A LIKEABLE ROQUE | UTE Review – Toyota Gears Up The HiLux

Toyota gears up the HiLux – Words and images by Stuart Martin

The rich model mix that pervades the light commercial ute market is where Toyota’s ‘Halo’ trinity is aimed.

The Rogue is the urban cowboy of the trio, still capable of getting mud in the wheel arches but not quite as front-bar savvy as the more-expensive ($63,690 for the auto or $2000 less for a six-speed manual) Rugged X and its SR-based Rugged apprentice, which asks $54,990 for the manual while another $2000 adds an auto.

The Rogue is too sophisticated for a clutch – or someone forgot to tick the right box – so the $61,690 price tag brings the six-speed auto as standard among the features above and beyond the SR5-donor.

The revamped nose and tail add to the up-market feel, with the tougher snout in particular far less prominent; the tail loses the ‘TOYOTA’ billboard across the tailgate, replaced by more subtle badges at the top.

The Rogue urban adventurer gets a nip and tuck at both ends – the redesigned ends were designed in Australia and developed in conjunction with Toyota Thailand (where it is sold as the Rocco) over a three-year period.

As befitting the slightly metrosexual image of the Rogue, there’s a hard tonneau cover hiding a far less utilitarian tray, but the sports bar is a genuine load-bearer – coping with 75 kg of load downforce.

Sharing many of the features list also found in the Rugged X, the Rogue gets 18-inch model-specific black alloy wheels, a model-specific grille, LED headlights and fog lights, a tow bar, gloss black exterior mirror caps and door handles (instead of the SR5’s chrome) and a black tailgate handle.

The cabin gets black perforated leather-accented seats, metallic black ornamentation, black roof headliner, front and rear carpet floor mats and a new-design instrument panel.

The interior is a comfortable and well-considered place to be, with the Rogue getting plenty of metallic black trim pieces, front seat heaters – although the button is vertically oriented and not lit, so there’s some chance of turning on the wrong side – and only the driver’s pew gets power adjustment.

The driver also benefits from keyless entry and ignition, power folding and adjustable exterior mirrors and the upgraded instrument panel, with the speedometer and tachometer getting orange needles on a white face. The centre multi-information display, which has lots of information – some of it even useful – still has no digital speed readout.

The seven-inch touchscreen voice-controlled infotainment system generates a good quality sound through six speakers, including digital radio reception, as well as Bluetooth, a single USB port and it still has a CD slot.

The centre stack gets 12-volt outlets with a domestic power point in the reasonably-sized centre console, although this placement is awkward to use and reduces the amount of storage on offer.

There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, although the Toyota system does have some apps within it. Shallow door pockets, two glove boxes (one of which is cooled) and under-seat storage beneath the rear bench is useful; rear passengers get vents but no power outlets.

The rear cabin room allows me at 191cm to just sit behind myself without head and legs touching roof or front seat back. The airbag count of seven is unchanged – dual-front, front-side, driver’s knee and side curtain airbags – and there’s a standard reversing camera, but it isn’t accompanied by any standard parking sensors, odd given it’s a city-centric chariot. There are also no automatic emergency braking systems of any kind, nor is there an auto-dimming centre mirror or heating for the exterior mirrors, which becomes something of a safety issue in winter.

The hard tonneau cover, which has an integrated light for the tub, is locked as part of the central locking system, but the manual-locking tailgate is not linked to the remote, which reduces the level of security of gear in the tray. To further compound the problem, if a load exceeds the height of the tray and it’s tied down – gently – on the load, the Rogue door-ajar warning complains that the front passenger’s door is open. And it doesn’t give up.

The tray itself is more like a conventional car boot – lined with marine-grade carpet with a foam mat beneath, but there are still four tie-down points, so dumping a load of quarry rubble in the rear is not really an option.

The Rogue measures 5345 mm long, 1855 mm wide (a little less than the off-roaders), 1815 mm tall and on a 3085 mm wheelbase. It tips the scales at 2174 kg, which makes it a little lighter than the off-roaders (by at least 64 kg) but 134 kg heavier than the SR5 on which it is based.

With a GVM of 3000 kg, the SR5’s payload is 925 kg, but the Rogue’s payload would be 826 kg; its braked towing capacity remains at 3200 kg, as it is an auto-only model.

Mechanically, there’s precious little that differs from the rest of the HiLux range – unchanged is the 2.8-litre intercooled 16-valve double overhead cam turbodiesel four-cylinder that offers up 130 kW at 3400 rpm, with the auto getting 450 Nm (between 1600 and 2400 rpm), while manual drivers make do with 420 Nm (over a wider 1400-2600 rev range).

The drivetrain can be sparked up with the aggressive Power mode, which markedly sharpens up throttle response, and the automatic can be pulled across into Sport mode, which livens up the automatic’s attitude as well.

Unlike some in this segment, the fuel tank is a useful 80 litres in size and the laboratory ADR combined cycle figure is 8.5 litres per 100 km. Our time in the Rogue returned 11.5 litres per 100 km at a 31 km/h average speed, although the trip computer suggested it could have read 10 l/100 km if the driver had taken full advantage of the Eco mode rather than hitting the Power button.

In the stopping department it’s still a front-disc/rear-drum braking set-up, and from a suspension perspective it sits on a double-wishbone front and leaf-sprung rear, although there are minor tuning tweaks.

While it still has decent off-road angles, clearance has dropped to 216 mm – down from the Rugged models 251 mm (X) and 253 mm claims – but it still retains ample off-road ability.

It’s on the black top where it is designed to, and most likely will, spend most of its life, sitting on 18-inch alloys with 265/60 tyres rubber.

Ride quality is on the firm and fussy side, the latter more evident over smaller ripples while the larger bumps and dips are dismissed with more authority; even a quarter of the payload will result in a more compliant and polite rear end.

Body control is – as a result – not high on the list of attributes, and its default demeanour on a corner is pushing the nose wide and making the Bridgestone Dueler H/T tyres vocal. The steering isn’t the sharpest and the 12.6 m turning circle isn’t great either.

There’s plenty of demand for high-end dual-cabs, and even though there’s no more grunt on offer and it’s short on some key features fast becoming the norm, the Rogue will contribute significantly to the HiLux sales tally.

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