The Gazoo Racing Hilux was a fail, but this is something else.
The Toyota Hilux is forbidden fruit in the USA, but that doesn't mean we can't take a peek at the third-world's favorite pickup truck every once in a while.
It made the news this week after Toyota Australia introduced the upcoming Hilux Rogue, which will go head-to-head with the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, also sold in Oz. Toyota has done this sort of thing before, and it failed. The Gazoo Racing Hilux was introduced in 2018 and featured ghastly stickers and a stiffer front suspension, resulting in a terrible gravel driving experience.
The changes to the Rogue are more substantial, however. While the power output of the 2.8-liter turbocharged four-pot diesel remains unchanged, you can add at least 10% to the standard 201 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque via a simple ECU tune.
Instead of simply adding stiffer springs and dampers to the front, this time, the Hilux has been graced with a wider track and an updated suspension package. The front and rear tracks have been widened by 5.5 inches, which is a lot. That alone will significantly impact stability at high speeds on gravel.
The ride height has been increased by 0.8 inches to improve the off-road ability. Not as impressive, but the Hilux wasn't lacking in that particular department.
"The significant suspension upgrades to the Hilux Rogue not only improve off-road capability but create a more stable and comfortable on-road driving experience," said Toyota Australia Vice President Sales, Marketing, and Franchise Operations, Sean Hanley.
However, one does not simply extend the track without making other significant changes. Toyota extended the front suspension arm and front stabilizer bar length and adjusted the shock absorber angle. At the rear, it extended the length of the axle. The dampers have been moved out further toward the wheel. For the first time ever, a Hilux has been equipped with a rear stabilizer bar.
According to Toyota, roll rigidity has been enhanced by 20%, improving steering feel when cornering and changing lanes. So the wheels don't stick out, wide track overfenders and mudguards have been installed, while the front body extension has also been widened to integrate with the front bumper seamlessly.
Because owners will likely push the Rogue harder, Toyota added an inch to the front disc brakes, while the traditional drums at the rear have been replaced with ventilated disc brakes.
There's little chance of the Hilux Rogue making it to the USA, mainly because the Hilux is not a first-world product. As a consolation prize, Toyota offers the Tacoma instead.