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The 2021 Toyota Hilux has turned up the heat on the hotly contested utility market with a more powerful turbo-diesel engine, more capability and a tougher exterior design.
Like Kiwis, the trusty and iconic Hilux has evolved and adapted over the decades. With new technology, world-class engineering and added safety features, Hilux is constantly moving with the times.
Since its global launch in 1968, the unstoppable Hilux has proved its invincibility time and again, having conquered the North Pole, Icelandic volcanoes, the Antarctic and a win in the Dakar Rally in 2019.
More than 18 million have been sold globally, including more than 142,000 in New Zealand.
The 2021 Toyota Hilux features a bolder, tougher-looking face on most variants and a beefed up 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine that offers 15% more power and 11% more torque than its predecessor. It doesn’t just look more powerful; it is more powerful.
“The Hilux legacy is built on the unbreakable bond between owner and truck,” says Neeraj Lala, Toyota New Zealand Chief Executive Officer. “The 2021 truck is no different. It is our most technologically advanced truck ever, and with its performance improvements, this is a truck that is in its element everywhere.”
“This is all without sacrificing any of the toughness, robustness and legendary Quality, Durability and Reliability (QDR) that have made Hilux the world's favourite pick-up.”
“The Aussies may be trying to claim this one for themselves, but the Hilux is an iconic piece of New Zealand heritage, and the legacy will continue,” says Neeraj.
A truck that is in its element, everywhere
With 18 different Hilux variants in the 2021 line-up, there is a model to suit every customer need. The 18 variants sit within four specification levels – WorkMate, SR, SR5 and top of the range SR5 Cruiser.
The WorkMate delivers on its name. It is the no-frills, get-the-job-done Hilux. With a lower body height allowing ease of access to equipment and tools and a proven 2.7 litre petrol engine the WorkMate is an affordable, safe and reliable truck. The WorkMate is available with an automatic transmission only in either a single cab chassis or double cab ute.
Utilising the upgraded 2.8 litre turbo-diesel engine, the 2WD PreRunner SR is available with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission in the double cab ute or as an automatic in the extra cab ute.
With seven variations, the 4WD SR Hilux offers the most choice. All have the more powerful 2.8 litre turbo-diesel engine, but each configuration meets different requirements.
The 4WD SR can be purchased as a cab chassis in single, extra and double cab configuration. It is also available as a double cab ute. All, apart from the single cab cab-chassis (automatic only), have optional manual or automatic transmissions. The manual transmission on all 4WD SR double cabs has been upgraded to an intelligent type (i-MT).
At the top of the line, the 2021 SR5 and SR5 Cruiser models come in a double cab body shape only and are available as either 2WD PreRunner or 4WD. The SR5 is available with either a manual or automatic transmission, while the SR5 Cruiser is available with an automatic transmission only.
Tougher, more robust on-road presence
The revised exterior styling for wide-body Hilux variants delivers a tough, robust on-road presence for Hilux that takes its lead from the global Toyota truck family and reinforces its renowned go-anywhere credentials.
A stronger, more powerful on-road presence is achieved by a large trapezoidal grille that dominates the front design and incorporates more pronounced horizontal elements to deliver a wider, more planted look. Grille surrounds are charcoal for SR, chrome for SR5, and matte black for SR5 Cruiser. The WorkMate and Single cab variants carry their current exterior design over.
Newly designed headlights on the SR5 and SR5 Cruiser variants are smaller for a "meaner" appearance. Halogen lamps on SR extra and double cab variants use a new four-bulb structure while SR5 gains newly designed LED headlights with a bright chrome surround. The SR5 Cruiser features LED headlights with a dark grey accent.
All headlamps feature auto on/off with manual levelling for WorkMate and SR, and automatic levelling for SR5 and SR5 Cruiser. Side steps are standard on SR, SR5 and SR5 Cruiser variants.
WorkMate variants retain 16” black steel wheels with 215/65R16 Bridgestone tyres. All widebody SR variants have 17" black steel wheels with all-terrain 265/65R17 Bridgestone tyres, while the 4WD SR single cab chassis is fitted with 17" silver steel wheels and all-terrain 225/70R17 Dunlop tyres.
The 17" alloy wheel available with the SR5 has changed to a dark-grey finish while retaining 265/65R17 all-terrain tyres. The 18" SR5 Cruiser wheels, wrapped with 265/60R18 rubber, changes to a black tinted machine cut alloy.
At the rear, distinctive new LED taillights for SR5 and SR5 Cruiser trucks enhance night-time visibility and reduce power consumption. The SR5 Cruiser also has a rear bumper change while a Hilux branded garnish has been added to the tailgate.
There are nine exterior colours with two new colours added to the Hilux range in 2021 – Deep Sea Blue and Emotional Red.
Durable, functional and connected interior
The interior design theme amplifies the balance between the durability and functionality required for work use and the refinement of an SUV.
An improved multimedia system is centred on an 8-inch touchscreen display (previously 6 or 7-inch) with knobs complementing the capacitive-touch interface to make operation easier, such as when wearing heavy gloves.
New standard features include voice recognition for WorkMate variants, and Apple CarPlay®, and Android AutoTM across the range. The SR5 and SR5 Cruiser variants come standard with satellite navigation with SUNA traffic channel.
