The success of the new-generation Ford Ranger is forcing other dual-cab ute makers to step up their game in a big way.
And while Toyota commands the top position in the sales charts month-to-month with the HiLux, it’s easy to rest on your laurels.
Given Toyota’s history of doing just enough with some of their products to get by, it kind of took us by surprise when Toyota announced a significantly revamped HiLux Rogue.
Not only would it change in terms of design, the suspension geometry and track width changes would leave it almost significant enough to call it a new model.
We recently spent time in the HiLux SR5 and were left a little underwhelmed by what now feels like a thoroughly dated ute.
So, we honestly weren’t expecting much from the 2023 Toyota HiLux Rogue, which is what made it all the more pleasantly surprising.
Toyota has jacked HiLux prices up for the 2023 model year, and while it’s hard to see justification in lower HiLux models, the changes to HiLux Rogue seem like a bargain by comparison.
2023 Toyota HiLux pricing:
4X2 Single Cab (cab-chassis)
- Workmate 2.7 manual: $24,225
- Workmate 2.7 auto: $26,225
- Workmate Hi-Rider 2.4 turbo-diesel manual: $29,465
4×2 Extra Cab (pickup)
- SR Hi-Rider 2.8TD auto: $46,095 (+$1250)
4×2 Double Cab (pickup)
- Workmate 2.7 manual: $33,705
- Workmate 2.7 auto: $35,705
- Workmate Hi-Rider 2.4TD auto: $42,795
- SR Hi-Rider 2.8TD auto: $47,115 (+$1250)
- SR5 Hi-Rider 2.8TD auto: $55,700 (+$1250)
4×4 Single Cab (cab-chassis)
- Workmate 2.4TD manual: $40,155
- SR 2.8TD manual: $43,225
- SR 2.8TD auto: $45,225
4×4 Extra Cab (cab-chassis)
- Workmate 2.4TD auto: $45,855
- SR 2.8TD manual: $48,135 (+$1250)
- SR 2.8TD auto: $50,135 (+$1250)
4×4 Extra Cab (pickup)
- SR5 2.8TD auto: $59,160
4×4 Double Cab (cab-chassis)
- Workmate 2.4TD auto: $47,925
- SR 2.8TD manual: $50,395 (+$1250)
- SR 2.8TD auto: $52,545 (+$1250)
- SR5 2.8TD auto: $59,180
- SR5+ 2.8TD auto: $61,680
4×4 Double Cab (pickup)
- Workmate 2.4TD manual: $47,425
- Workmate 2.4TD auto: $49,425
- SR 2.8TD manual: $51,895 (+$1250)
- SR 2.8TD auto: $54,045 (+$1250)
- SR5 2.8TD manual: $59,930 (+$1250)
- SR5 2.8TD auto: $61,930 (+$1250)
- SR5+ 2.8TD manual: $62,430 (+$1250)
- SR5+ 2.8TD auto: $64,430 (+$1250)
- Rogue 2.8TD auto: $70,200 (as tested)
Prices exclude on-road costs
Up front you’ll find dual-zone climate control, analogue gauges with a small LCD central display, an 8.0-inch infotainment system with AM/FM/DAB+ radio, along with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
While you get two 12V outlets, there’s only one USB-A port in the entire car, which is taken up if you choose to use smartphone mirroring at any point.
Thankfully the stereo is excellent – it’s a JBL-branded stereo with nine speakers. It offers plenty of punch and we reckon it’s slightly better than the B&O Play sound system in the new Ford Ranger.
There’s a sunglasses holder, along with two tiers of glovebox (one of which is air conditioned) and a generously sized centre console. Also handy are the cup holders in front of the air vents on both the driver and front passenger sides.
Disappointingly, you won’t find automatic windscreen wipers – a rather odd omission for a top-specification, $70,000 vehicle in 2022.
New to HiLux is the addition of Toyota Connect, which allows you to remotely interact with your vehicle and also have a direct line of assistance to a Toyota call centre in the event of an emergency.
The embedded SIM is free for the first three years of ownership, after that there’s a subscription cost for part of the features.
Beneath the second row you’ll find two storage bins, and the second row features two ISOFIX points for baby seats, along with two top-tether points and centre armrest.
Leg and headroom in the second row is pretty cramped for adults. An extension to the wheelbase to allow more space is likely to form part of the next-generation HiLux – whenever that lobs.
And yes, Toyota has retained carpets in the tray of HiLux Rogue – one of the strangest things we’v seen in a dual-cab ute to date.
The HiLux Rogue is fitted with a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel which produces 150kW of power (3400rpm) and 500Nm of torque (1600-2800rpm) when fitted with a six-speed automatic. Manual models develop 420Nm (1400-3400rpm).
Toyota claims a combined fuel economy of 8.4 litres of fuel per 100km.
