If you’re an Aussie tradie, chances are you either own, or have owned, a HiLux. If you haven’t, it’s almost certain one of your mates has. Product Features Editor Jamie Gray is a big fan.
The HiLux has been a go-to work ute for tradies since it debuted in March 1968. At the time, the new, first-generation, bonnet-type truck was packing a 1.5-litre engine with a four-speed manual column shifter and had a 1000kg payload capacity. Times have certainly changed.
Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to get a solid understanding and appreciation for the Toyota Workhorse range. The HiLux grade that has ticked all the boxes as the ultimate work ute for my specific needs is the HiLux SR. The family-friendly lifestyle capabilities, options and size have won me over.
The Tough, No-Fuss, Workmate
In my earlier years, I would have fallen in love with the WorkMate. Pre-kids it would have been a fantastic option. When I look at the WorkMate and its long list of features, performance, safety and looks, I can’t help but feel tradies taking up this option today are being just a little spoilt. The depth of features and performance that have filtered down from the top of the range into the entry-level HiLux of today are more than impressive.
The stance of the WorkMate is bold and powerful. A strong exterior is balanced exceptionally well with plenty of interior functionality and style. I would go as far as saying the very well-appointed cabin is more like a passenger SUV than a workhorse. The dash, with an impressive 6.1″ colour touchscreen display, is positively a highlight. There’s also a host of safety features like power windows, 7 SRS airbags and, to top it all off, Toyota Safety Sense¹, which includes active cruise control, a pre-collision safety system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert and road-sign assist.
After spending some time exploring these safety features, I am more than happy to vouch for their benefits and effectiveness. These are legitimate inclusions, and there are no gimmicks here.
The icing on the cake is the 5-star 2019 ANCAP safety rating.
From an engine and power perspective, the strong, no-fuss WorkMate offers both a 2.7L petrol engine with 122kW and the 2.4L turbo diesel engine with 110kW in the trusty single-cab, double-cab and extra-cab options.
Over a week I visited numerous worksites and properties, and it stood out that, even though there is more power than ever before, it is a quiet car to drive. The 5-speed manual transmission has been optimised to give the smoothest possible drive using gear ratios that make the best use of available power in all conditions, and that will ultimately place less stress on the engine.
For what is essentially a robust, single-cab work ute, the WorkMate has finishes and features that certainly weren’t available on models not too far back. It’s an excellent option for those looking for a single-cab, stand-alone work ute.
HiLux SR. More Grunt And Features
The HiLux SR is ready for whatever you’re willing to throw at it, which is one of the reasons the HiLux work ute has been Australia’s top-selling new vehicle for three years running. The HiLux SR model has packed even more improvements into what was already a top seller.
Available in several configurations and ready to tackle all your Monday-to-Friday work week asks, it’ll also cope with all your weekend adventures can muster. The HiLux SR model is going to be turning heads for all the right reasons.
So, breaking it down, you can choose between the 2.8L turbo-diesel, 6-speed manual 4×2 Hi-Rider and the 4×4 version. Tick the 4×4 option if you are looking to head off road onto tracks, trails and beaches for some adrenaline-filled adventures. There is also a 6-speed automatic option if you’re more of a cruiser.
The addition of 17″ steel wheels and the choice of single-cab, extra-cab or double-cab allows you to build the perfect SR for your requirements.
The long list of inclusions and safety features in the WorkMate also carry over to the SR, with some more additions. The touch screen steps up to 7″, the seats are covered with premium fabric, and an air-conditioned cooler box and rear differential lock are included on the 4×4.
The air-con is top shelf, and the interior includes 7 SRS airbags, Toyota Safety Sense¹, and of course, the 5-star 2019 ANCAP safety rating.
From a driver’s perspective, the SR ticks all the boxes, from the comfor t of the adjustable seat to the well-placed bottle holders in the front seat. A lot of thought has gone into getting everything just right. Digital Radio (DAB²) (optional on selected variants), USB connection, front fog lights (not available on single-cab variants), dusk-sensing headlights, keyless entry and drive…there are too many features to mention.
At the very core of the HiLux SR is the power ful engine and drive-train. It’s important to note the added bells and whistles haven’t come at the expense of core essentials like powerful towing capabilities of up to 3,500kg3 (on selected variants). Again, with safety always in mind, Trailer Sway Control has been thoughtfully added to ensure substantial loads such as excavators and building materials are never a problem.
It’s this exact philosophy and brilliant all-round design and build quality that has seen me give glowing recommendations to two of my close tradie buddies who have since gone out and bought the HiLux SR over the past few months.
With so many good quality options in the marketplace for tradies these days, it’s great to know Toyota is still at the forefront of innovative design and build quality.