By Sala Masindane
As the old saying goes, “consistency is key,” and the Toyota Hilux has done that for the past 50-years. Not only that, but it has been one of the highest selling cars in South Africa and currently amassing sales of about 3,000 units monthly. This was not overnight success but hard word and, as mentioned above, consistency. Now in its eight-generation the Hilux has gone through some changes but is still the force that it has been for many years. We recently drove the Hilux 2.8GD-6 Raider Double Cab 4×4 to see what the fuss is all about and we were pleasantly surprised how the Hilux has still “got it” after so many years.
Previously, bakkies were not the best looking in the bunch and were pretty much designed for purpose. This has changed in the recent years as bakkies are becoming more popular but also must defend their turf against evergreen SUVs and crossovers. That has prompted bakkie designers to strive for the bakkies to look more appealing. As leaders of the segment, Toyota has ensured that the updated Hilux follows the formula. This evident by the bumper design that includes intersecting horizontal and vertical fog lamp finishes decked out in gloss black. However, the large honeycomb grille is what solidifies the transition mention above. The standard front daytime running LED lights will have you confused as to which SUV is following when driving ahead of the Hilux. That’s not all which is sporty on the Hilux, but the gloss-chrome door handles also add to the upmarket look of the Hilux.
Generally, this would be the boring part of the review… Why you may ask? Well, as with the exterior, bakkies have been on dull side of things when you are talking about the interior, but this has not been without reason. One of them is the fact that most bakkies are workhorses and the things on them were built for durability as opposed to looking good. The likes of the updated Hilux have now ensured that this conversation is no longer boring. Step into the Hilux and you see an intuitive infotainment system with navigation that is relatively easy to use.
I must mention the speakers are not a party starter, but they are audible enough for everyone in the car to enjoy the tunes coming out of them. My other concern is the lack of the volume knob, this might take away the attention of the driver while trying to increase or decrease the volume but fortunately the multifunctional steering wheel (which is also adjustable) will come in handy for these exercises. Also, there’s no smartphone mirroring technology available now but there is Bluetooth, USB and AUX ports to keep you connected. The dash is built with quality materials and two of my favourites are the digital clock in the middle and the 100watts plug point in the front armrest.
This being a double cab, seating and legroom space is generous, two adults sat comfortably at the back and had the benefit of a retractable armrest that has two average size cupholders. This is was feature was unheard of in bakkies but now is standard on the updated Hilux double cab bakkie. Unfortunately, I did not get use the loading bay sufficiently either then the odd traveling with my road and mountain bike.
On the road the 2.8-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that produces 130KW and 420Nm Hilux is solid. This is whether is the Hilux is driving on plush national highways or on the gravel. The suspension on the stiff and on the firmer side of things which takes slightly away from the ride quality that is to be expected in the segment these days. It also felt a bit jittery at the back when the load bay was empty. The road noise level was a bit on the high side when driving on gravel or bad roads. While the driving position is high, and you have a clear visible view of the road, this is a 4X4 bakkie after all. The cloth seats are also comfortable on short or longer distances. The driver aids like the cruise control and the reverse camera are helpful. The latter especially when you are parallel parking or trying to maneuverer into tight spaces. However, I did miss the park distance control rear or front and this is an option I will certainly tick. The six-speed manual transmission creates that engaging and fun drive that you would miss on the automatic, but this was not the V6 model and it does feel like the power build up is more gradual than immediate. I did not take the Hilux off-roading and didn’t get the opportunity to tow a trailer or anything heavy load, but it is cable of these. The Hilux still commands respect on the road and that is justified by its performance.
The Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 Double Cab 4X4 Raider is priced from R537,600.
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