Toyota's new SA-bound Hilux has a lot more power


• Toyota upgrades Hilux with improved engine, technology

• Increased towing capacity now 3500kg

• Increased power of 20kW

South Africa's most popular vehicle has been upgraded with an improved engine and tech. 

Toyota has revealed an upgrade of South Africa's favourite vehicle, the Hilux, which should be crushing news to its rivals. 

Although the eighth-generation Hilux has been with us since March of 2016, Toyota has conservatively been adding features as the market demands. This evolving product strategy has always served it well – and the Hilux sales numbers are telling. 

The current Hilux is nearly halfway through its lifecycle and 2020 was the year when industry analysts expected some notable updates. 

Toyota South Africa says there's is no confirmed date of arrival as yet, especially due to Covid-19.

While Australia and other markets should receive the new model closer to the end of the year, we reckon South Africa will only be due some months after that.

Looks like the Tacoma

Bakkie design has always been a case of form following function, especially for South Africans. With local bakkie drivers often venturing off-road or journeying on adventurous routes, cosmetic damage is a reality. 

Toyota Hilux

Image: Toyota Media

Instead of other markets, where unnecessary exterior styling accessories are appreciated, in South Africa, they are often a vulnerability and risk. Merely another thing for that hardy bushveld shrub, acacia branch or gravel road stone chip to damage. 

What do you think of the new Toyota Hilux? Please email us.

Toyota has been predictably restrained in its approach. New Hilux has a slightly larger grille, reshaped front bumper and reconfigured headlights. If you are a dedicated follower of all things Toyota, the new Hilux looks very much like a junior-Tacoma, the brand's popular American market bakkie. 

Around the rear, there are now LED taillights. This is an illumination upgrade that should greatly increase visibility to other vehicles when travelling in convoy, on dusty gravel roads, which is where Hilux bakkies spend a great deal of their working life. 

Digitisation is hardly the first thing you associate with a rugged bakkie range, but Toyota realises that even its hardiest Kalahari customers use their Smartphones on the move. 

Toyota Hilux

Image: Toyota Media

To providing better device synching the new Hilux has vastly improved infotainment, with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Powering your selected media is an optional nine-speaker JBL premium sound system, supported by an 800w amplifier running through eight channels. 

Toyota has also proved its superior customer awareness by not overly digitising the Hilux's cabin ergonomics. Its instrumentation remains mostly analogue, and the sound system's volume adjustment is a dial, instead of digital touch, which is a lot less frustrating to operate on bumpy gravel roads. 

Toyota Hilux

Image: Toyota Media

Boosting performance

By far the most important feature of Toyota new Hilux upgrade, concerns the 2.8-litre engine specification. Toyota's engineers have managed to increase engine power from 130- to 150kW, while also boosting peak torque to 500Nm. 

Those new outputs enable the 2.8-litre Hilux to compare more favourably with its direct rival, Ford's bi-turbo 2-litre Ranger. The six-speed manual and automatic gearbox options remain the same, as do their corresponding influences on torque delivery. 

Only Hilux owners who opt for the automatic will have access to all 500Nm of the revised 2.8-litre engine's torque output, while the manual gearbox Hilux is limited to 420Nm. An important detail for those who use their Hilux bakkies to tow is that the automatic version is now rated to haul 3500kg, an improvement of 300kg. 

Toyota Hilux

Image: Toyota Media

Toyota values the all-terrain ability of its Hilux bakkies. It has therefore meticulously recalibrated the suspension configuration, to provide better ride quality on gravel roads. New bushings reduce friction, to allow for superior small-bump compliance, while the Hilux's dampers have also been retuned for better impact absorption in testing off-road terrain. 

Illustrating the attention to detail that Toyota has applied with this new bakkie, is the revised engine idle speed. Engineers have reduced the 2.8-litre turbodiesel's idle speed from 850- to 680rpm, to allow for superior engine braking when descending steep gradients off-road. This lower idle speed also helps when using low-range, to crawl over technical rock obstacles. 

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