The vibrant ute segment in New Zealand has forced former leader Toyota to release prices of its new Hilux, a month out from the range going on sale.
The disclosure follows an unprecedented step earlier in the year when it revealed pictures and details of the light truck, a move Toyota dealers said was calculated to try and slow the sales advantage the Ford Ranger has had for the past two years over the current Hilux.
“We already have a good bank of advanced orders,” said Toyota NZ sales manager Steve Prangnell. “And announcing pricing in advance of launch will help potential buyers with deciding which Hilux within our new line-up will best suit them.”
The 21-model line-up starts with the 2WD cab chassis at $36,990 through to the range-topping 4WD double cab SR5 Limited at $70,490. That price makes the SR5 the most expensive double-cab ute on the market, around $800 more than the swept-up Ranger Wildtrack. It also makes the $49,990 runout price of the current SR5 seem something of a bargain.
Five of the nine 2WD models will have the same ground clearance and ride height as the 4WD models. Toyota curiously calls these ‘pre-runner’ variants. They are priced between $44,990 and $54,990 and are all double-cabs.
“The pre-runner models are for those buyers who want the ride height of a 4WD for its better visibility and ground clearance, but don’t need the 4WD capability,” said Spencer Morris, Toyota NZ manager of product planning.
The inclusion of the higher-riding 2WDs is not a Toyota initiative – it has been prompted by Ford’s success with similar Ranger models. Indeed, Toyota executives have been heard mumbling on occasion over the past year or so that what they didn’t have was a jacked-up 2WD Hilux to challenge the jacked-up 2WD Ranger.
Toyota’s disadvantage with its 2WD Hilux range is made clear by last year’s sales figures: Toyota dominated 4WD ute sales with a 25 per cent share, but fell away in the 2WD segment with around 15 per cent.
Ford has offered more 2WD Ranger automatic variants, too. Toyota has squared this with the new 2WD Hilux – of the nine on offer, four get six-speed automatic options to suit what Toyota calls “the large number of urban buyers.” The 2WD autos range from $36,990 to $54,990.
Twelve 4WD models ranging in price from $51,990 to $70,490 complete the expanded Hilux line-up. Prangnell said the 21-model range suited the changing market.
“There is a lot of interest in new Hilux from both existing owners and others entering the market for a ute, especially as the segment now meets the wider needs of customers who may have previously been sedan or SUV buyers,” he said. “That’s a key reason for our expanded model range.”
Hilux comes in four specification grades: S for 2WD, and SR, SR5, SR5 Limited for the remaining 12 4WDs. The range gets a maximum five-star crash rating. A new 2.8-litre turbo-diesel is under the bonnet of 18 of the 21 models. Three get a 4.0-litre V6 petrol engine.