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Car reviews - Toyota - Hilux - TRD dual-cab ute range

Launch Story

14 Apr 2008

TOYOTA has finally launched its supercharged TRD HiLux in Australia, more than a year after previewing it at the 2007 Melbourne International Motor Show.

The factory-backed vehicle comes in two dual-cab model variants, the sporty 4000S priced at $59,990 and the more luxurious 4000SL priced from $64,990.

Both are powered by the same forced-induction 4.0-litre V6 engine, which develops 225kW of power and 453Nm of torque, and come with modified suspension and brakes as well as a standard five-speed automatic transmission.

Toyota’s answer to HSV and FPV has not exactly had a smooth introduction and its second model arrives nine months after the TRD Aurion, which has already been the subject of a hefty price cut to help boost sales.

Many observers expect the HiLux to do better for TRD because of the popularity of SUVs with sports-minded buyers and their willingness to spend many thousands of extra dollars on customisation.

Toyota Australia sales and marketing director David Buttner said that almost 600 HiLux buyers each month – of an average 3500 combined 4x2 and 4x4 models a month last year – paid more than $50,000 on upmarket SR5 models.

“These customers typically love to customise their vehicles, often spending thousands of dollars extra on items such as big wheels, foglamps and bullbars,” said Mr Buttner. “The same applies to some of our competitors’ vehicles (and) these buyers – hot-ute owners as well as companies and instrumentalities – are the audience for TRD HiLux.

“They do not want an aftermarket modification they want the quality of a fully warranted, factory-spec Toyota product.

“Aftermarket customisation to the exact specification of the TRD HiLux 4000S and 4000SL would cost substantially more (than the $9500 to $14,500 premium over the standard SR5 Dual Cab).

“The supercharger with intercooler plus 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tyres would cost around $9500 alone in the aftermarket – and that would not include factory warranty on the engine. Dealers have told us for some time there is a latent demand for a performance truck from Toyota. TRD HiLux will be the tradie’s choice it will also be the prestige choice of owner-operators and business proprietors.”

Testing and development of the TRD HiLux was conducted mainly in Australia, including engine calibration testing at Bosch in Melbourne, engine durability testing in Texas and Perth (at Orbital Engine Company), hot-weather testing in the Northern Territory, cold-weather testing at Mount Hotham, track-testing at the high-speed Phillip Island and low-speed Winton raceways, the private Broadford track north of Melbourne and an off-road facility at Werribee, as well as public roads and off-road tracks.

Development of the 225kW/453Nm engine was a joint venture between TRD Australia, Toyota in the US and Eaton supercharger distributor Magnuson Products in the US.

Running on premium unleaded petrol, the TRD HiLux develops maximum power at 5400rpm while torque peaks at 3400rpm – though Toyota points out that the TRD version produces more than 376Nm (the standard model’s maximum) from just 1200rpm all the way through to about 5700rpm.

Toyota says its ADR fuel economy rating of 12.9L/100km is comparable with a standard HiLux, despite having 28.5 per cent more power and 20.4 per cent more torque.

Running a water-to-air intercooler with its own electric water pump, the 4.0-litre quad-cam’s output is not a massive step up from the TRD Aurion’s supercharged 3.5-litre V6 (which has more power at 241kW, but considerably less torque at 400Nm).

Although the crankshaft-driven Eaton M90 supercharger is also offered as an aftermarket kit for the Toyota Tacoma and FJ Cruiser in the US, the HiLux application was made difficult by the tight confines of the engine bay.

“The standard 4.0-litre V6 engine and the engine bay were not originally designed to take a supercharger,” said TRD development manager Jonathan Miller.

“Our engine bay is by far the smallest of the three vehicles, which required unique packaging solutions. We had to modify the top of the supercharger air intake snout as well as develop unique components to ensure appropriate clearances from other under-bonnet components.

“Complying with the tight tolerances demanded by Toyota – and achieving them in a relatively confined space – has been our biggest challenge.

“We carried out the early engine calibration work in Australia because of the availability of a dynamometer that could handle the substantial loads.

“This involved early work to establish the peak power and torque, as well as spark and fuel settings to match the bigger injectors needed for the supercharged engine. We did further unique engine calibration, including the throttle-pedal mapping which was initially a bit too aggressive.

“Achieving compliance for an entire vehicle is a much more complicated task than developing an aftermarket kit.”

The TRD HiLux rides on 17-inch alloy wheels with 265/65 R17 all-terrain tyres and employs a modified and lowered suspension with retuned springs and high-performance Bilstein monotube shock absorbers with stone shields to protect them off-road. Braking is provided by bigger front discs and callipers sourced from the Prado – 338mm x 28mm rotors with four-piston callipers versus 294mm x 25mm discs and two-piston callipers on the standard HiLux – while ABS is standard.

Despite keeping drum brakes at the rear, Toyota claims stopping distances from 130km/h have been reduced by more than 30 metres.

The model line-up reflects the TRD Aurion strategy and sees the 4000S kick-off with the requisite and now familiar bodykit, but, as with other 4x4 utes, still no side airbags or stability control.

Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, microdot security identification, leather gearknob and steering wheel, sidesteps, TRD floor mats, a full-size alloy spare wheel and numbered plaques in the cabin and engine bay.

Step up to the 4000SL and the extra $5000 provides on-the-move 4WD selection, a rear deck, leather seats, carpeted flooring and mats, six-CD in-dash changer and ‘Optitron’ backlit instruments.

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