The pick-up truck has come a long way as a vital vehicle that facilitates transportation of commodities from point A to B. Since the days of Independence, the Hilux has been part and parcel of Kenya’s motoring furniture, loved by entrepreneurs, farmers and fleet companies due to its tough, durable and reliable nature. Fast forward to now and Toyota has enhanced these attributes and made the new Hilux unbeatable. I had the chance to sample the new Hilux single cab 4×2 and this is my take.
In an era where looks play a major role in purchasing a vehicle, the new Toyota Hilux is definitely a looker. Design theme is fresh and departs from the bland language Toyota employed at the turn of the century. It’s more assertive and angular look compared to its chunky predecessor. Now with a longer wheelbase and track, the Hilux now spots an aggressive stance, something i have also noted is the trend with Ford’s Ranger.
Under the bonnet lies the famous 2KD-FTV engine which comes in two states of tune (75kW/260Nm low pressure and 88kW/325Nm high pressure). Toyota initially put on ice the deployment of the new 2GD-FTV engine in this market due to our fuel quality issues, however it has been eventually rolled out as the fuel quality has improved. Mated to this engine is a 5-speed manual gearbox that allows you to exploit the full potential of the engine yet achieve good fuel consumption figures of 9.2L/100KM.
Step inside the new Hilux and you will be surprised with how spacious it is. Toyota again has ditched its utilitarian design theme and now the dashboard shares its looks with its sibling, the RAV 4.
The centre console houses the tablet styled audio system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity that glows in a cool blue hue during the night. Instrument binnacle is clear and precise with the centre trip computer displaying all the necessary information to the driver.
The single cab sits two people in relative comfort. Gone is the traditional bench seat and in comes individual sculptured seats with multiple adjustments to ensure maximum comfort during long drives.
I took out the Hilux on the Nairobi-Kitengela-Isinya circuit which offers a mix of both on and off-road conditions. On the highway it’s a relaxed cruiser, although the model on test had a 5-speed gearbox which strains at speeds above 100km/h. It is my considered opinion that perhaps Toyota should dump the 5-speed gearbox for the 6-speed found in the 4×4 derivative. The extra overdrive gear enhances acceleration and improves fuel economy on long trips.
Branching away from the busy Namanga highway to the rough Ostrich Farm route, you could tell the front double wishbone and rear leaf spring suspension set up has been tuned to handle the rough stuff.
Although it doesn’t soak up all the imperfections like the Ranger, Toyota has improved considerably the ride comfort of the new Hilux. Perhaps the use of high profile tire over the standard issue would greatly improve the ride of the Hilux.
Toyota hasn’t compromise on the safety of occupants and in fact in terms of overall safety integrity the Hilux is best in class. Its active safety credentials include ABS, EBD and BA (Anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist) which work in sync to help you avoid an accident
The new Hilux represents Toyota’s leap in to the now ‘cut-throat’ single cab segment. With rivals Ford, Mitsubishi and Isuzu rolling out equally capable models, it now boils down to Toyota’s reputation, after-sales and marketing to secure the Hilux position as Kenya’s best-selling pick-up.