Perhaps it’s the luxury that comes with being one of the biggest brands in the world – and by far the best-selling car company in Australia – but Toyota has a bit of a habit of sitting back when it comes to updating its most popular models.
Look no further than the LC300 – the LandCruiser 200 series hung around for 14 years before a brand new model finally came out to replace it.
Or more importantly, the Toyota HiLux, which was launched in Australia in 2015. While there have been updates since then – some bigger than others – an all-new model still seems a long way off.
There’s definitely a “don’t break, don’t fix” element to play here. After all, the HiLux has been the best-selling vehicle in Australia every year since 2016 and is likely to top the list again in 2022.
But it’s also true that the battle for first place has never been more fierce – and that the battle is only just heating up.
A new Ford Ranger, Toyota’s traditional arch-rival, is soon to be launched in Australia, with an avalanche of new technology, new and powerful engine options and an ‘engineered in Australia’ ethos.
And that’s without mentioning the Raptor, which Toyota still doesn’t have an answer for, despite trademarking the GR HILux name many moons ago.
And that wait seems to be continuing. So says Toyota’s Light Commercial Vehicles Manager in the UK, Gareth Matthew, who said: Auto Express there was simply no demand for a more powerful HiLux.
“UK customers are not complaining that the 2.8-litre diesel is underpowered, so there’s not enough reason to look beyond that for a performance version,” he said.
Close to the Ranger will be the equally new and exciting VW Amarok, which will also feature a big V6 diesel engine, Ford’s impressive portrait-style infotainment system, a ton of tech and – almost certainly – a locally developed Walkinshaw. tweaked flagship model.
We now know that Nissan is working on a locally developed (thanks to Premcar) Warrior model based on the SL Navara, which will make a Warrior cheaper than ever before.
The impressive Isuzu D-MAX – and its Mazda BT-50 twin – are both less than two years old, and Kia’s new double cabin is also getting closer.
All that will soon feel the mighty HiLux feel a little long in the tooth. Worse, there are already cooler HiLux models on offer overseas, but none have arrived in Australia yet.
In Thailand, for example, the HiLux GR Sport increases performance and responsiveness, with a focus on both road and adventure performance. But the South African GR Sport version is the one we really want as it is the first to offer a power upgrade along with the cosmetic tweaks.
Although the HiLux’s engine has not changed, local publication Iol Motoring says the new GR-S model has been tuned to produce more power and torque, with 165 kW and 550 Nm offered by its 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine – which would be enough for Toyota to boast a four-cylinder in Australia.
Still, there’s hope for an all-new HiLux on the horizon, with recent reports pointing to a launch as early as 2023 after what appeared to be a new Tacoma spotted during testing in the US.
Credible Reports from America MotorTrend claim Toyota’s commercial vehicle range will shift to the same TNGA platform as the Tundra and LC300, with a new global architecture shared by the HiLux, the Tacoma, the US-spec 4Runner and its Aussie sibling, the Fortuner. So a new Tacoma could mean a new HiLux sooner or later.
And with the competition getting tougher every day, that moment can’t come soon enough.