|2002 Hilux Road Test by
Leisure Wheels of South Africa
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After taking stick for being under-powered, Toyota has endowed its top Hilux diesel double cab with a formidable boost
in the form of a revised Prado engine. We see how it stacks up
Everything is going right again, it seems, with the Toyota Hilux back on top of the sales charts.
Having briefly relinquished market leadership to Isuzu prior to the arrival of the latest generation Hilux range, which was
launched at the end of 1998, one dark cloud remained on Toyota's horizon -- the "underwhelming" performance of the
normally aspirated diesel, especially for the demanding recreational market.
Now all that's changed, and not a moment too soon, with the advent of the new-generation KZ-TE engine to ward off
ever more formidable challenges from Mazda, Ford, Nissan and arch rival Isuzu.
Essentially what we have here is a revised version of the engine we're familiar with in the Toyota Prado, though with
some important tweaking to the power and torque curves to better suit its application in the Hilux.
This sees the power reduced from 92kW at 3 600 r/min to 85kW at the same revs. But the real news concerns the
torque figures, which improve from 295Nm at 2 400 r/min to a class-leading 315Nm at just 1 800 r/min. Compare that
with the normally aspirated Hilux 5L diesel's best of 67kW at 4 000 r/min and 192Nm at 2 400 r/min and you begin to
appreciate the magnitude of the changes.
Features and equipment * * * * *
Toyota continues to hold the high ground with a five-star equipment list that no rival can match.
As befits a flagship model that now costs a cool R248 095,you get twin airbags, ABS brakes and front seatbelts with
pre-tensioners. The Raider also gets an electronically selected rear differential lock which has become something of a
norm at the top of the class, although airbags and ABS remain unique to Toyota in the double cab bakkie sector.
As you'd expect, the standard equipment includes everything you could reasonably wish for at the price. That means
power steering, air conditioning, electric windows, remote central locking, a front-loading CD, cup holders, alloy wheels,
a bull bar, roll bar, side steps, a towbar wiring connection point, sliding rear window and elasticised tonneau cover.
The options list includes things like a towbar, additional driving lights and a full body and load box PVC coating.
Accommodation * * * *
Gone is the once-humble double cab's image as a workhorse, with the comfort and appointment levels of these
recreational load luggers making it easy to forget that you're not in an expensive station wagon.
Back in '84 Toyota presented us with the original South African double cab, and all these years later the stakes have
again been upped by the latest generation vehicles, which answer complaints about the cramped rear passenger
compartments of early examples.
Study the dimensions, or better still, climb into the back of the latest Hilux and you'll immediately appreciate the advances
over its predecessor.
The vehicle is both taller and wider with gains in head and elbow room, and a full 70mm more room to stretch out in,
most of the additional legroom benefiting rear seat passengers. This makes it a worthy challenger in the space stakes,
matching the dimensions of most and bettering some.
Comfort isn't just about spaciousness though, and the seats are well shaped for good support with careful attention to
ergonomics ensuring a pleasant car-like cabin and near ideal seating position. The steering wheel adjusts vertically and
although there is no seat height or lumbar adjuster, neither seems necessary.
Little touches like perfectly placed cup-holders, which sprout from the centre of the dash at the prod of a finger, add to
Noise and vibration levels are also better suppressed than on the first of the new generation Hiluxes, with Toyota having
had to catch up on ever-quieter and more refined rivals like the new Mazda and Nissan.
Where earlier Raiders feature the use of a pin-type gear lock to lock the transmission in reverse when the vehicle is
unattended, the KZ-TE sports a transponder immobiliser that deactivates the fuel system. It has the blessing of the
insurance industry and this means that no other anti-theft devices are necessary.
Performance * * * * *
To say that the Hilux is transformed by the introduction of the 1TZ-FE Prado engine would be an understatement, with
the diesel powerplant often rivalling and even beating its 2,7-litre petrol-engined stable-mate.
And regular readers will remember how impressed we were with the electronic fuel injected 2,7-litre 16-valve twin-cam
four that powers the flagship petrol Raider 2700i.
Sure, in a flat-out contest at the drag-strip petrol would always triumph over diesel propulsion, the 2700i storming to 100
km/h in 15,3 seconds -- a full five seconds faster. But in everyday motoring situations that often involve high gears and
low revs, there's a different story. Accelerate from 80 km/h to 120 km/h in fourth gear and there's no more than a metre
separating the two. Repeat the exercise in fifth gear and the diesel challenger gets there in 20,1 seconds, with its petrol
sibling three seconds behind.
