn't feel particularly special - unlike Ford's more expensive Ranger Raptor or the Mercedes X-Class. As with most utes, the HiLux's ride comfort is compromised by its ability to carry and tow heavy loads. We'd recommend an SUV if you don't plan on putting it to work or going off-road.
The HiLux has a five-star safety rating, seven airbags and driver aids including autonomous emergency braking. It stacks up well on the safety front but misses out on tech such as the lane keeping assistance found in some rivals.
Its 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel produces 130kW/450Nm - not huge outputs for a car this size, which means it never feels particularly brisk. All of those accessories weigh it down, limiting the payload to just 748kg including passengers, and Toyota's 3200kg towing limit is 300kg short of class leaders. Stiff suspension can make the HiLux a handful on rocky routes and Toyota's decision to fit road-biased tyres harms its ultimate off-road ability, relative to tougher alternatives. That's not a bad compromise and certainly it's a great starting point for those who want to push things a little further with all-terrain rubber and taller suspension. Don't be surprised if Toyota produces its own super-HiLux in the future.
Solid abilities, decent value and Toyota's iron-clad reputation make this ute a winner for thousands of buyers each month. It isn't ultimately as capable as halo versions of other utes but the Rugged X packs plenty for HiLux fans.
Holden Colorado Z71, from about $49,990 drive-away
Holden's imminent departure means there are deals to be done on great cars such as the Colorado Z71. Packed with features, the powerful pick-up packs a 500Nm punch and plenty of accessories for $50K.
Nissan Navara Warrior, from about $71,000 drive-away
Got more to spend? The Navara Warrior, the result of a local engineering program, gets beefed-up suspension, tough-truck looks and go-anywhere tyres in an attractive package.
Ford Ranger Raptor, from about $85,500 drive-away
Cheap, it's not. The high-riding Ranger is the king of dual-cab utes on sale today. Its 2.0-litre diesel engine is underwhelming but outstanding suspension and movie star looks enhance the investment.
Toyota HiLux Rugged X vitals
Price: From $62,990 drive-away
Warranty/servicing: 5 yrs/unlimited km, $1500 for 3 yrs
Safety: 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, active cruise control, forward collision warning
Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cyl diesel, 130kW/450Nm