The Toyota Hilux has an enviable record in the mid-sized pickup segment. It is the standard by which all others are judged due to his long history of reliability, durability, and off-road prowess under even the most extreme conditions. It’s a jack of all trades, but master of those three elements, making it a sales success for Toyota.
However, one thing it’s never done is get caught up in the horsepower wars of its rivals. That ended with the current eighth-generation model. The road to where the 2021 Hilux now sits began with the model change in 2016. Then the most powerful engine available was a 3-litre turbocharged diesel with an output of 163bhp and 270lb/ft of torque.
Not class-leading at the time when several competitors were near the 200bhp mark and pushing over 300lb/ft of torque. As an icon, any changes to the Hilux were instantly scrutinized and when Toyota swapped out the 3-litre to a smaller 2.8-litre, the loyalists were up in arms, despite the fact that the new engine was lighter, more efficient, and more powerful.
The 2.8-litre had an output of 177bhp, but more importantly, it crossed the 300lb/ft torque mark of a few of its class rivals. Yet, it still wasn’t quite there.
For 2021 the new face-lifted Hilux barrels over that threshold with top-of-the-class power figures that diesel pickup owners love to brag about. Updates to the 2.8-litre boost the Hilux to 201bhp and a massive 370lb/ft of torque, all while still being more fuel-efficient than the previous version.
The extra muscle now shows. Diesels are about low-end tree stump pulling torque and the new Hilux has its 370lb/ft available from 1,600rpm to 2,800rpm. This makes towing and hauling a more effortless task for the new pickup, but the benefits don’t stop there.
This newfound power translates to a smoother experience overall. At cruising speed or in the ECO mode, the Hilux is benign and relaxed with acceleration only a prod of the pedal away.
For those wanting top-end grunt, relative to a low spinning diesel, maximum horsepower is available at 3,400rpm. With the new power figures, the Hilux operates quietly and confidently, the diesel engine only making itself heard during cold starts. Once warmed up, it fades away.
Where the new engine shines is off-road. The Hilux is already a capable pickup in rough conditions. Its design feature a set of approach, departure and break-over angle, ground clearance, and suspension articulation endow it with the ability to cover ground one might not think possible for a vehicle.
The swell of torque allows it to crawl assuredly through and over obstacles. So much is the Hilux’s dexterity that it might be the rare occasion where drivers would need to engage the more serious 4×4 LO mode or even lock the rear differential.
All this power is nothing without control and the throttle mapping has been tuned to ensure that drivers don’t light up rear tyres when unladen, or in critical conditions when traction is a necessity like a road surface changes. Otherwise, the traction control will step in to halt those who might be lead-footed.
Even without the new engine, the Hilux was already in possession of the elements that continue to see it as a segment favourite. This power upgrade has given it the muscle it needs to stay in the top tier of mid-sized diesel pickups for the future.
It’s available from Toyota Jamaica, 427 Spanish Town Road, and 93 Old Hope Road in Kingston. Their Montego Bay branch is located at 1200 Ironshore Industrial Estate.