HiLux retains its top ranking position through readjusting its marketing strategy and realigning its model range as it approaches its half-century.
As pricing for the top level ute models in the Australian market heads towards the $100,000 mark and beyond, the HiLux has been hanging on to market leadership, despite not being able to supply the upper spec trim and equipment levels to rival Ranger.
The launch of the next game changer, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, occurs around April, at which point Delivery Magazine can see the complete ute segment readjusting again, both in terms of specification and pricing.
For the final run to the end of 2017 and into the new year, Toyota has realigned its HiLux range, introducing eight new automatic variants as part of a comprehensive revamp.
It’s the first significant revitalisation of the HiLux range since the launch of the current generation, with other changes including the addition of three new SR extra-cab/chassis variants (six-speed manual and auto) with the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine.
Three additional automatic Hi-Rider pick-ups also join the fleet, in the form of a WorkMate double-cab, SR extra-cab and SR5 double-cab, plus there’s a WorkMate grade with automatic transmission now included in the 4×4 double-cab/chassis line-up.
Buyers of the 4×4 SR double-cab pick-up can add the benefits of satellite navigation and alloy wheels for $2,000 – without the need to step up to the top-of-the-line SR5.
Toyota has always placed its model selection well to suit customer demand, and, interestingly, as that demand has changed in respect of certain features this latest product revision adds ten new variants. These effectively replace 10 slower-selling variants, including V6-powered vehicles that account for fewer than half of one percent of total HiLux sales.
The moves are significant as HiLux continues to set new sales records with consumer demand up 13.7 percent to the end of August. It is well placed to become Australia’s best-selling vehicle for the second year in a row, and is the only vehicle of its type to have taken the title.
Toyota Australia’s executive director of sales and marketing, Tony Cramb, said the realignment will further strengthen the sales potential of HiLux, which has topped the market in each of the past six months and has broken monthly sales records on four occasions this year.
“We are determined to ensure a strong final quarter in 2017, but, these moves are not about short-term gains, they are the result of detailed analysis of buyer trends and feedback from dealers over the past two years,” Mr. Cramb said.
“It is clear that HiLux buyers increasingly want the convenience of an automatic transmission, so we now offer 17 self-shifters compared with 12 previously,” he said.
“Last year – for the first time – automatics accounted for more than half of all HiLux sales, and this year the proportion has risen to almost 60 percent, and we expect it to increase further.
“We are also experiencing greater-than-expected demand for the two-wheel-drive Hi-Rider, so we have expanded our competitively priced offerings from three to five.
“The Hi-Rider appeals to buyers who do not require serious off-road capability, but appreciate the same rugged looks and imposing ground clearance as a 4×4 HiLux.
“All the new variants have been introduced for specific reasons; for example, SR buyers have told us they would prefer the durability and convenience of a PVC floor covering rather than carpet.
“We have reintroduced a 4×4 WorkMate double-cab/chassis for those who want a value-for-money vehicle that gives them the flexibility to add a purpose-built tray that suits their needs.
“For similar reasons, we have brought back the SR extra-cab/chassis in manual guise, which was available with the previous generation, and, for the first time, added an automatic version”.
The updated HiLux line-up went on sale officially from October 6, together with a realignment in pricing that adds beneficial features for minimal cost.
HiLux SR 4×4 double-cabs have increased by $70 with the inclusion of downhill assist control, PVC flooring and black door handles, while other SR models have been reduced by $80 with the adoption of PVC flooring.
Pricing for the SR5 models has increased by $50 with the addition of LED foglamps. In addition, SR extra-cab pick-ups and SR5 variants now have a tailgate lock. Rear air vents have been added to 4×4 SR5 double-cab and 4×2 Hi-Rider variants.
The number of HiLux variants remains at 31 with 23 being genuine one-tonners – all 4×2 variants and all 4×4 single and extra-cabs. SR5 is the highest-selling grade and accounts for more than half of all HiLux 4×4 sales.
HiLux offers the torque, driveability and fuel economy of two four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines displacing 2.4 and 2.8 litres.
In 4×4 and Hi-Rider variants, the 2.8 delivers maximum power of 130 kW at 3400rpm and peak torque of 450 Nm at 1600-2400 rpm (auto) or 420 Nm (manual).
The volume-selling SR5 4×4 double-cab is rated at 7.6 litres/100 km for the manual and 8.5 litres/100 km for the auto.
The 2.4 turbo-diesel engine is offered on WorkMate models, delivering 110 kW @ 3400 rpm. Torque is 343 Nm @ 1400-2800 rpm for manual 4×2 single and double-cabs. For the 4×2 WorkMate double-cab automatic and all 4×4 variants, it offers 400 Nm from 1600 to 2000 rpm.
Fuel economy varies from 7.1 litres to 7.7 litres/100 km in manual guise and from 8.3 to 8.5 litres/100 km with the six-speed automatic. Carbon dioxide emissions are listed as being 186 grams/km for the 4×2 WorkMate double-cab.
HiLux is also available with a 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol engine on 4×2 WorkMate single and double-cabs. It delivers 122 kW @ 5200 rpm and 245 Nm @ 4000 rpm with fuel economy of 10.4 litres/100 km.
HiLux is in its 20th year in a row as Australia’s best-selling commercial vehicle and has been Australia’s top-selling four-wheel drive for the past 12 years. In 2018, the HiLux nameplate will mark its 50th anniversary in this country.
Potential buyers looking for the right HiLux for their needs should understand there are variations in towing and payload specs that will control the use of the vehicle in certain circumstances.
WorkMate single cab 4×2 models fitted with the 2.7-litre petrol engine or 2.4-litre diesel have a maximum towing limit of 2500 kg with payload maximums of 1210-1240 kg. The 4×2 extra-cab pick-up gets a tow increase of 300 kg to 2800 kg but drops its payload to 1090 kg.
The 4×2 double-cab WorkMate pick-up maintains a towing limit of 2500 kg with payloads of 1020-1035 kg, while the Hi-Rider WorkMate adds 300 kg to its towing limit but maxes out on 1000 kg payload.
As you go through the range you can increase your towing capability to 3500 kg by selecting the SR 2.8-litre turbodiesel manual that also offers 1200 kg in payload, but buyers of the auto versions see that towing capability diminish to 3200 kg.
There’s a whole new world of price variations as you work your way through the model range, with costs varying from the entry level at $20,990 through to $58,440 for the SR5+ and the 2.8 turbo diesel, with leather accented trim and a powered driver’s seat, at which point your payload is 925 kg with a towing limit of 3200 kg. Premium paint colours add a further $550 throughout the range and Toyota Service Advantage capped-price servicing is set at $180 per service (petrol) and $240 per service (diesel).