In automotive circles, this year will be remembered for the pick-up truck class. In the last 12 months, many of the major car companies unleashed their latest contenders in the pick-up category, raising the bar to bring these once utilitarian vehicles into the more lifestyle oriented age.
Such is the case for the 2015 Toyota Hilux, the latest generation of a model line that has traditionally set the standard for others to follow. The new model that was recently launched by Toyota Motor Philippines is already the eighth generation since the original model in 1968, and succeeded the IMV-derived Hilux that was sold from 2005 up to early 2015.
Design wise, Toyota clearly went for a more rounded look as the Hilux has a new front fascia, wider fenders and generally more details than before. It’s not really a revolutionary look, though Toyota did put some more attention to breaking up the slab-sided nature of pick-ups, enough for us to see that Toyota is targeting a wider customer base with a friendlier, more sport utility vehicle-like style statement.
The Hilux now measures in at 5,335 millimeters long (previous: 5,260 millimeters), 1,855 millimeters wide (previous: 1,835 millimeters), and 1,815 millimeters tall (previous: 1,860 millimeters). This being the 4×4 means that it has high-rider suspension, allowing for a taller ground clearance compared to standard 4×2 models. The wheelbase is the same as the outgoing model.
Inside the new model, the word “update” is an understatement as Toyota clearly made the cabin much more premium in every respect. The previous Hilux made use of a lot of hard plastic and beige (for 4×4 variants), but this new one is predominantly black and the dash has a lot more detail and is much more interesting to look at.
The front seats feel better to be in while the rear seats have also been improved in terms of overall comfort. There are a few other clever touches around such as the split-folding feature of the rear seat cushions to access the compartments underneath as well as the spring-loaded front cupholders beneath the front air-conditioning vents.
There are plenty of electronic features such as the multi-info display within the new gauge cluster, the AVT-sourced DVD navigation system, steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth and even automatic climate control. A big change over the previous model is that Toyota has replaced the lever-type control for the 4×4 transfer case (2WD, 4WD High, and 4WD Low) with a dial-type knob on the console beside the climate control panel. There’s also a differential lock button below that is unusual for a pick-up.
Twist the key and the Hilux, being a diesel, kicks to life. The 2.8-liter 1GD-FTV engine is actually all new, but despite being smaller than previous 3.0-liter 1KD-FTV, the new Hilux gets 9.0 percent more power at 177 PS (174 horsepower) and 31 percent more torque at 450 Newton-meters.
Better damping, spring rates
On the daily commute, the Hilux performs as advertised. While the Hilux still rides relatively stiff over the bumps, Toyota seems to have tuned the front and rear suspension to agree a bit more in terms of damping and spring rates; the previous Hilux had a (relatively) softer front suspension compared to the very stiff rear suspension. The result is the new one has a more balanced ride and drive.
The torque from the new engine is great, allowing easy acceleration for the heavy truck. The new six-speed automatic gearbox is a massive improvement over the four-speed auto of the old; smoother, better ratios, and much more efficient. In the city, the Hilux consumed 10.2 kilometers per liter (17 kilometers per hour average) while on the highway, that figure goes up to 15.5 kpl (95 kph average).
Overall, the 2015 Toyota Hilux 2.8-liter 4×4 6AT is a great improvement over its predecessor. But given the competitive nature of the contenders in the class, there are some that are better equipped, offer a better ride and are more efficient that can be had for this model’s P1.651 million price tag. The Hilux will undoubtedly be the vehicle of choice for the traditional pick-up customer (engineers, contractors and the like), but at that price, things like parking sensors and bedliner should really be standard equipment for it to appeal to a wider base of buyers.