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Toyota HiLux: What's the story behind the model name?

The Toyota HiLux nameplate predates even the moon landing, having first gone on sale in 1968.

There’s nothing too top secret about how the Toyota HiLux got its name way back in 1968. But there is a degree of irony involved. From a 2020 perspective, anyway.

According to Toyota’s official source on such matters, HiLux is simply the merging of the words `High’ and `Luxury’. So where’s the irony? Everywhere you look, because that original N10 model of 1968 was anything but high or luxurious.

The 1968 model was anything but high or luxurious. The 1968 model was anything but high or luxurious.

Based on the Hino Briska (Toyota took over Hino in 1967, the year before the first HiLux) the N10 was also actually assembled at the Hino plant and it (the car, not the plant) was small. At 4.3 metres long and 1.5 metres high, it was about the same size as a current-model Toyota Corolla, so hardly the hulking, 5.3-metre long behemoth we now know as a HiLux. You could forget about four-wheel drive back in 1968, too; the HiLux was a rear-drive two-door pickup or nothing.

And luxury? Well, given that the N10 was still the subject of vinyl floor coverings, a column-gearshift and a shapeless bench seat, it’s fair to say that limousine duties were not part of its design brief either.

The HiLux replaced the old-fashioned Stout ute range. (Photo credit: ih8mud.com) The HiLux replaced the old-fashioned Stout ute range. (Photo credit: ih8mud.com)

What the HiLux did provide Toyota with, however, was a franchise that not only replaced the old-fashioned Stout ute range, but also allowed the Corona and Crown brands to revert to being passenger cars rather than having a foot in both passenger and commercial camps. Yep, it seems odd, but both the RT40 Corona and MS45 Crown models were available as utilities at the same time as the HiLux launched.

Oh, and don’t make the mistake of thinking, even though it’s the dominant body style these days, that the HiLux was Toyota’s first dual-cab ute. Because it wasn’t, and the Corona, Corona Mark 2, Crown and Stout could be had in dual-cab form…after a fashion. And significantly, all before the HiLux arrived in single-cab form.

Both the RT40 Corona and MS45 Crown models were available as utilities at the same time as the HiLux launched. (Photo credit: Wikimedia) Both the RT40 Corona and MS45 Crown models were available as utilities at the same time as the HiLux launched. (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

Back then, The Stout was available in a three-door layout (two doors on the passenger’s side) as could the Crown. The Corona dual-cab was available in two and three-door variants and, like the others, featured a fairly tight rear bench seat that was accessed by the split-bench front seat in the two-door version. Naturally, the tub on these dual-cabs was shorter, but that’s something with which dual-cab ute owners still grapple.

The all-new HiLux that is hitting Toyota showrooms about now might not owe much to the original concept, but at least these days, it truly lives up to the origins of the name.

Toyota's newest HiLux still lives up to the name. Toyota's newest HiLux still lives up to the name.