Keep your foot flat and the 1KZ-TE will eventually clock 155 km/h at Gauteng altitudes, while the 2700i is only 3 km/h
quicker in the end.
Interestingly, on fast downhills the diesel could record a higher top speed than the SRX version tested in issue number 5,
because that model's exuberance was curbed by a limiter that was designed to kick in at 160 km/h.
The 2700i is noted for its fuel economy, which is superb by rival V6 standards, but the KZ-TE obviously sips diesel even
more sparingly, recording 12,3 l/100km at a steady 120 km/h cruise. That compares with 11,1 l/100km recorded for the
KB 280 DT.
Take the Hilux off tarmac, as we did repeatedly during an exploration of some of Mpumalanga's finest 4x4 trails, and the
engine characteristics are close to perfect. Terrific torque at low, low revs means that it will crawl over obstacles with a
delicate touch of the throttle in first gear low range, and scale the most daunting climbs in second gear low range, with
power and momentum to spare.
The previous Hilux, with its solid axle front suspension, had legendary off-road prowess and superb ground clearance.
Sure, the new-generation vehicle is sometimes compromised by its independent front suspension when it comes to
absolute clearance, but it is as competent as any rival with competitive approach, departure and ramp angles.
Although we did scrape the underside a few times, it is well protected with skid plates over the engine and cross
members, transfer case and fuel tank.
Ride and handling * * * *
The standards of ride and handling in this class have been elevated in the past four or five years to the point where double
cabs challenge some station wagons in the comfort stakes. And so it is with the KZ-TE, which steers, handles and rides
as much like a car as a bakkie with rear leaf springs has any right to. Certainly it is world's apart from the previous Hilux,
boasting a ride that is magic carpet-like by comparison.
Subjectively we'd say the ride isn't quite as plush as in the yardstick Isuzu KB or new Mazda and Ford siblings, but it
fights back convincingly with steering that is quicker and sharper, making the Hilux more fun to hustle through bends
At speed it is stable, no doubt aided by a wider track, while the front suspension is not thrown off line by bumps and
corrugations, reinforcing the feeling of solidity and security it imparts.
We didn't have the opportunity to test the KZ-TE with a heavy load, but if our considerable experience with the 2700i is
anything to go by, it is more than capable, retaining its composure despite provocation.
With the fitment of ABS as standard, it clearly offers an advantage in certain low-grip situations, although the actual
stopping times and distances did not better those recorded by either an Isuzu KB or Hilux SRX without ABS.
Verdict * * * *
The standards of the class are very high indeed, but the Hilux KZ-TE impresses hugely with its combination of comfort,
practicality, eager performance and secure handling. Somehow it feels absolutely right whatever the demands, offering as
much as any rival, and more when the action moves off-road.
Specifications and Test figures
Toyota Hilux 3.0KZ-TE Double Cab 4X4 Raider
Type Turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder
Valvetrain SOHC, 8 valves
Displacement 2 982 cc
Bore & stroke 96 x 103 mm
Compres.Ratio 21,2 : 1
Power 85 kW @ 3 000 r/min
Torque 315Nm @ 1 800 revs/min
Fuel supply Electronically controlled manual injection pump
Fuel required Diesel
CHASSIS & BODY
Front engine, 4WD
Front: Ventilated discs
7JJ x 15 alloy
Power assisted Yes
Turns lock / lock
Double wishbone with coils, torsion bar, stabiliser, gas-filled dampers
Rigid axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs, gas-filled dampers
Ratios (: 1) 1st
Mass as tested
1 760 kg
4 945 mm
1 790 mm
1 805 mm
2 860 mm
1 430 mm
1 425 mm
Max towing capacity
1 290 kg
Ramp over angle
Ground Clearance 215mm
Speeds in gears:
60-100 km/h 4th
80-120 km/h 4th
60-100 km/h 5th
80-120 km/h 5th
80-0 km/h best
38,2m 3,19 secs
80-0 km/h average
39,8m 3,29 secs
Steady 120 km/h
12,3 litres/100 km
Range at 120 km/h
Adjustable steering Yes
Electric rear-view mirrors
Colt Rodeo 2800
Ford Ranger2500 XLT
Isuzu KB 280DT LX
Mazda Drifter 2500 TD
Nissan Hardbody 3.2D SE
Speedometer, rev counter, digital clock
Meters: fuel, temperature
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