A couple of years earlier pickups were used only for hauling stuff and you also didn’t see them as a daily commuter. Maneuvering approx 5 metre long vehicle was a real task for any driver in the conditions where a car less than 4 metre might find difficulty to move. But, times have changed so as the perception of people residing in the Philippines. Once popular as loading conveyance has now picked up big time and Filipinos have started to show interest in pickups as daily commuters. Not just the people but the brands have devoted significant time in developing pickups that aren’t just loading material but also serve daily needs to a great extent. One such example is the ute from the fleet of world’s most renowned automobile manufacturer, Toyota Hilux. Impressed with its off-capabilities, style and ruggedness over the years, the Hilux has contributed immensely to the brand’s overall year on year sales. Not just as a pickup but people are now loving it for its style, comfort and entertainment features similar to that of a sedan.
In order to find out if the hype and demand are worth, we at CarBay decided to get our hands on the latest Hilux. Here’s what it packs within, experience the real, tough and rugged Hilux through us.
Drives have always kicked me from within, whether it’s an SUV, sedan or a hatch. But, this was the first time I was excited to the core to sit behind the wheel of an ute that too of one of the best, the Hilux. Just when I and my partner were waiting for the ute to arrive we discussed about the random cues it would offer like would the sound and audio system be up to the mark? Would it match the comfort of a sedan? Would the feel inside for rear passengers be like a daily commuter? Many questions that we discussed on that pavement before we got our mule to roll on. The web of questions was then formed as we got to see the first look of red Hilux, which the company calls the Crimson Spark Red Metallic color. From outside, it looked powerful, aggressive and ready to bare the challenges ahead of it. The much more pronounced and wider stance of the Hilux was absolutely a thumbs up. Front fascia has been revamped and it has been for the good. Wide fenders, well sculpted proportions and big headlamps were giving the masculine look to the pickup. Although, not as flamboyant as you’d like, but Toyota has done it enough to break the shatters to label it as a stylish pickup. Horizontal slats chrome grille at the front accompanied by large headlamp clusters and a well-contoured hood were just perfect to attract my attention. While at the side it flanked its chrome door mounted ORVMs, handles and a step board which was placed just accurate to their position to enter in the pickup. Those big and tough wheels under those sculptured arches were adding to its grandeur. The vertical tail lamps and a chrome studded bumper gave it an ideal ending.
Overall, the looks were appealing and good enough to fascinate anyone along the way. Hence, in my opinion it would be a fair deal to go for this pickup as far as styling is concerned.
Entering the vehicle was easy and comfortable, thanks to the step board. The cabin looked much more modern, upmarket and gross in every respect than the earlier version. It seemed that the brand has tried out every trick off its sleeve to make it look fine and premium. At the first glance, everything looked in place. A/C vents got a special place at the centre over the dash while the infotainment system was quite nicely integrated at the centre, which was followed by air conditioning controls and finally two handy storage compartments lower down. The extreme air vents on either side of the dash had unique styling with silver accents for more premium look. Plus, there were spring loaded front cupholders beneath them, which seemed to be pretty handy and stylish. The multi-function steering wheel was big, easy to grab and was leather wrapped too. With optimum cuts for perfect positioning of the thumbs it was one heck of a wheel to have in your road machine. Plus, the tilt/telescopic column allowed me to adjust its position according to my suited height. The seats were well cushioned and potent to provide a sense of comfort even on long run. The development team of Toyota needs to receive a round of applause for this as they have done enough to make rear seats as comfortable as that on the front. The legroom at the rear has also been improved with full size adult to fit in comfortably.
The LED backlit instrument cluster looked upmarket while the readability was also not a thing of concern as everything was easy to read and understand. The infotainment system served basis for navigation system as well which was a real useful feature to have while you travel outstations often. On the storage front, it seemed to be a hero as the brand has managed to draft in a myriad of storage places. Apart from the cargo space, it had compartments lower down the centre console and near the handbrake as well. The main highlight was the 60/40 split configuration for the rear seats that can further extend the space while you are on the go.
On the mechanical front, it certainly reaches a new high. Although, the new Hilux engine has been downgraded from 3.0 to 2.8-litre 1GD-FTV engine, but it has gone a step higher on the power output. It now is capable of pumping out a max power of 177 PS alongside a peak torque of 450 Nm. It is now mingled to a 6-speed automatic transmission system, which is certainly a huge advancement from the brand’s counterpart. Switch on the ignition and your companion was ready to roar. On expressways, it was sublime and easy to cruise along. The ride was comfortable, smooth and stress-free and you won’t feel any sort of discomfort. A cup of coffee would perfectly compliment your ride on such plain stretches of roads. Being a heavy built and long ute, the handling was factor for the company to get the basics right and I wasn’t disappointed on this front at all. The suspension worked quite well over the highways and helped us to cruise along with ease. However, when the drive turned towards city, the suspension looked a bit of concern. The bumps weren’t that easy to handle, although a 5-metre long pickup looked pretty easy to move and turn through those congested streets but its stiff suspension wasn’t able to absorb the bumps and holes of city. The previous version of the Hilux was fitted with much softer suspension at front, which made ride smooth as hell in city but its contrasting stiff suspension at the rear formed a rare and undesirable combination. This Hilux got the things covered with a balanced suspension fitting, but only for expressways. City ride was still an unpleasant one and made us remind that after all it was an ute and not a full-proof sedan or SUV.
The impressive part of the drive was the torque output. Impressive torque made it easy to pull a heavily built pickup with ease on the go. Off-roading was a piece of cake for us at that moment of time. On the fuel economy part, we recorded figures of 10 Kmpl and 15 Kmpl for city and highway respectively, which were decent enough to keep you interested.
In the Philippines, the Hilux is on offer in the following six variants:
No doubt, Toyota has tried every trick off its sleeve to make Hilux the sole champion in its class but sadly at a price at which it is currently on offer in the market is way too high than other contenders prevailing in the Philippines. It lacks on the equipment front while the ride quality is also on a lower side as compared to its rivals. The Japanese automaker could have drafted in few more features as standard to lure a wider audience which hasn’t been the case. So, in my words you can look out for more choices available in the market if you want to own an urban pickup over a traditional one.