You say Toyota, I say, Toyoda because it’s likely that when Mr Toyoda (that’s Akio) held a pre-Xmas party to announce a range of thirty fully-EV autos by 2030, he also dropped us the next Hilux (and a new little wagon).
We reckon Tundra is a dead-set-cert for Australia in around two years and that’ll satisfy the full-size brigade, but Hilux is under assault from lots of quarters and its legions of fans will demand much, much more than what they’re currently getting and have in the past. Sitting on your hands and hoping the cachet of the brand is enough to drive a tidal wave of customers into dealerships per past experience, is, frankly, so last year’s.
Not so last year’s is this new white EV ute, that has plenty of next-gen Toyota pickup styling cues and it looks pretty smart.
Firstly, we’re going to have to get used to seeing vehicles with no grilles. With no engine up the front and no longer needing a radiator, the new Hilux on display in the live-streamed event had a patterned panel where the breeze would usually blow, but radiator suppliers of the world don’t despair, because there’s life still left in ICEs. Akio is a big fan of ICEs and hydrogen fuel cells. He’s a pragmatist and knows that in the transition to Toyota’s 2050 Going Beyond Zero plans there’s going to be some necessary steps along the way, some familiar, some foreign.
Plenty are predicting the Asian and Australian new-Hiluxes will get a detuned version of the Land Cruiser 300’s 3.3L V6 twin-turbo diesel with maybe 550-600Nm. Add to that a mid-model iteration of mild-hybrid (a piece-of-piss with the Prius experience), moving to ultimately the EV or hydrogen ICE versions at end of the model cycle. Easy.
If Toyota is looking to make a game-changer in the ute sector (personally, I reckon Ford’s new Ranger for this year is nothing special, I’m underwhelmed, but more on that later) and they’ll need to, I reckon our Hiluxes, whilst they’re still using a proper motor that goes bang, will feature a full-time transmission (at least in the up-spec models) borrowed from Prado with a Torsen centre-diff.
They’ll also integrate for those full-timers, a coil-sprung back end with disc brakes because Raptor/X-Class has raised the bar on that. If you thought that was a pipe dream, the evidence of the live coil rear end is seen in one of the shots with its trailing arm linking the chassis to the rear axle. Don’t stress though if you can’t get your head around all that complication, poverty-pack models would likely remain familiar with part-time 4WD and silly leaf springs with drum brakes that still suck.
In profile, it’s ruggedly handsome, a chunkier look and following the lead of Toyota’s recent USA pickup design school, pumped-up guards and clam-shell bonnet. It’ll win plenty of sales on those looks alone.
Thanks Akio, for letting the cat out of the bag and taking the lead on hydrogen fuel cells. This is likely the first Toyota I’ve ever been even remotely interested in and if the Toyota-Tax isn’t too ridiculous I might be tempted… maybe?