Getting comfy and rugged on the Hilux
MISS TECH - Kathy Moran (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2015 - 10:00am

The recent launch of the Toyota Hilux in Clark, Pampanga was an event I didn’t want to miss, as it held the promise of an off-road ride on the rough roads of Clark with expert pickup drivers.

“First and foremost, it is noteworthy that the Hilux has gained a loyal following since it was first introduced in the Philippines in 1993,” said Toyota Motors Philippines president Michinobu Sugata at the Hilux launch in Clark. “Registering 56, 417 units for 22 years now — this is a clear indication of how this model has been loved by thousands of our customers and giving it the name ‘King of Pickups.’”

Of course, as soon as we were allowed a glimpse of the Toyota Hilux, the first thing that caught my attention was its powerful and sophisticated front design — a look of the future. The Hilux has a sportier look, much like its siblings, the Toyota Vios and Altis.

As I have been noticing with the new pickups — their interiors have been made more comfy, achieving a balance between style and function. Obviously, Toyota designed the Hilux with the driver’s comfort in mind. 

“The design is so engaging, yet this 8th-generation Hilux asserts a newfound driving performance embodied by its new GD engine that will surely handle any terrain,” added Sugata. “It is gentle yet commanding. Delivered by the powertrain which carries an exceptional acceleration performance & improved fuel efficiency, it demonstrates the Hilux’s versatility.”

Off-Road and loving it

I was up early for the off-road experience. It had been a while since I sat shotgun inside a vehicle. After all, more often than not, I prefer to take the pilot seat in a test unit. But, I knew this was going to be fun as I would not have to worry about watching out for those giant boulders and bigger dips on the terrain — and just concentrate on making sure I was strapped well into my seat.

Our driver was the ever-friendly Jose Campos, who drove us through the ups and down, even river-crossing the Sacobia River.

I held on for dear life as Jose explained the many functions of the different gears and how to use them when going off-road.

“This Hilux handles the off roads very well,” Jose said as he kept his eye on the road ahead. “I like the comfort of the cockpit — and just how capable it is of handling any road condition with ease.”

I kept my eyes on the road ahead as I noticed how the Hilux pickups ahead of us were dipping through the steep drops. Of course, to demonstrate just how well the Hilux hang on to tight turns, Jose made sure to take a few. We had to hold on tightly. But there was no fear because no matter how steep the angle the Hilux was in, it passed with flying colors.

“We never get to drive like this in Metro Manila,” Jose added. “Fun, right?”

Of course, I had to agree. After all, how often am I in a situation where the road ahead is really one that is less traveled?

The ride through the outback of Clark took about 30 minutes. Let me add that this was 30 minutes of fun and bouncing up and down.



 Metro Manila streets

Of course, no test drive is complete without a drive through the streets of Metro Manila. And the Toyota Hilux did not disappoint.  I always have so much fun when the drive happens on these rainy days when floodwaters start to rise. The better to be behind the wheel of a vehicle that I know will get me thought it in one piece.

True to its name, the brand Hilux — a combination of the words “high” and “luxury,” this vehicle’s competitive edge is readily evident.

I enjoyed the view from the cockpit because everything about the controls and interiors of the Hilux speak of easy-to-use and within reach. The Hilux is a great mix between the toughness of a pickup and the functionality and convenience of a sedan.

The new-generation Hilux seats up to five passengers, including driver, comfortably. The rear seat passengers get to enjoy expanded knee room and rear center armrest. 

In the cockpit there is the cool, new 6.5-inch capacitive touch-screen display audio with multiple functionalities such as MP3/Bluetooth/USB Capability and Navigation. It also carries an optitron meter with illuminated needles, 2-ring/4-dial meter with silver rings. There’s more: it has a 4.2-inch color TFT multi-information display that indicates the outside temperature/shift range indicators, information index icons, Eco Meter and odometer.  And the three-spoke leather steering wheel is ergonomically designed with “audio and MID” control switches.

So, there I was sitting in the cockpit and taking in the view of the streets on that rainy Monday morning. I switched on the radio to keep abreast of the news as to where the floodwaters were rising. Of course, it was a challenge to drive to the more flooded areas of the Metro to see just how well the Hilux would do.

I was aware that the traffic was building up in the Quezon City area. But I had set the day aside to get stuck in traffic and to drive through some flooded streets. I made it to Araneta Ave., where the floods had started to rise. I am well aware of the fact that driving though flooded waters requires that one remain alert at all times. 

I drove the Hilux though knee-deep floods — and I was kept safe in the cockpit. Yes, the floods can be daunting.

This 8th-generation Hilux asserts a newfound driving performance, not least with its new diesel GD engine that can handle any terrain. Gentle yet commanding, this pickup delivers an exceptional acceleration performance and increased fuel efficiency, demonstrating how the Hilux is suited for all purposes and adjusts to the driver’s need for them. 

The weather can be as fickle as my mood often is — but that didn’t matter from were I was seated; in a cockpit of a pickup that stayed in control and kept me safe.

I said to myself, “Go ahead, rain — pour if you must!” I was perfectly safe just where I was.

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