15 Oct 2018

Toyota HiLux Rogue 2018 new car review

Marketing pitch or value packed?
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Going rogue is not something buyers of this dual-cab utility should be familiar with, and indeed the 2018 Toyota HiLux Rogue should prove to deliver the opposite of such behaviour.

Far from being erratic, the HiLux has long delivered dependability and predictability, from faithfully doing the hard-yards in-service to offering strong resale values beyond it. Maybe, though, owners want their ute to be reliable while they create mischievous weekends. And so the flagship SR5-based Rogue arrives targeting ‘lifestyle’ types rather than mud-clad tradies.

Behind the marketing pitch lies a good reason for the Rogue’s existence – the circa-$55K SR5 is already the top-selling HiLux, Toyota claims that buyers then spend thousands on accessories once they’ve left the dealership, and this model grade packages some of them in.

So, then… let’s go, Rogue.

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Vehicle Style: Dual-cab ute

Price: $61,690 plus on-road costs

Engine/trans: 130kW/450Nm 2.8-litre turbo-diesel 4cyl | six-speed automatic transmission

Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.4 l/100km Tested: 9.0 l/100km

OVERVIEW

The HiLux SR5 dual-cab with a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder and six-speed automatic costs $56,440 plus on-road costs, to which buyers can then option leather trim with an electrically adjustable driver’s seat for $2000 extra. That is standard here on the HiLux Rogue dual-cab priced from $61,490 (plus orc), leaving a $3050 equivalent difference.

That difference is absorbed mainly by the addition of a body-coloured hard tonneau cover, which deploys up via smooth gas struts, comes with a light and is fully integrated into the remote central locking system. The tub is also coated in ‘marine-grade’ carpet, which along with the standard towbar, towball and wiring, says everything about the target demographic.

There’s also an Australian-designed grille, which although it has since been employed on all SR5 model grades, continues without chrome on the Rogue – leaving a black sports bar with 75kg tie-down capability, black 18-inch alloy wheels and black tailgate all unique to Rogue. Inside, there’s also black rooflining, metallic black trim, carpet mats and white instruments.

However, there’s no more power or torque, and no chassis revisions for this special edition.

THE INTERIOR | RATING: 3.0/5

Standard Equipment: Keyless auto-entry with push-button start and electric-fold door mirrors, automatic on/off headlights, cruise control, leather trim with electrically adjustable driver’s seat and heated front seats, and single-zone climate control.

Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, CD player, satellite navigation with live traffic, and digital radio.

Options Fitted: None.

There are two benchmarks, and indeed bookmarks, for value in the dual-cab ute segment.

The first is the $48,990 plus on-road costs Mitsubishi Triton Exceed, with leather trim, heated front seats and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat to exactly match an (optioned) $58,440 (plus orc) HiLux SR5. Only the integrated satellite navigation of the Toyota is missing, but Mitsu responds with the far more useful Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (more on why soon).

At the loftier end of the spectrum there’s the new $63,990 (plus orc) Ford Ranger Wildtrak, offering adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with active lane-keep assistance and auto up/down high-beam missing here. Plus, it offers a superior roller-shutter tub design (more on why soon, too).

It is worth starting here because the HiLux Rogue combines a high price of entry with a low level of standard kit. Even a digital speedometer is lacking, as well as rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror included even on the Exceed. Plus, there’s no electrically adjustable passenger seat or sunroof, either.

Some value issues will be offset for some by the Toyota’s historically strong resale values, but whichever way competitor comparisons are cut, the Rogue’s price of entry is very high.

Otherwise, though, HiLux otherwise traces a decent dual-cab template inside.

The front seats are broad and comfortable, the rear bench is tilted upwards to provide good under-thigh support, and there is a decent, medium SUV-esque level of headroom and legroom in all directions. Only the too-upright rear backrest disappoints, while the inclusion of rear air vents and a fold-down armrest (with cupholders) isn’t backed up by USB ports.

Indeed, while there is a powerpoint in the front centre console storage box, there is otherwise only a single USB port to be found – where even Triton scores two.

Similarly, while ergonomically everything is clearly laid out and simple to use, the 8.0-inch touchscreen is dreadfully slow and finicky, with annoying touch-sensitive tabs for volume and track-change rather than physical round dials that are said to be preferred by owners.

And where big door bottleholders are supported by console cupholders, two console storage trays, plus a dual glovebox, as well as that aforementioned large console box, the damping of the buttons and lids all feels very ‘base model’ rather than circa-$62K.

Annoyingly, too, while the Rogue’s high-quality highlight – the plastic tonneau – opens to a broad and square tray that is likewise beautifully finished, Toyota won’t allow you to keep it open while driving (if larger loads require a tie-down for example) and won’t allow you to lock the cabin if it is open (when unloading inside an apartment building for example).

