The Toyota HiLux is the quintessential 4x4, first seen in Australia in 1968. For the most part, the HiLux is easily recognised as a ute chassis with various body types, but for a while, starting in 1984, the HiLux also experimented with a 4x4 body type. First known here as the HiLux Surf, the model eventually developed a split personality, which necessitated the HiLux Surf / 4Runner splitting off and continuing as a fully enclosed midsize 4x4. The HiLux went on to further diversify and embody what a pickup could be.
Starting with the chassis, driveline, and powertrain, Toyota has put extra thought into the HiLux, including beefed up suspension components and a strong four-wheel drive system. The engines are tuned for torque, not overall power, which makes for exceptional off-roading, but still have decent power for highway acceleration. While the frame is designed strong for off-roading, the Toyota HiLux delivers a much smoother ride on-road than you might expect. It still handles like a truck of course, but won't shake your teeth out on the road either.
For the most part, everything about the HiLux is variable. Choices include engines, transmissions, cab sizes, pickup tray or utility tray, and 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrain. After that, of course, are various trim options from the basic to the fully-equipped. New models, depending on configuration and trim level, range from about $19,000 to $54,000, which means that, once these get traded in, there's a used Toyota HiLux in everyone's budget range.
The Toyota HiLux is so diverse and popular in Australia, in fact, that the country accounts for better than 5% of HiLux global sales. The Toyota HiLux was also just second in sales of all vehicles, making it one of only two utes in the top ten. What's making the HiLux so popular? The image Toyota has created for the HiLux is its unbreakable nature, and as a result, the HiLux has been seen attacking the North and South Poles, and volcanic mountain trails just to prove the point.
The sixth-generation Toyota HiLux, starting in the mid-1990s, was available with a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission, as well as two-wheel and four-wheel drive options. Toyota HiLux was available with, depending on the year and model, four different engines.
The 1998-2001 HiLux Workmate 4x2 was equipped with a 2.0L i4 producing 81kW and 167Nm, but this engine was eventually abandoned in favour of the more powerful 2.4L in 2002. The 1995-2004 HiLux 4x2 was equipped with a 2.4L i4 producing 106kW and 217Nm, while the 4x4 version was fitted with a 2.7L i4 producing 112kW and 240Nm. A 3.4L V6 was also available producing 142kW and 298Nm.
The seventh-generation Toyota HiLux, starting in 2005, changed over to a different engine line-up. The 2.7L i4 produces 119kW and 244Nm, but those looking for a little more torque will want to find the 3.0L turbo diesel i4, producing 127kW and 352Nm. The torque difference alone makes the 3.0L much more capable off-road, and saves much more fuel on the road. The 2.7ℓ averages in the low- to mid-11L/100km, while the 3.0L turbo diesel ranges in the low- to mid-8L/100km.
The 4.0L V6 is another powerful engine, offering more torque than the 3.0L turbo diesel, but in gasoline, rating at 170kW and 361Nm. Fuel consumption for the 4.0L is just about the same as the 2.7L i4, in the mid-11L to low-13L/100km. Since 2008, the TRD version amps up the power and torque with a supercharger, making for a total output of 225kW and 453Nm, nearly double that of the 2.7L. The supercharger is also available as a bolt-on to the standard 4.0L V6.
For the most part, HiLux has relied on the same mix of reliable equipment to get the job done. Trim levels are fairly simple because this is, after all, a work truck. SR models are equipped with 16” steel or alloy wheels, basic AM/FM/CD audio system, and basic climate controls with air conditioning. Interior styling is utilitarian, but solid.
The SR5 models are signified by some finer-looking interior plastics, 17” alloy wheels, the addition of multi-information touch display and automatic climate control, cruise control, and automatic headlights. The audio system is also USB and Bluetooth capable. Safety features include six airbags and standard stability control. Satellite navigation with voice command is also an option. Finally, TRD models added a supercharger under the bonnet and performance shock absorbers to the mix.
The Holden Colorado and Nissan Navara might be the closest vehicles to consider, and while one may offer more power, or perhaps more flexibility, only the Toyota HiLux offers the perfect mix, which is probably why it is the second-most-popular vehicle in the country. When compared to the Holden Colorado or Nissan Navara, the Toyota HiLux may seem underpowered or behind the times, but then, why mess with a perfect combination? There is also the fact that Toyota engines and transmissions, when properly maintained, are practically indestructible.