Tested: Toyota’s tough truck

 news.com.au  12/8/2018 7:01:02 PM 

TOYOTA’S cashing in on HiLux being Australia’s best-selling car, revealing the accessory-laden off-road-ready Rugged and street-tough blackened Rogue models. Our family of four tests the showy — and pricey — HiLux Rogue to see if it’s as lifestyle-ready as it claims.

First impressions

Iain: Toyota’s HiLux is going to be Australia’s best-selling car again.

Jules: It’s not a car, it’s a truck. It shouldn’t count.

Iain: Regardless, the HiLux is what the people are buying, including this new Rogue.

Jules: It looks tough with its bad-boy black grille, 18-inch wheels and sports bar. Not cheap, I take it?

Iain: Try $61,690 before on-roads. It’s got the bits the cool kids want. It’s based on the flagship HiLux SR5 and you get leather seats, auto gearbox and satnav.

J ules: What’s made this one “go Rogue” then?

Iain: You get a restyled front bumper and black honeycomb grille, LED fog lamps, grey rear bumper with larger step, towball, black door handles and mirrors — and, the big one, a hard tonneau cover on gas struts.

Jules: Is this supposed to make it more off-roady?

Iain: The opposite. For off-roaders there are Rugged models with useful stuff like snorkels, rock rails and recovery points.

Jules: Rogue’s for show-offs then?

Iain: Yep. Toyota says it’s a “premium recreational ute with a sports aesthetic”.

The living space

Jules: I like how huge double cabs are inside; you’re hardly short of space.

Iain: The heated leather front seats are brilliantly comfy but it still feels like a work truck despite the $60K-plus tag. There are lots of hard plastics and a few token Rogue black bits.

Jules: When is Toyota going to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto? The seven-inch touchscreen feels small and functionality is a way off rivals.

Iain: Toyota says soon but no date yet. You get a CD player as compensation.

Jules: CDs? Cashed up millennial tradies will love such cutting edge stuff.

Iain: It’s cool having keyless entry and push-button start but there’s no digital speedo.

The commute

Jules: Is it just me or does the HiLux not feel as quick as other utes?

Iain: Some rivals have more power and torque. The Rogue’s more than 100kg heavier than a normal HiLux SR5, stunting its performance further.

Jules: The diesel engine is impressively quiet and cruises well on smooth highways.

Iain: Rogue buyers can feel aggrieved there was no bump in power, but yes, the engine is a refined thing.

Jules: It made me feel sick when it went over bumps. It’s a bouncy thing.

Iain: True. Rear leaf springs and no load in the tray means plenty of pogoing.

The shopping

Jules: Manoeuvring a dual-cab is a nightmare. I had to park with two free spaces around me. It’s huge.

Iain: Positively, the lockable hard cover means you can safely store plenty of tools, equipment and goods.

Jules: I still put the groceries in the rear footwells. If a bag of shopping moves around, you’ve got to climb into the tray to fetch it from the back.

Iain: It’s a big rig but vision is superb as you sit up so high. The rear camera is much needed for reverse parking.

Sunday run

Jules: It is an excellent weekend getaway ute. Underneath the hard tonneau there’s quality carpet that’s really grippy.

Iain: It’s marine grade carpet, UV and water-resistant. Ideal to throw the wet gear on after a weekend of camping and jet skiing.

Jules: You’re definitely going to see Rogues by lakes towing a boat or jet ski rather than off-roading. Or, perish the thought, at a work site.

Iain: It’ll tow 3200kg with this auto gearbox but it’s also properly talented off-road. I’ve tested the SR5 up mountains and on deep soft sand. It’s superb, in both low and high-range.

Jules: But it should behave better on road. It’s very wallowy and the tyres were squealy in corners.

Iain: It has old-school ute handling. You need that fancy new Mercedes double cab for better on-road talents. It costs about the same.

The family

Jules: Loads of room in the back for kids’ car seats and you could fit an adult between them. That’s excellent.

Iain: Thankfully there are rear air vents, which the kids needed to ward off nausea with that bouncy ride.

Jules: It felt much more compliant with a few hundred kilos of Ikea furniture and then logs in the back.

Iain: The kids’ bikes went in the tray easily and the hardtop closed fine. For such duties, a HiLux is brilliant.

Jules: I felt guilty about getting the carpet in the tub dirty but for cleaning off mucky stuff it can be removed from the velcro easily.

Iain: Family-wise the economy was acceptable — we returned 9.4L/100km — but six-monthly services are a pain.

Jules: There are plenty of airbags but the Rogue doesn’t have such advanced safety tech as autonomous emergency braking. Not great for family duties.

The verdict

Iain: The Rogue’s a good-looking thing. If I were a single, cashed-up tradie, it’d be ideal for a trip to the snow, mountain biking or jet skiing. It’s just not as bad boy “rogue” as, say, a Ford Ranger Raptor. They’re $75,000 though.

Jules: For weekends, I’d love a dual-cab ute and the Rogue is tough enough. But it’d need to be a second car. It’s just too cumbersome, bouncy and expensive for daily duties.

Toyota HiLux Rogue vitals

Price: $61,690 plus on-roads

Warranty/servicing: 3 years/100,000km; $1440 for 3 years/60,000km

Safety: 5 stars, 7 airbags, rear camera, trailer sway control

Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 130kW/450Nm

Thirst: 8.5L/100km

Spare: Full-size

Payload: 826kg

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