It makes the Ranger’s roller-shutter ultimately more flexible, if not as a finely produced.

ON AND OFF THE ROAD | RATING: 3.5/5

Engine: 130kW/450Nm 2.8-litre turbo-diesel 4cyl

Transmission: Six-speed automatic, AWD

Suspension: Independent front and leaf-spring rear

Brakes: Ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes

Steering: Hydraulically assisted mechanical steering

For over $10K less than this HiLux, which features a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder with 130kW of power and 450Nm of torque, the Triton’s 2.4-litre delivers 133kW/430Nm. Yet for comparable coin, the new Ranger’s 2.0-litre twin-turbo unit develops 157kW/500Nm.

As with its interior, the Toyota gets the formula carefully correct in many ways on the road.

Its diesel certainly doesn’t feel slow, and nor is it overly loud. There’s a smooth connection with the six-speed automatic transmission and only with three passengers on board does significant hunting between fourth, fifth and sixth become noticeable on undulating freeway.

The steering is mostly solid, too, with consistent mid-weighting and decent linearity as lock is wound on and off. Both the body and suspension feels strong, especially over speed humps or rough roads where the Rogue fails to shimmer from its line or allow shivering vibrations to stream through to passengers like other dual-cabs can.

Mostly, it feels refined, with the exception of one trait. The poorer the road surface, the more the suspension struggles to smoothen out progress for occupants – overall control is tight but comfortable compliance can be found lacking.

The surprisingly adept chassis also deserves better tyres than the fitted Bridgestone Dueller H/Ts, which slip and squeal during even the most modest cornering exploits. All the while the Rogue itself feels relatively unstressed and even eager to engage with sportier driving.

At least the tyres are broad enough for off-road exploits, which is something the HiLux continues to do very well.

A centre console-mounted dial flicks easily between high-range rear-wheel drive, high-range four-wheel drive and low-range of the latter, while a rear differential lock button can be separately engaged as well. Even without it, Toyota’s traction control and electronic stability control (ESC) systems engage smoothly and helpfully over rough terrain.

With 216mm of ground clearance, the more urban-focused Rogue isn’t as lofty as its identically priced Rugged X sibling. However, while a ramp-over angle of 39-degrees is 10deg short of that sibling, departure of 20deg is within a degree and – due to the X’s bullbar – the approach angle of this ‘lifestyle’ model grade is actually two degrees higher, at 30deg.

In any case, the Toyota clambers over lumpy terrain well, while its tow limit of 3.2 tonnes splits the difference between the Mitsubishi (3.1t) and Ford (3.5t).

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5 stars – this model scored 34.45 out of 37 possible points when tested by ANCAP in 2015.

Safety Features: Six airbags, ABS and ESC, and rear-view camera.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Three years/100,000 kilometres.

Servicing: Sub-par six-month or 10,000km servicing intervals, and Toyota’s capped-price servicing plan costs $240 for each of the first four check-ups over two years/40,000km.

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

The Ranger Wildtrak is the best SUV-cum-dual-cab – it can double as safe and roomy family car, brisk load lugger and driver-entertainer better than anything in this class by some margin.

Without the tinsel of the Rogue (and Wildtrak) the Triton Exceed just gets on with doing basically the same job as everything else for thousands and thousands less – in fact, we can’t think of another vehicle segment where one rival undercuts all others by such a huge slice.

But if it’s just the driver and front passenger who head both on- and off-road, then the V6-engined Amarok delivers the drivetrain benchmark in the segment along with the sportiest handling characteristics – it’s only let down by a cramped back seat without side airbags.

  • Ford Ranger Wildtrak
  • Mitsubishi Triton Exceed
  • Volkswagen Amarok V6 Sportline

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL RATING: 3.5/5

This generation of HiLux delivers competence to a (big) T. It matters little whether an under-equipped entry-level grade is being discussed, or this well-equipped but expensive Rogue, because every Toyota dual-cab manages to tread above average in all areas … except value.

If it was priced more competitively, or had a greater level of active safety technology as standard, then an extra half-star could be added to the HiLux Rogue’s score. It has the roomy cabin, large tray, strong diesel, decent steering and solid body control to be recommended up there with a Triton, but the pricetag certainly asks a pretty penny for it (and its reputation).

In addition to reliability, dependability, expansive servicing and outback-wide parts availability, this accessorised new flagship model grade only adds another string to the bow of the storied Toyota HiLux and it should please rusted-on buyers of the brand and model.

However, the time for more active safety technology, interior kit and smoother suspension is also growing ever nearer with each release of a newer rival, especially at this pricey end.

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