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Fernando Alonso gets first thrash of the 2021 Toyota HiLux

By Tim Robson, 01 Jun 2020 Car News

An updated and more powerful HiLux looms. Has Toyota done enough to keep it ahead of the Ford Ranger?

2021 toyota hilux

Toyota has thrown the keys to its updated Toyota HiLux to Spanish superstar racer Fernando Alonso for a quick skid ahead of a worldwide launch of the ute’s midlife facelift.

Alonso, whose regular Dakar Rally HiLux has a bit more going on, stars in a promo clip for the updated eighth-generation HiLux, which will go on sale in Australia in August.

MORE New Toyota Hilux revealed

Blessed with more power (20kW) and more torque (20Nm) for top-spec utes like the SR5, the 2021 Toyota HiLux – which was launched in 2015 - will offer a raft of incremental improvements to a ute that was, in part, developed to target Australian mining and rural markets.

Those niceties include – at long last – Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, revised front fascia and rear-end treatment with LED headlights and taillights for high end versions, and an interior makeover.

New-look 2020 Toyota Hilux revealed

It already features active safety systems that were fitted to the HiLux in 2019, including day/night pedestrian detection, cyclist (daytime only) protection, lane departure alert with steering assist, high-speed active cruise control and road-sign assist.

Toyota says that the ute will also feature “new suspension geometry” in its press release, but we’d suggest it would be a cold day in Hades before you see coil springs in a Toyota HiLux.

MORE GR HiLux on the back burner for Toyota

The update will also likely include a permanent fix for the troublesome diesel particulate filter issues that have plagued the HiLux, which saw Toyota add an extra fuel injector to the filter and an in-cabin regeneration button in an attempt to solve an issue which has landed the world’s biggest car company in a legal stoush here in Australia.

Toyota Hilux 2020 grille

The new HiLux (above) has battled the Ford Ranger for superiority in the dual-cab ute sales race over the last two years, with the two sides coming within a handful of sales of each other month to month.

The Ranger is also due for an overhaul in 2021, but it will be far more comprehensive than that for the relatively simple HiLux model line.

A new V6 diesel is expected to be fitted to the Ranger as the 3.2-litre five-cylinder is retired, while the 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-diesel engine currently offered in the WildTrak as an option and the Raptor as standard will become the main offering.

The potential power-up for the single-turbo 2.8-litre Toyota engine will only push its outputs to 150kW and 470Nm, and that will likely be offered only on the most expensive variants.

The Ranger will also have the upper hand in the transmission department, too, with a ten-speed auto to be specced as standard across the line. The HiLux is likely to keep its six-speed automatic.

A clay model of the 2021 Ford Ranger

Like the HiLux, the Ranger will wear a newly restyled body on top of a revised version of the T6’s Australian-designed chassis.