What are they?
Along with the Toyota Hilux Rogue, the HiLux Rugged and Rugged X are three new variants of the company’s (and Australia’s) best-selling vehicle.
With the growing popularity of utes among private buyers, Toyota saw fit to inject more style and strength into the HiLux. And so the HiLux Rugged and Rugged X were designed to satisfy those who hanker for serious off-road adventure, with the Rogue aimed at bringing a more refined experience to ute ownership.
As the new range-topping HiLux fully equipped with off-road gears straight out of the showroom, the Rugged X is priced from $61,690 in manual guise and $63,690 as an automatic.
The style leading automatic-only HiLux Rogue is priced from $61,690. Blending the best of off-road and on-road protective and functional features, the HiLux SR-based Rugged is priced from $54,990 as a manual with the six-speed automatic option adding $2000.
All prices exclude on-road costs.
In this review we take a closer look at the two off-road spec’ed HiLux variants – the Rugged and Rugged X.
What are the features
Based on the already loaded HiLux SR5 dual-cab, the Rugged X nets a fair few of comfort and luxury features including black perforated leather-accented seats with eight-way power adjust-ability for the driver’s, metallic black ornamentation, black roof headliner, and stylish white illuminated instrumentation cluster.
But do not think this is a road princess because the Rugged X badge brings much more than just a few niceties inside, and it all can be found on the outside of and under the ute. The list of bush-bashing equipment is exhaustive but the key features include heavy-duty steel front bar and bash plate, LED light bar and spread beam driving lights, heavy-duty steel rear bar with integrated step, side rock rails, towball and tongue, and front and rear recovery points.
Its off-road credentials are further boosted with a range of exterior upgrades including 17-inch ‘tough’ alloys, rugged grille design, snorkel, black wheel arch and body side mouldings, matt black tail lamp surrounds, gloss black exterior mirror caps and door handles, and black tailgate handle with integrated camera.
Wrapping up the Rugged treatment is a black sports bar with multiple tie-down points as well as a litter of dark grey HiLux badges and Rugged X decals.
Despite costing nearly seven grand less than the Rugged X, the Rugged variant is not skimmed on off-road equipment, with it still fitted with all the essential go-anywhere features found on the X, plus a steel bullbar.
Where the Rugged misses out is on some exterior decals and black accents, as well as interior amenities. Based on the mid-spec HiLux SR grade, the Rugged’s interior is inherently more basic, with cloth rather than leather upholstery, standard plastic trim in place gloss black items, and conventional black-background instrumentation cluster.
None of these matter of course when the core duty of the Rugged is kicking up dirt.
What’s under the bonnet?
Hauling the Rugged and Rugged X is the same 2.8-litre turbo intercooled four-cylinder diesel engine as found in the rest of the HiLux range from SR grade and up. Mustering up a maximum of 130kW at 3,400rpm, the 2.8L oiler may seem a little undersized when there’s nearly 2.2 tonne of metal to haul. But there’s a strong 450Nm of torque (420Nm for manual variants) peaking between 1,600rpm and 2,400rpm, and that’s more than enough to get the ute moving with traffic, with it not once feeling underpowered.
You can do a lot with that sort of torque, like towing a total of 3,200kg for a brake assisted load and 750kg without. But since there’s no change to the Rugged variants’ rear suspension, nor their GVM and GCM, payload drops to a mere 748kg – something to consider if you’ll be wanting one for work and play.
Off road, this mill is an absolute workhorse, getting down to business without breaking a sweat. It’s immediately evident once you hit the rough stuff that the diesel upfront is tuned for durability and strength above everything. It’s completely happy working hard to get you through the toughest of terrains, which we will cover more in the next section.
Toyota has made efforts to improve the Hilux’s fuel economy in this latest iteration, dropping the rated figure to 7.9L/100km for the manual (9.3L/100km for the auto) which is pretty remarkable for a light commercial vehicle. In the real world though the figure hovers around a still respectable 10.9L/100km (auto). With an 80-litre tank the Hilux can cover some solid ground before requiring refueling.
Both the HiLux Rugged and Rugged X come standard with dual-range four-wheel drive and a locking rear diff. Manual versions also have auto rev-matching on downshifts, which Toyota brands as iMT.
