Forty-seven years after its introduction, the mighty Toyota HiLux has been reborn. And it’s about time, with current generation having over a decade-long run.
This isn’t just a minor refresh consisting of new headlights and a few widgets, the HiLux has finally been given given what it deserves – a major update. The completely new model comes with a host of big changes for the popular workhorse. Gone is the love-it-or-hate-it 3.0L turbo-diesel. In its place is the new 1GD-FTV, a 2.8L common-rail injection four-cylinder with a variable-vane turbocharger and intercooler that reportedly puts out 130kW and 450NM of torque.
The 4X2 models have a slightly smaller 2.4L CRD with less power and 50 fewer NM, although both claim a 10 per cent increase in fuel economy. The four-cylinder 2.7L petrol motor has also been given a few extra ponies thanks to a weight-loss program while the 4.0L V6 petrol remains unchanged.
The engines are mated to either a six-speed auto or six-speed manual that features ‘intelligent’ technology that matches engine and transmission revs to reduce shock loads on the drivetrain and reduce the likelihood of stalling when towing – a nifty feature.
The body also receives a complete makeover with a bigger ute tub and more interior space. Overall, the HiLux is now 70mm longer and 20mm wider. The redesigned model also features a lower roof line to aid in overall stability by keeping the centre of gravity lower.
LED daytime running lights augment the headlights, which also utilise low power draw/high output LED technology, the look however will likely be love-it-or-hate-it. The grille has been brought into line to match up with other SUV models in the Toyota range, while the rims come in a variety of sizes and flavours from 16 to 18 inches, and are shod in all-terrain tyres on the 4X4 models.
The fuel tank has been bumped up in capacity to 80L, and when paired with the more efficient 2.8L engine should make for an increased fuel range. Another major benefit to four-wheel drivers will be that the vehicle sports a thicker chassis which allows for a healthy 3500kg towing capacity and up to a 1240kg payload capacity. We’re hoping it also fixes the bendy-chassis syndrome that’s been popping up in overloaded dual cabs.
The suspension is largely unchanged, using the same double A-arm with coil over front end and leaf sprung solid axle rear, although there are now thicker shocks to soak up the bumps meaning less chance of fade over rougher tracks.
The brakes are (disappointingly) still drums in the rear and as you’d assume, there’s at least discs up front which are unchanged from the previous model. If Toyota keeps this HiLux around for a decade like they’ve done with the last, we’ll have a vehicle being sold in 2025 with drum brakes … which is odd.
Toyota has reportedly put a lot of effort towards reducing the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels of the new HiLux. On the noise front, they’ve done this by redesigning the interior and increasing sound deadening materials in the cab. Handling dynamics and body rigidity have also been improved by using a higher grade, lighter steel through out the cab, and by engineering it with more structural spot welds.
Thinner seat backs and the larger dimensions have freed up more interior space, and the SR5 models come standard with a reverse camera mounted in the tailgate and nifty gadgets like keyless start and touch-screen multi-media displays. The SR5’s interior looks decidedly upmarket and almost car-like, but at Toyota’s official launch in Sydney, we weren’t allowed to look inside the interior, which is disappointing – all we’re going off right now is leaked spy shots.
So with a stronger frame, more powerful and efficient turbo-diesels, a more refined interior, better drivability, and a more useable amount of space in the back, has the eighth generation HiLux finally perfected the off-road ute? Time will tell, but if it sells anything like the previous model, there’s a good chance this will be the new gold standard.