ROAD TEST: 2017 Toyota HiLux TRD tribute edition
1. It's a TRD but not as we know it
The tribute edition uses genuine parts from Toyota Racing Development (TRD), such as the grille, mudflaps, the bright red "bash plate” under the front bumper, and some interior trim. But it's not like the previous supercharged V6 TRD HiLux from 2008, which also had a unique front bumper, beefed up wheels, tyres, brakes and suspension. This TRD HiLux drives exactly the same as the SR5, on which it is based.
2. They're put together at the dealership
The TRD HiLux comes from the factory with the blacked out sports bar but the wheels, grille, door protection strips, tail-light moulds and other TRD bits are fitted at the dealership. However, you can't make your own by ordering the parts separately because Toyota is matching the kits to specific vehicle identifying numbers (VINs).
3. They're almost sold out
Starting at $58,990 drive-away for a white manual and topping out at $61,540 drive-away for a black auto (metallic paint adds $550 and auto adds $2000), the tribute edition is selling as quickly as dealers can put them together. It's cheaper than the new SR5 was at launch two years ago. Toyota wants to claw back lost ground from the Ford Ranger, so expect aggressive pricing to continue. The HiLux is top seller when sales of 4WD and 2WD examples are combined (the standard industry practice) but the Ford outsells the Toyota in the 4WD ute category.
4. It drives better than before
Having done more than 6000km in a HiLux SR5 earlier this year, it took me about six minutes to figure out something had changed. From April production, Toyota has fitted slightly retuned shock absorbers, making the SR5 less bouncy when unladen and almost as smooth as a Ford Ranger XLT. All HiLux SR5s get this change, not just the TRD Edition.
5. I love this one but buyers want more
This TRD tribute edition is seen as a tease by hardcore HiLux fans, who crave one with even tougher looks and capability. If our intel is correct, we will see a real-deal TRD HiLux within the next 12 months. Meanwhile, expect some very minor model-year updates to the HiLux range from October.