In automotive circles, 2015 will be remembered for the pick-up truck class. During the course of 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.
Toyota was among those who released a new pickup last year. The 2016 Toyota Hilux is the latest generation of a model line that has traditionally set the benchmark for others to follow. The new model that was recently launched by Toyota Motor Philippines is already the 8th 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 targetting a wider customer base with a friendlier, more SUV-like style statement.
The Hilux now measures in at 5335mm long (previous: 5260mm), 1855mm wide (previous: 1835mm), and 1815mm tall (previous: 1860mm). This being the 4x4 means that it has the high-rider suspension, allowing for a taller ground clearance compared to standard 4x2 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 4x4 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 aircon 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 4x4 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; unusual for a pick-up.
Twist the key and the Hilux, being a diesel, kicks to life. The 2.8L 1GD-FTV engine is actually all new, but despite being smaller than previous 3.0L 1KD-FTV, the new Hilux gets 9% more power at 177 PS and 31% more torque at 450 Nm.
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 (relatively) softer front suspension that contrasted 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 6-speed automatic gearbox is a massive improvement over the 4-speed auto of old; smoother, better ratios, and much more efficient. In the city, the Hilux consumed 10.2 kilometers per liter (17 km/h average) while on the highway, that figure goes up to 15.5 (95 km/h average).
Overall, the 2015 Toyota Hilux 2.8L 4x4 6AT is a great improvement over its predecessor. But given the competitive nature of the contenders in the class, there are some better equipped, better riding, and more efficient choices out there that can be had for less than this model's PhP 1,685,000 price tag. The Hilux will undoubtedly be the vehicle of choice for the traditional pick-up customer (engineers, contractors, and the like), but at this price things like parking sensors and a bedliner should really be standard equipment for it to appeal to a wider audience.