IN ITS ELEMENT: Over our three month 3000km test, the Toyota HiLux SR5 was at its best as an off-road plaything and workhorse load-lugger. As a daily driver though it reminded it was still a truck...
IN ITS ELEMENT: Over our three month 3000km test, the Toyota HiLux SR5 was at its best as an off-road plaything and workhorse load-lugger. As a daily driver though it reminded it was still a truck... Iain Curry

Toyota HiLux Double Cab SR5 long term review final report

THREE months and 3000 kilometres later, our long term test with a Toyota HiLux SR5 is over and the results are in.

Rather nicely, the HiLux was crowned Australia's best-selling car of 2016 during our tenure, making it the most relevant vehicle we could have tested to reflect our nation's car buying habits.  

Trip to the dump in long term test 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5.
Trip to the dump in long term test 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5. Iain Curry

And this is the HiLux most shoppers covet. Double cab pick-up, all-wheel-drive and with oodles of car-like goodies, it nails the versatile and desirable remit. But it ain't cheap. At $54,000 before you add things like our auto gearbox, premium paint and tow bar, you're looking at around $60k drive away for this rig.  

We're buying them in droves though. Used for work, play and ever-increasingly as family transport, our HiLux proved quite brilliant in many key areas.  

The four-cylinder diesel is a gem. Excellent torque and enough grunt meant I never wanted for performance on my daily commute down the highway. Plus any weight in the tray or beach driving never slowed its progress.   

Long term test 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5.
Long term test 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5. Iain Curry

The 2.8-litre motor is incredibly refined: so quiet, void of vibration and on our test it returned an excellent 8.7-litres per 100km. Damn near what Toyota quotes.  

The six-speed auto is equally good - never hunting for gears - while the lofty drive position, leathery cabin comfort and buckets of space for two child seats in the back all helped the HiLux's claim as a decent family car.  

Living with a pick-up is unquestionably practical too. The SR5's tub served as hauler for rubbish to the tip and 700kg of top soil for the garden, while almost 100km of sand driving on Noosa's North Shore highlighted how talented an off-road machine it is.  

2016 Toyota HiLux Double Cab 4x4 SR5 on Teewah Beach, Noosa North Shore.
2016 Toyota HiLux Double Cab 4x4 SR5 on Teewah Beach, Noosa North Shore. Iain Curry

You can't help getting paranoid having caked-on sand and salt water on the underside of your $60k ute though. Cue much jet hosing.  

Such wins cemented in my mind why these HiLuxes are so very popular. Household and  work tasks were effortless and the ability to take the family practically anywhere - sand, mud, rocks or a bitumen road trip - tempts many into double cab 4x4 ute ownership.  

Long term 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5 gets its tub filled with sand
Long term 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5 gets its tub filled with sand

But there are buts. I found such off-road smarts meant the daily drive was a real grind. On rear leaf springs the HiLux is a bouncy old thing bordering on the uncomfortable, although this markedly improved the more weight I had in the tub.  

As a family car too it lacks a great deal of the safety gear expected on over-$50,000 SUVs, plus the cabin still has an air of the utilitarian rather than outright plushness. The HiLux's infotainment also lags a bit behind some key rivals with no desirable Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.  

Long term test 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5.
Long term test 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5. Iain Curry

In conclusion, I greatly miss the SR5's superb practicality and go-anywhere possibilities, but don't miss its ride as an everyday car.   

It's a brilliant lifestyle vehicle indeed - and will be ideal for plenty - but for me, for the money, I'd be after a five-seat or seven-seat large SUV with similar off-road skills. Toyota Fortuner, anyone?  

2016 Toyota HiLux Double Cab 4x4 SR5 on Teewah Beach, Noosa North Shore.
2016 Toyota HiLux Double Cab 4x4 SR5 on Teewah Beach, Noosa North Shore. Iain Curry

Final report

Kilometres driven: 2832.   

Overall fuel economy: 8.7L/100km.   

The good: Superb off-road ability, strong and refined diesel engine mated to a smooth auto transmission, top-spec styling, cabin comfort, fuel economy proved as Toyota quotes.   

The not so good: On-road unladen ride is a bouncy thing to endure, infotainment not stand-out, modern high-tech safety gear lacking despite the price, not cheap at nearly $60k.   

Kids in rear seat of long term test 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5.
Kids in rear seat of long term test 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5. Iain Curry

Vital statistics

Model: Toyota HiLux SR5 4x4 Double Cab Pick Up.   

Details: Double-cab four-wheel-drive utility.   

Engine: 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel generating maximum power of 130kW @ 3400rpm and peak torque of 450Nm @ 1600rpm.   

Transmission: Six-speed automatic.   

Towing capacity: 3200kg.   

Payload: 925kg.   

Warranty and service: Three-year 100,000km warranty, capped price servicing for first three years/60,000km at $180 a time, service intervals are every six months or 10,000km.   

Price as tested before on-roads: $57,479 ($54,390 base price plus auto gearbox, premium paint and tow bar).   

2016 Toyota HiLux Double Cab 4x4 SR5 at Double Island Point, Qld.
2016 Toyota HiLux Double Cab 4x4 SR5 at Double Island Point, Qld. Iain Curry


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