Toyota HiLux 2021 review: SR5 Double Cab cab chassis GVM test

Toyota HiLux 2021 review: SR5 Double Cab cab chassis GVM test
Toyota's latest HiLux now packs more of a punch.

Likes

Build quality/upmarket style 3500kg tow rating 150kW/500Nm

Dislikes

Short service intervals No standard reversing camera Impractical payload with 3500kg towing

Toyota Australia’s freshly facelifted HiLux range offers not only the usual base-grade Workmate 4×4 dual cab-chassis but also mid-grade SR and high-grade SR5/SR5+ variants for the first time.

 This is in response to increasing demand for a cab-chassis HiLux that provides the higher equipment levels normally reserved for ute variants. A major advantage of this option is that customers, be they tradies and/or adventurers, don’t have to pay for – and then remove – the standard load tub to install their own custom-made canopies or personalised tray set-ups. 

We recently put one of these new variants to the test, fitted with a drop-side tray from Toyota’s genuine accessories range, to see how it performs as a tradie’s truck with a lot more bling than the usual no-frills cab-chassis workhorse.

Price Guide

$27,962 – $91,990

Based on 623 car listings in the last 6 months

See pricing and specification for 2021 Toyota HiLux pricing & specs

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our Eclipse Black 4×4 test vehicle, in deluxe SR5 grade with 2.8 litre turbo-diesel and six-speed torque converter automatic, has a list price of $58,420 – or $1500 less than the ute-bodied version. Toyota’s colour-matched Heavy Duty Steel (HDS) tray adds another $4319.82 (fitted) and raises the price to a rounded-up $62,740.

The SR5’s many standard features not shared with its Workmate sibling include 18-inch alloys and 265/60 R18 road-biased tyres with a full-size spare, heated power door mirrors and variable intermittent wipers, LED daytime running lights and LED headlights with auto-levelling, privacy glass, side steps, tow-bar, chrome door handles and a rear diff lock.

Toyota HiLux 2021 review: SR5 Double Cab cab chassis GVM test
The SR5 wears 18-inch alloy wheels.

There’s also a smart entry/start system to access a more sumptuous interior with carpet, high-grade driver and front passenger seats, premium seat fabric, air-conditioned upper glovebox/cooler box, 60/40-split rear seat with fold-down central armrest, climate control air-con with console air vents for the rear seat passengers, 220-volt accessory socket, sat-nav, DAB+ digital radio and a quality six-speaker (as opposed to twin-speaker) sound system.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

The latest HiLux range brings a swag of engineering enhancements, headlined by a class benchmark 3500kg braked towing capacity and long-awaited revision of the leaf-spring rear suspension tuning for a smoother ride when unladen.

There’s also increased engine performance, enhanced automatic transmission function, revised power-steering with greater assistance at parking speeds and (at last) rotating nobs replacing fiddly touchscreen buttons to control volume and tuning on the multimedia system.

Toyota HiLux 2021 review: SR5 Double Cab cab chassis GVM test
Inside, rotating nobs replace fiddly touchscreen buttons to control volume and tuning on the multimedia system.

We should also point out that the SR5, in this dual cab-chassis configuration, misses out on the front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera fitted as standard to ute-bodied versions. That’s a bit miserly on Toyota’s part, given that recent new arrivals like Isuzu’s new D-Max dual cab-chassis provides a reversing camera as standard equipment in its Workmate-equivalent SX grade. 

Even so, front parking sensors and a reversing camera are listed in Toyota’s genuine accessories catalogue and can be retro-fitted at extra cost.

Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The latest revision of the HiLux’s ubiquitous 1GD-FTV 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 150kW at 3400rpm and (with auto) 500Nm between 1600-2800rpm. That’s up from 130kW and 450Nm in its previous specification, which represents a 15 per cent power increase and 11 per cent boost in torque. These gains are the result of a larger liquid-cooled ball-bearing turbocharger and numerous other revisions.

Toyota HiLux 2021 review: SR5 Double Cab cab chassis GVM test
The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 150kW/500Nm.

Recalibration of the AC60F six-speed torque converter automatic has resulted in earlier lock-up of the torque converter, which optimises fuel economy and engine response without, according to Toyota, compromising HiLux’s mandated temperature tolerances particularly when towing.

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

Toyota claims a combined average of 8.0L/100km but the SR5’s dash display was showing 10.6 when we stopped to refuel at the end of our 392km test, which included more than 120km at maximum GVM.

Our figure calculated from tripmeter and fuel bowser readings was higher again at 11.5, which is typical of the 2-3L/100km discrepancies between official and real-world figures. So, based on our numbers, you could expect a realistic driving range of almost 700km from its 80-litre tank.

