It’s fair to say that sometimes a manufacturer will release a car that’s dressed up and sold as a limited edition in a cynically grinned cash-grab. Toyota‘s trio of body kitted HiLux four door utes, the Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue, are dressed up but Toyota says they won’t be limited editions. They’re actually a mid-life model addition to the range. The drivetrain remains the same as the three are, unsurprisingly, based on existing models. A 2.8L four cylinder diesel with 130kW and 430 or 450Nm (depending on whether a six speed manual or auto is bolted to it) is standard for the three. The boss tradie aimed Rogue is auto as standard whilst the let’s get weekend dirty Rugged and Rugged-X can be bought with either a three or two pedal setup. The entry level Rugged manual starts from $54,990 and there’s a $2K premium for the slushbox. Rugged-X starts from $61,690 and again has a $2K auto price jump. Rogue is the same price as the Rugged-X manual. Economy was worse in the Rogue than Rugged-X, finishing on 10.5L/100km and the Rugged-X finished at 9.7L/100km. These figures aren’t far off the combined cycle figures of 10.9L and 7.9L/100 respectively from the 80L tank, but as both were used only in urban environments, the dollars start adding up. Plus, Toyota quotes the Rugged-X as being heavier than the Rogue in a dry weight comparison, at 2252 kilos versus 2147 kilos. Hmmm…..Rogue comes with a restyled front plastic bumper with driving lights locked away in a niche in each corner. Said niche is angular in design and strongly resembles one from Kia’s Sorento from the early-mid 2010s. Both Rogue and Rugged-X have a roll-bar with bespoke nameplate, towbar, bash-plates under the nose, and sidesteps. Here’s there’s a slight difference, with the Rugged-X having narrower all metal steps called rock rails, and Rogue getting wider plastic shrouded steps. Both Rugged and Rugged-X have a snorkel but again a visual difference. The Rugged has a proper bullbar fitted with integrated LED driving lights, with the Rugged-X a smaller steel front bar, integrated centre mounted LED light bar, and sharply framed corners for easier off-road climbing. At the rear there’s matt black covers for the leading edge of the tail lights. Headlights in the Rugged-X are lined with LEDs but the Rugged dips out.There’s additional common features for the two; under-body tow hitch points front and rear, an open rear tun with urethane protection for the floor and sides, a blacked-out tailgate handle, and Rugged bonnet decals. The Rogue is more subtle in the decaling plus has a lockable hard cover for the marine carpet lined tub. Rogue has 18 inch black painted alloys, Rugged and -X have the same styled 17s. The Rogue came clad in a pearlescent white, the Rugged-X test vehicle in a complementary to the decaling grey.Inside the Rugged-X is an interior that’s almost a clone of what’s found in the Rogue. Bar a difference on the floor with rubber mats versus carpet, and slightly different sill trim, the pair are identical, through to the dash design, features, and somewhat near compromise in rear leg room. Even though the three are all over five metres long in total length and have a wheelbase of three, the actual cabin sizes aren’t great and hopefully this is something an update addresses. In essence, the rear cabin is tolerable for anyone hovering at six feet or so in height but if the front seats are occupied by those at the same height and by necessity push the seats back, then…The dash itself is heavily driver focused. The tiller feels broader than it probably is, a pair of dials bracket a small info screen that plays a GIF on startup and shows info via a tab on the right hand spoke of the steering wheel. The dash itself is a three fold shape and seems to fade off into the distance on the passenger’s side. Neither side wraps around, they simply end abruptly at each door.A centrally mounted touchscreen, a different design to that found in the Camry and looking more as if bolted in rather than designed in, houses a CD player, DAB tuner (which was fussy in both cars by only displaying a select set of DAB stations), Bluetooth, and via USB and Auxiliary located ahead of the gear selector. The all over look is black on black, with more black thrown in for good measure. This may suit the Rugged, the -X could do with a bit more lightness, and the Rogue needs a broader colour palette full stop.Seating in the -X and Rogue is leather with a one setting heat button next to the USB port. Driver’s seats were electrically powered and excellent in actual comfort levels. But the pair miss out on some now seen as essential safety equipment. Although a rear view camera is on board, there’s no parking sensors there, no Blind Spot Alert, no Autonomous Emergency Braking and that ;ast one is crucial given the lack of real stopping urge in the Rugged-X, and only slightly more inclined in the Rogue. ESC is standard though, as are seven airbags and trailer sway control. if you do wish to tow, there’s a 3200kg braked towing capacity. Cargo carrying, however, is well under a tonne for both, with Rogue 826 kilos and 748 kg for Rugged-X.On the road the pair display distinctly different characteristics. The Rogue is more inclined towards being car like, the Rugged-X is typical four wheel drive with a looser rear end and a ride quality tending towards wallowy and pogo. The steering in the Rugged-X was rubbery on centre but backed off from that through left and right. The Rogue again felt more like a car in its steering. Drivewise, being based on the same mechanicals meant they accelerated better in Power, were as equally more sluggish in Eco, and were reasonably quick in normal driving. Hard acceleration had the transmission move through the lower, more closely spaced gears, quickly although the engine became thrashy above 3500 rpm. Light acceleration is better for the transmission, as changes were far smoother, and less inclined to be physically felt. More than occasionally though, the transmission was caught out by slowing and then accelerating, as one does coming to a give way line or roundabout. The indecisiveness would have the six speed slip back from third or fourth a cog or two then suddenly drop down again. It was also prone, on longer yet more gentle declines, to drop back a cog too far in an effort to engine brake.Only the Rugged-X was taken off-road, as the tyres fitted to the Rogue were more of a tarmac spec, plus the Rigged-X was more specifically kitted for the purpose. It’s here that the departure and approach angles also differ between the two. Rogue has 30 degrees, Rugged-X 28. Departure angles are 21 and 20 degrees respectively. On AWT’s favoured test track for off roading, a fire trail with a great mix of gravel, rock, mud, mud puddles, and some good inclines, the Rugged-X ate these up without a noise. High range four wheel drive was selected and that was all that was needed even on the sections where low range, Hill Descent Control (which was tested and worked as expected) and diff-lock would have been suitable. Ride and handling immediately became obvious as being more suitable for the varying kind of terrain, as the spongy leaf sprung rear enabled the Rugged-X to roll over obstacles as easily as tarmac.Toyota’s standard three year warranty applies, as does their roadside assistance and fixed price servicing packages.
At The End Of The Drive.
After the failure of the Toyota Racing Division experiment, one could cast a cynical eye over the Toyota HiLux Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue. With a potential design update hint with the Rogue’s front bar, both should attract a bit of eyeball action. But like a well plated dinner that is eaten in two bites, there’s more to these two than looks. Absolutely there’s that proven off road credential and the Rugged-X will fit the bill for rural and dirt applications admirably.
The Rogue’s off road ability will be the same but it’s more for a “if it’s needed” rather than a stylish looking foreman type vehicle. If the Rogue is to be the trio’s leader then a cabin lift is needed. The seats need a step up from the Rugged-X, and the trim levels need a hint of greys below and a white to beige/bone roof lining. And an extension to the cabin’s rear for better leg room is almost essential, as is the addition of rear parking sensors as standard.
Here is where to find out more: 2018 HiLux range including Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue.