The cynics will say it’s more than coincidence, Toyota or Ford seemingly coming up with new variants of the Hilux or Ranger utes every time one or the other hogs the headlines.
On the same day this week that Ford NZ grabbed all sorts of media attention with the launch of the Ranger Raptor, saying it would land here later this year, Toyota revealed its latest special-edition Hilux.
Toyota calls it the Hilux SR5 Cruiser, a double-cab (above) with a black-themed look. The hexagonal upper grille is black, so too the 18-inch rims, door handles, door mirrors, rear bumper, upholstery and roof lining. There’s also a revised front bumper and new-look LED fog lights.
What hasn’t changed is the ubiquitous 2.8-litre diesel engine, a turbocharged four-cylinder good for 130kW/450Nm and mated to a six-speed automatic.
Standard SR5 Cruiser features include cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering column adjustment, seven airbags, satellite navigation, LED headlights, day time running lights and fog lights, climate control air-conditioning, rear differential lock, six-speaker audio, reversing camera and a 3500kg maximum braked towing capacity.
SR5 Cruiser is available in all seven Hilux colours, sits above the SR5 and replaces the outgoing SR5 Limited. The 4WD SR5 Cruiser is $67,790 and the 2WD SR5 PreRunner is $54,690.
Toyota NZ’s new vehicle sales boss Neeraj Lala says the SR5 Cruiser “will appeal to even more customers, and build on the long-standing Hilux attributes of being tough and unbreakable.”
“More customers purchased Hilux in 2017 than in any other year in its history, featuring a level of loyalty not often seen in the car business,” said Lala. “We expect the strong Hilux customer loyalty to continue in 2018 and beyond.”
The cut and thrust between Hilux and Ranger got serious in 2013. In 2014, Ranger regularly began to outgun the previous model Hilux on the monthly sales charts. It would be another year before the current Hilux arrived.
Toyota moved in mid-2014 to remind Kiwis why Hilux had been the go-to workhorse ute for many years. It dressed up a four-wheel-drive Hilux with performance-themed kit from Toyota Racing Development division, added a bit of black leather trim, limited production to 250 examples and three colours, called it the Hilux 4WD Special Edition TRD, and priced it at $55,990.
Back then, I wrote a ditty about the Hilux-Ranger rivalry and the dressed-up TRD model. It’s reprinted below.
For the sales record:
2013: Hilux 5041, Ranger 4924.
2014: Ranger 6330, Hilux 5774.
2015: Ranger 6818, Hilux 5623.
2016: Ranger 8478, Hilux 6187. (The first full sales year for the current model Hilux).
2017: Ranger 9420, Hilux 8106.
When the food stocks are low, and the grog’s gone,
When the bush camp fire starts to splutter,
The only thing left for a working bloke to do,
Is take his Hilux to the track for a flutter.
Now a gamble or two is okay for a few,
A bookie I once knew had a stutter,
The worse it got the odds were soon shot,
And a sprinter might start as a trotter.
But the race doesn’t count once the jockey tells his mount,
That the others in the field can’t compete,
That’s been the way of the Hilux tale,
And we all know it’s far from complete.
The Hilux has been the mount of choice,
Over years it’s run itself ragged,
But now it has a challenger,
A Ford that looks far from haggard.
The Ranger they call it, a cowboy-type name,
And it’s tough as an old leather saddle,
It’s leading the sales race, the figures confirm,
And leaving Hilux stuck in its shadow.
So the Toyota blokes all chorused as one,
About the threat the big Ford poses,
They dressed Hilux in clothes, a bit on the nose,
And said it came up smelling like roses.
They added bits here and graphic there,
And lined the seats with black leather,
But try as they might they couldn’t alight,
From the fact that it only looked better.
Still, under the skin it’s all Hilux trim,
And the showy stuff won’t count a toss,
But the numbers don’t lie, the Ford people cry,
The Ranger might just become boss.
– Alastair Sloane May 5, 2014