We are here at the Royal Flying Doctors headquarters in Port Augusta, South Australia. Toyota at the very least has spiced up the current HiLux range. In an aircraft hangar three models are being showcased, as new “Halo’ models. Under the banner of The Rugged, Rugged X and the Rogue it’s a theme that is currently trending when it comes to popular utes sold in this country. Think Ford’s Wildtrak or even Holden / HSV’s Colorado SportsCat. Although the new models do fall some way short of the upcoming Ford Ranger Raptor.
There are no options fitted to any of the utes on display, aside from metallic paint. The Rogue model for example comes standard with a marine grade carpet lined tray and tonneau cover. Rugged models come equipped with bull bars and in the Rugged X’s case aggressive front styling. While the Rogue has more of a refined look and is described as “for urban adventurers”
The new utes will be full time additions to the line-up with much of the R&D conducted here in Australia. The new hero models score a factory warranty and according to Toyota, Australia is in fact the Global Centre of Excellence for testing the ute. One quarter of all owners use them off road every day.
The Rugged starts from $54,990, the Rugged X kicks off from $61,690 for the six-speed manual while the Rouge also starts at $61,690. The utes retain the same 2.8-litre diesel engine most HiLux owners are familiar with. There have been 18 million sales since 1968, plus the magic million sales figure will arrive later in the year for Australia. The current SR5 top of the range model represents one quarter of all sales, owners then spend on average of $2000 on options.
Rod Ferguson, the of GM Product planning and development says the Rugged models were developed entirely by the Australian team, while the Rogue was done in a partnership deal.
On Rugged models there’s a new front end, with aggressive styling and steel front bar integrated into the chassis. There are improvements in corner approach and a handy 5mm bash plate. To accommodate the extra front weight the front springs have been up rated. On the new Rugged X model, a new light bar has been integrated into the front end, with 24 LED’s lighting the way.
New recovery points are clearly visible in red and made of 20mm steel plate. Rock rails were shown to cop a serious bashing in a short video. 17-inch high profile tyres are fitted while towing capacity sits at 3,500kg, braked for manual models or 3,200kg for automatics.
The third model, the Rugged is based on the HiLux SR. It’s also built in Thailand with accessories fitted in Australia. We will shortly embark on an extensive drive program, that I can tell you about on Friday. But I am left wondering, no real driver safety tech, no increase in power. With the Ranger Wildtrak and even lower spec versions available with such tech like the XLT, this is serious coin to miss out on that kind of gear.
Full review and drive impressions soon here at EFTM.com