Why Is the Toyota Hilux the Philippines' Bestselling Pickup?

We asked owners as a Toyota unveils a refreshed version of its classic pickup.
IMAGE Toyota Motor Philippines

Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has been very active this year, despite the pandemic. The company has managed to unveil its fourth model through a virtual launch on Saturday, September 12—a refreshed version of the highly popular Hilux pickup.

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The Toyota badge is synonymous with build quality, reliability, easy maintenance and great value. The Hilux nameplate is no different so it isn’t surprising that it remains to be the country’s bestselling pick-up with a 30.5 percent segment share last year.

Photo by Toyota Motor Philippines.

Whether on-road or off-road, this hardworking pickup is a dependable companion for daily commute and weekend roadtrips. It’s also a great workhorse.

“This 2020, the new Toyota Hilux and Hilux Conquest arrive with an impressive new look, that is more rugged and exciting than ever,” said TMP President Atsuhiro Okamoto during the online launch of the new vehicle. “The new Hilux is designed to meet the tough demands of Filipino drivers and the country's varying roads. I am confident that the Hilux would once again prove why it is the Philippines' pick-up of choice. Tough on every road, every inch a Hilux.”


New and Improved Hilux

The new Hilux comes with improvements not only in its looks, but also in performance and features. It is still available in 4x4 Conquest and 4x2 Conquest variants, and G AT and MT, and E MT variants as well.

Photo by Toyota Motor Philippines.

We asked a few previous generation owners and this is what they said:

“We've loaded unimaginable things on my Hilux without any problem,” said Justin Uy, an off-road enthusiast and pet supplies business owner. “Like a six-foot-long aquarium, kalachuchi trees, sacks of soil, and massive concrete pots. A true workhorse. I think the new one is going to be a good replacement to last another 20 years or even more. Too bad they do not offer a version already with two-inch lift and mud terrain tires like the Ford Raptor but that's something the guys at Black Rhino Wheels Philippines can’t solve.”

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Meanwhile, here’s what Wheel Gallery’s managing director Sam Liuson has to say about the new Hilux: “The base model 4x4 MT will be a hit for off-road enthusiasts at P1.148 million.” Aside from being an off-road enthusiast himself, Liuson, is a certified “plantito” and also owns a previous generation Hilux. He says he loves to drive it whenever he buys plants and other garden supplies.

50 years: from snow to desert

When the Hilux turned 50 years old about two years ago, it sold almost 18 million units worldwide. Its reputation of reliability and dependability has reached into indestructible proportions and it is not an exaggeration. 

Screenshot of Toyota Hilux traveling to th earth;s magnetic North Pole in the BBC's Top Gear

Photo by Toyota Europe.

BBC’s motoring show Top Gear featured a 1988 Hilux which they acquired with a mileage of 190,000 miles (or 305,000 km) and was subjected to all sorts of abuse including being left on a beach waiting for an incoming tide soaked in sea water for hours, being set on fire and left on a building during a demolition among other things. Although that Hilux suffered structural damage, it was revived and kept running with just the aid of simple tools typically found in a car’s toolbox.


The show’s then-host Jeremy Clarkson also chose a modified 2007 Hilux for its Top Gear: Polar Special show where it became the first motor vehicle to make it to the magnetic North Pole. It also set a world record by its support crew using modified Hilux pickups that endured some 5,000 km from a Russian Scientific Station in Antartica to the Geographic South Pole and back, making the Hilux the first 4x4 vehicles to reach the South Pole.

Because the Toyota Hilux is such a reliable workhorse, it is also a very popular choice in extreme environments, like the deserts of the Middle East. And even for extremist groups.

Top Gear hosts subjected the Hilux to the elements and even set it on fire. It still worked

Photo by Toyota Europe.

Some 10 years ago, Ravi Somaiya wrote in Newsweek that the Toyota Hilux pickup has been a fixture of several extremist movements over the past few decades. "The Toyota Hilux is everywhere," Andrew Exum, a former US Army Ranger who is now the US deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy, told Newsweek. “It's the vehicular equivalent of the AK-47. It's ubiquitous to insurgent warfare. And actually, recently, also counterinsurgent warfare. It kicks the hell out of the Humvee.”

In 2015, ABC News reported that US officials have asked Toyota to figure out why its vehicles (particularly the pickup trucks) are showing up in so many ISIS videos. Then Iraqi Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily told the news network that, in recent years, as the ISIS has risen to prominence in Iraq and Syria, the group was able to acquire hundreds of new Toyota pickup trucks. 

New generation

The new generation Hilux and Hilux Conquest is no different but better. The new Hilux 4x4 variants are powered by Toyota’s 2.8L 1GD-FTV engine which gives 201 HP (204 Ps) max output, 500 Nm max torque for the AT variant, and 420 Nm max torque for the MT variant with Intelligent Manual Transmission. 

Photo by Toyota Motor Philippines.

Meanwhile, the 4x2 Conquest, G, and E variants gets the 2.4L 2GD-FTV engine with 148 HP max output, and 400 Nm max torque. Toyota also says that both the 1GD and 2GD engine are improved for the MC Hilux and enjoys four to five percent improvement in fuel efficiency versus the previous generation Hilux.

Built to be tougher and also safer, all its three grades come with SRS airbags (seven for the 4x4 Conquest A/T variant), three-point ELR seatbelts, Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) with Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Vehicle Stability Control, and Hill-Start Assist Control. 

The Conquest 4x4 variants also have Downhill Assist Control and Active Traction Control. Clearance sonars are available for Conquest while back sonars are available for G grades, and the reverse camera is available for Conquest variants. 

Photo by Toyota Motor Philippines.

For more information on the New Hilux, visit TMP’s official website at www.toyota.com.ph and follow the official social media pages at ToyotaMotorPhilippines (Facebook and Instagram), @ToyotaMotorPH (Twitter), and Toyota PH (Viber and Telegram).

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Alvin Uy
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