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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Taco delivered: Next Toyota Hilux previewed as new Tacoma debuts

While the Hilux will remain diesel powered with mild-hybrid assistance, its exterior and interior will likely mirror that of the Tacoma.

After almost of year of speculative reports, spy videos, teaser images and leaking of patent documents, plus a supposed unveiling at the New York International Auto Show two months ago that didn’t happen, Toyota, in the early hours of Friday morning, officially revealed the all-new Tacoma that highlights what South Africa can expect from the next generation Hilux.

ALSO READ: Get ready: New Toyota Hilux previewing on 19 May as next Tacoma

A vital model for Toyota North America has remained the country’s best-selling so-called “compact pick-up” since it is launch in 2015, despite competition from the newer Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier and the General Motors twins; the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

The Tacoma also premieres a first-time hybrid powertrain that replaces the long-serving 2.7-litre four-cylinder and 4.0-litre V6 engines.

New platform Hilux will use

Previewing the Hilux due for reveal in 2025 on account of Toyota having aligned both models closer together for the first time since 1995, when it was decided to create a market specific variant instead of continuing to Americanise the Hilux – then called the Toyota Pick-Up – the Tacoma becomes the latest model to ride on the body-on-frame TNGA-F platform and while styled in California, a fair amount of development also took place in Australia.

All-new Toyota Tacoma revealed
TRD Sport serves as the sportiest Tacoma model. Image: Toyota

Styled to resemble its senior Tundra sibling and also the Sequoia SUV, but retaining elements of the old model, the more aggressive looking Tacoma will again be offered in two bodystyles; the cab-and-a-half Xtra Cab – the denoting moniker used on the Hilux – that replaces the old Access Cab, and a double cab referred to as the Crew Cab.

No suicide doors but more loadbay tech

Bizarrely, Toyota has opted not to include the suicide opening rear doors on the Xtra Cab available on the current Hilux.

This means the front seats still need to be slide forward to gain access to the rear that omits seats and, therefore, makes its illegal to carry passengers as an alternative to the Crew Cab at a lower price.

Toyota unveils new Tacoma
Base interior showing the seven-inch instrument cluster and eight-inch infotainment system. Image: Toyota

What has, however, happened is a claimed seven percent increase in loadbin space, plus a new optional automatic opening/closing tailgate.

All-new Toyota Tacoma revealed
Xtra Cab, surprisingly, omits opening rear doors. Image: Toyota

Now made out of aluminium, access to the loadbay takes place either via the traditional handle, or a quick release button that receives an anti-jam function to prevent crushed hands or fingers.

Depending on the model, traditional petrol versions receive a 400-watt inverter hidden within the side panels, while the new i-Force Max hybrid has access to a more powerful 2 400-watt inverter.

Revised chassis

Underneath, the platform that underpins the Tundra, Sequoia, Land Cruiser 300, Lexus LX and soon, the next generation Fortuner, 4Runner, Land Cruiser Prado and of course the Hilux, has undergone a series of revisions to provide the ideal balance of comfort and load hauling.

Toyota unveils new Tacoma
No rear seats in the Xtra Cab means more storage. Image: Toyota

This includes the developing of a new multi-link rear suspension on higher-end models with lower-spec derivatives keeping the traditional leaf-springs, disc brakes at all four corners for the first time, strengthening the crossmembers and using a combination of lightweight steel and aluminium in the body to reduce weight and improve strength.

Toyota unveils new Tacoma
Interior of the TRD Sport complete with the bigger 12.3-inch instrument cluster, 14-inch infotainment system and manual gearbox. Image: Toyota

In its popular selling double cab SR5 form, the Tacoma sports a towing capacity of 3 000 kg and a payload of 775 kg. Expect, however, a more substantial rating in the case of the two-wheel-drive Xtra Cab SR that opens the range up.

Model line-up

Designed to incorporate what Toyota calls a degree of Tacoma-ness, the effective junior Tundra will be offered in no less than eight trim levels; SR, SR5, TRD PreRunner, TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, Limited, TRD Pro and the brand-new Trailhunter.

As the model that opens the hugely popular TRD range up, the PreRunner joins the SR and SR5 by being the only other model in the Tacoma range to receive the leaf-spring rear suspension, as well as being offered in two-wheel-drive form only.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro unleashed
TRD Pro takes up station as Toyota’s direct rival for the Ford Ranger Raptor. Image: Toyota

What does receive though is a factory-fitted TRD lift-kit, an automatic locking rear differential and BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres.

Positioned above it, the TRD Sport, as its name points out, is more about on-road prowess and as such, while available with four-wheel-drive, boasts 18-inch black TRD wheels, alloy pedals, black accents and badging, plus colour-coded door handles and bumpers.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro unleashed
Rear looks more Tundra than Tacoma. Image: Toyota

Worth noting is that all four-wheel-drive models, including the TRDs, feature a new electronically locking differential, limited slip differential and what Toyota calls Active Traction Control not availed to rear-wheel-drive models.