We averaged closer to 10L/100km, but as you’ll see in the coming months, we used this vehicle in a number of tests as part of a big ute comparison, so it was working pretty hard for the week we had it.
While the engine is carryover, there have been significant changes beneath the skin.
Toyota has taken a page from the Ranger’s handbook by increasing track width to improve handling.
There has been a 140mm increase to track width, which benefits both the front and rear. That has resulted in an axle extension, in addition to the dampers being moved outboard of the chassis rails on the rear axle.
The rear axle now also gets an anti-roll bar and disc brakes (replacing drum brakes in the outgoing model).
Brake size has also increased by an inch on the front axle, in addition to the use of a four-piston caliper.
These changes are nothing to scoff at, given how much engineering and tuning work would need to go into making this effective and useful.
And you notice it out on the road. Not only does the ride feel more planted and comfortable in and around the city, it makes an enormous difference when the pace picks up.
Where the HiLux SR5 we drove recently has a decent amount of body roll and feels unsure of itself through corners, the HiLux Rogue takes its handling dynamics to a new level.
It offers a more sure-footed stance and better body control through higher-speed corners.
There’s still an element of floatiness on continuous undulations at highway speeds, but its tempered by the newfound ride quality at lower speeds.
I never thought I’d be saying this about a HiLux – but it actually handles surprisingly well for a dual-cab ute.
The only big downside to the suspension changes comes in the form of added weight. The 2023 HiLux Rogue carries an additional 150kg over the SR5, which makes it feel slower in a straight line.
We clocked the 0-100km/h run in 10.7 seconds, which is certainly on the leisurely side in comparison to some other utes in the segment.
While Toyota has improved ride quality, towing capacity and payload haven’t taken a huge hit, which means it’s a ute that arguably offers the best of both worlds.
It’s worth running through the entire HiLux grade walk to give you an idea of exactly what’s included in the package.
HiLux Workmate highlights::
- 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto (wired)
- 2-speaker sound system
- Adaptive cruise control
- Automatic headlights
- Power windows
- Cloth upholstery
- Vinyl floors
- Halogen headlights, daytime running lights
- Reversing camera (Double Cab only)
- 16-inch wheels (17-inch Double Cab 4×4)
HiLux SR adds:
- 4-speaker sound (Extra Cab)
- 6-speaker sound (Double Cab)
- Side steps
- Front air-conditioned cooler box
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Body-coloured door handles
HiLux SR5 adds:
- LED headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- LED front fog lights
- Satellite navigation
- DAB+ digital radio
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Surround-view cameras
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Privacy glass
- Dual-zone climate control air-conditioning
- Rear air vents (Double Cab)
- Keyless entry and start
- Premium shifter and steering wheel
- Carpeted floors
- Chrome door handles
- Puddle lights
- 18-inch alloy wheels
HiLux SR5+ adds:
- Power driver’s seat
- Heated front seats
- Leather-accented upholstery.
HiLux Rogue adds:
- 9-speaker JBL sound system*
- Motorised roller cover
- Widened track (+140mm)
- Raised suspension (+20mm)
- Rear stabiliser bar
- Ventilated rear disc brakes
- Wheel arch flares
- Mud flaps
*6-speaker audio available for $750 credit
The Toyota HiLux wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating for vehicles sold from July 2019 onwards.
It scored 96 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupants, 88 per cent for vulnerable road users and 78 per cent for safety assist.
All versions of the HiLux get a suite of Toyota Safety Sense technologies as standard, including AEB with pedestrian (day/night) and cyclist (day) detection, high-speed adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning with steering assist via brakes. Traffic sign recognition is also included.
SR5 4×4 models as well as auto-equipped SR 4×4 Double Cabs (including Cab-Chassis) feature hill descent control, while SR5 Double and Extra Cab pick-ups have standard front and rear parking sensors. All SR5 models gain blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera and rear cross-traffic alert for 2023.
The HiLux is covered by Toyota’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which covers any Toyota-produced part, panel and accessory.
Engine and driveline warranty can be extended by another two years provided the vehicle is serviced according to schedule, and the car is backed by seven years of emergency assistance.
Service pricing is capped between $220 and $260 per visit for the first six visits, covering three years or 60,000km.
Maintenance is still required every six months or 10,000km, which is notably shorter than the usual 12 month/15,000km intervals offered by most rivals.
I wasn’t expecting to say this – but the HiLux Rogue is really impressive from a dynamics standpoint.
It has transformed HiLux from a ‘safe pair of hands’, into something entirely more engaging.
Toyota is working on a Ranger Raptor competitor, and if this suspension setup forms the basis for the building blocks, there’s a good chance the Raptor will have a decent competitor on its hands.
The dual-cab ute segment is definitely heating up and it no longer feels like Toyota is just resting on its laurels and taking it as it comes.
Let’s see what the future has in store.
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MORE: Everything Toyota HiLux