41 may just be an arbitrary number to you and me. But to Toyota SA it’s far more significant. 41% is the market share their Hilux enjoys in the light commercial vehicle market, making it not only immensely dominant but the most significant model in their range.
Hilux’s die hard nature and legendary durability sees around 2 500 units being sold every month – despite some quality opposition. While it’s not likely to make much difference to the average farmer if his beloved Hilux now comes with a USB jack, Optitron instrumentation or that now allows him to play the latest treffers from his iPod, one has to applaud Toyota SA for keeping the Hilux fresh and embracing the information age, albeit on a small scale.
As the Hilux is all-new from the A-pillar forwards, Toyota feels comfortable to refer to it as a new model rather than a facelift. Truth is not much has significantly changed to the vehicle’s major underpinnings or the derivative line-up. Which is good news, because if you have got a winning recipe, why change it. But one has to listen to the market and based on this feedback Toyota have introduced a new 2.5 D-4D SRX derivative into the Xtra Cab line-up. Although the Xtra cab range is a relatively new sight on our roads, it too undergoes the same aesthetic treatment in-line with its double cab and workhorse counterparts. While the Xtra cab was initially sourced from Thailand, all three models will now be built at Toyota’s Prospection Plant in Durban.
While the new changes haven’t improved the new Fortuner – which shares the Hilux’s IMV platform and ladder frame chassis – the new bonnet lines add a sense of power to the front of the Hilux. The lines flow through to the horizontal slatted grille.
New headlights flank the trapezoidal design while below the grille, a redesigned bumper that houses new fog lights is introduced with chromed bezels on top spec versions. The 3.0 D-4D variants also feature a wider, more pronounced bonnet scoop for the intercooler which is now centrally mounted, not offset as in the past.
In profile, new overfenders feature on the Raider versions while new side mirrors with integrated side turn indicators appear on both the Raider and SRX spec levels along with new six spoke wheel designs for the 15-inch steel wheel caps and 17-inch alloy wheels on higher specification models.
One can also distinguish the Hilux from the previous version from the rear by its new tail light design as well as a high mounted brake light at the top of the tailgate. The tailgate is now also lockable as standard across the range. While the chrome and black trim inserts in the interior of the new Fortuner don’t really work with its grey and tan two tone interior, Hilux’s double and xtra cab variants, the darker, more practical grey and black interior trim isn’t as offensive, while the cloth trim and stiching in the SRX variants has also been improved. In addition to the Optitron instrumentation, USB jack and iPod connectivity, the Raider models now feature Bluetooth, a touch screen information display and CD sound system with six speakers and steering mounted controls. While the new information unit can accommodate satellite navigation, Toyota have chosen not to introduce it due to coverage issues with neighbouring states (Mozambique) and poor market demand due to the proliferation of more affordable aftermarket systems (Garmin, Tom tom.)
The new Hilux also boasts upgraded towing ratings on several models, ranging between 1 510 kg on the 2.5 D-4D 4×4 SRX and 2 000 kg on the 3.0 D-4D Raised Body Raider. Thankfully low range, is still activated manually via the transverse lever not electronically for better mechanical peace of mind off the beaten track, while market feedback has also seen the introduction of a practical rear sliding window as standard on the Raider model and optional on the SRX. The 3.0 D-4D and 4.0 V6 powertrains remain unchanged and in double cab derivatives boast the following driver aids: Brake Assist (BA); EBD; Vehicle stability control (VSC) and Automatic headlamps.
While the VSC has given further reassurance to the vehicle’s attitude on dirt roads, the original powertrains, suspension and chassis ensure the Hilux still sets the benchmark on and off the road. Despite the added specifications and value, Toyota have only implemented a 2% price increase across the range, by only transferring the cost of the components.