2019 Toyota HiLux Rugged X Review

Toyota HiLux Rugged X 4WD Bling for the Enthusiast

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X Toyota HiLux Rugged X Overview

In the continual surge of Utes trending upmarket, Toyota came up with three new model variants in late 2018. One of these is the Rugged X which we are reviewing today. These are additions to the range, rather than special editions.

Rugged X is priced from $61,690 MLP* in manual guise and $63,690* as an automatic.

This sits at the top pf the HiLux range with additional bling and features as a marketing package. It competes against the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor, Holden Colorado Z71 Extreme, or VW Amarok 580.

Utes have allowed some manufacturers to maintain sales in a reducing market in early 2019, some with their model accounting for up to 70 % of sales at times.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Toyota HiLux Rugged X External

Rugged X is aimed at the recreational 4WD market, based on the SR5, it comes with a number of protective, functional and recovery features that many buyers add aftermarket. It also comes in a dual cab 4WD version only.

A redesigned grill defines the Rigged X as well as a winch-compatible heavy-duty steel front bar with integrated bash plate. This reduces the approach angles. Located up front is a LED light bar and driving lights. There are no front fog lights and the driving lights only come on with high beam as is required. This redesigned front end strikes a purposeful look that is quite appealing.

Further protective and recovery features include a snorkel, handy side rock rails that are able to support a fully laden vehicle, front and rear recovery points and a new heavy-duty steel rear bar with step and integrated tow bar and 7 pin flat trailer wiring harness. When will the technicians that fit wiring harnesses have the foresight to fit them on top of the holder bar to prevent them being bashed on rocks etc on departure. Front recovery points are extremely important and often overlooked by 4WD manufacturers, these are sturdy and prominent.

The rear tub of the Rugged X has also been designed for functionality with a new black steel sports bar that can support a vertical load of 75kg and, with multiple tie down points, secure up to 200kg on the floor of the lined tub with tailgate protection. The sports bar does make it difficult to fit a tonneau cover though.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Rugged X runs on 17 inch alloys with high profile 265/65 R17 tyres that sit inside black wheel arches and body side mouldings

Other cosmetic exterior features include: gloss black exterior mirror caps and door handles, matt black tail lamp surround, black tailgate handle with integrated camera and dark grey ‘HiLux’ badges and Rugged X decals, especially on the bonnet.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Toyota HiLux Rugged X Internal

Inside the Rugged X its typical HiLux SR5 and it isn’t. There are the black perforated leather accented seats. Comfortable, even for long times behind the wheel, they are heard wearing as well. The front seats are heated and the drivers is electronically adjustable. It lacks additional adjustable lumbar support though.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Taller drivers can find a comfortable driving position with adequate seat slide and the height and reach adjustable leather steering wheel. This is at the expense of the rear seat passenger though.

There is a redesigned instrument cluster with a newly-designed Combi Meter instrument cluster incorporating speedometer, tacho and 4.2″ multi-information display. The white on black with orange needles is excellent and provides better visibility.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

The rear seats are the same as the SR5 with rear A/C vents for passenger comfort. There are no USB or 12V plugs however, to keep the youngsters amused. This may be good and bad. Plenty of head room, but limited knee room for taller rear passengers. The seats are hard and relatively flat.

There are a couple of clever pieces of design, like the fact that there are grab handles everywhere, pull out cup holders, chilled top glove box and the 220V inverter in the central console bin

Black is a central theme with black perforated leather-accented seats, metallic black ornamentation and black roof headliner. Toyota displays practicality with great front and rear all weather floor mats.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Toyota HiLux Rugged X Features

There is nothing extra over the SR5 for features. This again is good and bad. The SR5 is well equipped, but lacks some features such as Apple Cr Play and Android Auto, and the SAT NAV system, while it works well, is not one of my favourites. The screen looks like it was cut into the dash as an afterthought and has that gloss black surrounds that seems to fit better in the Rigged X that the SR5 but still looks a little cheap, to my mind.

The vehicle’s premium infotainment system functions are displayed on a large 7″ display and include full Satellite Navigation^, AM/FM and DAB Radio^^, a single slot CD player, USB/AUX# and Bluetooth® connectivity##, voice recognition and the Toyota Link° app suite that is compatible with a range of iPhone and Android smartphones.

