The new, eighth-generation HiLux is a significant improvement over the old model that, despite some updates, had been showing its age for a long time. A new 2.8L 4cyl turbo-diesel engine delivers better performance and lower fuel consumption. It delivers 450Nm of torque, a gain of 25%. The transmission is now a 6spd unit.
Cabin improvements are where HiLux particularly shows up the other finalists. It’s well insulated to further reduce engine noise and improve the perception of quality.
The centre console is dominated by a seven-inch touch-screen multimedia system with sat-nav, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. Climate control and a smart key are also included. The addition of tilt-and-reach-adjustable steering, a rarity in this category, gives HiLux a more car-like feel.
Toyota has built on HiLux’s reputation for ‘unbreakability’ with a strengthened chassis and beefed-up suspension. The off-road ability has also been improved, with 20% more wheel articulation, bigger dampers and larger disc brakes, along with greater under-body protection.
Although all three finalists topped the class for tray space, HiLux can’t match the other two in either payload or towing, where its limit is a step down at 3200kg. While the new engine is excellent, it lacks the strong pull of the Ranger/BT-50 twins.
HiLux has a five-star ANCAP safety rating, with items such as a driver knee airbag. But it doesn’t get autonomous emergency braking or lane departure warning.