With Toyota’s legendary reliability and claim to unparalleled resale value, the Hilux is hard to ignore while shopping for a ute. But is it really the best choice available today or other automakers have surpassed the Hilux?
Let’s find out: Two most important things a ute shall have are reliability and versatility. There is simply no compromise over these two. The Toyota Hilux is one of the most reliable and rugged ute currently available, but it lacks significantly in versatility. It scores very low in versatility after installation of after-market parts/ accessories. Because of its widespread acceptability and capitalization in the market for such a long time, a vast array of after-market customization options is available. These customization options are a big plus, especially when you an avid off-roader/ camper, and should be factored in. You can definitely find many canopies for Toyota Hilux, most of them so lightweight and professionally laid out that Hilux won’t struggle one bit, on or off road. Additionally, specialized mechanics are readily available, so you won’t be stranded on your own in case something goes wrong on your adventure trip.
Toyota has been trying very hard to offer a more refined experience inside the Hilux for years, and it has improved a lot, but still comes short of its main rivals. The dash is new, but still feels plastic, cheap and not nicely laid out. The only new trick that Hilux has up its sleeves is the multimedia screen. Sadly, that too seems out of place and looks like an afterthought. The only good thing about back seats is that they are there; they offer very limited leg room and worst back support. Too upright, in the segment! The main culprit, ruining the ride quality, is the way suspensions are tuned. They are too rigid for off-road and ride quality won’t get any better on smooth roads either; you will feel even the smallest of bumps.
The 2.8-liter turbo diesel engine was once Hilux’s forte and it still is a worthy foe to new kingpins in ute segment, especially when you factor in the swift 6 speed auto. With 130kW of power and 450 Nm of torque, tray capacity of 920 kg and a towing capacity of 3,200 kg, the Hilux’s performance sheet offers nothing noteworthy compared to competition. But it really comes to life once it goes off-road, when you leave tarmac behind. That’s where the Hilux shines and regains some points. The traction control is among the most refined systems currently on any ute, coupled with an equally impressive differential control. This combination of well powered engine with cleverly put electronics enables the Hilux to tackle even the steepest of climbs with ease.
However, the new king of the ute segment is VW Amarok, which attained the top spot by capitalizing on all of Hilux’s shortcomings. It offers unrivalled driving experience, both on and off-road, a refined drive and impressive towing and load bearing abilities. The Hilux lags behind Amarok in all departments, and only edges over Amarok because of its name plate and repute in the industry.