Search the internet for the most reliable vehicles on the planet, and you will find the Toyota Hilux featuring on the top. The tough and rugged truck came out in 1968, and it immediately took over the world by storm. It was built to withstand anything and everything. Unsurprisingly, it did exactly what it was meant to do, and now the Hilux is more of a household name in many countries, including New Zealand.
The 2021 model builds on the older generations and brings back the same durability, reliability and practicality as before. Toyota offers 18 different variants of the Hilux, which means there is something for everybody. If you are on a budget, you can get the economical WorkMate version with the 2.7L drivetrain for just under $29,000. On the other end of the lineup, there is the SR5 Cruiser Double Cab Ute that costs under $59,000.
The newest Hilux has a mean-looking front fascia that exudes an aura of dominance. Its aggressive styling shows Toyota is ready to take on the fresh competition. The new trapezoid grille is bigger and bolder than ever before. On the sides, the fender flares join in with the fog lamp housing to create an interesting perspective. And then, the 17-inch silver rims complete the aesthetic package.
You can get one in single cab, extra cab, and double cabin bodystyles. Plus, you can get your Hilux in a range of attractive colours, including the freshly introduced Deep Sea Blue and Emotional Red.
The Toyota Hilux comes with two engines to diversify the number of offerings. The 2.7L base motor does not impress too much. But it does its job, and it still produces enough power and torque to tow massive amounts of weight.
On the other hand, there is the high-performance 2.8L turbo-diesel powertrain that ekes out 150kW of power and 500 Nm of torque. This engine mates to a six-speed automatic transmission and it takes the power to either the rear wheels or the 4 wheels, depending on the specification.
Toyota worked very hard on improving and controlling emissions from the Hilux. The engineers worked day and night to make the turbo engine more efficient than before. They succeeded by improving the fuel economy by 11% and reducing carbon emissions by 5%.
The Hilux also has several driving modes that can alter the performance based on your input. The Eco mode, for example, reduces throttle response and avoids high RPMs. The Power mode, on the other hand, does the opposite. It opens up the flood gates and allows the engine to work at its full potential.
The cabin isn’t the most luxurious. Perhaps, that is why some people go for the Ford Ranger than the Hilux. But Toyota never made this ute for luxury, they made it so it could withstand challenging environments. However, having said that, the Hilux has enough features inside to keep you interested.
The eight-inch touchscreen takes centre stage in the dash. It comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with voice recognition for focused driving. You even get a 220V power socket that you can use for charging your electronics.
Only the SR5 variant gets leather seats, but you have to pay a lot of money to get that feature. It is a trade-off you need to make to get better amenities and comfort.
Toyota puts a lot of stress on making its vehicles as secure as possible. Therefore, the Hilux performs well in crash tests and roll-over tests conducted by competent authorities. The 2019 model ute got a 5-star rating from ANCAP, which shows there is no compromise on passenger safety. The 7-airbag system protects the front passengers and those in the back.
The Toyota Hilux also gets the Toyota Safety Sense package. Inside there is a pre-collision warning system, a parking assist, seatbelt reminder, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, and Road Sign assist. Moreover, there is a trailer sway control system and a traction control system installed as well. In other words, the Hilux has all the latest technologies that assist the driver, protect the passengers and pedestrians from any undue harm.
A pickup truck is known for its towing and payload carrying capabilities. The Toyota Hilux does well in both departments, thanks to the powerful 2.8L diesel engine. The whopping 500 Nm torque spreads out along a wider range of RPMs. This means that you get to utilize the full power of the motor at different intervals.
The Hilux can tow more than 3.5 tons of weight. So, you can ideally tow large trailers or boats to the shore. The payload capacity is a bit lower than that, but it is still impressive at around 900kgs. S
Toyota deserves a round of applause for making the 2021 Hilux even better than it was before. Although the upgrades are very subtle, the intent is there to beat the likes of the Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and the Mazda BT-50.
2021 might be the year that Toyota regains its position as the best-selling ute in New Zealand. But it would have to face tough competition from Ford Ranger, which is threatening to clinch the top spot.