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

The standard 1945kg kerb weight increases to 2253kg with the full-steel tray which weighs a hefty 308kg. Therefore, the standard 1105kg payload rating has to be reduced by the same amount to avoid exceeding the 3050kg GVM, which leaves a lower peak payload of 797kg.

It’s also rated to tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer but with its 5850kg GCM limit (or how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time) that would leave only 97kg of payload capacity, which would be used up by the driver alone.

So, while it’s possible to tow 3500kg, it’s impractical in real-world terms and few ute owners need to tow more than 3000kg anyway. An owner would be better served by basing tow limits on the HiLux’s 3050kg GVM, which drops the tow rating from 3500kg to 2800kg but preserves almost 800kg of payload. That’s a more practical set of numbers.

Toyota HiLux 2021 review: SR5 Double Cab cab chassis GVM test
The SR5 cab chassis has a payload of 797kg.

The heavy-duty all-steel tray features a robust checker-plate floor and tube-section headboard with vertical spikes on each side to retain long lengths of timber, PVC or copper pipe etc. There’s also a window protection frame and under-floor rope rails along each side. The three drop-side panels can be easily removed and additional support in the form of pivoting brackets at the rear is provided for the two side panels, if carrying loads with the rear panel removed.

However, there are no internal load anchorage points, which means loads like ours requiring straps or ropes must be anchored to the external rails. This suggests the HDS tray is best suited to carting loose building/landscape supplies like sand, soil, rocks, woodchips etc.

Toyota HiLux 2021 review: SR5 Double Cab cab chassis GVM test
There’s a large-bottle holder and bin in each front door.

Rear seat passengers have a large-bottle holder and small storage bin in each door plus flexible storage pouches on the front seat backrests and a pair of small-bottle/cup holders in the fold-down centre armrest. The split-fold base cushions can be stored in a vertical position if more internal load space is needed or to access two underfloor storage compartments.

Toyota HiLux 2021 review: SR5 Double Cab cab chassis GVM test
Rear seat passengers get a fold-down centre armrest and directional air vents.

What’s it like as a daily driver?

With the height and reach adjustable steering wheel, supportive seats and well-placed left footrest, it’s not hard for most drivers to find a comfortable position. 

It also has excellent refinement, as you’d expect from Toyota, with low engine and tyre noise combined with a squeak and rattle-free body and tray. Low wind noise, even at highway speeds, is a pleasant surprise given the tray’s headboard frame protrudes above the roof line.

Toyota HiLux 2021 review: SR5 Double Cab cab chassis GVM test
The heavy-duty all-steel tray features three drop-side panels, which can be easily removed.

The higher engine outputs and sharper torque converter lock-up result in improved acceleration. However, the most noticeable difference with the latest HiLux upgrade is the retuned rear suspension, which can still get a bit jiggly on bumpy roads but provides a much-improved ride quality when unladen or lightly loaded. 

While there’s no doubt the hefty 300kg-plus weight of the all-steel tray helped in this regard, Toyota has found a better balance between unladen ride quality and load-carrying ability which makes it more comfortable to live with as a daily driver. 

What’s it like for tradie use?

We forklifted 740kg onto the tray which with driver and half a tank of diesel was right on the 797kg payload limit. The rear leaf springs compressed 50mm under this load which was line-ball with a pre-upgrade HiLux SR ute previously tested lugging a 150kg heavier payload. We can only attribute this greater spring compression to the more supple new suspension tuning.

Even so, there was no shortage of engine performance under this load, particularly on our 13 per cent gradient, 2.0km-long set climb, which the SR5 devoured in third gear at 2500rpm comfortably within its 1600-2800rpm peak torque zone.

Toyota HiLux 2021 review: SR5 Double Cab cab chassis GVM test
We lifted 740kg into the tray.

 Engine-braking on the way down, in a manually-selected second gear, wasn’t so impressive as the engine spun freely up to 4000rpm on overrun (4400rpm redline) and road speed started to creep beyond the posted 60km/h limit before we had to hit the brake pedal. So, noticeable boosts in power and torque have enhanced its hill-climbing ability, if not its engine-braking.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Even though the SR5 in cab-chassis form is not equipped with a reversing camera nor front/rear parking sensors as standard, the maximum five-star ANCAP rating (tested 2019) applies across the HiLux range.

Highlights include AEB with pedestrian and daylight cyclist detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, high-speed active cruise control, road sign assist, downhill assist and trailer sway control, but no blind-spot monitoring or rear cross-traffic alert. There’s also ISOFIX child seat mounting points on the two outer rear seating positions and three top-tether mounts, along with seven airbags.

Ownership – What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Five years/unlimited km warranty with capped-price of $250 for each of the first six scheduled services. However, the service intervals are relatively short at 6 months/10,000km whichever occurs first.

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