Milestones: 50 Years of Toyota Hilux on 50 Years of Toyota Hilux pickups

The entire development concept for the eighth-generation Hilux was centered on ‘redefining toughness,’ with the aim of making the new Hilux ‘tougher’ based on a broader interpretation of that word.

The Toyota Hilux debuted in March 1968 as a new front engine/hooded truck that integrated and succeeded the Briska and the Light Stout. The pickup was conceived by Toyota and was developed and manufactured by Hino Motors at its Hamura Plant.

Gen 2 Hilux appeared during May 1972. Both the long and short wheelbase versions used previous components, although the wheelbase grew by 10 mm and 45 mm, respectively. The length of the deck and the maximum payload capacity were unchanged. In addition to the standard model equipped with the existing 1.6-liter engine, the Highway model with a 2.0-liter 105 hp engine (18R) was introduced for driving on expressways.

Gen 3 Hilux went on sale in September 1978. Its model offered “sedan-like specifications and equipment, as well as ride comfort.” The variations included three standard-length models and four long-body models. The new top-end Super Deluxe model came with an extended cab that was 90 mm longer than a standard cab, enlarging the interior space. The 1.6-liter 12R-J engine was inherited from the previous generation. The double wishbone front suspension remained unchanged, except that the coil springs were replaced with a torsion bar. Front disc brakes were standard on Deluxe grade models and above.

Gen 4 Hilux was released in November 1983. The rear-wheel-drive (RWD) models included the Comfortable series and the Popular series; the former was the fourth-generation model with renewed interior and exterior design, while the latter was the third-generation model that remained in production. All 4-wheel-drive (4WD) models came with a new body. The external appearance of the fourth-generation models had blister fenders in the front and rear. In the U.S. Hilux began making inroads against compact Ford Ranger and Chevrolet S10 pickups. It was a trend that would continue.

Gen 5 Hilux that came out in September 1988. It represented the three basic concepts of power, sturdiness, and comfort. To enhance its functionality as a multi-purpose vehicle (known as RV or recreational vehicle in Japan at the time), the interior equipment was further upgraded. The basic body variations were reduced to one featuring pressed doors with integrated window sashes.

A major difference between rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and 4-wheel-drive (4WD) models was the wheel arch flares: RWD models had fenders without flares, whereas 4WD models came with sturdy-looking over fenders with flares. For this reason, the width of 4WD models became 1,690 mm, or 40 mm wider than that of RWD models. The design of the dashboard and other interior equipment became even more sedan-like than before.

Gen 6 Hilux that was introduced in September 1997 with a business-use truck line and a personal-use sports pickup line. The latter came with equipment and devices suitable for a multi-purpose vehicle, featuring extended cabin height and length as well as improved quietness. The Extra Cab model, introduced in November with the body width extended by 100 mm, was an open-deck multi-purpose vehicle with an adequately long cargo bed while adding two smallish auxiliary seats to the rear of the cabin.

Gen 7 Hilux was launched in August 2004 as a new pickup truck for sale in more than 140 countries worldwide. Inheriting its styling from the sixth-generation model, it offered 21st century customers the high levels of durability with lots of interior space, improved comfort, and what was said at the time “both the ride comfort of a passenger vehicle and the convenience of an SUV.”

As part of the Innovative International Multi-Purpose Vehicle (IMV) project, Toyota developed five new models on a single platform―three pickup truck models (Hilux), one minivan model (Innova), and one sports utility vehicle model (Fortuner).

Toyota also developed optimal production and supply systems on a global scale that allowed for simultaneous introductions.

This seventh-generation Hilux was the first to not be produced in Japan, with most of the vehicles being produced in Thailand, South Africa and Argentina for delivery to counties in their own regions, and with some production in Malaysia, Pakistan and Venezuela.

Gen 8 Hilux was launched in May 2015. The development teams traveled the globe, getting direct feedback from customers and driving on a wide variety of different roads to get a feel for different conditions.

The entire development concept for the eighth-generation Hilux was centered on ‘redefining toughness,’ with the aim of making the new Hilux ‘tougher’ based on a broader interpretation of that word. The eighth-generation Hilux design was not only tougher but also reduced stress as much as possible. Above and beyond conventional ideas of toughness, it was said to have ride comfort that made long, tough drives less grueling, a quiet cabin that allowed communication in any conditions, and enhanced cruising range thanks to improved fuel efficiency.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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