TOYOTA'S cashing on HiLux being Australia's best-selling car, revealing the accessory-laden off-road-ready rugged and street-tough blackened Rogue models. Our family of four tests the showy – and pricey – HiLux Rogue to see if it's as lifestyle-ready as it claims.
Iain: Toyota's HiLux is going to be Australia's best-selling car again.
Jules: It's not a car, it's a truck. It should not count.
Iain: Regardless, the HiLux is what the people are buying, including this new Rogue.
Jules: It looks tough with its bad-boy black grid, 18-inch wheels and sports bar. Not cheap, I take it?
Iain: Try $ 61,690 before on-roads. It's got the bits the cool kids want. It's based on the HiLux SR5 flagship and you get leather seats, auto gearbox and satnav.
J ules: What's this one "go Rogue" then?
Iain: You get a restyled front bumper and black honeycomb grille, LED fog lamps, gray back bumper with larger step, towball, black door handles and mirrors – and, the big one, a hard tonneau cover on gas struts.
Jules: Is this supposed to make it more off-roady?
Iain: The opposite. For off-roaders there are rugged models with useful stuff like snorkels, rock rails and recovery points.
Jules: Rogue's for show-offs then?
Iain: Yep. Toyota says it's a "premium recreational ute with a sports aesthetic".
The living space
Jules: I like how big double cabs are inside; you're hardly short of space.
Iain: The heated leather front seats are brilliantly comfy but it still feels like a work truck despite the $ 60K plus tag. There are lots of hard plastics and a few token Rogue black bits.
Jules: When is Toyota going to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto? The seven-inch touchscreen feels small and functionality is a way off rivals.
Iain: Toyota says soon but no date yet. You get a CD player as a compensation.
Jules: CDs? Cashed up millennial tradies will love such cutting edge stuff.
Iain: It's cool with keyless entry and push-button start but there's no digital speedo.
Jules: Is it just me or does the HiLux not feel as quick as other utes?
Iain: Some rivals have more power and torque. The Rogue's more than 100kg is heavier than a normal HiLux SR5, stunting its performance further.
Jules: The diesel engine is impressively quiet and cruises well on smooth highways.
Iain: Rogue buyers can feel aggrieved there was no bump in power, but yes, the engine is a refined thing.
Jules: It made me feel sick when it went over bumps. It's a bouncy thing.
Iain: True. Left leaf springs and no load in the tray means plenty of pogoing.
Jules: Maneuvering a dual-cab is a nightmare. I had to park with two free spaces around me. It's huge.
Iain: Positively, the lockable hard cover means you can safely store lots of tools, equipment and goods.
Jules: I put the groceries in the rear footwells. If a bag of shopping moves around, you have to climb into the tray to pick it from the back.
Iain: It's a big rig but vision is superb as you sit up so high. The back camera is much needed for reverse parking.
Jules: It's an excellent weekend getaway. Underneath the hard tonne there's quality carpet that's really grippy.
Iain: It's marine grade carpet, UV and water-resistant. Ideal to throw the wet gear on a weekend of camping and jet skiing.
Jules: You're definitely going to see Rogues by lakes towing a boat or jet ski rather than off-roading. Or, perish the thought, at a work site.
Iain: It will tow 3200kg with this auto gearbox but it's also well talented off-road. I've tested the SR5 up mountains and on deep soft sand. It's superb, both low and high-range.
Jules: But it should be better on road. It's very wallowy and the tyres were squealy in corners.
Iain: It has old-school ute handling. You need that fancy new Mercedes double cab for better on-road talents. It costs about the same.
Jules: Loads of room in the back for kids' car seats and you could fit an adult between them. That's excellent.
Iain: Thankfully there are rear air vents, which the kids needed to ward off mausea with that bouncy ride.
Jules: It felt much more compliant with a few hundred kilos of Ikea furniture and then logs in the back.
Iain: The kids' bikes went in the tray easily and the hardtop closed fine. For such duties, a HiLux is brilliant.
Jules: I felt guilty about getting the carpet in the tub dirty but for cleaning off mucky stuff it can be removed from the velcro easily.
Iain: Family-wise the economy was acceptable – we returned 9.4L / 100km – but six-monthly services are a pain.
Jules: There are plenty of airbags but the Rogue does not have such advanced safety technology as autonomous emergency braking. Not great for family duties.
Iain: The Rogue's a good-looking thing. If I was a single, cashed-up tradition, it would be ideal for a trip to the snow, mountain biking or jet skiing. It's just not as bad boy "rogue" as, say, a Ford Ranger Raptor. They're $ 75,000 though.
Jules: For weekends, I would love a dual cabin and the Rogue is tough enough. But it would be a second car. It's just too cumbersome, bouncy and expensive for daily duties.
Toyota HiLux Rogue vitals
Price: $ 61,690 plus on-roads
Warranty / service: 3 years / 100,000km; $ 1440 for 3 years / 60,000km
Safety: 5 stars, 7 airbags, rear camera, trailer sway control
Engine: 2.8-liter 4-cylinder turbo diesel, 130kW / 450Nm
Thirst: 8.5L / 100km