To complete the convenience offering, the HiLux Rugged X also comes standard with a Smart Key system enabling keyless entry and start. Have a look at a review of the HiLux SR5 for more details about the features.

Toyota HiLux Rugged X Engine and Drivetrain

The Rugged X maintains the standard HiLux 2.8L high-torque turbo-diesel engine. This produces power of 130kW @ 3,400rpm and torque of 420Nm @ 1,400rpm (MT) and 450 Nm @ 1600 rpm (AT). The low down torque delivery allows a relaxed driving style.

While there isn’t anything really wrong with the existing engine, I would have loved it if Toyota took the opportunity to do something special with the engine and delivered something that produced say 180kW and 500Nm to compete directly with the top range alternatives.

There have been some issues with this engine with the DPF, especially when the major use is around town on short trips. However the latest models are fitted with a manual DPF regeneration button to assist in overcoming these problems.

While the 6Sp MT isn’t my first choice the ratios match perfectly to the engine and allow the maximum use of power and torque. But I would still take the AT every day of the week, simply because it is much easier to drive for us lazy drivers.

The version I had was the AT and on the freeway I managed between 7.5 and 8.2L/100K over many hundreds of kilometres and about 12.4L/100k around town.

The Hilux allows the driver a choice between normal, economy and power for the transmission. These really do make a difference by recalibrating the match between gears and engine revs.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Toyota HiLux Rugged X Driving Experience and 4WD Capability

The Rugged X has the standard HiLux suspension, which is good on most surfaces. A little bumpy on rough roads, relaxed on the freeway and at home on dirt roads and in the bush.  The steering is reasonably direct and responsive. At speed you notice a little wind noise from the snorkel and external mirrors.

However the overall impression is that the Rugged X is easy to jump into and simply drive without fuss or problems.

Again, perhaps Toyota could have taken the opportunity to raise the suspension and upgrade it, along with rear disc brakes, and standard AT tyres for something really special.

Sorry readers I just woke up and came back to reality.

Driving through a part-time, shift-on-the-fly 4×4 system with a full set of low-range ratios, the HiLux is in its element off road and in the rigged Australian bush. Apart from a few dark years, the HiLux has always reigned supreme off road. Its 4WD capability is beyond question.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

To showcase the focus of the Rugged X, there is downhill ascent control, rear diff lock, and switchable traction control.

In order to provide outstanding night vision, the new steel front bar features a centrally mounted 66cm LED light bar – the first time such equipment has been fitted as original equipment in the segment – and two spread-beam outboard LED driving lights.

With 24 individual LEDs producing a combined maximum of 120 watts, the light bar together with the 20 watt driving lights, delivers a significantly broader and brighter spread of light than the standard SR5 high beam.

Located beneath the front bar and integrated into the chassis of the HiLux Rugged X are a pair of easily accessible and easy-to-find red painted recovery points, that are matched at the rear.

The front and rear recovery points are made from 20mm thick steel plate with a large cross-vehicle bracing structure for strength and are fixed into the chassis rails with high tensile bolts. Both the front and rear recovery points have been tested in a variety of recovery situations and can accommodate an 8000kg snatch strap or 9000lb winch.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

At the rear, a new heavy duty steel rear bar with a large step is fully integrated with the tow bar assembly and recovery points and protects the vehicle in off-road conditions thanks to its sheer strength and clever design to improve corner approach angles.

The new front bar is complemented by a 5mm thick high tensile alloy bash plate that provides protection without significant weight compromises. Made from chassis-mounted steel tubing that is black powder coated for durability, the rock rails are designed to protect the sills and underbody and are able to support a fully laden vehicle.
2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Toyota Hilux Rugged X Dimensions

The Rugged X has an

  • overall length of 5350mm,
  • wheelbase of 3085mm,
  • width of 1885mm and
  • Height of 1815mm.
  • Unladen ground clearance is 251mm. (down from 279mm for SR5)
  • Approach angle is 28 degrees, rampover is TBC and departure angle is 21 degrees.
  • Wading depth is 700mm
  • Turning circle is 12.4m
  • GVM of 3000kg, GCM of TBC,
  • Kerb mass of 2252kg and Payload of TBC.
  • Fuel tank is 80L
  • Towing capacity is 3500kg (MT) and 3200kg (AT) and tow ball rating is up to 300kg depending on reduction in GVM.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Toyota Hilux Rugged X Safety

Safety is an ever moving feature on cars and more importantly Utes. The Holden Colorado currently leads the regular pack with safety features, however others such as the RAM 1500 etc are pushing the envelope even further.

