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Bakkie review: A year with Toyota's Hilux double-cab

2017-01-06 07:20

LIVING THE HILUX LIFE: Calvin Fisher tells what it's like to live with the new Toyota Hilux. Image: Calvin Fisher

Calvin Fisher

Cape Town - It was nearing the end of 2015 when I received an invitation to drive the new Toyota Hilux. In Iceland.

A quick wardrobe upgrade at the local outdoor mart and I was ready to be folded into a shiny red double cab in the land where everything’s name features a 10:1 consonant to vowel ratio. Iceland, where I’d roll over everything from lava fields to river beds, hot springs to volcanic valleys in the 2.8 GD-6 4x4.

I came back from that trip lusting for a long-term relationship with a new Hilux and just four months later I had one on test in 2016. But that was nine months ago, and now (2017) that it’s close to its return date, I can’t help but reflect on my hassle-free user experience.

Those looks

The latest Hilux, I’d argue, looks exactly like it should. By that I mean reminiscent of its predecessor but bulked up sufficiently to take on its Yank rival, the Ranger and that Teutonic square-of-jaw Volkswagen Amarok. Here it fails somewhat, the jawline I mean, coming across as somewhat under-endowed.

WATCH: Toyota's Hilux might fail a 'moose test' but it can haul a huge 19 ton truck out of a ditch

I don’t mind it in the slightest, but it seems to be a common bugbear among critics, of which there are many in the suburb of Brackenfell where I reside. Apparently the bright blue paintwork on mine is also a bit too ‘lifestyle’, robbing it of some rugged kudos. Still, mine has the Raider embellishments and a 4x4 system that can take me almost anyplace, so stuff them.

Image: Calvin Fisher

Inside the belly of the blue beast

Clamber aboard and what strikes you immediately is the car-centric nature of the cabin. It’s exactly how you’d imagine a 2017 Camry interior would look, well-appointed and for the first time sans lever for the drivetrain configurations. Instead you get 2H, 4H and 4L options via a rocker dial on the dash.

It’s comfortable in here, and continues to be comfortable when you shift it into gear and partake in the urban commute. My only criticism of the cabin is the lack of a volume knob for the entertainment system, forcing you to either tap the multimedia screen till you reach the required sound levels, or thumb at the steering wheel.

I like neither of these options as much as the immediacy of twisting a knob. What’s so bad about a knob, guys?

Feel that shunt

I’m going to be brutally upfront and honest with you. You don’t need the 2.8 GD-6. The 2.4 litre is more than up to the task of carrying you and your family and wares from Point A to Point B with zero fuss, thanks to copious amounts of torque in both diesel engines. With that said, the 2.8 is an absolute peach, and creamy smooth in comparison to its peers.

READ: It's here! All you need to know about Toyota's new Hilux in SA

Unfortunately it’s one of those 'catch 22' scenarios where rough is sometimes better in a vehicle meant to be macho. With that being said, I spent some time in the Chevrolet Trailblazer and a similarly engine Isuzu KB during the last few months and yes, I certainly see the charm in a more guttural, buzzy powertrain. But I’ll side with the Hilux personally on this one.

Image: Calvin Fisher

Around the bends

The new Hilux still handles like a tall-boy, leaning heavily around urban asphalt. But lead it down a gravel path and it begins to make more sense. This is not meant to be a back-to-back comparison with its rivals, just my impression of the 2.8 GD-6 I lived with and I can honestly say it was a very happy union, never letting me down during our time together.

All those places we ventured, some of them unwise - the Hilux was more than capable of getting us back out of them.

Verdict

If the price of the new Hilux scares you, it shouldn’t. Double cabs are luxury purchases in sunny South Africa and they all command a high price. Great ones like the Hilux do a great deal in justifying their worth, offering superb livability and general ability. Mine hasn’t skipped a beat, even during its service period, a task which was carried out faultlessly.

READ: Hilux, Ranger or Isuzu? Here're the best 4x4 bakkies of 2016

It was a great accomplice when we moved homes and often helped out during visits to the dump, or in acquiring new and ungainly bits of furniture, as well as a useful swallower of mountain bikes on the many occasion it was needed in this fashion.

It will be missed very, very much.

Odo reading at start/now: 2731 / 10126km
Distance covered: 7395km
Fuel consumed: 345.27litres
Av. Fuel consumption: 10.1-litres/100km 
Service interval: 10 000km
Service cost: Covered by five-year or 90 000km service plan 
Total fuel cost: R4074.41 
Running cost: 1.20c/km

Image: Calvin Fisher

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