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September 11, 2020

The 2021 Toyota Hilux Features Extensive Changes Under the Skin

With the launch of the 2021 Toyota Hilux looming near, it’s important to note that the changes are not just skin deep. Though the aftermarket is starting to offer 2015-2020 Hilux conversion kits, they barely scratch the surface of the changes made to improve the Hilux’s powertrain and handling.

Typically, local Toyota launches don’t really dive deep into the technical stuff. However, with the Hilux being such an important vehicle to the Japanese brand, we just had to find out what’s new under its skin. And you’d be surprised that the engineering team has done quite a lot.

The top-of-the-line 1GD engine found in the 2.8-liter variants (now limited to the Conquest 4x4) features more power and torque—204 horsepower and 500 Nm to be exact. Toyota has done this by adopting a larger, heavy-duty turbocharger with a ball-bearing cartridge. In conjunction, it also gets a revised common rail direct injection system delivering fuel at even higher pressures.

Supporting the increased outputs of the engine, the 1GD also benefits from new, coated cylinder-head gasket, revised higher-rigidity cylinder block, and new exhaust manifold and gasket materials. Further cooling measures include a reshaped water jacket, revised cooling fan and fan coupling.

Despite the increase in power, Toyota says fuel economy has improved by up to 11.1 percent.

While most of the love was bestowed on the larger engine, the smaller 2GD 2.4-liter apparently was not forgotten. It also adopts a higher-pressure common-rail system, optimized pistons and rings, and improved cooling as well.

In terms of gearboxes, the 6-speed automatic has been re-calibrated to allow earlier lockup for improved acceleration and cooling performance, especially while towing.

To improve fuel economy with delivering a more natural feel, the Hilux now has a variable-flow control power-steering pump. The aim, Toyota says, was to offer high assistance to support low-speed maneuvers 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.

Most of the criticisms leveled against the Hilux was for its stiff ride. For 2021, Toyota engineers introduced longer leaf springs to suppress road vibrations, wider spacing of the springs for stability while cornering under load, and even revised the attachment points to promote steering stability. The facelift also has re-tuned spring rates, shock absorbers, and suspension bushings as well as revised cabin mounts. All in all, 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.

Toyota it seems has taken the lessons from its Five Continents Drive to heart, and the result is a Hilux that’s not just new looking, but re-engineered and re-developed to better suit the needs of pickup truck users.

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