The line-up really takes off with the TRD Off Road that comes fitted as standard with Bilstein mono-tube shock absorbers, the Multi-Terrain camera system and the ability of have the rear stabiliser bar disconnected.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro unleashed
TRD touches confuses no one as to the TRD Pro’s intensions. Image: Toyota.

If that isn’t already enough, the TRD Pro receives Fox Racing dampers and suspension, standard 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T tyres, an integrated LED light bar, returned multi-link rear suspension, the Multi-Terrain Select system, Crawl Control in low-range and claimed ground clearance of 280 mm.

While Toyota didn’t disclose any details of the standard Tacoma’s ground clearance or departure, breakover and approach angles, it did reveal the ratings for the TRD Pro, namely 25.7-degrees, 23.5-degrees and 33.8-degree.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro unleashed
So-called IsoDynamic Performance Seat are exclusive to the TRD Pro. Image: Toyota

Newly added, the Trailhunter, as its name suggests, is all about off-road prowess and besides carrying over the TRD Pro’s 33-inch tyres, comes equipped as standard with Old Man Emu position-sensitive forged mono-tube shock absorbers, a slew of ARB accessories, snorkel, heavy-duty steel bash plate, block letter TOYOTA badge, LED lighting within the loadbed, steel side-steps and inside, wiring for up to three devices.

Enter Tundra inside

Besides its is completely revamped exterior and model range, the Tacoma’s interior has been dramatically redesigned to resemble that of the Tundra.

Trailhunter revealed as flagship new Toyota Tacoma
Trailhunter officially tops the Tacoma range. Image: Toyota

Appearing suitably chunkier and more modern, buyers are offered a choice of two new digital instrument clusters measuring seven or 12.3-inches, a eight or 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system, both with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, type-C USB ports and on some derivatives, a 10-speaker JBL sound system complete with a removable wireless Bluetooth speaker Toyota says can be submerged in 914 mm of water.

Reserved for the luxury focused Limited, the only model to have a full-time four-wheel-drive system, is a Head-Up Display, folding side-steps, Adaptive Variable Suspension, a digital rear-view mirror and a sliding sunroof.

Trailhunter revealed as flagship new Toyota Tacoma
Trailhunter’s interior not as expressive as that of the TRD Pro. Image: Toyota

On the safety side, the Tacoma’s range of system has been dramatically overhauled and depending on the trim level and model, has the following as standard:

  • Pre-Collision System
  • Lane Trace Assist
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Hill Start Assist
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Traffic Sign Recognition
  • Lane Departure Alert
  • Surround-view monitor
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert

More powerful than Raptor

As hinted by reports at the end of last year, the Tacoma’s biggest difference from the outgoing model is the departure for the long-serving 2.7-litre and 4.0-litre engines in favour of the brand-new T24A-FTS 2.4-litre turbo-petrol.

Available in two states of tune, the unit develops 170kW/329Nm in the SR only and 207kW/430Nm in the SR5 and up.

The latter figure, however, only applies to models fitted with the brand-new eight-speed automatic gearbox that replaces the old five-speed unit.

Trailhunter revealed as flagship new Toyota Tacoma
Trailhunter ready to play rough. Image: Toyota

On SR5 derivatives and up fitted with the equally new six-speed manual that features Toyota’s latest iMT (Intelligent Manual Transmission) rev-matching system, power and torque decreases to 200kW/420Nm.

Replacing the V6 though, the mentioned i-Force Max hybrid combines the 2.4-litre engine with a 1.87-kWh battery pack powering a 36 kW electric motor located within the eight-speed ‘box itself.

The result a combined output of 244kW/630Nm that only makes its more powerful than its predecessor, but also the Ford Ranger Raptor whose 3.0 EcoBoost V6 develops 302kW/583Nm in US-tune.

Trailhunter revealed as flagship new Toyota Tacoma
Old Man Emu position-sensitive forged mono-tube shock absorbers a Trailhunter exclusive. Image: Toyota

While still to be confirmed outright, unconfirmed speculation has alleged that at least one of the mentioned petrol units could potentially be offered in the Hilux as a replacement for either the 2.7 or the V6.

However, the emphasis will still to be on diesel and indeed the newly confirmed mild-hybrid oil-burner destined to be revealed later this year when the all-new Fortuner makes its apparent reveal.

Wait for Hilux

Going on-sale later this year first in petrol guise only before the i-Force Max joins in 2024, exact pricing and spec for the Tacoma will be announced then and while not forecasted for any markets outside of the States, elements, such as its styling and interior, are expected to filter into the Hilux come to 2025.

NOW READ: Toyota teases new Tacoma again with cheeky swipe at patent leaks

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