After nearly a decade of selling the previous Hilux pick-up, Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation (TMP) finally introduced its all-new Hilux Revo, taking the local “truck wars” to a new level because of its much-improved off-road capabilities.
The previous Hilux was a market favorite in the four-wheel drive segment for many years, thanks to its class-leading ground clearance that is one of the two essentials in off-road driving. It also had the highest torque output at the lowest engine speed among its competitors, which translated to excellent cargo carrying capability. The new Hilux maintains what made it a market favorite and addresses what was lacking in the previous model and even went further with what’s available from the competition.
The previous generation Hilux was the king of ground clearance in its class, but what it lacked was traction. Only in 2012 did TMP introduce limited slip differential in the Hilux, but at the time, the new models from the competition were already sporting electronic traction control. This did not go unnoticed to TMP, and in the new Hilux Revo they went one step further with a “dyed in the wool” rear axle differential lock, which doubles the ability of the rear axle to get traction by spinning both rear tires at the same time without hindering forward progress. While that is taking place, the electronic traction control applies the brakes on one side of the axle making the other side gain traction. In the new Hilux automatic transmission 4WD variant, both electronic traction control and the rear differential lock are available.
Once in low range gear, 4WD is engaged and this automatically disables the traction control system that is based on the anti-lock brake system. The manual transmission Hilux 4WD gets the rear differential lock minus the electronic traction control.
Advantage of manual transmission
One may have second thoughts on getting the manual. In the olden days, true performance drivers used a technique called “toe and heel” of which the objective is to blip the throttle to match the engine speed to the speed of the vehicle for a smoother change of gear. Proper toeing and heeling should result in a smoother drive and transfer of torque from one gear to another either shifting up or down. The new six-speed manual transmission of the latest Hilux does the “blipping” of the throttle for you when shifting to a higher or lower gear.
For off-road work, this minimizes the power loss when shifting going uphill. The new transmission is also geared for very low speed for much improved crawling control on rough surfaces and downhill engine braking. This actually eliminates the need to install hill descend control on the latest Hilux. It is geared so low that on a decent tractive surface, it can actually crawl on idling without stepping on the accelerator and the engine won’t stall when in 4WD low range gear.
It’s quite obvious to this writer that the external design of the new Hilux was influenced by off-road driving and proof of that are the approach and departure angles. On the approach side, the massive front bumper may look like it’s the first thing that would come off accidentally in rough terrain, but actually its raked design makes it less vulnerable when approaching or descending steep inclines – other designs would guaranty a lost front bumper. The rear bumper is well placed and away from harm’s way on the departure angle. The extra effort in loading the rear of the Hilux is worth the minor inconvenience as against running the rear side to the ground when driving on rough terrain.
Wheel travel up and down is also a major improvement for the new Hilux. This is critical when driving on uneven ground to keep all four wheels driving the vehicle and keeping it moving forward with its traction aids and low-speed gears. Ride comfort from the suspension correlates to better wheel travel. So the more flexible the suspension, the better the ride. While it’s not coil spring ride quality, it is a big leap from its predecessor. But bear in mind that the Hilux is a pick-up truck and its priority is cargo capability not ride comfort.
It’s notable that the interior of the new Hilux is almost like a sedan in ergonomics and this translates to better comfort for long off-road drives making the driver less fatigued.
It’s going to be tough to find fault in the new Hilux for off-road work when comparing it to the competition. Maybe it’s only in 4×2 category that it may find competition, but it still has enough credentials slug it out. But in the 4WD segment, clearly this truck sets the benchmark for off road capability.
Obviously, off road driving is not going to be the main factor among most vehicle buyers in choosing the right pick-up truck, but it is good to know that in the 4WD segment, there is one choice that truly trumps the competition. So it’s clear which truck to choose until the competition brings in bigger guns to bear in the truck war.