There are six speakers for double cabs, four for extra cabs and two for single cab and WorkMate variants. While the range topping SR5 Cruiser has a class-leading nine speaker JBL premium audio system with rear subwoofer.
New speedometer and tachometer dials have a cleaner and more premium appearance with white numbers and pointers on a grey-metallic background. The twin dials sit either side of a high-precision colour 4.2-inch multi-information display (MID) that includes a digital speed readout. The SR5 Cruiser has a unique instrument cluster from the other variants.
In addition to conveying safety settings, odometer and trip displays and other driving support information, the MID now offers even greater driver convenience features, including a front-wheel steering angle display.
Diesel variants also get a Diesel Particulate Filter status, indicating if a regeneration process for the filter is required.
WorkMate and SR variants have a dark grey fabric seat and vinyl floor coverings, providing the toughness and durability required for daily commercial use. The SR5 variants add a carpet floor covering. While the SR5 Cruiser has a premium two tone dark grey and black perforated leather accented seats. PreRunner and 4WD double cabs have a 60/40 split base for the rear seat and a stowable armrest. In addition, SR5 and SR5 Cruiser are fitted with a premium shift knob and steering wheel and chrome door handles.
Capable performance for any job
Toyota has wrought substantial improvement from the 2.8-litre turbo diesel 1GD engine, which now develops 150kW and 500Nm (an increase of 15% and 11% respectively on outgoing variants) for variants with the six-speed automatic transmission. Torque with the six-speed manual gearbox remains at 420Nm.
The updates result in stronger overtaking and towing on highway hills with maximum torque now available across a wider range of 1600-2800rpm (auto) and 1400-3400rpm (manual). The 2021 Hilux maintains its renowned low-rpm torque and driveability in city and off-road conditions.
Toyota engineers improved performance and fuel economy simultaneously by adopting a larger, heavy-duty turbocharger with a ball-bearing cartridge for exceptionally crisp and strong throttle response, and a new common-rail injection system with a higher maximum fuel pressure of 250 MPa.
Higher outputs in the 1GD engine have also been supported by improvements including a redesigned cylinder-head gasket, strengthened cylinder block, new pistons and new exhaust manifold and gasket materials. Further cooling measures include a reshaped water jacket, and a revised cooling fan.
The fuel consumption in diesel 2021 Hilux variants is up to 11% better than outgoing models, while CO2 emissions are down 5%.
On SR, SR5, and SR5 Cruiser drivers can choose either normal drive mode, or two extra modes: ECO which reduces throttle response in favour of fuel economy and reduces power consumption for heating and cooling; and POWER to provide sharper acceleration response for a more engaging drive on undulating and winding roads.
The Hilux WorkMate is available with a 122kW/245Nm 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol engine matched with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Towing remains unchanged at 3500kgs maximum braked towing on diesel Hilux, or 2500kgs on WorkMate variants - making Hilux the ultimate truck for towing your boat, work trailer or weekend recreational activity gear.
Agile handling and un laden ride comfort
Engineers further developed the rear suspension of the eighth-generation Hilux, which introduced longer leaf springs to suppress road vibrations, wider spacing of the springs for stability while cornering under load, and revised attachment points to promote steering stability.
The 2021 Hilux has retuned spring rates, shock absorbers and suspension bushes as well as revised cabin mounts. These improvements are designed to deliver a more agile handling response and improving ride comfort, particularly when unladen on country roads and over speed humps.
Hilux also maintains its renowned off-road performance, load-carrying capability, stability and body control - including on gravel dirt roads and when fitted with a bull bar and towing a trailer.
New to the 2021 Hilux is the rear automatic Limited Slip Differential, which is standard across all 4WD double cab variants, while Downhill Assist Control has been added to the manual SR double cab variants making it now standard across all 4WD double cab variants.
PreRunner and 4WD Hilux variants also have a rear differential lock.
Front and rear shock-absorber damping force on 4WD and 2WD PreRunner Hilux have been revised for improved ride comfort.
Revised cabin mounts reduce the transmission of vibrations from the road to the occupants.
All diesel variants benefit from a new variable-flow control power-steering pump that improves fuel economy while delivering a more natural driving feel that varies depending on the driving conditions.
The aim was to offer high assistance to support low-speed manoeuvres such as parking while maintaining better feel with less assistance at highway speeds and on country roads. There is also a specific mode for off-road driving in low range.
Enhanced driver assistance and safety
The Hilux was tested extensively by the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) as recently as 2019, some years after other utes were tested with less stringent criteria. The 5 Star ANCAP safety-rated Hilux arrives with driver and passenger front and side airbags, driver's knee, and curtain shield airbags.
The 2021 Hilux retains its rigid, impact-absorbing structure, full range of electronic braking and traction-control technologies, emergency stop signal, reversing camera, seven airbags, and seatbelt reminders for all seats. On double-cab variants, the rear seats have two top tether anchors and two ISOFIX points.
All variants have the Toyota Safety Sense package. The standard safety package includes a Pre-Collision System with Autonomous Emergency Braking for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Yaw Assist and Road Sign Assist.
In addition, the SR5 and SR5 Cruiser grades have gained front and rear parking sensors. When the system detects objects, it alerts the driver with a buzzer and a message in the multi information display.
Trailer Sway Control also comes as standard on all variants, while Active Traction Control is standard on all 4WDs.