This is it. You’re looking at the all-new Toyota Hilux. The venerable stalwart prepares to take things up a notch and re-establish its place as the bakkie king in South Africa – having come under threat from rivals like the Ford Ranger in recent times.
According to Toyota, the engineers of the new Hilux travelled as far as Caracas to Kommetjie, to gauge responses from existing customers on where the model should be improved and to assess different usage conditions. Some demands included a better fuel range, more comfort on extended driving stretches and a quieter cabin.
So in addition to being tough, Toyota says, the new Hilux is also plush. It seemed like the natural progression, since contemporary bakkies have taken a shift towards greater luxury while still trying to hang onto that important tough-as-nails virtue. Hiroki Nakajima, the executive chief engineer behind the Hilux, explained that the development of the model was based around “redefining toughness.”
So what’s different? It has an all new frame underneath, with bigger side sections and cross members that are larger and thicker. The leaf spring suspension has been upgraded, promising better off-road performance – and comfort on the road. Two new engines were developed; 2.4-litre and 2.8-litre diesel mills. Outputs and engine choices for our market will be announced later.
Toyota says fuel efficiency has been improved and that the Hilux is quieter overall. New transmissions will feature, one of them being an “Intelligent Manual Transmission – with rev matching technology. Another merit, according to Toyota, is that the Hilux will be easier to service thanks to these news engines. Let’s talk about those looks, which are bound to divide opinion. Once again, it’s a good reflection of the Hilux’s shift towards a slightly more premium persona. Toyota feels that it will appeal to those considering a bakkie for the first time. The mandate here was to create something tough, yet emotional. Will it still win the heart of the average Hilux faithful? We’ll have to see…
On the inside, the cabin echoes many of the cues you would find in the current Corolla or RAV4. Not a bad thing, really. It’s got a chunky, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a touchscreen interface and Toyota says the seats are more luxurious too. It goes without saying, but the eighth-generation Hilux has big shoes to fill. Toyota says that this year they will mark a million units sold in South Africa alone. No pressure then, new Hilux. The newcomer will be launched locally in the first quarter of next year. Pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed.