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Are you having problems with your Toyota HiLux? Let our team of motoring experts keep you up to date with all of the latest Toyota HiLux issues & faults. We have gathered all of the most frequently asked questions and problems relating to the Toyota HiLux in one spot to help you decide if it's a smart buy.
Swapping a five-speed gearbox into an older car or ute is a pretty well-trodden path, partly because it makes all sorts of sense. While older four-speed gearboxes generally have a fourth gear ratio of 1:1, a five-speed is will have an overdriven fifth gear which makes for more relaxed highway-speed driving and, potentially, a fuel saving as the engine won’t be working as hard or turning as fast.
The Toyota 2Y engine is, I believe, a more or less bolt-up fitment to the 2Y engine in your vehicle. Commonly found in early, rear-drive Celicas, the W50 is definitely strong enough for your application since the 2Y engine in your car probably struggles to make its full 58kW these days. The only catch you might run into is that if you’re running bigger wheels and tyres or your regularly tow a trailer or the vehicle is way down on power, the engine might struggle to pull that taller gearing. At best you might find yourself shifting back and forth pretty regularly in hilly country or when encountering a headwind. But if you do go through with the swap, you’ll find that the W50 has a fifth gear ratio of 0.853:1 which should reduce your engine speed for the same road speed by about 15 per cent.
Beyond the Toyota E50 gearbox, there’s really no limit to what you can fit if you have the time and money to have the engineering sorted out. That said, anything beefier than the W50 is almost certainly overkill.
These two vehicles share a lot of traits both in terms of their engineering and their target market. Both are aimed at the high-end of the mid-sized off-road station-wagon market and both do a pretty good job of offering lots of off-road ability along with the sort of luxury and convenience that many families want. In the case of design and engineering they are both based on utilities (the Mitsubishi Triton and Toyota HiLux respectively) and share the drivelines and front structure with those utes. To make them work as passenger rather than load-carrying vehicles, both the Pajero Sport and Fortuner do away with the utilities’ leaf-sprung rear axle and replace it a coil-sprung unit for greatly enhanced comfort.
Both vehicles have had their niggling reliability problems, mainly to do with DPF and some EGR problems, but overall, they’re both now old enough for the majority of the bugs to have been ironed out. Perhaps the biggest packaging difference is that the Pajero Sport is a good deal narrower across the cabin than the Toyota, and that matters for families with bigger kids. Both vehicles were facelifted late last year with new tech and mechanical and performance improvements. Both also have seven seats as standard.
The Mitsubishi is about $4000 cheaper based on RRP than the Toyota, but the final price can vary from dealer to dealer and what state you live in. The best advice is to try each one on for size and maybe even throw in contenders like the Ford Everest as a direct comparison.
To get a vehicle with meaningful (as opposed to a theoretical) towing ability of 2.5 tonnes, you really need to shop for a relatively late-model dual-cab 4X4 ute. The reason for that is that many vehicles that claim a 2.5-tonne limit in the brochure fail to explain that there’s also a Gross Vehicle Combination Mass in play and, by the time you’ve added passengers, gear and a full tank of fuel to the towing vehicle, there might not be much of that GCM to devote to a towed load.
Going for a vehicle with 3000kg or even 35000kg towing capacity in the first place is a good way to ensure you do accidentally start driving around in an overloaded vehicle with all the legal and insurance connotations that involves.
A lot of the current shape dual-cab utes fall within your budget on a second-hand basis, but there are caveats. Make sure you only buy a ute with a full service history. Some of these vehicles were worked hard by their original owners, so be very careful before handing over the cash. Avoid ex-mine fleet vehicles and don’t be afraid to buy a base-model vehicle if it offers better value. Even a single-cab version of these utes will be a lot cheaper than the dual-cab and, if you don’t need the rear seat, are often a more practical solution. Makes and models include the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, Mazda BT50, Mitsubishi Triton and Isuzu D-Max. For real value for money, vehicles like the Ssangyong Musso can tow 3.5 tonnes, are well equipped and can be had for less than $35,000 drive-away, brand-new. That also gets you a seven-year factory warranty. All of these options are available with the automatic transmission you want and, indeed, this is the best option for a tow vehicle.
When Toyota launched the facelifted HiLux late last year, much was made of the fact that consumer concerns had been noted and that the DPF problems experienced by many owners had been addressed. The problem is that until these new versions of the HiLux have done their share of kilometres, we won’t be in a position to know for sure whether Toyota has, indeed, cured the problem.
Meantime, it remains that unless your driving habits include a 30-minute drive at highway speeds every two or three weeks, a modern turbo-diesel with a DPF may not be the best choice. It is worth noting, though, that HiLuxes (and Prados and Fortuners) built after June 2018 have been fitted with a manual regeneration function for the DPF which means the driver can manually force a DPF burn-off without waiting for the car to do so itself. Toyota has also announced that the worst affected versions of the HiLux will now be covered by an extended, 10-year warranty on any DPF issues going forward. More information can be found here.
