Toyota Hilux Off Road Review: The Incredible Hulk | The Financial Express

Toyota Hilux Off-Road Review: The Incredible Hulk

Toyota’s philosophy is simple, if not broken then enhance it further. This is why the eighth-generation Hilux gets a new powerful diesel engine and is now more tarmac friendly.

Toyota Hilux Review
The prices of the 2023 Toyota Hilux range from Rs 30.40 lakh to Rs 37.90 lakh, ex-showroom

It’s been a year since Toyota launched the Hilux in India but all good things happen to those who wait and we finally got our hands on the Hilux. To showcase the indestructible pick-up truck’s capabilities, we drove the Hilux at Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand where the road or shall we say the trail was paved ruts, gravel, steep inclines and whatever else Mother Nature could throw at us. 

Toyota Hilux Review: Off-roading attributes

Trailblazing with the Hilux is a piece of cake. It gives total confidence and makes you feel like you’re in total control of the tank. There’s a good reason for this as Toyota launched the first-gen Hilux in 1968 and since then the Japanese automobile manufacturer has been perfecting the off-roader for over 50 years. That’s the reason why the Hilux has literally been there and done everything from being a workhorse for utility purposes to being the indestructible pick-up truck that’s conquered the most challenging terrains on earth including warzones and winning the gruelling Dakar rally.

To put your money where your mouth is, we didn’t waste any time once we drove past the Rajaji National Park’s check post. Based on the invincible ladder frame chassis, the Hilux swat aside ruts and potholes like annoying flies. With the ease at which the Hilux was flattening out the rocky surface, we nearly forgot that the pick-up truck is running on stock Bridgestone 265/60R18 tyres. Just to give some reference, these are the same tyres that come standard with the Fortuner. So the way these chunky tyres clobbered pretty much everything that came in its way was nothing short of impressive. Apart from driving on the water bodies and taking on inclines, the Hilux never needed additional assistance from 4WD High or 4WD Low modes. The Toyota Hilux was sure-footed in such a terrain. 

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It was time to make things more interesting. We decided to use the Hilux’s special powers and switch to 4WD Low and engaged the rear differential lock to drive up steep gravel sloop. With this, even the slender chance of a wheelspin was completely negated as the rear wheels were boosted by the torque for the much-needed additional traction. The Hilux was also at ease in a river crossing and not once we felt that we were losing control of the vehicle. By improving its bulletproof Vehicle Stability Control function, the Hilux offers better steering control especially on slippery conditions, automatically activating brakes and also keeping a check on the engine output. So come rain, river beds and various challenging conditions, the Hilux drives at ease thanks to its commanding approach angle of 29 degrees and departure angle of 26 degrees.

Even though we did limited water wading, the Hilux transformed into Noah’s ark and simply chugged away effortlessly. According to Toyota, the pick-up has a water-wading capacity of 700mm. 

The Achilles heel with pick-up trucks is limited rear axle articulation, but Hilux has ample of it which gives it the freedom to tackle any sort of challenging condition without a worry. The Hilux is also equipped with a tyre angle monitor, Hill Assist Control, traction control, anti-lock braking system with emergency brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution. 

Toyota Hilux Review: Road mannerisms

The Hilux sticks to its tried-and-tested leaf springs in the rear but Toyota has updated it to ensure even when the vehicle isn’t loaded, it offers a comfortable driving experience on the tarmac. Toyota has tightened the leaf springs to ensure the vehicle doesn’t wallow on the road and at the same time it can carry heavy loads without any problem. Toyota consciously made this decision as the Hilux is no more a workhorse pick-up truck rather it also targets lifestyle buyers.

With improving the ride quality, one has to keep in mind that the Hilux is a long vehicle and measures 5.3 metres in length. For reference, the Fortuner is 4.79 meters in length. So, when it comes to driving and taking turns in the city, one has to be aware of its colossal size.

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The steering wheel is on the heavier side, but personally, we didn’t have any issues with it. While negotiating slow-moving traffic, the wheel’s heaviness may be an issue for some. As it is a pick-up truck, it would be unfair to expect the steering to be responsive like the new-age SUVs, but it is still a step up over its predecessor. 

Toyota Hilux Review: Power-packed engine

Toyota has updated the Hilux’s engine and it now comes powered by the 2.8-litre inline-4 diesel with a total output of 201bhp. It is available with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. The former has a torque of 420Nm and the latter with 500Nm. We drove the automatic version. Even though the transmission changes gears in a slightly lazy manner, the shifts are smooth and the torque kicks in instantly as low as around 700-800rpm. The automatic also offers manual gear shifts which have shorter throws and make driving a lot more involving. In hindsight, the powertrain can be quite loud even before the needle crosses 2,000 rpm. The Hilux is available in two driving modes — Eco and Power. 

Toyota Hilux Review: Stepping up in design

The Hilux top trim gets all LED lights including DRLs and turn indicators along with a thick chrome frame around the front grill. The truck comes standard with 18-inch alloys but the entry-level comes with machine-finished ones while the higher variants get all-chrome. 

Don’t be fooled by the cabin’s plastics as they are tough and durable as expected from a pick-up truck. The Hilux does offer creature comforts like leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, two glove boxes, a six-speaker music system, and an 8-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The top trim is bundled with additional features like centre console storage space with a soft armrest and chrome finish in-cabin door handles, dual-zone climate control with rear AC vents and the driver’s side gets electrically adjustable seats.

The Hilux in India is available as a double cabin pick-up truck and it offers more than enough space for the front seats. The rear, on the other hand, gets a bit cramped as the seats are upright and have a high-knee seating position. The good thing is that it offers plenty of headroom.   

Toyota Hilux Review: Verdict

Is the Hilux invincible? Yes, it certainly is with its legendary off-roading capabilities, but Toyota has now made it more urban-friendly with tweaked rear suspensions. It doesn’t offer the typical bouncy ride as more pick-up trucks offer. The torquey engine is sublime and offers plenty of pull power at low rpm levels. It is a solid build truck with a presence like no other and the interiors are fairly well equipped, but starting from Rs 30.40 lakh to Rs 37.90 lakh, the quality could have been better and features like a wireless phone charger should be a standard feature. With its unparallel capabilities and reliability, it is a must-have for an adventure-seeking lifestyle enthusiast.

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First published on: 20-03-2023 at 17:40 IST
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