Toyota Hilux 3.0TD 4×4 Double Cab 2014 review

Toyota Hilux 3.0TD 4×4 Double Cab 2014 review

14ToyotaHilux-1-1From humble beginnings as the robust, reliable, farmer’s friend, the Toyota’s double-cab Hilux is now a bona fide 5-ANCAP star sophisticate, as much at home in the suburbs as it is ‘on the range!’

What Crumpy would make of the sleek new sheet metal up front, and alphabet soup of hi-tech electronic driver aids underneath is a moot point. Whether the thin, flexible ABS front bumper would be as good at nudging fences back into line as the old-school steel ones fitted to the model featured 14ToyotaHilux-3in the famous ‘bugger!’ ad is another.

But you certainly can’t accuse the ‘lux of being a one-trick pony. Or Toyota of resting on its laurels.

There are now 12 different variants with a mix of 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains, petrol (1GR-FE N/A 4.0 litre V6) and diesel (IKD-FTV 3.0 litre four-cylinder inter-cooled turbo) engines, 5-speed manual AND automatic transmissions, and cab/chassis, cab-plus and double-cab options with 14ToyotaHiluxKMInterior-1-1RRPs started at $39,990 +ORC for 2WD examples and $49,890 + ORC for the 4 x 4s.

The model I collected from downtown Auckland’s freshly re-named Auckland City Toyota(nee Giltrap Toyota) was a standard grade 4WD 3.0 litre turbo diesel finished in (surprisingly easy to keep clean) Glacier White.

Though the silver (now) 17-in. dia.steel wheels, tall 225/70R x 17 tyres, and vinyl floor/rubber mat combination gave the test unit a touch of old-school authenticity the base-line spec is light years away from that of the original single cab model.

14ToyotaHiluxKMdouble-cabRemote central locking and even air conditioning are a given these days, as (in the case of the 4WD double-cab I drove) are a digital clock, cruise control, 3×3-point rear seat belts, child restraint anchor points, five separate drink holders (central console plus one in each door), a quality AM/FM radio/CD player, bluetooth connectivity for your phone and a USB port for your digital devices.

Even confirmed city boy Scottie would, no doubt, raise an eyebrow, however, at the large interactive ‘multi information display screen’ which takes centre stage on the sleek, modern dash and which you can control via traditional knobs (just the two to keep things simple), the touch screen itself, or toggles on the steering wheel.

Yet it is just the tip of the iceberg as far as electronics go.

In its drive for a 5-star ANCAP rating Toyota has added both traction control (via the company’s A-TRC system) and stability control (VSC) to the as-delivered spec, the former using the existing ABS system to individually monitor each wheel, braking any found to be spinning and 14ToyotaHilux-5re-directing power to those that are not. Whether traction control is as practical as a simpler limited slip diff off-road is open to debate. But at least the system can be switched off should you want a little more direct control while bush or even paddock bashing when in four-wheel-drive.

Just like the spec list, the actual driving experience is light years ahead of that of early ‘lux models. At idle the signature Toyota turbo diesel still leaves you in no doubt which pump to select at the servo but up and running the 14ToyotaHiluxKMdiesel-1-1chatter reduces to a murmur and stays that way until you need to stab the loud pedal.

These days 126kWs of peak power and 343Nms of peak torque can only be described as modest yet it’s still more than enough to waft you and the dog/family along in close to car-like levels of cabin quiet, comfort and economy on the open road during the week, and still be up for a 750kg (unbraked)/2800kg braked) boat or race car towing job come the weekend.

The only – ever so slight – negative is that you’re working with quite a long throttle, and matching kick down with 14ToyotaHiluxKMwheel-2traffic flow takes a bit of practice to get right.

In typical Toyota fashion the ‘lux is a vehicle you immediately feel at home in, with plenty of room for XXL-size arms and legs, a standard seat plane which is not too high and not too low, excellent all-round visibility, absolutely panoramic door mirrors, a nice tactile feel to the main contact points (steering wheel, stick shift and handbrake) and nicely weighted and placed indicator, light and cruise control stalks.

Steering accuracy and weighting is first rate too, though there are still (in my humble opinion) too many turns lock to lock. But that (and the fact I kept banging my left elbow on the tall oddment box between the seats) is the extent of my ergonomic complaints.

Adults or long-limbed adolescents will find the back seat a little lacking in the leg-room department, but – as I found out with my own teenagers – the driver and front seat passenger definitely don’t need all the space at their disposal.

Talk to anyone currently driving, or even just in the market for a contemporary Hilux, and its the model’s versatility, reliability and plain simple old bang-for-your buck which keep them coming back. If there is an elephant in the room, however, it is ride quality.

Sure, with those 17 inch rims and 70-profile this latest ‘lux doesn’t get it’s jiggle on quite as frenetically as earlier (15 in. rim) 4WD models. And load her up with a tray full of contractor’s trappings, or a farm quad on a trailer,  and you cancel out the the worst of the high intensity harmonics.

Tootle along by yourself – or load up the wife and kids and take ’em to the drive-through – though, and even on the smoothest of motorway or McDonald’s car park tarmac you always end up kicking yourself for not chucking a couple of bags of cement over the tailgate before you set out.

In both cases its the firmness of the first few millimetres of suspension travel which seems to be the culprit. At speed the effect is less pronounced because the jolt is spread across the length of the chassis.

Cross a judder bar or even pot hole edge at slow speed, though, and let’s just say  you’ll be glad there’s plenty of headroom.

But perhaps we (or rather I) doth complain too much.

Though Ford’s heavier, more powerful Ranger is now giving it a serious run for its money, the Hilux remains New Zealand’ top-selling commercial vehicle. For good reason.

Sure, ride quality could be better. But if it was, compromises would, no doubt, crop up in other areas.

And while the country’s upwardly mobile chippies, sparkies and plumbers, and adventure-loving weekend warriors, still want a true all-purpose family/work/recreation all-rounder, ride quality is a trade-off (if you’ll pardon the pun) the vast majority seem more than willing to make.

Price: from $49,890


  • Look
  • Feel
  • Safety features



  • Ride quality
  • Steering lock



Pictures: Kate MacKay

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