How Does the New Toyota Hilux Compare to the Tacoma?
The entirely separate trucks now look slightly more similar.
The Toyota Hilux is one of the most popular trucks around the world, but it's very different than the similarly sized Tacoma pickup that is hugely popular here in the United States. After a recent update, the Hilux looks a lot more like our Tacoma than it did before; the freshened Hilux also receives a new interior and more powerful diesel engine. Here's a quick rundown of the similarities and differences between the two Toyota pickups, which share a global reputation for toughness and indestructibility:
Hilux vs. Tacoma: Exterior Styling
The new Hilux borrows the Tacoma's trapezoidal grille design, but arguably, the foreign-market truck has sleeker headlights and a more streamlined overall front fascia design. It also features sharper body lines and wheel designs. Toyota is also offering an Invincible model that features a more rugged exterior with lots of cladding.
Still, the Hilux definitely screams "global market pickup!" thanks to its relatively large (in proportion to the body size) headlights and taillights, as well as its sleeker body sculpting. The U.S.-market Tacoma, by comparison, is blocky, with thin, squinting headlights and bulging fender flares blistering from a relatively squared-off, simple body shape.
Hilux vs. Tacoma: Interior Styling
While the Hilux and Tacoma have somewhat similar exteriors, the interiors are laid out quite differently. Open the Hilux's doors, and you'll find a practical cockpit with an 8.0-inch multimedia screen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A digital clock sits just above the screen. Invincible models are quite plush, offering blue illumination on the front and rear doors, as well as perforated leather seats.
The Tacoma's innards are—like its exterior—blockier and more overtly trucky in appearance. For 2020, Toyota updated the U.S.-market truck, adding a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa integration. The automaker's Toyota Safety Sense suite of active-safety features is also newly standard across the board and includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and automated emergency braking.
Hilux vs. Tacoma: Powertrains
A more powerful 2.8-liter diesel engine is available on the new Hilux, which is offered with a range of gas and diesel options. The burlier 2.8-liter (which would make an excellent addition to our Tacoma, where it'd go head-to-head with the identically sized diesel in the Chevrolet Colorado) makes 201 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, and it pairs with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Toyota says it has made improvements to the Hilux's steering and suspension systems to improve driver comfort, too.
There are fewer powertrain choices for Tacoma buyers, who can opt for either a 159-hp 2.7-liter four-cylinder or a 278-hp 3.5-liter V-6. A manual is available on the V-6, but only on the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trim levels, and with specific body configurations; everything else uses a six-speed automatic transmission. Two- and four-wheel-drive models are available, as are extended-cab and four-door crew cab body styles with either short or long pickup beds.
Hilux vs. Tacoma: Availability
The updated Toyota Hilux will roll out at different times in different markets. It launches in Eastern Europe in July, Australia in late August, and Western Europe in October. It will arrive in America, well, never. At least not in its current form. Those interested in a midsize Toyota pickup in the U.S. can only choose the Tacoma, which starts at $25,445 and ranks near the middle of its class.
This dynamic of two Toyota trucks in the same class for different geographic markets may not hold forever. We've heard rumors that the next-generation Tacoma and full-size Tundra pickups will sit on a common platform that will spread to all of Toyota's pickups around the world—the Hilux included, we presume. This move would help the automaker reduce complexity and save money.