After being on the market for 9 years, the current generation Toyota Hilux is already heading for the finish line, marking the Japanese automaker's most successful pick-up model in the Philippines. Being part of chief engineer Kaoru Hosokawa's outstanding IMV (Innovative International Multi-purpose Vehicle) platform, it shares the spotlight with the equally successful Fortuner SUV and Innova MPV in the local market.
So to further build on the success story that is the Toyota Hilux, Toyota Motor Philippines has just released a sporty version of their working man's steed: the Hilux TRD Sportivo. Let's see how this encore to the Hilux gets on then.
Aesthetically, the Hilux is virtually the same as 2012 year model update which gave the Hilux a modernized appeal. As part of the 2014 update G-trim Hilux models get a new matte black metal roll bar. The TRD Sportivo variant adds a front apron on the front bumper with LED daytime running lights incorporated on the foglamp garnish and red-colored signature stripe in the middle. The side step board is now finished in matte black instead of the standard aluminum silver finish, while a TRD Sportivo decal on the truck bed sides provides obvious identification. The wheels have also been replaced with 17-inch TRD Sportivo wheels. A color-keyed rear bumper garnish finishes off the TRD trim with a red signature stripe accenting the diffuser detail.
The cargo bed capacity is still good for its generation, however, newer and larger pickups from other makes have now introduced even larger beds to accommodate more load.
The interior layout is virtually the same as the significantly improved 2012 update. However, with the recent popularity of black-colored interiors, Toyota has decided to adapt this with the 2014 update. It totally boggled me when virtually all manufacturers decided to go with a beige interior color theme for pickups which are meant to be workhorse models. It ended with customers complaining that their upholstery and interior claddings were regularly getting dirty. Or at least more noticeably.
For entertainment, it gets a standard 2-DIN radio capable of CD/MP3 playback, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port with iPod control and an auxiliary port. New separate tweeters give a slightly improved sound as well giving it a total of 6 speakers.
Under the hood is the same 2KD-FTV 2.5-liter common rail diesel engine equipped with variable nozzle turbo and intercooler producing 144 PS introduced late 2012 for the 2013 model year. The engine update provides the much needed punch (42 metric horsepower to be exact) that the 2.5-liter powered Hilux needed to better compete with generously powered competitor pickups. The very much welcome engine update gives the Hilux the much-needed overtaking power and torque going up inclines and uphill roads when fully loaded with passengers and cargo. On the highway, it did 14.8 kilometers to a liter, and light to moderate urban traffic logged an impressive 11 kilometers to a liter and averaged about 12.9 kilometers in mixed driving conditions.
Suspension-wise it does seem to be configured on the firmer side in anticipation of heavier loads (this being a pick-up after all) and being a raised hi-rider 4x2 variant didn’t seem to help its case either. Handling-wise the stiffer setup does it give it a slight edge over softer riding pickups, however do remember that it has a tall center of gravity and fast cornering should be avoided.
While the 2014 Toyota Hilux TRD Sportivo may appeal aesthetically to lifestyle pickup buyers, it does not completely play the part. The TRD Sportivo kit adds an additional PhP 63,000 to the PhP 1,162,000 of the standard 4x2 G MT variant. It does however give in to workhorse buyers who want to add a little play to their otherwise monotonous work life. A realible truck with afforable maintenance and added styling may still be a sensible buy.