When you've got a pickup truck that has sold around 56,000 units since its introduction in 2003, you know you've done something right. And with the launch of the all-new 8th generation Hilux, it looks like Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) is on the same success path one again.
Sharing some design cues from Toyota's extensive vehicle lineup, the all-new Hilux features a bold, solid looking front fascia. The lines are reminiscent of the Corolla Altis, especially the chrome bars on the front grille. Meanwhile, the proportions of the thick bumper, high side profile, and wide wheel arches gives it some muscle, not to mention the 17-inch alloy wheels that are exclusive to the G grade model.
On the inside, it offers more head, shoulder, and leg room for all 5 passengers. This 'truck' also features nicely textured plastics and classy piano black trims. As for the driver, there's a new 4.2-inch color multi-information display on the dash which can tell you the outside temperature, shifting points, and fuel economy. The top-of-the-line version even gets 7 SRS airbags as standard. But the biggest improvement of the all-new Hilux, as far as amenities is concerned, is the 6.5-inch Touch Screen Infotainment System with Navigation.
Unlike typical car launches, TMP was nice enough to let us take the all-new Hilux for a spin right after. And it wasn't just a 'drive'. The first was a self-driven, on-road experience. A simple track composed of slaloms, cones, and high driving obstacles was laid out for us.
That allowed the Hilux's driving dynamics to shine which surprised me. I was expecting a rather truck-like feel. Rather, the ride was refined, smooth, and comfortable even in the rear seats.
The 6-speed manual transmission was a breeze to shift between gears and the clutch was light despite the size of the vehicle. Adding to that, the 4x4 G version comes with something they call an 'intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) that automatically matches engine revs when downshifting. That's the equivalent of a heel-and-toe to you car geeks.
Connected to it is a new 2.8L 4-cylinder Variable Nozzle Turbo Intercooler diesel engine that has an output of 174 hp and 450 Nm of torque. This proved to be more than enough for the road and had some serious grunt to climb over tall sidewalks. Mind you, there's also a smaller 2.4L version for the 4x2 model.
Take off-roading seriously and the all-new Hilux also has a very potent 4x4 system to match. This was Toyota's second experience, which was a ride-along through an extreme course in Clark, Pampanga with an expert driver. We went over steep ascents and descents, crossed deep mud, and crawled on loose gravel. These proved to be no issue for the all-new Hilux, which in the right hands, can handle these obstacles without breaking a sweat.
But the real highlight of the off-road excursion was the riverbed crossing that allowed for amazing photos of the pickup plowing through puddles and streams.
Driving the all-new Hilux changed some of my perceptions about pickups. The ride was smooth, maneuvering was a breeze, and was a joy to be in. Overall, I'm impressed. If you’re in the market for a pickup that combines refinement, all-around usability, and a solid, reputable brand, maybe you need one of these.
Now on sale, the all-new Hilux 2.8 G 4x4 MT is listed at P1,555,000, while the MT version goes for P1,685,000. The 2.4 J 4x2 MT, on the other hand, is priced at P 929,000, followed by the 2.4 E MT at P1,033,000, the 2.4 G MT at P1,208,000, and the 2.4 G AT at P1,283,000. There is also bare 2.4 Cab & Chassis version for businesses at P776,000.