THE year was 1968, and the world, a very different place. Nixon won the presidency in the US. There was sadness following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, and Boeing releasing the first ever 747 jumbo jet (there was a bit on, to be honest).
In the midst of it all, a Japanese car maker gave us a brand new utility vehicle, or ute, as we Aussies like to call them. Some eight generations and millions of kilometres later, that dependable steed, the Toyota HiLux, is loved the world over.
To give you an idea just how loved the Hilux is in Australia, let’s just say it tends to be at the top of sales charts month after month, year after year, having sold so many units that they number more than some manufacturer’s total sales (for all their models).
With that in mind, let’s delve into what the 2020 Toyota HiLux SR and SR5 have to offer.
Available in six trim levels, from the tradie focused Workmate, to the SR, SR5, Rogue, Rugged, and Rugged X, the latter three representing special focused models, with extra off road kit.
The SR and SR5 are what might best be described as the mid to top of the standard range, with both models packed full of kit. In the case of the SR, that includes a 7-inch infotainment system with built-in SatNav, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
A number of Toyota models now come with smartphone integration, including the new Granvia and HiAce, the RAV4 and CH-R, the Corolla, Camry and Prius. You’ll notice the HiLux is missing, but it should come to Toyota’s ute range soon enough.
There’s also 17-inch alloy wheels, a colour display screen in the dash, side steps, cloth seat trim, power windows, air conditioning and all weather floor mats. The introduction of Toyota’s Safety Sense suite also forms part of the 2020 update.
The system adds autonomous emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), lane departure warning, active cruise control and road sign assist (handy, but not always accurate).
The HiLux also grabs seven airbags, stability, brake and traction controls, a reversing camera and hill start assist. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and driver attention alert are missing from the SR.
The SR5 takes all that the SR has, and adds to it, including 18-inch alloys, body matched bumpers, a rear chrome step, LED auto leveling headlights, LED DRLs, privacy glass (in the rear), a steel sports bar, cloth or leather seat trim and carpeted floors.
These are then covered by the famous all weather floor mats, with the SR5 also picking up an air conditioned console box, 220-volt accessory socket, and single zone climate control with rear air vents.
Our Olympia Red SR5 was fitted with the optional premium interior package, which adds a nice leather trim, with heated front seats and a power adjustable driver’s seat.
Now here’s a weird thing. The SR5 is fitted with LED auto leveling headlights, but Toyota has left the high beam as standard halogen bulbs. At night with the big lights on, you now get a strange mixture of light in front of you, which we found very distracting.
The infotainment system too, while being a vast improvement on the previous version, is slow to respond to the touch and struggles with voice commands. It needs some serious fine tuning from the tech boffins at Toyota.
The 2020 HiLux continues with its well regarded 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine, with its recent DPF issues fixed, thanks to a manual burn off switch. Power output now sits at 130kW, with 450Nm of torque.
There’s a very well matched 6-speed auto fitted to the HiLux as well, but even with refined gearing, the Toyota ute still finds a way to consume plenty of fuel. We struggled to get either the SR or SR5 below 10.5-litres/100km.
Combine that with an 80-litre tank and the current cost of diesel, and the numbers aren’t pretty, particularly when some competitors are able to deliver significantly lower fuel economy figures.
On the road, the Hilux has a tough feel. Visibility is good from the driver’s seat, but the ride is very stiff on the black stuff when unladen. After a while you’ll be truly sick of its jiggle over certain bumps and lumps.
Off-road is worse. We drove the HiLux down a standard dirt road in Ourimbah State Forest, with a few small challenges, and it was almost unbearable. The ride quality was so bad, we felt like a kidney belt was needed.
That’s not to say it isn’t capable over the rough stuff, it’s among the best in class, but getting to the nice spot in the bush to camp is where the issue will lie.
While we understand that the Hilux suspension is aimed at being hard for tradies, with all their tools in the back, or a load in general, which would make the ride a little nicer; let’s be honest, how many Hilux’s do you see loaded up. Most are empty.
Inside, the Hilux it really knows what it’s doing, with a massive collection of cup holders all around the front seats. There are a few extra storage spaces, a small trench under the air conditioning controls, and a double glove box on the passenger side.
There’s a deep centre console box for everything else too. That said, it hasn’t changed much for some time, with the same seating positions front and rear. The back seat has decent room.
A welcome new addition for the SR5 grade is air vents on the back of the centre console. The SR5’s tray won’t fit a standard Australian pallet, although few utes do. Toyota also notes that the steel sports bar is not to be used for securing loads.
It leaves four tie down points around the edges of the tub to secure the load. These are useful, but they need the ability to move within the tub. Overall, the 2020 Toyota Hilux SR and SR5 are good, but not great.
It may not have the updates across the board that some of its competitors do, but it’s still a great and reliable ute for tradies, and those that want the functionality of a ute instead of a car.
The 2020 Toyota Hilux SR and SR5 are available in Glacier White, Crystal Pearl (SR5 only), Silver Sky, Graphite, Eclipse Black, Olympia Red and Nebula Blue.
Our 2020 Toyota Hilux SR & SR5 was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more, contact your nearest Toyota dealer.