Refined and Reinforced

In Photo: The appearance denotes robustness in every aspect with the new dense bumper that contrasts with the slender chrome finish grille and halogen headlamps.

RECENTLY introduced in the country, the new generation Toyota Hilux Pickup boasts of more daring and commanding characteristics compared to its predecessor.  Now with a bolder exterior, redesigned interior and new GD engine among others, the vehicle is undeniably a force to be reckoned with. 

The vertical taillights with partial and overlapping design add to the vehicle’s modern aura.
The vertical taillights with partial and overlapping design add to the vehicle’s modern aura.

This writer had the privilege of driving the 2.8-liter turbo diesel 4X4 A/T top-of-the-line variant painted in what Toyota calls Crimson Spark Red Metallic.

Undoubtedly, the appearance denotes robustness in every aspect, yet it has appealing contours thanks to the new dense bumper that contrasts with the slender chrome finish grille and halogen headlamps.

The hood highlights the character lines that stretch toward the front grille with overlapping contours over the side fenders.  The protruding wheel flares give the all-new Hilux the appearance of a wider stance and more muscular expression. The cockpit is impressive in the sense that it veered away from conventional dashboards.

The modern arrangement gives a sedan-like feel with silver accents complementing the metallic-glossy plastic finish, where all controls are situated appropriately and within reach. With the 6.5″ capacitive touchscreen operated infotainment, everything is easy to access from audio control, Bluetooth to navigation system with real-time voice activated prompts and warnings. Vivid and well illuminated analog gauges, together with the multi-information display, are visible through the steering wheel with embedded controls.  Manually controlled seats are wrapped with fabric, complementing the dark-themed interior trim and sidings. 

The cockpit veers away from conventional thought.
The cockpit veers away from conventional thought.

Driving the Hilux resulted in even more amazement for this writer. One of the notable elements is its two driving modes that change the engine’s performance to suit any situation. In ECO Mode, it gave a quite restrained output ideal for cruising, city driving and slow moving traffic, yet with noticeable response when summoned.  In POWER Mode, it transformed into a more aggressive machine, delivering forceful acceleration that made swift overtaking and ascents negligible. With both buttons disengaged, execution is normal but remarkably flat torque is produced from the low end toward the near midrange, creating effortless speed increments. Toggling between various drivetrain configurations—2H to 4H or 4L—took only a couple of seconds to engage with a separate differential lock switch available.

Adding to the engine’s outstanding delivery is the six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode that demonstrated smart operation.  At one point, upshifting while in manual mode, particularly on inclines, prevented gear changes until the ideal rpm for optimum torque was achieved, leaving no room for hesitation and lag.  On the other hand, the automatic function reacted on descents once I stepped on the brake pedal by invoking engine braking and decreasing the speed.  Moreover, another noteworthy aspect is the low rpm in final drive—100 kilometers per hour at around 1,500 rpm, which promotes fuel efficiency. 

The Ternate-Nasugbu highway proved to be one of the ideal venues to test the all-new Hilux’s ability to handle varying terrains with constant curves and tight turns.  While traversing the winding roads, not even the higher center of gravity created significant body roll and front-end dive when going over obstacles.  What supplemented the pickup’s superb handling and road behavior is the power assisted steering mechanism, which is precise and reactive.  For a leaf sprung rear suspension, the level of comfort and ride was surprisingly smooth on level pavements. In terms of the all-new Hilux’s off-roading capabilities, this author witnessed its astonishing stunt during an extreme ride at the launch event in Clark, Pampanga. The Hilux was tested on a 45-degree soft sand slant, which rolled into punishing downward and upward slopes with huge burrows and, ultimately, followed by water wading on the lahar filled river bed.  The NVH was also so excellent that the diesel engine was hardly heard inside the cabin, while in idle.  And even with humidity at its peak, the fully automated air-conditioning system with climate control easily produced a cold ambiance inside the cabin. 

As for safety, there are four air bags installed in the front, side, curtain shields and driver-knee area apart from stability control, traction control, hill-start assist control and brake assist. This all-new Hilux may lack modern projector type or LED headlamps, but the installed halogen lamps proved effective on wet roads even during heavy downpours.However, doing a reverse parking would put your skills to the test as it lacks reverse sensors. Braking also showed superior stopping power with the combined antilock braking system and electronic brakeforce distribution, which keep you in control even during sudden or firm stabs on the pedal.

Clearly, the all-new Hilux has regained its significant position in the modern pickup arena with its revolutionary enhancements.  It leaned toward the concept of what a pickup should be, especially for those who are more inclined toward driving dynamics, performance essentials and reliability.  When Toyota crafted the tagline “a new era for pickups, every inch a Hilux,” they really meant every word.

Thumbs up

  • Powerful new engine
  • Flat torque from low end towards midrange
  • Superb handling and control
  • Exterior styling
  • Interior layout

Thumbs down

  • No rear bed liners
  • No backing up sensors

Specifications

  • Vehicle: Toyota Hilux G 2.8 4X4 A/T
  • Type: Pickup
  • Engine: 2.8-liter, four-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC, variable nozzle turbo with front mounted intercooler diesel engine
  • Maximum power: 174 hp at 3,400 rpm
  • Maximum torque: 450 Nm at 1,600 rpm to 2,400 rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with ECT (Gate Type Sequential)

Dimensions

  • Overall length: 5,010 millimeters
  • Overall width: 2,000 mm
  • Overall height: 1,815 mm
  • Wheelbase: 3,085 mm
  • Front track: 1,535 mm
  • Rear track: 1,550 mm
  • Tire size: 265 / 65 R17
  • Price as tested: P1.685 million

Image credits: Randy S. Peregrino

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