FOURTH-GEN

4 x 4 Australia - - History -

THE fourth-gen­er­a­tion Hilux of 1983 saw an­other body style in­tro­duced. The Xtra-cab was, and still is (but now sim­ply called ex­tra-cab), a two-door cab that is ex­tended at the back to pro­vide space for oc­ca­sional seat­ing or a se­cure spot for tools and valu­ables. You wouldn’t want to carry pas­sen­gers in the back for long dis­tances, but the rear seat comes in handy. The ex­tra-cab also has a longer load bed than a dou­ble-cab, mak­ing it great for car­ry­ing dirt bikes in the back and your mates up front. En­gine choices had by this time grown to four, with two petrol and two diesel pow­er­plants. More pow­er­ful 3.0-litre V6 and tur­bod­iesel en­gine op­tions also ap­peared for the first time dur­ing this pe­riod, as did an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. These later op­tions were de­signed to add fur­ther ap­peal to the pri­vate buyer (more so than the farmer or tradie) and, at first, were only of­fered on top-ofthe-line SR5 dou­ble-cab mod­els. Fea­tures such as power win­dows, air-con­di­tion­ing and floor car­pets made the utes more live­able, and Aus­tralians were com­ing around to the idea of us­ing a ute as a fam­ily ve­hi­cle – but their pop­u­lar­ity in this seg­ment was still noth­ing like what it is to­day.

At the other end of the mar­ket Toy­ota in­tro­duced a ba­sic ver­sion of the Hilux aimed squarely at tradies, with bare es­sen­tial fea­tures, a 1.8-litre en­gine and a man­ual gear­box only. The in­ter­est­ingly named Hilux Grin­ner was the ute the ap­pren­tice drove to the work­site, while the boss got around in his up­per-spec SR5 model. This base-spec ver­sion is called the Work­mate in to­day’s Hilux range and has been broad­ened to in­clude var­i­ous en­gine and body con­fig­u­ra­tions.

The pop­u­lar­ity of the Hilux was also feed­ing a boom­ing af­ter­mar­ket in­dus­try that met the needs of own­ers to tai­lor their ve­hi­cle to their spe­cific re­quire­ments. As a car that can be both a hard­work­ing tool of the trade or one to con­quer the Aus­tralian Out­back, there is swag of parts that can be added to it. Canopies be­came pop­u­lar to con­vert the ute to a wagon-like ve­hi­cle and se­cure the load area, while items like bull­bars, raised sus­pen­sion, big tyres and driv­ing lights were what recre­ational off-road en­thu­si­asts wanted. Spe­cial­ist camper con­ver­sions are now avail­able to fit on to the back to pro­vide all the com­forts of home to the bush trav­eller, while racks and bars are man­u­fac­tured to sup­port lad­ders, pipes, lengths of tim­ber and other work-re­lated hard­ware.

AUS­TRALIANS WERE COM­ING AROUND TO THE IDEA OF US­ING A UTE AS A FAM­ILY VE­HI­CLE – BUT NOTH­ING LIKE IT IS TO­DAY

IT WAS A FAR CRY FROM THE HUM­BLE MINI-TRUCK THAT DE­BUTED MORE THAN 40 YEARS EAR­LIER

The fourth, fifth and sixth generations of Hilux con­tin­ued to take the ve­hi­cle for­ward in terms of re­fine­ment, us­abil­ity and size. The four-wheel drive mod­els lost their truck-like, leaf­sprung live front axles for in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion with tor­sion bars, to im­prove their on-road driv­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics. The range grew to ac­com­mo­date more mod­els to suit the grow­ing num­ber of buy­ers, and the Hilux was made in fac­to­ries all over the world and not just Toy­ota’s na­tive Ja­pan.

In 1991 Toy­ota did a deal with Volk­swa­gen to sell a vari­ant of the fifth-gen Hilux in Ger­many badged as a Volk­swa­gen Taro. The name sig­ni­fied VW would one day re­lease its own ute, even if that didn’t come for an­other 20 years with the Amarok.

The sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion Hilux ap­peared in 2005 and was man­u­fac­tured in Thai­land, where the ma­jor­ity of utes of this style are now made. With coil-sprung in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion and lev­els of per­for­mance, safety, style and com­fort to match many con­ven­tional pas­sen­ger cars – while main­tain­ing its rugged pur­pose-built de­meanour and unbreakable rep­u­ta­tion – it was a far cry from the hum­ble mini-truck that de­buted more than 40 years ear­lier. It rode the wave of pop­u­lar­ity as more buy­ers chose the ver­sa­til­ity and func­tion­al­ity a dual-cab ute can pro­vide.

The mod­ern en­gines used in­cluded a 2.7-litre petrol en­gine only avail­able in the 4x2 Work­mate, while most of the mod­els used ei­ther a 4.0-litre V6 or a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel.

In 2008, Toy­ota Aus­tralia de­buted the TRD (Toy­ota Rac­ing De­vel­op­ment) brand, with the TRD Hilux be­ing one of two TRD mod­els along­side the TRD Au­rion sedan. The TRD Hilux SL4000 fea­tured a su­per­charged 4.0-litre V6 petrol en­gine, Bil­stein­tuned sports sus­pen­sion and a be­spoke body kit, but the project was short-lived, get­ting axed at the end of 2008 with just 351 TRD Hilux mod­els pro­duced.

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