The Toyota Hilux is one of the most iconic and durable pickup trucks in the world, with a reputation for being able to handle any terrain and challenge. But what if you want a Hilux that is not only tough but also sporty and stylish? Enter the 2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport, a new variant that adds some rally-inspired flair and performance to the legendary model.
The Hilux GR Sport is the result of a collaboration between Toyota and its motorsport division, Gazoo Racing (GR), which is responsible for the brand’s success in various racing disciplines, such as the World Rally Championship (WRC), the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and the Dakar Rally. The latter is especially relevant for the Hilux GR Sport, as it draws inspiration from the Dakar-winning Hilux that has dominated the grueling off-road race in recent years.
What makes the Hilux GR Sport different?
The Hilux GR Sport is based on the facelifted eighth-generation Hilux that was launched in 2019, but with some distinctive features that set it apart from the rest of the range. The most obvious difference is the exterior design, which features a unique front grille with a large GR logo, a black hood scoop, LED headlights with black bezels, and a black bumper with red accents. The side profile reveals black wheel arches, black door handles, black side steps, and 18-inch alloy wheels with a machined finish and red center caps. The rear end sports a black tailgate with a GR badge, a black bumper with red tow hooks, and LED taillights with dark chrome surrounds. The Hilux GR Sport is available in three colors: Emotional Red, Attitude Black, and White Pearl Crystal Shine.
The interior of the Hilux GR Sport also gets some special touches, such as black leather seats with red stitching and GR logos, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with red accents and paddle shifters, a black instrument panel with a 4.2-inch multi-information display, and a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The cabin also features carbon fiber-like trim, metal pedals, and GR-branded floor mats and scuff plates.
But the Hilux GR Sport is not just about looks. It also has some mechanical upgrades that enhance its performance and handling. The most significant change is the suspension system, which has been tuned by GR engineers to provide better stability and comfort on both paved and unpaved roads. The front suspension features new coil springs and shock absorbers that are stiffer and have more damping force than the standard ones. The rear suspension also has new leaf springs and shock absorbers that are softer and have less damping force than the standard ones. These changes result in a lower ride height (by 20 mm at the front and 15 mm at the rear) and a more balanced weight distribution (by 10 kg at the front and 5 kg at the rear). The steering system has also been recalibrated to offer more feedback and precision.
The engine of the Hilux GR Sport is the same 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel that powers the top-spec Invincible X model but with a slight boost in power and torque. It now produces 204 hp (up from 201 hp) and 369 lb-ft of torque (up from 369 lb-ft). It can be paired with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, both of which have been optimized for smoother and quicker shifts. The four-wheel-drive system remains unchanged, with a two-speed transfer case and an electronically controlled rear differential lock. The Hilux GR Sport also comes with various driving modes, such as Eco, Normal, Power, Sport S, Sport S+, and Custom.
How does the Hilux GR Sport drive?
The Hilux GR Sport is not meant to be a hardcore off-roader like the Dakar racer it emulates, but rather a more agile and fun-to-drive pickup that can handle different road conditions with ease. The revised suspension makes a noticeable difference in how the Hilux GR Sport behaves on the road, as it reduces body roll and improves cornering stability. The steering is also more responsive and direct, giving the driver more confidence and control. The ride quality is still comfortable and compliant, even on rough surfaces, thanks to the softer rear suspension.
The engine of the Hilux GR Sport delivers strong performance and efficiency, as it can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 10 seconds (with the automatic transmission) and achieve an average fuel consumption of 29 mpg (with the manual transmission). The engine is smooth and refined at low revs but becomes more vocal and lively at higher revs. The transmission options are both well-suited for the engine’s characteristics, as they offer smooth shifts and quick responses. The manual transmission has a short throw and a positive feel, while the automatic transmission has a sport mode and paddle shifters that allow the driver to take more control.
The Hilux GR Sport also has a capable and versatile four-wheel-drive system that can tackle various terrains and situations. The driver can choose between two-wheel-drive (for normal driving), four-wheel-drive high (for slippery roads), and four-wheel-drive low (for extreme off-roading). The rear differential lock can also be engaged to enhance traction and stability on loose or uneven surfaces. The Hilux GR Sport also has a generous ground clearance of 9.4 inches, a wading depth of 27.5 inches, and good approach, departure, and breakover angles of 29, 26, and 23 degrees, respectively.