If you find a good Datsun 720 ute, then go for it. Like most vehicles from the late '70s and '80s, they rust away.
Is it better than the contemporary HiLux? Probably not, judging from what Wheels magazine had to say in its August 1981 4x2 single-cab diesel comparison by esteemed road tester, Brian Woodward, featuring the HiLux against the Datsun 720, Ford Courier and Holden Rodeo:
"Datsun has radial tyres as standard but they don't do handling much good; ride is choppiest of the four. Bench seat makes best use of space but cabin is claustrophobic. Engine gives most power but is truck-like with plenty of diesel clatter. Column shift works well. Load space and access is good."
Of the HiLux: "Toyota feels most car-like, is quietest of four and has most practical gear ratios. But it doesn't set standards for suspension control. Cabin is light and airy. Engine gives HiLux best performance and economy. Dash controls are easy to use. Deck is as for others."
"None of the four is a worthwhile alternative to a car or a serious rival for the good old Aussie ute, but the Toyota comes close. It is the one we would choose..."
Wheels then went on to compare the same new 1981 HiLux against the Holden WB Kingswood 3300 ute, with the following conclusion:
"The Toyota has plenty of ground clearance, useful low gearing and fine economy – a very different picture to that of the Holden and one which gives the Japanese a clear advantage as a practical workhorse. But utes are not only workhorses – they may have to carry pigs in the back on Friday but on Saturday they are expected to be able to take the missus to the shops (this was 1981, remember, Ed.). And it's here that the Toyota falls down. It's too commercial."
That all said, we'd buy on condition. If you find a HiLux that's in better shape than the 720, we'd go for that. But as you said, the Datsun is a rarer thing, and a delightfully period piece of engineering in its own right.
We hope this contemporary perspective of the Datsun 720 and Toyota HiLux helps.
The very fact that you’re looking at two vehicles that fit into your budget but have travelled such vastly different distances should tell you all you need to know about the Nissan. Frankly, the Navara D22 and D40 don’t age well. In fact, many owners have found out the hard way that a Navara just can’t match the Toyota HiLux of this vintage for longevity and the ability to cop punishment over time.
I’m certainly not saying that the HiLux was perfect, but compared with the Navara’s litany of faults and problems that covered everything from rattling timing chains to coolant leaks and odd design elements such as the bottom of the radiator being lower than the lowest part of the chassis cross-member (not good for off-road work) the Toyota was much better. Granted the Navara you’re considering has very low mileage, so it should be okay for a while…just about till you hand it over to your son to break.
As far as we know, the V6 turbo-diesel widely tipped to power the next LandCruiser (the 300 Series) is still just a maybe for the HiLux range. And even if it did make it into the HiLux, it would almost certainly be restricted to a sporty GR badged version as Toyota leverages its Dakar rally experience into a marketing role. With that in mind, the V6 would be an unlikely starter for the Fortuner which is aimed much more closely at families and, for whom, seating capacity and running costs are far more important than the ability to get to 100km/h in a hurry.
Even then, there’s plenty of historical evidence to suggest that a V6 turbo-diesel HiLux will remain just an idea (a nice one, though). Toyota has never really taken the opportunity to share engines between its HiLux and full sized (ie: Not the Prado) LandCruiser ranges. With a couple of notable exceptions (all of them petrol-powered) the HiLux has remained a four-cylinder vehicle throughout its life. And when Toyota did build a (petrol) supercharged V6 HiLux tagged the TRD back in 2008, it was a sales flop.
In any case, a hot-rod Fortuner is probably not on the cards despite the HiLux and Fortuner sharing a lot of engineering and componentry.
The facelifted HiLux is in showrooms now, Jay, including the SR5+ model. The good news is that the suspension has been refined to improve ride and the engine has been given a once-over with a larger turbocharger to boost power to 150kW. Toyota also claims it has addressed the diesel particulate filter problems that were an issue for owners of the previous version. Prices start at around $60,000 and up for the model you’re interested in. The good news is that the Extra-Cab layout is available in SR5 trim and while it doesn’t offer the full interior space of a dual-cab, the two small occasional seats in the rear do bump its seating capacity to four.
An accurate comparison with contemporary competitors to the HiLux is very hard to find as these cars were built at a time when light commercial vehicles weren’t being officially tested for fuel economy as they are today. Suffice to say that fuel economy won’t be as good as a more modern vehicle with more modern engine technology and management electronics.
About the closest I can get you is a 2003 HiLux dual-cab with the 2.7-litre engine which has an official combined economy figure of 11.1 litres per 100km. But while there’s a handful of years between your car and the one I’ve just quoted, the comparison is actually relatively meaningful as the HiLux in either case is essentially the same vehicle with the same basic engine.
The thing to remember with all these official figures is that they really only stand up as a direct comparison to other vehicles of a similar type when tested against the same criteria. In the real world, you’ll really battle to get anything like the claimed fuel economy number and I’d expect a HiLux like the one you have to use at least 11 litres per 100km on the highway and closer to 14 litres or even more around the suburbs.