We had the opportunity to drive an unusual Hilux last week – the Toyota Hilux SR5 with a six-speed manual transmission.
That isn’t a very common variant. Usually at that specification level the overwhelming numbers are automatic transmissions.
We have tested the Hilux SR5 AT a number of times before and it was a finalist in the OzRoamer COTY awards. To say it is a good Ute is an understatement.
Externally there is no difference between the MT and AT. The latest Hilux has a very distinctive grill and protruding nose.
I actually like it but many don’t.
The SR5, as you would expect, has plenty of external bling like LED headlights and daytime running lamps as standard, front fog lights, a sports bar in the tub, chrome radiator grille, chrome rear step and new 18″ alloy wheels which are fitted with a new 265/60 R18 highway tyre that is designed to assist with fuel economy without compromising handling.
Internally, apart from the obvious difference of transmission lever there is little difference.
Our SR5 was fitted with the optional pack that included leather seats, which were well worth it. Front seats are heated and the driver’s seat is electronically adjustable and very comfortable.
No extra lumbar support though.
There is enough slide for even the tall drivers to sit and with the height and reach adjustable leather steering wheel, everyone can get comfortable.
Toyota has the slide out cup/bottle holders below the side vents, a brilliant idea copied from Isuzu.
The centre console is uncluttered with the transmission lever and a select for drive mode button. In front are two cup holders and behind a clever storage area. The centre console is padded on top and reasonable size.
The select on the fly dial for the 2WD/4WD system is located just below and to the left of the steering wheel. This sits alongside the rear diff lock, downhill descent control and traction control switches.
Just above are the A/C controls etc.
The rear seats are comfortable for three people and they have more knee clearance, a top-tether anchor and two ISOFIX child-restraint anchors, and a 60-40 split-fold rear seat base with central armrest and A/C vents which is a bonus.
Heavy duty rubber mats adorn the floor protecting the plush carpet underneath and increasing the practicality of the vehicle.
Sitting proud on top of the centre stack is the 7″ screen that houses Satellite Navigation, Toyota Link, audio system etc.
It works well enough but Toyota keeps refusing to include Apple Car Play and Android/Auto and that is a pain for some drivers. Sometimes the touch screen is a little insensitive, requiring extra force for the touch.
Top-of-the-line SR5 also has:
- keyless smart entry and start,
- automatic air-conditioning,
- Heated front seats
- chrome door handles,
- premium steering wheel and shift knob,
- an alarm,
- auto-levelling LED headlamps,
- front air conditioned cooler box capable of heating or cooling two 600ml bottles,
- Auto on/off LED Headlamps with auto-levelling and LED daytime running lights (DRLs),
- 2 12V accessory plugs, 220V accessory socket, USB input and silver interior highlights.
Drive and Engine
The MT Hilux are both powered by a 2.8L high-torque turbo-diesel engine. The manual produces power of 130kW/420Nm.
While the 6Sp MT isn’t my first choice the ratios match perfectly to the engine and allow the maximum use of power and torque. First gear is very low and you find yourself quickly changing to second gear.
You can cruise comfortably around town in 5th gear at 60 km/h, and 6th gear is more suited for 80 km/h plus.
However there is reasonable acceleration in 6th gear as well and the Hilux will happily cruise well above the speed limit.
We managed about 8.2L/100K over many hundreds of freeway driving and about 11.7L/100k around town.
There really is no need to discuss the 4WD ability of the HiLux. It is superb.
The Hilux has always been an outstanding 4WD Ute and it is now even better and stronger with unique underbody protection and heavy duty suspension package.
The shift on the fly features an electronic 4×2 & 4×4 transfer switch and a rear diff lock.
In tough situations, the manual transmission has a unique feature. Just hit the button to engage intelligent manual transmission (i-MT).
It then maintains optimal revs to help you change gears smoothly and help avoid stalling. (Standard on SR5)
Safety is an ever moving feature on cars and more importantly Utes.
Hilux SR5 has a 5 star ANCAP safety rating and features include:
- 7 SRS airbags
- Active Traction Control (A-TRC),
- Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
- Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
- Traction Control (TRC)
- Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
- Brake Assist (BA)
- Hill-start Assist Control (HAC),
- Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and
- Reversing Camera
- Trailer sway control
- Towing ability
- Comfort and features
- 4WD ability
Not so Good Bits:
- Missing some safety items
- MT is good but go for the AT
- No Apple CarPlay®/Android® Auto
The Toyota Hilux SR5 six speed manual transmission is very easy to use and smooth even around town in peak hour traffic.
However just because its good, doesn’t mean I would pick it over the automatic transmission.
The Toyota Hilux continues to be a premier 4WD Ute. Recent improvements have made it better and stronger. It is now better at towing and driving off road while cocooning the occupants in more comfort and style.
To be honest I have never met a buyer that has regretted buying a Hilux.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Toyota Hilux SR5
- Engine: 2.8L 4Cyl CRD Turbo producing 130kW/420Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed MT
- Safety: 5 Star ANCAP
- Warranty: 3 yrs 100,000kms
- Origin: Thailand
- Price: from $59,782