Hilux SR5 has a 5 star ANCAP safety rating and the Rugged X is based on this.

Features include:

  • 7 SRS airbags
  • Active Traction Control (A-TRC),
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
  • Traction Control (TRC)
  • Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
  • Brake Assist (BA)
  • Hill-start Assist Control (HAC),
  • Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and
  • Reversing Camera
  • Trailer sway control

It does miss out on the latest features like active lane assist, AEB front and back, blind spot monitors and others.

The new front bar and bash plate structure is fully integrated into the front end design of the Rugged X, ensuring complete compatibility with all safety systems and airbags. The front suspension has also been fitted with uprated springs to support the extra mass.

One day a Manufacturer will load a family based dual cab Ute with all the safety features that we take for granted in SUVs and passenger vehicles. One day, hopefully soon.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Toyota Hilux Rugged X Fit for Purpose

How do you assess the fit for purpose of a vehicle that is asked to do everything? The Rugged X is specifically aimed at those recreational buyers that will head bush and tow something for an active lifestyle. In that capacity it does everything well, and heads off road with supreme confidence.

It can be cramped for 4 adults or with two kids, as all Utes are. The sports bar means that to protect your luggage in the tub, you will need a fitted lid or tonneau cover.

It is longer than a SUV for shopping centres and doing the school run or soccer run it has more limited seating. As a work Ute, it really is more for the foreman or business owner. It will accommodate a reasonable payload, but the true trades’ person would probably opt for a single cab tray back.

However, the Hilux, as an all-round balanced vehicle fits the purpose better than most other Utes. The new range is covered by Toyota Service Advantage capped-price servicing at $180 per service^^.

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Toyota Hilux Rugged X Summary

I really liked the Rugged X. It was easy to drive, performed everything I asked of it without fuss or complaint. The additions are factory fitted and hence attract manufacturer’s warranty, which is important. They go some way towards what an enthusiast will add anyway.

The Toyota Hilux offers more SUV-like features including an improved compliant ride, quieter cabins and higher levels of comfort and convenience.

I am disappointed that Toyota didn’t take the opportunity to produce something really special and set the pace in the segment. But that isn’t Toyota’s style. But they could so easily do it!

2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged X

Also Look At:

Model    Toyota Hilux Rugged X Dual Cab Ute 4WD

  • Model Price        $63,690 MLP*
  • Engine                  2.8L 4Cyl CRD Turbo
  • Drivetrain            6 Sp AT 4WD
  • Power                  130kW @ 3,400rpm
  • Torque                 420Nm @ 1600rpm
  • Safety                   5 STAR ANCAP (SR5)
  • CO2                      223g/km
  • Economy ADR    8.5 L/100 km
  • Servicing Capped Price
  • Tow Rating         3,500 kg
  • Tow Ball Rating 300 kg
  • Warranty             5 Yrs / 100,000 km 5 Yrs Roadside Assist

*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.

Overall Rating: 88/100

  • Behind the Wheel             9
  • Comfort                              9
  • Equipment                          8
  • Performance                     8
  • Ride & Handling                9
  • Practicality                         9
  • Fit for Purpose                  9
  • Towing Ability                   9
  • Off Road Ability 10
  • Value for Money               8
2019 Toyota HiLux Rugged X Review
  • 2019 Toyota HiLux Rugged X Review


I really liked the Rugged X. It was easy to drive, performed everything I asked of it without fuss or complaint. The additions are factory fitted and hence attract manufacturer’s warranty, which is important. They go some way towards what an enthusiast will add anyway.

About Rob Fraser 314 Articles
Rob first learned to drive on the farm in a left hand drive WW11 Jeep when he was 11, many years ago. He has maintained a strong interest in the industry ever since and was hooked on 4WDriving way back then.Often known for taking the 4WD in the driveway over the sports car, he has travelled pretty much everywhere in Australia and when he is bored goes for a drive.