The Toyota Hilux (also HiLux and Hi-Lux) had its debut in 1968 as a compact pickup truck and cab chassis, although it could be configured into various body types. Due to its successful performance as the ‘Toyota Pickup’ in the US, the Hilux has successfully penetrated the automobile market of different countries around the globe, including Australia.
It has fathered the Toyota Trekker, or Toyota 4Runner in Australia. In 1995, the North American market received its successor, the Toyota Tacoma, but in most parts of the world like Australia, it continues to cover a lot of ground.
In 2004, it grew in size, advancing to the midsize pickup truck class, where it remains to this day. The Hilux has received upgrades continuously, both external and internal, enabling it to maintain its relevance through eight generations and to date.
First Generation: RN10 (1968-1972)
The first generation Toyota Hilux automobiles were released in 1968 under the code name RN10, displaying a short-wheelbase form and a 1.5-litre 2R inline-four engine under the hood. That engine could generate a maximum power output of 57 kW. The 2R engine was later replaced in 1971 to a 1.6-litre 12R inline-four engine (48 kW, 114 Nm) paired to a four-speed manual transmission, increasing the RN10's speed to 130 km/h.
Standard equipment included A-arms and coil springs for the front suspension and live axle with leaf springs for the rear. Other significant modifications made to the first generation Toyota Hilux was the lengthening of its wheelbase in 1969.
Second Generation: RN20 (1972-1978)
Released in 1972, the Toyota Hilux second-generation, with chassis code RN20, featured interior and exterior modifications that entailed comfort as well as efficiency. Other markets received more powerful engines, but the option in Australia remained the same all through the end of the second generation.
So other than the enhanced creature comforts, the powertrain was the same. For the first two generations, the Hilux adopted the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. This would change in the next generation.
Third Generation: N30, N40 (1978-1983)
The third-generation Hilux, chassis-coded as N30, was launched in 1978. Toyota introduced a sport package called Sport Rally 5-speed (SR-5) in the first year and a four-wheel-drive version (N40) the following year. The third generation made use of four engines throughout the period, and these were:
- The N40 and the SR5 came exclusively with the 2.0-litre 18R engine (63 kW, 140 Nm) paired to a 4-speed manual gearbox. In 1983, the gearbox for the SR5 was replaced by a 4-speed automatic transmission.
- The N30 was powered by the same 1.6-litre 2R engine from 1978 to 1980.
- The N30 would receive a new engine, a 2.2-litre 20R diesel engine (46 kW, 126 Nm) paired to a 4-speed manual gearbox in 1980.
- The N40 would receive another option in 1983, a 2.4L 22R diesel engine (55 kW, 156 Nm) mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox.
Fourth Generation: N50, N60, N70 (1983-1988)
The fourth-generation Toyota Hilux tagged N50, N60 and N70 featured major facelifts that included performance modifications. One major feature of the generation was the Xtracab, which offered an extension option for the cab of up to six inches of space behind the seat of the in-cab storage. Australia received double-cab or 4-door pickup body styles for the 4x4 Hilux.
Other notable modifications for the fourth generation included a new grille and front one-piece bumper and more streamlined outer doors. The interior had full high door panels with faux leather stitching on the base, as well as matching colour modifications on the steering wheel and the rest of the car interior.
In 1986, the solid front axle was exchanged for an independent front suspension bar framework for the 4x4 variant.
This generation used this range of powertrains:
- 2.0L inline-4 petrol engine (65 kW, 157 Nm), 5-speed manual gearbox
- 2.2L inline-4 petrol engine (69 kW, 179 Nm), 5-speed manual gearbox
- 2.4L inline-4 diesel engine (55 kW, 156 Nm), 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto
- 1.8L inline-4 petrol engine (58 kW, 140 Nm), 4-speed manual gearbox
- 2.8L inline-4 diesel engine (60 kW, 183 Nm), 5-speed manual gearbox
Fifth Generation: N80, N90, N100, N110 (1988-1997)
The fifth-generation of the Toyota Hilux featured more emphasis on the size, which made it more efficient as a pickup truck. Its wheelbase grew by 480 mm compared to the previous regular pickup. It had eliminated the rust-prone seams on its one-piece cargo-box walls. The Xtracabs offered more room at the back of the front seats, allowing space for a jump seat for rear passengers. These modifications earned the Xtracab SR5 model the Motor Trend Magazine's Truck of the Year award.
The available powertrains were:
- 1.8L petrol engine (58 kW, 140 Nm)
- 2.4L petrol engine (81 kW, 185 Nm)
- 3.0L diesel engine (65 kW, 197 Nm)
The 2.0L and 2.8L engines used in the fourth generation were also available for the fifth generation and were mated to either a four-speed automatic transmission or five-speed manual gearbox.
Sixth Generation: N140, N150, N160, N170 (1997-2004)
The sixth-generation Toyota Hilux had an increase in engine options as an upgrade for the model year 1999. It also got a minor makeover in the model year 2001 to 2002 before ceasing production in Japan in 2005. The 1.8L and 2.4L engine options were discontinued for this generation, while the 3.0L was retained. The new powertrains for this generation included:
- 2.7L 3RZ-FE 4-cylinder engine (108 kW, 235 Nm)
- 3.4L 5VZ-FE V6 engine (124 kW, 291 Nm)
Seventh Generation: AN10, AN20, AN30 (2005-2014)
The seventh-generation marked the continuation of the Toyota Hilux car model in Thailand, now with chassis codes AN10, AN20, and AN30. This was under the IVM program, which produced three pickup body type options. These included a two-door single cab (IMV1), a two-door Xtra cab (IMV2), and a four-door double cab (IMV3).
The seventh-generation Hilux featured a significant increase in size, which upgraded its class as a midsize pickup truck.
A 4.0L V6 engine rated 175 kW with a maximum torque of 276 Nm was introduced. The 3.0L engine saw an increase in power to 126 kW with a maximum torque of 343 Nm. The 2.7 L engine was improved and could now produce a peak power of 118 kW and a maximum torque of 241 Nm.
Eighth Generation (AN120, AN130; 2015- Present)
The eighth-generation Toyota Hilux, which is the most recent generation to date, was launched simultaneously in the Australian and Thailand capitals on the 21st of May 2015. Also known as the Toyota Hilux Revo, the eighth generation boasts of being more efficient and comes with slim projector headlights, LED daytime running lights, and the first autonomous emergency braking system. It flaunts the ‘Keen Look’ design language. The 4.0L and 3.0L engines initially used were discontinued. The available options now include:
- 2.4L diesel engine (110 kW, 343 Nm)
- 2.7L petrol engine (122 kW, 245 Nm)
- 2.8L diesel engine (130 kW, 450 Nm)
The Toyota Hilux is an extremely popular and proven robust off-roader. We're not likely to see the end of it anytime soon. If you own one, you do need to mind its upkeep. For spare parts and services, we would like to invite you to try sourcing from Carpart.com.au. It is where thousands of car parts sellers and service providers advertise their current offering. You may browse the classifieds directly to see what they have in store now, or you may send us a parts request so that we can do the searching for you. Try it today!
By Jeannette Salanga (JMSL)