Not only a tough act but a tough look. The new HiLux has got the American style going for its all-new body, which also eschews the usual 4x4 wheel-arch blisters.
First thing you notice after clambering inside and hitting the starter button is the clatter of the new 1GD-FTV 2.8-ltre turbo-diesel engine is really more of a mumble – at least it is when you are sitting in the cabin with the windows up.
Roll down the power glass and the reality is this is still an oil-burner with an obvious staccato soundtrack. So tick the box for lots of noise deadening material.
Secondly, the SR5 steers with a directness almost unknown in this category. Plenty of slack is usually built into the steering of 4x4s, but not in the case of the HiLux’s hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion set-up.
Oh, the turning circle is still large at 11.8 metres and you’ll find yourself winding on lock to counter the built-in understeer when cornering at speed, but for a vehicle of this size (5330mm long) and weight (2080kg) it feels surprisingly direct.
Third? The HiLux feels planted on the road. Even without any weight loaded into the tray, the rear-end shows no real desire to dance around on bumps and mid-corner stutters. Hey, the ride is pretty firm without a load onboard, but with a maximum 925kg allowed, it needs to be.
The new interior is definitely a step towards SUV from truck, but it’s a messy step with lots of angle and curves dissecting and intersecting across the dashboard. The new 7.0-inch tablet-like touch-screen looks nailed on, its square edges clashing with the rounded edges of the dash itself, but the graphics are crystal clear.
Then there are the materials, most of which are hard to the touch plastic which will lose their luster pretty quickly. The back-lit blue instrument dials and the sizable 4.2-inch trip computer and info screen sited between them work well for the driver. But while the steering wheel now adjusts for reach as well as rake for the first time, it doesn’t pull out far enough for taller drivers.
Narrower front seats have helped provide more kneeroom for rear-seat passengers. Yes, the seating position is still very upright, but tall adults can now fit back there without feeling scrunched. There are no air-con vents to aid comfort but there are plenty of storage options with dual seat- and door-pockets, two flip-down coat hooks and a fold-down armrest with dual cup-holders.
Access is aided by wide opening doors and grabs on the B-pillar. There are grabs on the A-pillar to help front seat passengers haul themselves up into the high-riding cockpit. Overhead there are permanent grabs. There are no door grabs front or rear.
There is no shortage of cupholders up-front, with two in the doors, two in the centre console and another two that pop out of each end of the dashboard.
There’s also a cool box above the glovebox as one of the highlight features (across all grades). Other important standard gear includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a full-size spare tyre, auto-levelling LED headlights, foglights, stainless steel sports bar, smart entry and starting, single-zone climate-control, satellite-navigation, digital radio, the usual Bluetooth connectins and the option of leather seats.
Standard safety features include seven airbags, a reversing camera, stability and traction control, trailer sway control and anti-lock brakes. The HiLux has received a maximum five-star ANCAP rating.
Other important numbers for the SR5 are a 3500kg towing capacity for the manual and 3200kg for the auto we are reviewing here. Both those figures are up on the old HiLux.