The Toyota Hilux, the Serious Off-Roader the United States Needs
Americans have always had a particular love affair with off-roading. From the deserts of the Southwest to the forests of the Pacific Northwest, there is no shortage of rugged terrain for Americans to explore in their 4WD vehicles. While drivers love stopping by their local Jeep and Toyota dealership locations for vehicles like the Wrangler and Tundra, one vehicle is missing from U.S. salesrooms: the Toyota Hilux.
Read on to learn more about the rugged Hilux. Be ready; once you hear about this beast, you’ll start hoping to see one at a Toyota dealership near you.
The Legendary Hilux
The Toyota Hilux is a legendary truck first introduced in 1968. It has gained a reputation as an indestructible workhorse worldwide, especially in places like Australia, South America, and Asia. The Hilux was also sold in North America until the mid-1990s, gaining popularity for its strength, reliability, and versatility.
Rules and Regulations
In the 1980s, new laws made it harder for Toyota to import the Hilux into the U.S. A 25% tariff called the “Chicken Tax” was also placed on light-duty trucks like the Hilux. To overcome these obstacles, Toyota started manufacturing vehicles in the U.S. and partnering with American companies. The success of the 4Runner SUV showed Toyota that building vehicles for American consumers were key to success in the U.S. market. As a result, Toyota launched the Tacoma compact pickup in 1995 to replace the Hilux.
The Tacoma Takeover
The Tacoma and Hilux were initially very similar but have since diverged to meet the needs of their respective drivers. The Tacoma lacks some options, like a single cab, that is still available with the Hilux internationally. Re-designing the Hilux and U.S. manufacturing facilities to build it in the states would be cost-prohibitive.
The Tacoma has also been very successful, so bringing the Hilux to the U.S. could cannibalize its sales. That’s why Toyota continues improving the Tacoma rather than re-introducing the Hilux in the U.S.
The Hilux We Need
While the Tacoma is a capable truck, off-road enthusiasts still long for the Hilux’s near-indestructible reputation and optional diesel engine. A new Hilux with an efficient and powerful turbo-diesel engine may finally return to the U.S. someday. However, it’s hard to say if and when one will soon show up at your favorite Toyota dealership. For those wanting a seriously rugged pickup, the Hilux’s return would be exciting news.
Even though the Hilux hasn’t been available for some years, many auto enthusiasts have fond memories of its reliability and capability. For Toyota, returning it to North America could tap into nostalgia and spike interest. A re-designed Hilux could fill an unmet need for buyers wanting an alternative to full-size trucks like the Tundra. After 25 years, maybe it’s time to bring this rig back home and your local Toyota dealership. The Toyota Hilux is the serious off-roader the United States needs.