Toyota‘s HiLux has, like stablemate HiAce, been a staple of their light commercial range since Noah needed a ute to transport some wood. In a somewhat bewildering range, a driver can choose from a two door, a two door with extra room behind the seats, fours doors, petrol diesel, manual auto, two wheel drive, four wheel drive, ute, tray, a bare chassis, and one that will make breakfast and coffee for you (just jokes, it’s allergic to coffee).
A Wheel Thing had the pleasure of the company of the 4×4 dual cab ute WorkMate, with a tautly sprung chassis carrying a 2.4L diesel with self shifting transmission. Given its utalitarian focus, you’d be forgiven for thinking it would be a “meh” kind of car. Apart from the basic interior (understandable), the hard ride (for carrying stuff) and a slightly noisy donk, it was actually a bit of fun.
There’s a pair of buttons in the centre console, marked Eco and Sports, with the WorkMate defaulting to Eco anyway. Using the Sports effectively provides an overboost and, in two wheel (rear driven) mode, will quite happily have the tyres thinking they’re at a dragstrip. Otherwise, in normal driving, there’s still the standard 400 torques at a ridiculously low 1600 revs to call upon. This rolls in nicely to the peak power of 110 killerwasps at 3400 revs.
Being a super low revver helps in consumption, with Toyota’s official figures quoting 8.8/6.4/7.3L per 100 klicks in the urban/highway/combined cycles from the huge 80L tank. Emissions are quoted as 203g/km.
The kerb weight is a surprise, at 2045 kilos. It just doesn’t look that heavy. But, it’s also 5330 mm long, yet doesn’t look it. It’s almost as tall as it is wide, at 1815 mm and 1855 mm and sits on a massive 3085 mm wheelbase.
Driving the WorkMate with an auto makes driving it less complicated than blinking. Select Drive (after you’ve twisted the key) and that’s it. It’s a pretty well tuned slushbox but has a propensity for holding fourth gear on long downhill runs, someties needing a switch to manual mode to prod the gearbox into fifth. It’s smooth, quiet, almost imperceptible in changes in normal circumstances but tends towards an somewhat jolty change when pushed hard. When used manually it does feel as if the changes are crisper but there’s no extra urge. It’s smooth enough as it is anyways so the occasions for needing to shift manually would have to be special.
It’s a mostly good ride, surprisingly, but does have a very taut rear end. It’s a live (non independent) axle, with good ol’ leaf springs and is suspended on gas shocks. The front features a double wishbone setup, again with gas shocks and wrapped in coil springs. There’s a good handling chassis attached to them, with some push on understeer in the dry. The steering was light, a little numb on centre but loaded up either side nicely. However, the tyres fitted, being a light commercial spec (Dunlop Grandtrek 265/65/17 on steel wheels), didn’t agree with wet weather and were more liable to (say this quietly) lose traction at the rear on a heavy accelerator and definitely didn’t like corners at moderate speeds.
Acceleration was better than leisurely, less than sporting; bear in mind this was fitted with a four wheel drive system (yup, including a low range transfer case), ideal for farmers for example, and therefore geared a little differently. There’s also the matter of its 3000 kilo towing capacity to consider and the two plus tonne cargo capacity.
The interior was….well… workmanlike, with function overcoming aesthetics. Pick a colour you lie, as long as it’s black and you’ll get the idea. Rubber mats, basic plastics, two cup holders in the console, no fancy look for the dash….it’s a work ute, after all. There’s plenty of room in the back seat but, again, it’s a work ute and probably would see more use with one or two people than anything else. There’s a cloth trim for the seats, a dark grey combination contrasting with the lighter, almost bone upper trim. A pleasant surprise was the Auto headlights feature, one that A Wheel Thing feels should be standard, like airbags and ABS
The seats are somewhat slabby, lacking side support (it IS a 4WD, you need that) but do have enough cushion in the squab to not be too terrible to sit upon. Perched up as you are, it allows a good viewing position all round. You’ll also look at a somewhat anachronistic yet charming dash (with monochromatic dials for speedo and revs) design, a reminder of how things were, but sprinkled with a taste of the future. There’s rotary dials for the aircon’s airflow, fan speed and temperature AND a slide switch for fresh and recirculate. As Scotty said in a Star Trek film: “How Quaint.”
There is the now familiar oddly positioned touchscreen entertainment unit in the dash, which is lacking the satnav, oddly. This should be a given for the car’s target market. There is also a couple of steering wheel control buttons, including Bluetooth. There’s cruise control, auto up/down for the driver’s power window, and a reverse camera (which could have used some colour coding for the tailgate).
The appeal of the WorkMate isn’t just its drivetrain, but its basic approach to the world. There’s an interior you can effectively hose out, an uncomplicated dash, a splash of tech (which could use a bit more), its uncomplicated driving style. The low down and considerable amount of torque endows it with spirit and, mixed with Mother Nature’s tears, can raise the heartrate considerably.
There’s plenty of towing grunt, Toyota’s proven four wheel drive ability, room for four, and you’ll get Toyota’s standard 3 year/100, 000 kilometre warranty as well. At just over $51K, it’s a big ask but just try breaking one 🙂
2016 Toyota HiLux dual cab 4×4 specifications. will give you all you need to know.