The Toyota Hilux line was launched in 1968 as a spin off of the successful Land Cruiser series, and continues to be produced today, although it wasn’t called ‘Hilux’ for all of its lifespan. With a rugged approach to off-roading and load carrying, the Hilux/4Runner/Toyota Pickup gained a reputation for being one of the most reliable, dependable and easy to fix vehicles in the world. Here’s our tribute to the Hilux on its 50th birthday, plus tips on buying one.
Operation global domination
It turns out being extremely reliable and near about indestructible makes sure a car sells well. Even in places where you’d think Toyota would refuse to sell - destabilised states like Afghanistan, for example. Unless you lived under a rock for much of the 2000s, you would’ve seen footage of these technicals - Hilux pickups with ex-goat herders in the back, typically weilding 50cal. machine guns. Yikes. Maybe see it as stamp of reliability?
The one to buy
1991-1994 Hilux Surf SSR-X - Cool name. Sounds like a Gundam robot. Has a wide-body kit from the factory, along with 3.0 V6 motor.Cheap-ish to buy, although not cheap to maintain. Will run forever (probably). Just don’t set fire to it - might have survived Top Gear’s destructive programming but lets not try drowning/blowing up what might be a future Jap classic.
Pop culture aspirations
The Toyota Hilux is a pop culture icon in its own right, and absolutely a product of the 80s. Even the ones from the 2000s, with their boxy looks and oversized fenders and general badass demeanour. A 1985 Toyota Hilux was even featured in 80s cult classic movie Back to the Future, where Marty McFly sees the black lifted truck and comments, "Check out that 4x4!" Movie car status gets you places, and the SR5 is now one of the most desired after models in the lineup's history.