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Why Toyota needs the GR HiLux NOW: Land Cruiser 300 Series engine a must-have to fight off the V6 diesel Ford Ranger Raptor

Toyota's GR HiLux is a must-have for the brand.

Toyota's dual-cab dominance is almost a given at this point, with the HiLux having topped the ute sales race for what seems like forever. In fact, the only vehicle that has been able to come close is the Ford Ranger, with its Raptor halo model especially stealing headlines (and tough points) from its Japanese arch rival.

But things are about to get interesting. While the Ranger's most powerful engine - the 157kW/500Nm,2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel that lives in the Raptor - always had the HiLux covered, the Toyota has played catchup, with a recent overhaul upping the Japanese model's grunt to 150kW and 500Nm.

It means the country's best-selling utes make about the same power, and so are about evenly matched, the Raptor's off-road credentials aside. But that is set to change late this year (or early next), with a new Ford Ranger coming, and one that delivers more than the mere engine tune that arrived with the new HiLux.

In fact, we're expecting a new diesel V6 to appear - 3.0-litre turbo-diesel - that is expected to produce a HiLux-shading 185kW and 600Nm. A petrol V6 is also expected, with the 2.7-litre twin-turbo unit good for 230kW and 540Nm. In fact, the current top-spec bi-turbo engine could become the entry point to the Ranger's power story, rather than the halo.

And that's before we even get to the Raptor, which should adopt the diesel V6, with the brand promising "there are a lot of people who care intimately about this car, and they want it to be better, and it will be better".

And that puts Toyota in a tough place. Having just overhauled its major model, the brand is expected to essentially leave it untouched until an all-new model arrives, around (or just after) 2023.

With the new model should come the GR HiLux - a credible Raptor rival at last - which is expected to adopt the six-cylinder diesel set to find a home in the new LandCruiser 300 Series.

Toyota has long said it is waiting for a "big diesel" to power its GR HiLux, and it will finally have one at its disposal, wth the brand's executives promising a new 3.3-litre six-cylinder diesel will outperform the current diesel V8 used in the LandCruiser 200 Series, which should mean outputs in excess of 200kW and 650Nm. And that means huge grunt for a GR HiLux.

The real question, though, is with Ford to steal at least a year, and maybe two or more, of V6 diesel sales before the new HiLux arrives, will Toyota's delay force it to lose its grip on the dual-cab dominance it's enjoyed in Australia for so long?