The Toyota Hilux (also stylized as HiLux and historically as Hi-Lux) is a series of light commercial vehicles produced and marketed by the Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota. The majority of these vehicles were sold as pickup truck or cab chassis variants although they could be configured in a variety of body styles. Most countries used the Hilux name for the entire life of the series but in North America, the Hilux name was retired in 1976 in favor of Truck, Pickup Truck, or Compact Truck. In North America the popular option package, the SR5 (Sport Rally 5-Speed), was colloquially used as a model name for the truck, even though the option package was also used on other Toyota models like the 1972 to 1979 Corolla. In 1984, the Toyota Trekker, the camper version of the Hilux, was renamed as the 4Runner in Australia and North America, and as the Hilux Surf in Japan. In 1995, Toyota introduced a new pickup model, the Tacoma in North America, thus discontinuing the Hilux/Pickup. The 4Runner is now a full SUV, and the more recent models of the Hilux are separate in appearance to the Tacoma.
The Hilux has gained a reputation for exceptional sturdiness and reliability during sustained heavy use or even abuse.
This reputation was highlighted in several episodes of the BBC motoring show Top Gear. In series 3, episodes 5 and 6, a 1988 diesel N50 Hilux with 305,775 km (190,000 mi) on the odometer was subjected to extraordinary abuse including being left on a beach for the incoming tide, left on top of a building as it was demolished and being set on fire. The Hilux suffered severe structural damage, but was still running after being repaired with only the typical tools that would be found in a truck’s toolbox. This Hilux became one of the background decorations in the Top Gear studio. In the later series 8, episode 3, a Hilux was chosen by Jeremy Clarkson as his platform for creating an amphibious vehicle, and in the Top Gear: Polar Special Clarkson and James May raced a specially modified 2007 model Hilux to the magnetic north pole from Northern Canada – making the truck the first motor vehicle to make it to the magnetic north pole. The camera crew’s vehicle from this episode was later modified and driven to near the summit of the Eyjafjallajökull erupting Icelandic volcano by James May in Series 15, Episode 1.
In 1999, the Hilux appeared in a series of “Bugger” television adverts in New Zealand and Australia. The adverts were banned in New Zealand after receiving 120 complaints but later reinstated.
A world record was achieved by the support crew for the participants in the 2008/2009 Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race. The crew travelled in specially adapted Toyota Hiluxes modified by Arctic Trucks, completing a trip of over 5,000 km (3,100 mi) from Novo, a Russian Scientific Station in Antarctica to the Geographic South Pole and back again, making them the first 4×4s to reach the South Pole. The return journey of 2,500 km (1,600 mi) from the South Pole to Novo Station was completed in a record 8 days and 17 hours.
Despite being discontinued in Japan prior to 2017, the Hilux has been popularly grey-imported throughout private importers. This, along with the existing Hilux users’ requests, demanded Toyota to revive Hilux in Japan after 13 years since discontinuation.
Due to its durability and reliability, the Toyota Hilux, along with the larger Toyota Land Cruiser, has become popular among militant groups in war-torn regions as a technical. According to terrorism analyst Andrew Exum, the Hilux is “the vehicular equivalent of the AK-47. It’s ubiquitous to insurgent warfare.” U.S. counter-terror officials have inquired with Toyota how the Salafi jihadist extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has apparently acquired large numbers of Toyota Hiluxes and Land Cruisers. Mark Wallace, the CEO of the Counter Extremism Project said, “Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand.”
The 1980s Toyota War between Libya and Chad was so named because of the heavy but very successful use of Hilux trucks as technicals.