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Is Toyota in trouble? Why the all-new HiLux can't come soon enough! Opinion

Why the all-new HiLux can’t come soon enough! (image credit: TopGear Philippines)

Perhaps it's the luxury that comes with being one of the biggest brands in the world — and by far the best-selling car company in Australia — but Toyota has a bit of a habit of dragging its heels when it comes to updating its most popular models.

Look no further than the LC300 – the LandCruiser 200 Series hung around for 14 years before an all-new model finally arrived to replace it.

Or more importantly, the Toyota HiLux, which launched in Australia in 2015. While there have been updates in the years since – some bigger than others – an all-new model still appears to be some way off.

There’s no doubt a “not broke, don’t fix” element at play here. After all, the HiLux has been the best-selling vehicle in Australia every year since 2016, and likely will be at top of the table again in 2022.

But it’s also true that the competition for top spot has never been stiffer - and that the battle is only just heating up.

A new Ford Ranger — Toyota’s traditional arch rival — will soon launch in Australia, bringing with it an avalanche of new technology, new and powerful engine options, and a ‘engineered in Australia’ ethos.

And that’s without mentioning the Raptor, for which Toyota still doesn’t have answer, despite trademarking the GR HILux moniker many moons ago.

And that wait seems set to continue. So says Toyota's Light Commercial Vehicles Manager in the UK, Gareth Matthew, who told AutoExpress there simply wasn't demand for a more powerful HiLux.

"UK customers aren't complaining that the 2.8-litre diesel is underpowered, so there isn't a good enough case for us to look beyond that for a performance version," he said.

Hot on the Ranger’s heels will be the equally new and exciting VW Amarok, which will also be packing a big diesel V6 engine, Ford’s impressive portrait-style multimedia system, a ton of tech, and — almost certainly — a locally developed Walkinshaw-tweaked flagship model.

We now know that Nissan is working on a locally developed (thanks to Premcar) Warrior model based on the SL Navara, which will make a Warrior cheaper than ever before.

The impressive Isuzu D-MAX - and it’s Mazda BT-50 twin - are both less than two years old, and Kia’s new dual-cab ute is edging ever closer, too.

All of which will soon have the mighty HiLux feeling a little long in the tooth. Worse still, there are already cooler HiLux models offered overseas, but none have yet arrived in Australia.

In Thailand, for example, the HiLux GR Sport dials up the performance and responsiveness, with a focus both on on-road performance and on adventure. But the South African GR Sport version is the one we really want, being the first to offer a power upgrade along with the cosmetic tweaks.

While the HiLux's engine hasn't changed, local publication Iol Motoring says the new GR-S model has been tuned up to produce more power and torque, with 165kW and 550Nm on offer from its 2.8-litre turbo-diesel power plant – which would be enough to give Toyota four-cylinder bragging rights in Australia.

Still, there's hope of an all-new HiLux on the horizon, with recent reports pointing to a launch as early as 2023 after what appeared to be a new Tacoma was spotted testing in the USA.

Credible reports from America's MotorTrend claim Toyota's commercial vehicle range will shift onto the same TNGA platform as the Tundra and LC300, with a new global architecture shared across the HiLux, the Tacoma, the US-spec 4Runner, and its Aussie sibling, the Fortuner. So a new Tacoma could well mean a new HiLux, sooner rather than later.

And with competition getting tougher every day, that moment can't come fast enough.