A workhorse begging to get down and dirty
It’s literally the cheapest 2021 Toyota HiLux you can buy!
Single cab, cab chassis with a tray, in 4×2, with a manual transmission, and a petrol powertrain. The entry level model hits the road from $30,236 drive away, including the tray.
There’s just one interior colour, being cloth seats in dark grey/charcoal, and only five exterior paint options, including Glacier White, Silver Sky, Graphite (as tested), Eclipse Black and Nebula Blue.
But entry level and a cheap price don’t necessarily mean it’s sub par. Sure it’s basic, but you get a lot of ute for the price, and along the way it delivers super practical functionality and a rather gutsy driving experience.
We had cause to move a fridge, a very large fridge, across the NSW Central Coast while we were in possession of this veritable tradie truck, and it did it’s job with aplomb (so did the jockey straps, just quietly).
At no point, with the big ice box perched upright against the cage at the head of the tray, did it feel unbalanced, or like it was struggling to drive or gain power (despite some epic hills). It just did what it had to do; be a practical ute with decent enough power.
On the road, updated suspension makes for an improved ride, and not before time. It’s the one facet where the Workmate has previously struggled and the changes bring it vastly closer to arch-rival and fellow Japanese nemesis Isuzu, and it’s D-MAX SX.
It’s still a little rough unladen though. The HiLux Workmate 4×2 delivers 122kW of power and 242Nm of torque from its 16-valve DOHC 4-cylinder engine, complete with dual VVT-i. The 6-speed manual is easy to use, and feeds on the revs well.
Payload in the tray is between 1210kg and 1260kg. It has claimed fuel economy of 11.1-litres/100km, which was incidentally pretty much on the money, and a braked towing capacity of 2,500kg – that’s pretty decent for a base model tray-back ute.
A 2-seater (it could use a bench seat), it has an 80-litre fuel tank. Inside, there’s a shiny new infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the first time.
The whole dash is a pretty nice thing actually, with a new look instrument cluster that includes an information display with digital speedo.
The new 8.0-inch touchscreen has lots of buttons and dials, the latter for volume and tuning, meaning when your hands are covered in muck and dirt, it’ll still work, without having to stress about touch sensitivity.
There’s no satellite navigation either, so you’ll be plugging into your smartphone for that mapping goodness, whether you like it or not. The downside, there’s just a single USB port, which means you’re only charging one device at a time too.
All the newness aside, the cabin remains traditionally Toyota, with those trusty vinyl floors and a tonne of hard plastic surfaces. It is of course, super practical. There are two cup holders in the middle of the console, and two more that pop out in the dash.
There are bottle holders in the doors too, along with little storage spaces and two decent glove boxes. A handy 12V power outlet also features, as does power windows, and a alarmingly okay two-speaker sound system (we expected it to be hideous).
What impressed us most of all though is the sheer amount of safety technology. You see Toyota doesn’t discriminate between its model variants, so you get everything the beefed up versions of the HiLux gets as well.
This includes Toyota connected services like stolen vehicle tracking, SOS call and automatic collision notification, as well as its full safety suite. That package includes lane departure warning, road sign assist and active cruise control.
It also scores pre-collision safety with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, ABS, stability and traction control, EBD, hill start assist and emergency stop signals. In addition, there’s seven airbags. It even has an alarm and remote keyless entry.
What it is missing and it desperately needs, is a reversing camera. We found ourselves struggling to work out whether the tray was going to hit things and a camera would have been astoundingly handy. Thankfully we didn’t, but we could easily have.
If you want to jump in the market leading tradie truck, then you can build and price your own on the Toyota Australia website. We recommend shopping around to see if you can get a better price, or check out PriceMyCar for the best deal.
This story was originally published on Exhaust Notes Australia, and written by Mark Holgate. All pricing within this story is based on Australian Dollar (AUD).