There’s always one thing that I look forward to whenever a new 4×4 vehicle is launched, besides the actual vehicle that is, and that’s the choice of words the manufacturer has put together to describe the new product. You can almost always expect words like rugged, tough, indestructible and robust to be used in the same way that words like green, economical, and environmentally friendly are used to describe Hybrids.
Take the Toyota Hilux for example; the brochure ahead of me says ‘Tough, Inside Out,’ with a picture of the Hilux zooming past what looks like a 30,000ft drop-off. It’s pretty obvious that it’s a doctored image but it says a lot about the abilities of the Hilux. Or does it? There was only one way to find out. We like to make certain that we know our facts, so if we tell you it’s tough, it means that we have tested it to make sure its tough.
And to make certain the Hilux is tough; I took it to a rubber estate right after a downpour when conditions were slippery with the lingering threat of sliding into a rock or into a tree. It was a real life test of how the Hilux would survive life as a mule to an estate manager who has to commute on the highway and then waddle through mud, sand and over boulders to check on his trees and workers.
First up was the drive to the estate in Slim River, a 100km drive north of Kuala Lumpur that provided the perfect opportunity to test it on the highway. In all honesty, the Hilux was impressive. The interior is a comfortable place to be in with generous space for driver and passengers, and the simple dashboard feels well built.
The optional touch-screen entertainment unit plays your favourite MP3’s, DVD’s and even doubles as a GPS system and rear-view camera. It even has Bluetooth for you to connect your phone to and make hands-free calls.
The interior is a good place to be in even for the daily commute to work; it feels like a regular car that’s been jacked up for a better view of what’s ahead. Our test unit was the 3.0G and thus came with a 3-liter engine that provides 160bhp and 343Nm of torque, enough for you to cruise at 160kmph or transport large, heavy items.
Off the tarmac the Hilux truly comes alive when it hits the beaten road. It’s immediately clear that it was built for this as the abundance of torque make mince of the loose gravel. Steep inclines or shallow drops? Not a problem as the Hilux comes fitted with an ‘Automatic Disconnecting Differential’ that lets you switch between 2WD and 4WD without having to stop. This is especially useful on steep terrains or when you’re stuck and need the momentum to keep you going.
So the Hilux has proven that it can handle almost any kind of terrain thrown at it, but being a pick-up it’s expected to be able to handle that, just like how it’s expected to be able to tow a heavy load.
Toyota says that its 3.0G Hilux is able to deal with a maximum of 500kg of weight on its bed, or be able to pull up to 1500kg of whatever. Now we could not substantiate that claim as the heaviest person in the office weighs in at a little over 100kg; the Employee Protection Act does not permit us to use our colleagues as dead weights to test manufacturer claims, even if we bundled them together for padded safety. So we could only do the next best thing. Trust the manufacturer.
But we did scour the internet for proof and what we found out was that the boys from BBC’s Top Gear were totally unable to destroy the Hilux and later used one for their North Pole expedition. We also came across various videos of the Hilux being used to tow boats that weighed up to 2250kg! Now that’s saying something of its durability.
Well to be honest again, the impressive ability of the Hilux as a daily driver and an estate mule does not come as a surprise. Its reputation precedes it and 2.7million satisfied owners worldwide will testify to that. Close to 100,000 units have been sold in Malaysia alone since 2005, and if you have an eye for the Toyota Hilux, it starts at RM73,256 for the 2.5 Single Cab and goes up to RM107,250 for the top of the line 3.0 Double Cab which we tested here.
And to sweeten the deal, Toyota throws in a 3-year or 100,000km warranty just in case you manage to find something to stop the Hilux. If you did, we’d love to know.
(In association with ON THE ROAD Magazine)