How do they drive?
With a stiffer front suspension to suit off road duties, the Rugged and Rugged X are not the best utes for crawling the urban jungle. The ride is firmer than that of a standard HiLux which, while not very noticeable on smooth highways, does become rather apparent on more pimply suburban roads. That’s not to say these special HiLux variants aren’t suitable for daily use, they are perfectly fine to roll out of the driveway and on to the street every day of the week, just don’t expect comfort levels to be that particularly car-like, especially when the tray is unladen.
Also worsening its on-road manners is the wind and road noise that remains rather constant in the background at higher speeds. There’s also a fair amount of diesel clatter to deal with, too. If you’re a fan of induction noise however, with window down you’ll get all of that from the snorkel which is mounted right next to the driver’s side A pillar.
Overall grip levels on tarmac are good but not great which is to be expected given that the hefty body is paired with offroad capable tyres. Even when there is enough grip to take a corner at speed the ample body roll will quickly remind you that these things are off road orientated in their suspension setup.
And on the rough stuff the Ruggedised Hiluxes are unsurprisingly very capable. The moment you hit the gravel and turn the dial to divert power to all four wheels, these utes just come into their own. The off road package works in tandem with the heavy duty suspension to make the Hilux both a durable and capable off road machine that can take some serious punishment.
With bash plates, protective side bars and raised ground clearance, both the Rugged and Rugged X struggle with nothing. There’s plenty of traction no matter the surface thanks to those chunky tires, and while the ride is jiggly on the road, out in the bush it’s remarkably compliant, owing to the well set up off road underpinnings.
The amount of suspension articulation is also huge, meaning all four wheels remain grounded over awkward terrain, allowing the transfer of power to the ground to get you moving.
What is the running cost?
All HiLuxes offer a five year, unlimited km warranty that is pretty much standard fare with most manufacturers these days. However, it’s lacking behind in terms of service intervals, which are set at just six months or 10,000km, when most rivals only require a visit to the dealer every 12 months. Thankfully though, servicing costs are capped to just $240 a pop for the first six visits.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- Incredibly capable off-road
- Genuine tough looks
- Excellent predicted durability and reliability
- Rough on-road ride
- No power bump or GVM upgrade
- Significant price bump compared to the standard model
All in all, the Rugged and Rugged X editions are amazing adventure machines that can still tread the city streets during the week.
While commanding quite some money more than a standard HiLux, these factory off-road equipped variants not only save buyers the hassle of modifying their utes at third party workshops but also bring the assurance of a full factory warranty.
2019 Toyota Hilux Rugged and Rugged X pricing and specifications
|Price (excluding on-road costs):||From: $54,990|
Rugged X: $61,690 (manual); $63,690 (auto)
Rugged: $54,990 (manual); 56,990 (auto)
|Warranty:||5 years, unlimited km|
|Warranty Customer Assistance:||Optional yearly plans|
|Service Intervals:||6 months, 10,000km|
|Country of Origin:||Japan (Built in Thailand)|
|Engine:||2.8-litre four-cylinder common-rail direct-injection turbo diesel:|
130kW @ 3,400rpm, 420Nm @ 1,400-2,600rpm
|Transmission:||6-speed manual / 6-speed auto (tested)|
|Drivetrain:||Four-wheel drive, dual-range|
|Power-to-Weight Ratio (W/kg):||57.7|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 7.9 (manual); 9.3 (auto)|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||80 litres|
|Body:||4-door pickup, 5-seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 7 airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, VSC, Downhill Assist Control, Hill-start Assist Control, Emergency Stop Signal, reversing camera|
|Cargo Box Floor Dimensions (L/W/WBA/H):||1,560/1,520/1,100/490|
|Turning Circle Between Kerbs:||12.6|
|Ground Clearance:||251 (253 for Rugged)|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||2,252 (2,238 for Rugged)|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 3,500/Unbraked: 750|
|Entertainment:||7-inch colour touchscreen, satellite navigation, AM/FM/DAB+, Bluetooth, USB, AUX, CD, iPod, 6-speaker stereo|