Read Caroline’s Toyota Hilux GR Sport review for everything you need to know about buying Toyota’s iconic pick-up truck in Ireland.

The Toyota Hilux is one of the world’s most famous pick-up trucks. It’s been on sale since the late 1960s and is known for its toughness and durability.

Now Toyota Ireland has introduced a new top-of-the-range Hilux GR Sport, which takes inspiration from Toyota’s ‘Gazoo Racing’ motorsport division and celebrates the success of the Hilux in the Dakar Rally – one of the world’s toughest off-road races.

The GR Sport gets more than just a cosmetic update with some new suspension tuning for a sportier ride. So is it the pick of the bunch?

The Toyota Hilux on test for Changing Lanes
The Toyota Hilux on test for Changing Lanes

Styling

The GR Sport is available in double cab versions of the Hilux only and gives Toyota’s famous pick-up a subtle makeover. But it’s enough to grab some attention, particularly finished in pearlescent white. This paint colour contrasts nicely with the cladding that adorns the Hilux, the extra wide wheel surrounds and the GR Sport’s bespoke shocks and springs finished in bright red.

Toyota’s GR badging on the grille, side and tailgate hints at something a little sportier and more exclusive. Just like the fourth gen Hilux from the early 80s, T-O-Y-O-T-A is spelt out across the front grille with a unique carbon-fibre effect finish to it on closer inspection. The front fog light surrounds are also larger. GR Sport models come with bi-tone 17-inch alloy wheels with a machined finish and all-terrain tyres.

The Hilux may not have the bling factor like a Ford Ranger Raptor but it still commands a silent respect on the road. It is one of the most recognisable of pick-ups.

Interior

The cabin has been given a GR Sport makeover that makes it genuinely feel more special and upmarket than the rest of the Hilux range. The seats deserve a special mention, finished in black leather and synthetic suede with contrast red detailing and GR Sport branding. The dashboard has the same logical layout as the rest but is spiced up with more contrast red and carbon fibre style trim. The build is reassuringly rock solid and should stand the test of time. Other bespoke features include sporty aluminium pedals and a special finish to the driver’s instrument cluster with GR logo.

The cabin of the Hilux GR Sport
The cabin of the Hilux GR Sport

There’s lots of equipment included as standard like push-button start, dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, reversing camera and heated front seats. There’s also an 8-inch touchscreen but it uses an older system than some of the brand’s latest models like the Corolla so it does look quite old-fashioned. But with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity included as standard, it becomes much better to use.

Practicality

In the back there’s space for three however the middle seat is quite small so two adults will probably be most comfortable, or a few children.

When it comes to load lugging, there’s no compomises if you for for the GR Sport. Like the rest of the range, the payload is one tonne and it can tow braked trailers up to 3.5 tonnes.

There are options available like a hard top, roll covers, towing hitch and storage boxes.

Engines

The GR Sport uses the same 2.8-litre diesel engine as some other models in the Hilux range. There’s 204hp and 500Nm of torque. It’s not a complete powerhouse but it’s well up to the job. It’s reasonably refined too – though you will know you’re driving a diesel. The Hilux settles down well to a cruise on the motorway. Consumption hovers around 9 litres per 100 kilometres in steady driving, which is probably as good as it gets.

Rear seating in the Toyota Hilux
Rear seating in the Toyota Hilux

Driving

Toyota has made a few adjustments to the Hilux GR Sport’s suspension for a bit more rally-inspired performance. It gets stiffer front springs and new monotube shock absorbers for more control, responsiveness and grip feel compared to other models in the range. The GR Sport certainly feels more precise and athletic from behind the wheel for such a large vehicle. It’s easy to keep it in lane on the motorway and it doesn’t feel too big or unwieldy down a country road either. In fact you can hustle the Hilux along with some style. The downside is that the suspension now picks up every imperfection in the road surface, which can result in quite a firm and bouncy ride depending on the tarmac quality.

When it comes to off-roading, there’s a switchable four-wheel drive system including a low speed four-wheel drive mode with low gear ratios for very challenging terrain. Ground clearance is the same as the rest of the range at 310mm, as are the approach and departure angles (29° and 26°). The wading depth is 700mm. Other features include an automatic limited slip differential that improves traction and acceleration on low-grip surfaces and Downhill Assist Control. A reassuring companion for any off-road driving!

Pricing

The Hilux range starts from €34,980 for a basic single cab model. Double cab models start from €42,595. The GR Sport sits at the top of the range above the Hilux Invincible and is priced from €59,610.

The Hilux GR Sport adds style and sportiness to the range
The Hilux GR Sport adds style and sportiness to the range

Verdict 

Pick-ups are usually bought as working vehicles but in recent years they have become more style-conscious, with a market developing for high-end models like the Ford Ranger Raptor and high-spec versions of the Volkswagen Amarok. The new Hilux GR Sport aims to capture some of that market.

It certainly has kerb appeal and the finish of the cabin is impeccable. It genuinely feels special inside and comes very well-equipped. Despite the suspension upgrades, the GR Sport remains a good working vehicle with the same towing capacity and payload as the rest of the Hilux range. While the GR Sport handles the road well, it’s not the most comfortable of the range. If that’s a priority, you might be better served by one of the other models in the Hilux range.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year