The Toyota HiLux has enjoyed years of success here in Australia. It's consistently the best-selling commercial vehicle on sale, far exceeding sales of any other ute or van on the market. In fact, it comes close to being the best-selling vehicle in Australia overall, bettering popular small hatches and Aussie-made sedans. For a hard-working tradesman, it's difficult to argue against thousands who buy a HiLux. Here are the top 10 reasons why the Toyota HiLux is the best car for tradies.
When your day is so full that you have little time to spend trying to learn how to use cumbersome or unreliable tools, the HiLux stands out and above the rest because of its sheer dependability. You can almost always depend on a Toyota product, and the HiLux is one of the best of the crop. The last major recall to be issued for HiLux owners in Australia was back in 2010, which is not bad considering the number of these that are on the roads working hard every day; just under 40,000 examples were sold in Australia last year (2013).
Although it misses out on some of the fancier features that certain rivals offer, the HiLux presents tradies with all features that matter. Bluetooth is standard on all models, even the base cab chassis. All models also come with an MP3/USB compatible stereo, vinyl seats for the base model so it doesn't matter if you dirty them up, or fabric and leather for the higher-spec models.
Built on a solid ladder chassis, the HiLux is as strong as they come. It's marketed as "unbreakable" in some regions, so you can imagine the kind of feedback - and lawsuits - Toyota would get if its utes started breaking. Braked towing capacity ranges from 2250kg to 2500kg. In the back, payload is higher than average compared with the rivals. Depending on the cabin and tray layout, the HiLux can carry anywhere from 860kg up to 1405kg in the tray itself. Underneath, 4x4 versions come with a number of heavy-duty protection plates shielding the major components.
The Toyota HiLux is available with three different engine choices, including a high-torque 2.7-litre petrol four-cylinder producing 116kW and 240Nm, a powerful 4.0-litre petrol V6 developing a class-leading (for a petrol non-sedan-based ute) 175kW and 376Nm, and lastly, a renowned 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder producing 126kW and 323Nm. Average fuel economy ratings range from a respectable 8.3L/100km to 13.0L/100km.
All HiLux models come with a minimum of two airbags and a four-star ANCAP safety rating. Four-wheel drive variants come with a five-star ANCAP rating with up to eight airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, and a reversing camera for the higher-spec models.
Inside, the HiLux cabin is one of the most user-friendly in the business. All controls are easy to find and operate, except for the touch-screen interface on some models which have small buttons - there is an update coming though. The dash sits away and there are loads of cubby holes and storage spots to put your receipts and coffee and so on. There's no clutter to get in your way while you're on the job.
No other ute on the market has the reputation of the HiLux. Top Gear first coined the phrase 'unbreakable' for the HiLux, and even ran it through a few ridiculous tests to try and destroy it. In the end, it keep starting back up and driving away. Toyota as a brand already has a reputation for creating high-quality, super-reliable products. The ute segment is one of its fortes. It has been building utes for almost 50 years.
Parts and servicing
Being a mass-produced vehicle, parts for the HiLux are easy to find and they are relatively inexpensive. You can also find aftermarket parts and accessories if you shop around, and find even better deals for certain things quite easily. Servicing is literally capped for all new vehicles in the range. Toyota calls it Toyota Advantage. This means all scheduled services for new vehicles are capped at a low price for a set number of kilometres or years of ownership.
There are currently 22 variants on sale in Australia, which means there is a package that is perfect for every duty. The range is available in aluminium tray-back layout for the really heavy-duty tradesman, or a sporty body-back style for a nicer design. As mentioned, there are also three engine choices, spanning from efficiency, utter reliability, to high performance. Manual and auto transmissions further dissect the lineup.
Whether you're out on a dusty trail or forging through traffic in the city, the HiLux is one of the better drives in the light commercial vehicle market. Most models feel quite sedan-like, with a comfortable driving position, decent handling, and nice steering unlike some other utes that have excessive turns lock-to-lock. Independent front suspension provides comfort for the cabin while a live axle setup at the back ensures a robust cradle for heavy loads.