In December last year Toyota New Zealand enhanced the appeal of its best-selling vehicle, the Hilux Ute, with a range of specification changes specifically for townies and tradies.
It dropped the 4.0 V6 petrol engine but added more automatic transmissions to its most popular light commercial range, as well as some other engineering tweaks in response to customer demand.
In New Zealand 4×4 utes are the most popular seller in the pick-up/chassis cab segment with more than 2217 units registered new in March 2018, but registrations of new 4×2 pick-up and cab/chassis utes were not far behind with 1506 units recorded in the same month.
There were more than 5965 new 4×4 utes registered in the first quarter of 2018, and more than 3966 new 4×2 utes in the same period, which is more than 300 up on last year’s Q1 tally.
So the 4×2 ute market is still growing, albeit more slowly than the buoyant 4×4 market.
The importance of the 4×2 ute market is not lost on Toyota New Zealand because the work-focused double cab Hilux SR PreRunner pictured here gained a 3.5 tonne towing rating for both the manual and automatic models, as well as rear differential lock for the 2018 model year.
What’s a PreRunner you ask? Good question; essentially it’s a 4×2 Hilux ute with the same ride height as a 4×4 model, but without the additional weight of the four-wheel-drive system and low range transfer case.
Ford calls it’s high-riding version of the Ranger 4×2 the Hi-Rider, and Holden, Isuzu and Mazda also offer such high-riding versions of their 4×2 utes but without any particular special names.
Externally for 2018 the double cab Hilux SR PreRunner variants are now distinguished by black rather than chrome exterior door handles and black alloy side steps.
The SR PreRunner variants are also fitted with the more workman-like J deck which has built-in hooks along the top of the deck’s body and tailgate for securing loads to the vehicle and to which an aftermarket tonneau cover can be fitted if required.
As part of the 2018 specification upgrade Toyota also added variable intermittent windscreen wipers to the SR PreRunner models, and the carpet was replaced with an easily cleanable PVC floor covering which is more appropriate for the vehicle’s workhorse credentials.
Standard equipment in the double cab Hilux SR PreRunner includes cruise control, daytime running lights, vehicle stability control, hill start assist control, trailer sway control, emergency stop signal, seven airbags, reverse camera, and Eco/Power drive modes.
Due to the raised suspension the PreRunner offers a commanding view of the road ahead from the driver’s seat but the trade-off, particularly for shorter people such as myself, is that you need to use that side step to get safely in and out of the vehicle.
Once behind the steering wheel, it’s a very easy vehicle to get comfortable in and it’s pretty friendly to drive. The reversing camera makes parallel parking and hitching a trailer much easier. All round visibility is very good, and so are the cabin’s ergonomics, which is par for the course with Toyota.
It’s built to be tough but it’s certainly not rough – the cloth upholstered seats are very comfortable, the unladen ride quality is hugely improved thanks to the revised rear leaf suspension, and the muted levels of noise, vibration and harshness from the drivetrain are more than acceptable for a day-to-day, tool-of-trade working vehicle.
|Model||Toyota Hilux SR PreRunner Auto||Price||$39,990|
|Engine||2982cc, 4-Cylinder, 130kW/450Nm||Drivetrain||6-speed auto|
|Fuel Use||8.1L/100km||C02 Output||0g/km|
|0-100km/h||0.00 sec||Weight||1965kg kerb weight|
|Service||10,000km intervals, 3 year / 100,000km warranty||Load||5.2m3 volume, 2537m length, 1387m height|
|Vitals||2930kg GVM, 1000kg payload||Vitals||3500kg towing capacity|