YOU know when you saunter into your favourite burger joint, and order one with the lot. Well, the 2019 Toyota HiLux Rugged X is the Japanese car maker’s version of the complete meal in a bun.
It’s fully loaded, you might say, with a hoop-less bull bar, bash plate, side steps, snorkel, a factory tow bar and a powerful light bar in the grille, with the all black Rugged X rear bar work behind the cab completing an impressive package.
That light bar is super bright too, so much so we could see the front door of the house at the end of one of our test streets – from the opposite end. That street is a few hundred metres long at the very least.
Based on the popular SR5, the HiLux Rugged X double cab 4×4 pickup is powered by a 2.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine generating 130kW of power and 450Nm of torque (420Nm for the manual), mated to a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission.
It has a claimed fuel economy of 8.5-litres/100km for the auto we tested, or 7.8 for the manual. We didn’t get there in terms of the fuel numbers though, with our best around 9.4-litres/100km. It’s thirstier than claimed, we suspect because of the extras.
One of the most impressive things about the HiLux Rugged X though is it’s 3.2-tonne braked towing capacity for the auto (3.5-tonne for the manual). Sure that sounds like the norm, but how many brands can claim the same tow capability off-road.
The other thing that impressed our team, particularly the young former child seat tester who has now moved to standard seating, was the lined tray. Stuck at home sick with this author, she converted the tray to an impressive cubby-house, pink blanket and all.
Inside, wider front seats and what can best be described as an easy to use cabin space (rubber floor mats cover the carpet), make sitting up front pretty easy, and while the rear seating is a little tight for big adults, there’s plenty of head room everywhere.
Those seats are leather accented too, with some styling perforation to the design. There are rear air vents as well, which are a very handy edition, when trying to stay cool in the blistering Aussie summer.
The 7.0-inch infotainment system though is adequate, but not ground breaking by any means, and feels a little dated. Well maybe a little more than a ‘little’. There’s only one USB port too, which is frustrating if you’re a tech savvy family.
There’s still no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay either, at least at the time of testing, although the cool kids in the tech department are in the process or rolling this out across the Toyota range. Sadly not for any of the utes the company makes though.
It’s a rather large let down that in 2019, Toyota has taken this long to modernise its vehicle technology. The analogue instrument cluster too is screaming out for some digitisation.
Toyota’s Safety Sense package is on board though, which includes high-speed active cruise control and lane departure alert, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and road sign assistance, but no autonomous emergency braking.
It’s got some fierce rivals though, and some offer better safety. In the battle for high-end ute supremacy, it’s up against the likes of the Holden Colorado Z71 Extreme, HSV’s Sportscat RS, the Ford Ranger Raptor, and Volkswagen’s Amarok Ultimate 580.
A tough pack of rivals if ever there was one, but despite a heftier weight thanks to the added accessories and a reduced payload, again, due to those add-ons, the Rugged X competes with its rivals, and stands out from the crowd for its off road capabilities.
In reality, Toyota have taken what was a good package for getting down and dirty, and made it great. Even the auto we tested handled the rough stuff with aplomb. The traction control system is exceptional, and the inclusion of proper recovery points, a masterstroke.
We could bang on for hours about it actually, there’s so much goodness hidden around the Rugged X and its off-road specifications, including in integrated tow bar, part of the iron/alloy rear bumper that offers increased protection.
And that’s the key here we reckon. If you want a ute that’s a standout off road, and also has everything you know and already love about the 4×4 HiLux SR5, plus a heap of bonus bits as standard, it really it hard to go past the 2019 Toyota HiLux Rugged X.
It also comes with multiple airbags and scores a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, just for added piece of mind, and comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 5-years roadside assistance.
You can grab yours in any one of eight colours, including Eclipse Black, Nebula Blue, Graphite, Silver Sky (our test vehicle), Olympia Red, Inferno, Crystal Pearl and Glacier White. It will set you back around $68,000 drive away, give or take a few hundred dollars.
Our test vehicle was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2019 Toyota HiLux Rugged X, contact your local Toyota dealer.