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Toyota Hilux Rugged X Off-Road 2019 Review

By January 20, 2019

The 2019 Toyota Hilux Rugged X Off-Road is without a doubt one of the most popular vehicles in Australia and even many parts of Asia and the Americas. Most people that buy the Hilux don’t stop their spending after purchase – almost 25% of the purchase price is used up on aftermarket modification. There are many reasons to modify the vehicle after it rolls off the showroom flow which includes improving its off-roading capabilities, while others may want to make the vehicle more comfortable for weeks on the road. Though the majority want to build on the already rugged looks of the Hilux. So, what can be expected from the Toyota Hilux Rugged X Off-Road 2019 edition? Well, a couple of things as we’ll discuss in this review.

What Has Changed?

Many people and especially those in Australia have a massive love for 4×4 modification, and the Hilux receives most of that love. Obviously, Toyota wants to cash in on that love for aftermarket modification similar to how Ford did with their modified suspension in the Raptor. Toyota has taken a slightly different route with its bolt-on barwork though.

To us, we think that most people will want to opt for the Toyota Hilux Rugged X Off-Road 2019 model for three primary reasons, i.e., the rear bumper, slider steps and the bulbar. Adding steel has been a proven method of improving ground clearance of a 4WD vehicle, and so Toyota tends to stick with what they think works. Steel can handle all types of major impacts whether it is at 60km/h or a slow crawl when moving through the mud when it is raining.

The bulbar used by the company improves the approach angle significantly around the wheels. Strangely, the hoops are missing which would have provided added protection. Yet, it still offers a lot of protection around the various cooling parts and the steering wheel.

Toyota has also improved the sliders this time around. They have made a design improvement with the new wedge shape and mounted it to the chassis. These happen to be way better options than regular steps you find in other off-road vehicles in both offering protection and better ground clearance. Then, there is the rear step which looks normal and is made from iron/carbon alloy, so it’s immensely durable. The step has been redesigned offering better protection along with adding a towbar along with a step.

Safety Features

One major noteworthy feature of the 2019 Toyota Hilux Rugged X Off-Road is the recovery points in the rear and front. The points are designed and built to handle an array of dynamic loads. Each year, many people lose their lives because a recovery went wrong and many people have near-misses. Many times, it is because the gear using hasn’t been rated and consequently fails.

We always recommend that people going off-road should ensure that they have good recovering options at the rear and front of the vehicle. The Rugged X has made sure that this problem is taken care of when you buy the car. The rated gear including the bow shackle now ensures that you can instigate a recovery in a safer manner.

What Hasn’t Changed?

Anyone who has owned a Toyota and especially a Hilux knows that the company is a little conservative about changing things and especially ones that work. So, there are many things in the 2019 Toyota Hilux Rugged X Off-Road which are unchanged like the 2.8-liter engine still pumping out 130kW of power, and 450Nm of torque with an automatic gearbox. They still offer a manual option with has pretty much the same specs.

The engine, like the previous model, still feels slightly lethargic and the more accessories you add, the more things become worse. The engine isn’t necessarily bad, but you shouldn’t have to push it hard. Though in some instances like going uphill with a significant payload, the Rugged X will have to be pushed to its limits.  

Off Roading with the 2019 Hilux Rugged X

The Hilux has always been amongst the best off-roading vehicles and that continues with the Rugged X 2019. Even though the gear ratios haven’t changed much this time around, the company has changed the diff ratios between the manual and automatic transmission. Toyota has also added an off-road traction control system which when tested is amongst the best we’ve seen. The Hilux can control wheelspin better than competing vehicles at different speeds, so it is possible to manage your momentum with excellent control.

You also get the ability to lock the rear differential but doing that disables the traction control automatically. So, if the rear is locked at 100% percent, the front goes from being well controlled to open. In our experience, the traction control is so good that most people will not even feel the need to lock the rear differential rendering it irrelevant.

Performance on the Road

As mentioned earlier, the Hilux is nothing close to being a speed demon, its manual four-speed gearbox outputs decent power, and despite it being a six-speed transmission anything beyond forth is unusable for the most part. The auto transmission makes the smartest use of the gearbox offering quick shifts and extracting the most power out of the 2.8-liter engine.

We drove at a steady 70km/h towing a load of 2.7 tons, and we were pretty happy with the performance on the whole. The steering is nice and comfortable and the springs in the back don’t sag all that easily. We wouldn’t have complained if there was a bit more acceleration though.

On the highway though, the speeds aren’t impressive. You shouldn’t be in a hurry to get up any hills with the Rugged X 2019. That said, if you’re using the automatic transmission, the gearbox does a good job of holding on to the revs when it is needed.  You wouldn’t want to use the Hilux for towing on a fairly regular basis mainly because it can be difficult. However, it is best suited for traveling with light loads.

Final Verdict

Toyota has made a real effort to improve the Hilux Rugged X Off-Road beyond just making aesthetic adjustments. The addition of the barwork certainly improves protection and ground clearance with the only demerit being increased weight. We’d highly recommend it as an upgrade from the previous generation. All you need is to add some solid off-road proven rubber, and this is a very capable vehicle without much modification needed.

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Additional Details

Car Make: Toyota
Car Make: Hilux
Make Year: 2019