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First look: Toyota enhances HiLux

Higher luxury: Facelifted HiLux 'Vigo' has surfaced in Thailnd.

Facelifted HiLux emerges as Toyota plans big Melbourne motor show bang

Toyota logo6 Jun 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

A MAJOR midlife makeover for Toyota’s all-conquering HiLux has emerged within weeks of the vital new model’s debut at the Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne on July 1.

Seen here in a leaked official image for the first time, the 2012 HiLux wears all-new bodywork from the A-pillar forward, including a revised front bumper, fresh bonnet and new front quarter panels.

Biggest visual change, however, is the addition of a bolder three-bar grille with stepped upper edge – pictured here in heavily chromed ‘Vigo’ flagship guise as sold in Thailand – bookended by a pair of new twin-element wrap-around headlights.

More importantly, however, Australia’s top-selling utility vehicle will be fitted as standard across the range with potentially life-saving anti-lock braking and electronic stability control (ESC) technologies.

The move will see Toyota match more contemporary utes like the all-new Volkswagen Amarok dual-cab launched in Australia in February, as well as the redesigned Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 due on sale here in the third quarter of this year, and GM Holden’s redesigned Colorado, which has been confirmed for local launch in the first quarter of 2012.

ESC became mandatory for all new cars and SUVs sold in Victoria since January and similar legislation will apply nationally from November, but no such safety regulation has yet been enacted for commercial vehicles.

The Amarok and Holden’s Commodore-based Ute are the only volume-selling light trucks in Australia to offer ESC as standard across the range.

The first HiLux to be fitted with ESC was the popular SR5 Dual Cab 4x4 diesel flagship last October – a year after Mitsubishi became the first importer to introduce the device in the ute class when it was fitted as standard to the top-shelf Triton GLX-R 4x4 Dual Cab.

At the time, Toyota said ESC would be rolled out across the HiLux range – which comprises 32 variants including four body styles, three trim levels, three engines, three transmission choices and two drivetrain configurations – once extensive calibration tests had been completed.

As with the top-spec SR5 4x4 twin-cab diesel, all HiLux models will also gain traction control, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution as part of their upgraded ABS package.

ABS is currently standard only on flagship SR5 models, and optional on entry-level WorkMate and mid-range SR models.

As well as the twin front airbags that are now standard across the range, all dual-cab versions of the 2012 HiLux will come standard with twin front-side and curtain airbags.

Since October, an $800 ABS option pack for the SR has also included side and curtain airbags, while the option price has been halved to $400 on 4x2 and other 4x4 HiLux models for which customers can choose to add ABS.

However, GoAuto understands with HiLux technical upgrade, which brings no other mechanical changes, will also include side and curtain airbags as standard for all 4x4 models.

HiLux 4x2 models will continue with twin front airbags, while air-conditioning should remain an option on WorkMate and SR models.

There will be no change to the outputs of HiLux’s 116kW/240Nm 2.7-litre four-cylinder or 175kW/376kW (343Nm manual) 4.0-litre V6 petrol engines, or its 126kW/343Nm 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel.

Both four-cylinder engines will continue to be available with five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions, while the V6 will remain on offer with a five-speed automatic option – but will be discontinued from 4x4 cab-chassis models.

Australia’s facelifted HiLux enters production this month in Thailand, which also supplies Asia and the Middle East, before for the important new Toyota model debuts in Melbourne in a little over three weeks and goes on sale Australia by September.

While the HiLux is also built in Argentina (for South America) and South Africa (for that nation, Europe and Iceland), the Thai HiLux factory was the world’s first Toyota plant to return to full capacity after Japan’s catastrophic March quake in a bid to reduce global HiLux shortages.

Launched in Australia in April 2005, the big seventh-generation HiLux has dominated Australia’s ute landscape even more comprehensively than its predecessors, commanding just under a quarter of both segments and ranking as one of the nation’s most popular vehicles overall.

However, HiLux 4x2 sales have slumped by more than 20 per cent in a market segment that is down 13 per cent overall to May this year, while HiLux 4x4 sales are down 4.6 per cent in a segment up 11 per cent.

Apart from the upgraded HiLux, Toyota Australia will use the Melbourne motor show to stage the local debut of its redesigned Yaris light car, which is also due on sale by September, as well as the FT-86 II coupe concept, the Prius v hybrid wagon and Prius c city-car concept.

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