The Toyota Hilux is as much a part of South African culture as rugby, or braai-ing, or Castle Lager; and much like Castle, the Hilux has stood the test of time. Nowadays there’s seemingly no situation in which Toyota’s stalwart bakkie isn’t appropriate thanks to its rugged underpinnings and the fact that it’s now acceptable, desirable even, to drive one around town.
That’s an amazing fact really. When did it become fashionable to drive a workman’s vehicle to and from work, only work isn’t on a farm or on the side of some inaccessible hill, but along a perfectly tarred highway?
Anyway, back to the point. The Toyota Hilux is and has always been the choice bakkie for anyone in the market – their sales figures over the last very-long-time prove that. So what is it about this particular bakkie that is so impressive?
On the outside
I’m not sure that the Hilux can be considered a style icon of any sort. But for what it is, I suppose it looks alright. Toyota has tried to keep it looking modern by sharpening up the lines across the bonnet, adding fancy headlights and flaring the wheel arches for a more butch appeal. The Hilux doesn’t do enough to compete with the likes of Ford’s Ranger though.
On the inside
Considering my waffled introduction, it comes as no surprise that the Hilux sports some fancy interior features. They’ve used new, higher quality materials and redesigned things to keep the look fresh, but mainly to incorporate a new audio display system. Designed by Toyota, the system has ports for your iPod and displays iPod cover art, track listings and song titles. Bluetooth connectivity rounds off the features of this colour screen display.
Aside from the gadgetry, the Hilux has a large cabin and is easy enough to get in and out of thanks to running boards down its length. Comfort isn’t high on the priority list though; the harsh suspension is after all geared toward carrying a load rather than cosseting occupants.
On the road
The manner in which the Hilux behaves on road is typically ‘bakkie-like’ – which is really just code for rubbish. The turning circle is a nightmare in tight parking lots, the suspension is hard, there’s body roll and no real feel to the steering.
Off road is another story though – and in fact the more important part of the story. I took the Hilux to the toughest off-road course I could find to see what was what; and despite a few hair raising moments (and the odd bump), the Hilux performed admirably with its low-range ‘box, locking diffs and rugged 4×4 system. My main complaint would be the lengthy wheel base, but that’s exactly what gives the Hilux its load carrying ability.
The 3.0 litre D4D motor isn’t the most powerful in its class; nor can it provide the best towing capability; nor is it the most technologically advanced. But what it can boast is Toyota’s stamp of reliability and trustworthiness, which is worth so much more to most people. I must admit that Toyota has managed to refine the old oil burner somewhat in recent years; it sounds far less agricultural than in previous generations and therefore makes it much easier to live with every day.
I’m by no means a Hilux fan – I’d rather get a Ford Ranger every day of the week. One thing I cannot argue though is that Toyota has a diehard fan base that have come to love the reliability and steadfastness a Hilux brings to their respective daily tasks, no matter what those might happen to be. And on that basis, the Hilux is very difficult to fault.
Price: R 476 300
Engine: 2982cc four cylinder turbo charged diesel
Power: 120 kW
Torque: 343 Nm
Consumption (l/100km): 8.6 (claimed)
Service: 5yr/90 000km service plan
First published in Autodealer KZN