Despite People Wanting Hilux in the U.S., Toyota May Offer Tacoma EV Instead
Toyota has sold various vehicle models in the United States for many years. However, you cannot buy a new Hilux like you can with a Tacoma. The Hilux was once sold in the country but disappeared in the 1990s — and it has not been in the States ever since. The Asian automaker has been offering a Hilux in the rest of the world, but not available in the United States. Living in the States, the first thing that may come to mind is the Tacoma truck whenever someone mentions Toyota.
Let’s explore why Toyota has chosen to sell Tacoma exclusively and not include Hilux in its lineup.
Hilux vs. Tacoma
Hilux indeed has a strong fanbase in other countries. A few trucks that Toyota built are also loved and recognized worldwide, but the Tacoma truck has been built entirely in the United States. It is designed specifically for the North American market.
Appearance-wise, both may seem similar to a casual observer. However, some things are different if you look at the parts closely.
The new Hilux has the same trapezoidal grille design as Tacoma, but arguably, it has a more streamlined front fascia design with sleeker headlights and taillights. It has a sharper design in its body lines and wheels. It also has a relatively large body designed with smoother body sculpting. Aside from the same trapezoidal grill, the U.S.-made Tacoma is blocky, with thinner headlights. The fender flares are bulgier than Hilux and have a squared-off yet simple body shape.
The Texas-built Tacoma is different from Hilux when it comes to powertrain. Tacoma buyers can choose from a few powertrain selections, such as the 159-hp 2.7-liter four-cylinder or the 278-hp 3.5-liter V-6. For drivers wanting to have a manual transmission, Tacoma has an option on the V-6. However, it is only available on the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trim levels with specific body configurations. The other powertrain options use six-speed automatic transmission.
The Hilux has a powerful 2.8-liter diesel engine with diesel and gas options. The engine’s output makes an impressive 201 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.
Cab and bed sizes
Tacoma is available in two- and four-wheel-drive models. It has extended-cab and four-door crew cab body styles. You may also select from the bed options whether you want it short or long. Hilux is a bit smaller since countries outside the U.S. have narrow roads.
Tacoma’s double-cab is slightly wider compared to Hilux by about two inches, so it is appropriate for use on American roads. The wider body is not an issue since American roads and most parking spaces in America are typically larger than those in the major markets of Hilux.
If you focus on features, Tacoma and Hilux have interiors laid out quite differently. When you open the doors of a Hilux, you will see an 8.0-inch multimedia screen bigger than Tacoma’s. It is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Tacoma’s interior is about the same as its exterior, which is blockier — overtly “trucky” in appearance, as Motor Trend described it. Like the Hilux, it has the same interior features. Although the touchscreen is a smaller 7-inch, it comes with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa integration. The good thing about the American-made Tacoma is it comes with the Toyota Safety Sense suite. The active-safety feature is newly standard across the board, which includes automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.
Owning a Hilux in America
Toyota does not sell Hilux due to the infamous Chicken Tax. You may usually encounter the term Chicken Tax in most imported vehicles. It is the 25 percent tariff that affects light trucks not built in America. Like Hilux, it is a challenge for automakers to bring imported cars to the United States since the pricing gets too expensive to justify.
Toyota discontinued producing the Hilux in North America. Instead of selling Hilux, which would likely cost the company more money to manufacture, they decided it was better to push Tacoma into production. But under the right conditions, owning a Hilux is perfectly legal in the States. It is not officially banned in the country, so you can search for a way to make it happen, especially if you are fond of vintage trucks.
Owning a Hilux is achievable by hunting down an owner who had purchased one when it was available in the country. Be ready to have some mechanical know-how if you decide to own an old Hilux. Since the model is a few decades old, replacing some truck parts may be essential if they are already faulty. You may also need to locate hard-to-come-by components to keep the vehicle in good condition. But if you don’t want the hassle of facing the technicalities and paying the expensive fees, choosing a Tacoma is a viable option.
Toyota has debuted a fully electric version of its popular pick-up and called it the Hilux Revo BEV Concept. It was unveiled in Thailand as part of the automaker’s celebration of 60 years of manufacturing in the country. This electric Hilux concept is a single-cab model.
According to rumors, the EV Hilux concept may use hardware components sourced from bZ4X electric SUV, which comes with a 71.4kWh battery. In two-wheel drive models, it is capable of up to 500 km of range, while it has a 460 km range in all-wheel drive models. Either a 150kW single-motor or a 160kWh dual-motor set-up will be paired with the battery.
For the electric Tacoma, Toyota has not yet revealed any specific details. But according to Autolist, an automotive buying app, people cannot wait for an electric version of the mid-size truck. They conducted a survey that shows that most non-truck owners think the Tacoma EV is an interesting vehicle. The respondents have picked it over Rivian R1T, Ford F-150 Lightning, and Tesla Cybertruck. Twenty percent of new-car shoppers in America are most interested in the electric Tacoma. Many expect to hear updates on the next generation of production of the mid-size truck. Even though nothing official about the EV version yet, it is on the top wish list for one-in-five electric truck shoppers.
Current truck owners have selected the F-150 Lightning over Tacoma and other rivals. However, the Tacoma EV did not fall deep from the list and landed in second place. Even if the truck is not here yet, it is already putting pressure on the competition.
Tacoma remains in the U.S. market
Both Tacoma and Hilux are mid-size trucks, but only one is available in America, but the latter was known to be a reliable work truck back in the day. Toyota is not shutting its doors on the possibility of a Hilux in America. However, with Tacoma still in the lineup, it will continue to reign in the States.
The hypothetical Tacoma EV has been the second-most preferred truck in a survey, even though it does not exist yet. Toyota has already released an electric concept for the Hilux, so the chance of seeing a Tacoma EV concept is not far from now.