Among the varied dictionary definitions of ‘rogue’ comes ‘an individual deviating from the normal, usually inferior’.
My time with Toyota’s MY21 top-dog ute had a niggle or two.
For a start the Aussie-designed and developed motorised roll-top tub cover pulled up short, literally, on my first attempt to store it, jamming inches away from being fully retracted.
No amount of pressing opening and closing buttons freed the pesky piece of apparatus.
A little less annoying was the key fob, which was erratic with its door locking and unlocking functions activating only when a few metres from the cabin.
Equivalent automotive security systems usually can be operated from greater distance to the vehicle: often handy in a crowded car park. Over to you, Toyota.
Anyway, enough of this negativity, the Rogue deserves its Hilux ‘halo’ in some respects.
Generally, it’s a credit to local engineers and designers, who were tasked with producing 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.
What’s it cost?
Rogue sells for $68,990, plus on-road costs and options.
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 lamp 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 redesigned bumper and tailgate.
The tub itself is kitted out, up the walls too, like a fully carpeted lounge room, 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 tailgate and sports bar.
Pride of place inside 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 an 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 electro-chromatic rear-view mirror, new ornamentation and blue illumination.
The 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.
The Hilux, in general, continues its reign as the best-selling vehicle in Australia and like all Toyota vehicles is covered by Toyota Service Advantage, with each of the first scheduled services costing just $250 each.
What’s it go like?
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 outboard accents.
The front seats are heated while the driver’s seat has eight-way power adjustments.
Front and rear carpet mats are included for Rogue.
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.
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.
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 was recalibrated to allow earlier lock-up for improved acceleration and to ensure Toyota’s temperature tolerances, especially when towing, were observed.
Driving has been made easier than before 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 recalibrated six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.
Toyota claims a combined fuel consumption of 8.4L/100km.
The test vehicle worked out at 11.7 in suburban streets and down to 6.4L/100km when 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.
Pity about the outsize 12.6 metre turning circle.
There’s also a low-range mode for off-road driving.
What we like?
Digital speed readout
Reduced cabin noise
3500kg tow rating
Classy leather-accented seats
Power adjust driver’s seat
What we don’t like?
Roller tonneau jammed
Erratic key fob operation
Large 12.6 metre turning circle
The bottom line?
The Rogue is up against some of the stiffest competition in the premium luxury ute market (the runaway Ford Ranger Wildtrak springs to mind).
It’s fair to say the power roll top would be considered an important selling point for the Hilux ‘hero’ and the failure of the accessory on test is not what we have come to expect from Toyota.