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March 21, 2021

Review: 2021 Toyota Hilux 2.4 G AT

You’re looking at the best-selling pickup truck in the Philippines. It’s so common that on our street alone, you can spot at least six of them. They maybe in various shades, but they’re all the same grade: the Hilux 2.4 G. It’s not surprising to know that Toyota’s the king of 4x2 trucks—capturing a 34-percent market share, at the least. And with 13,637 sold last year alone, it was the second best-selling vehicle in our 7,107 islands.

Suffice to say, the Hilux is everyone’s (including their competitors) target. It serves as the gold standard, the benchmark if you will, that everyone else follows. Realizing that a slew of new trucks is on the horizon, Toyota’s done the logical move of updating its best-seller. The question now is: is it enough for it to stay ahead of the pack?

More than anything, we can summarize the Hilux as the Vios of the pickup truck world. It’s the sort of car choice that no one, even your worst enemy, will question. It’s also a choice that’s driven more by reason than emotion.

Looking at the 2021 Hilux, it’s clear Toyota’s wanted to turn a chapter from the “under-priority and keen look” design of the past. The end result is a more angular truck—more in line with the generally expected masculine look of pickups. Overall, the Hilux 2.4 G isn’t bad looking, but our general consensus is that Toyota’s design team was clearly more inspired with updating the Hilux Conquest. This one, as a result, looks and feels too bare.

Though the Hilux 2.4 G won’t be decisively winning beauty contests anytime soon, it does keep itself competitive inside. With pickup trucks now fast becoming the de facto family car among Filipinos, the interior is a good place to be. Granted there are hard plastics everywhere, but the asymmetrical design lends it a passenger car-like cabin. Ergonomics remain a strong suit, with the driving position nailed down perfectly. All the controls are large and logically placed, and can be operated by feel alone.

For 2021, Toyota’s done some updates to improve the Hilux’s tech. First up, the 6.75-inch infotainment system now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto built-in, perfect for those who frequently use Google Maps or Waze to get around. Second, the instrument cluster itself has been tweaked to include more functions such as a steering angle display, and a digital speedometer. The latter is indispensable, especially if you happen to drive on expressways on a regular basis. The former isn’t well-executed. The display only shows full turn, half turn, and straight—it’s not as helpful on an off-road trail as you’d think.

As with any other pickup truck, interior space is limited. That said, the single-action 60/40 split-folding rear seat adds a dose of flexibility. The system allows the seat cushion to fold up, perfect for loading tall stuff without soiling the back seat like wet grocery or plants. There are under seat cubby holes too to store loose items as well as the tools and jack.

Like its exterior design, most of the work under the hood has gone to the Hilux Conquest, specifically giving the 2.8-liter 1GD-FTV more power and torque. However, that’s not saying that the 2GD-FTV 2.4-liter unit in the Hilux G isn’t up to snuff. The outputs—150 horsepower and 400 Nm—seem pedestrian, but it counters it by being one of the most refined and fuel-efficient engines in its segment.

Getting the engine to pull the Hilux’s 2,100-kilogram frame feels easy enough. It doesn’t require much effort on the gas pedal to get things going. Moreover, this engine actually loves to rev. There are selectable drive modes located to the left of the shifter, but we found that it’s best to leave things in either Eco or Normal. In Power mode, it’s a bit too rough.

Toyota also says they’ve made improvements to the 2021 Hilux to make it more fuel efficient. During our drive, it registered 10.98 km/L—not bad considering the size and weight of this truck.

On this Nebula Blue Metallic unit, the engine is mated to an equally refined 6-speed automatic. Again, it doesn’t have the headline-grabbing attention of having the most gears, but in practice, it’s perfectly adept to our road conditions. Shifts are smooth and decisive—there’s no gear hunting here. And despite the absence of any paddle shifters or manual overrides, it selects the right gear each and every time.

The basic bones of the Hilux are what most other pickup trucks are made of: double wishbones upfront, and leaf springs at the back. For 2021 though, engineers have re-worked it extensively to address the stiff ride—the main complaint lodged against the Hilux. This has worked. The ride still isn’t as pliant or plush as an SUV, but it does manage to soak up potholes with confidence. Better still, as you increase speeds, it doesn’t seem to magnify bumps as before (previously it can cause the entire body to shimmy and rattle). In terms of handling, there’s a lot more stability baked in, even as we tackled the notorious C5 truck lane at speed. Take note though that it doesn’t do well when it comes to tight turns. Its 6.4-meter turning radius is among the biggest in the business, reducing its sense of maneuverability.

Going back to our initial question of whether the 2021 Hilux is good enough, our answer is: it depends. Realizing that people treat their trucks as true dual-purpose machines (or even solely lifestyle choices), we certainly love the spec changes that Toyota’s done to make it more competitive vis-à-vis the competition. Even more, we continue to love its well-balanced powertrain and its newfound handling and ride improvements.

In the bigger picture though, Toyota hasn’t pushed the envelope far enough. It seems they’re satisfied at banking on intangible benefits such as quality, durability, and reliability to sell their pickup truck. However, the fact that two of its main rivals—the Ford Ranger and the Nissan Navara are constantly eating away at their market share should have already served as a wake-up call for the market leader. It was their chance to think out of the box. Instead, what they ended up is the very same box, albeit with more embellishments than ever.

2021 Toyota Hilux 2.4 G AT

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Ownership 2021 Toyota Hilux 2.4 G AT
Year Introduced 2015 (Refreshed: 2020)
Vehicle Classification Pickup Truck
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Pickup Truck
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/R
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.4
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Common Rail
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 150 @ 3,400
Nm @ rpm 400 @ 1,600-2,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 6AT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 10.98 km/L @ 22 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 5,365
Width (mm) 1,855
Height (mm) 1,815
Wheelbase (mm) 3,085
Curb Weight (kg) 2,100
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Rear Suspension Leaf Springs
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Parking Brake Manual
Tires Bridgestone Dueler A/T 693 III 265/65 R 17 S (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 3
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera No
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED)
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night, Manual
Proximity Key No
Climate Control Auto
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

1 comment:

  1. I Really Hope Toyota Philippines adds Leather Seats and Toyota Safety Sense on The Hilux Conquest Rift or the Q Trim


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