Toyota Hilux Rogue: Back on the leash

2023 Toyota Hilux Rogue 8

What is it?

Following an earlier stumble or two, the Rogue has redeemed itself.

The Hilux top-dog ute has taken its rightful place as the genuine hero of Australia’s best-selling range of vehicles.

My introduction to the Hilux Rogue last year was fraught, with its motorised roll-top tray cover jamming centimetres from full retraction with no amount of button pressing,  even physical exertion on my part — getting it to close.

Revisiting the dual-cab utility recently everything worked to order, which was welcome as the tonneau cover is the result of design and development by Aussie engineers as part of their task to produce a combination of toughness, complemented by a more recreational focus for a vehicle designed to go anywhere (and be sold in markets around the world).

Toyota Australia’s role in developing and evaluating the 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, rear suspension and hydraulic power steering was supported by teams from Japan and Thailand, as well as representatives from other markets.

2023 Toyota Hilux Rogue 7

What’s it cost?

Rogue sells for $68,990, plus on-road costs and options.

The Hilux, in general, continues its reign as the best-selling vehicle in Australia and like all Toyotas is covered by Toyota Service Advantage, with each of the first scheduled services costing just $250 each. 

Out of Toyota’s Melbourne design studio comes a dark vertical grille that cascades from the bonnet down to the prominent lower bumper and under-guard. 

LED headlights, with dark internals, combine with bold outer corners of the bumper, which links to strong fog light surrounds.

An aggressive side profile continues the theme with robust fender flares, unique wheel-arch mouldings and an integrated resin sports bar making its debut. 

Wheel-arches also are generous enough to take bigger, fatter alloys than the factory-fitted 18-inchers.

A new sports bar, made from resin, is easier to mould than steel, allowing it to have a more artistic ‘sailplane’ shape.

Out back are a redesigned bumper and tailgate.

The tub itself is kitted out, up the walls too, like a fully carpeted lounge room (no place for gravel, rocks or rubbish), with a marine-grade liner lifting appearance and coverage.

The design makeover is made complete by a chrome Toyota tailgate badge and new decals on the gate and sports bar.

Pride of place is a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen plus control knobs, an upgraded multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a premium JBL nine-speaker sound system.

One USB point and two AC 220-Volt accessory sockets are standard.

Restyled instruments consist of analogue speedo and rev counter with blue pointers flanking a 4.2-inch multi-information display, which now incorporates a digital speed readout and a pictogram showing the angle of the front wheels.

Satellite navigation is easier to use with enhanced voice recognition, while other additions include an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, new ornamentation and blue illumination.

Hilux Rogue carries a five-star safety rating on 2019 testing and is equipped with Toyota Safety Sense, including a pre-collision system with autonomous emergency braking and the ability to detect pedestrians around the clock and cyclists in daylight.

It is also equipped with high-speed active cruise control and lane-departure alert with steering assist.

Electronic systems include anti-skid brakes, vehicle stability and traction control, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, trailer sway control, downhill assist and an emergency stop signal (hazard lights).

Like every Hilux, the Rogue is equipped with seven airbags and a reversing camera.

2023 Toyota Hilux Rogue 6

What’s it go like?

The upgraded 1GD turbo-diesel engine now develops 150kW at 3400 rpm and 500Nm between 1600 and 2800 rpm, gains of 15 per cent and 11.1 per cent respectively.

The six-speed automatic transmission has been re-calibrated to allow earlier lock-up for improved acceleration and to ensure Toyota’s temperature tolerances, especially when towing, are observed.

The cabin is dominated by hard surfaces, which is hardly a serious criticism for a hard-working ute.

However, coming to the classy rescue are black perforated leather-accented seats with grey stitching. 

The front seats are heated while the driver’s seat has eight-way power adjustment. Front and rear carpet mats are included.

There’s a deep cubby in the centre console and a double-decker dash-mounted glovebox, the upper section cooled. Door storage includes convenient bottle slots.

Driving has been made easier by work done on the rear suspension, improving unladen ride comfort, while a new variable flow-control power-steering pump offers more help in low-speed manoeuvres such as parking.

Braked towing capacity has been uprated by 300kg to 3500kg, courtesy of the higher-output engine and a re-calibrated six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

Eco or Sport driving modes are accessed by pressing one of two buttons on the centre console.

Sport frees up engine revs and fun ride but Eco is worth ignoring. It’s a Toyota, so there’s also a low-range mode for tough off-road driving.

Toyota claims a combined fuel consumption of 8.4L/100km.

The test vehicle worked out at 11.7L/100km in suburban streets down to 6.4L when opened up on the motorway.

Improved ride and handling are all-encompassing with the MY20 Rogue. 

Leaf springs and shock absorbers were re-tuned to improve unladen ride comfort without compromising the vehicle’s ability to carry loads over uneven terrain, while low-friction rear shackle bushes add to ride comfort.

Rear stability benefits from leaf spring front bushes with increased lateral stiffness.

Revised chassis mounts reduce vibrations and noise transfer to the cabin, particularly on rough roads.

A variable flow control power-steering pump improves steering feeling on winding country roads and reduces steering effort when parking.

It’s a pity about the outsize 12.6 metre turning circle.

2023 Toyota Hilux Rogue 2

What we like?

  • Rogue tonneau tamed
  • More power and torque
  • Improved ride and handling
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror added
  • Navigation easier to use
  • Five-star safety rating
  • 2023 Toyota Hilux Rogue 5

What we don’t like?

  • Cabin dominated by hard surfaces
  • Outsize 12.6 metre turning circle

2023 Toyota Hilux Rogue 4

The bottom line?

The Rogue is up against some of the stiffest competition in the premium luxury ute market and it’s fair to say the power roll top would be considered an important selling point for the Hilux ‘hero’.

Fortunately, the test automatic tonneau was back on track. 

So is the Hilux Rogue. 

2023 Toyota Hilux Rogue 1


CHECKOUT: Toyota Supra: How low can you go?

CHECKOUT: Toyota GR Corolla: Hell, yes!


Toyota Hilux Rogue, priced from $68,990
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 7/10
  • Thirst - 6/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 7/10

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *