Everyone knows that Toyota mini-trucks have a huge following, especially amongst beginner rockcrawlers looking to build a capable trail rig. But what if we could have added two more doors and a diesel engine before all of those dual cases and beefy Birfield joints that are popular amongst crawling trucks? That is basically what the rest of the world got in the Hilux.
In 1986 we got independent front suspension in every small Toyota, while the Hilux proceeded with a solid front elsewhere in the world. And we didn’t get a four-door until the Tacoma, but those foreign Hilux’s had seating for four long before that. All those years of solid -axle Hilux trucks have been supported by ARB as well as the IFS trucks we got, and the 1994 Hilux that ARB built as part of its Off Road Icons Adventure is enough to make any American Yota-head green with envy. After we got a chance to drive a foreign-spec solid axle mini-truck from Toyota with four doors and a diesel, we know why this is the truck of choice in so many third-world countries.
The Hilux (derived from high and luxury) was built by the ARB store in Nundah, Australia. The truck was built around a set of 32-inch Cooper Discoverer STT tires and showcasing a variety of ARB gear, including bumpers, suspension, and Air Lockers. Unlike the big brutish Patrol, the Hilux reminded us very much of the tried-and-true gas Toyota trucks we got in the states with 22RE engines and just enough power and nothing more. The 2.8L four-cylinder diesel was fun to drive, and only running 32-inch tires it was perfect for the truck. It wasn’t the fastest of the group, but it felt perfectly balanced of power to the size of vehicle and drivetrain components. In addition to feeling smaller (the FJ40 is actually shorter), the seating position in the Hilux was quite different from the other icons where your legs are more outstretched in front of you while the other trucks have a more upright seating position. The back of the Hilux had classic ARB canopy added to secure all the normal gear and drawers for and outback adventure.
The small bed of the Hilux was well organized under the ARB classic canopy. A set of drawers from Outback Solution and an ARB 78L Fridge Freezer kept recovery gear and grub in their places.
The ARB winch bumper houses a Smittybilt Gen2 X20 winch and has attached side fender rails down to the sidesteps. This style of bumper that ties into your sidesteps is becoming popular, with new products for current-model Tacomas coming from ARB.
The roof of the Hilux had a rack and canopy for hauling lighter gear such as camp chairs and firewood, then it gave campers a roof under which to relax when the dry desert got unusually wet. The knobby Coopers made short work of the muddy tracks when combined with the diesel torque and Air Lockers for traction.
The Hilux and the FJ40 were the only two Off Road Icons on the trip with four leaf springs underneath. The ARB springs and Nitrocharger shocks didn’t beat up the driver or passenger even when crossing thousands of dunes and miles upon miles of uneven roads. The trucks on the trip were all kept moderately low compared to U.S. styles, where 35- to 37-inch tires seem the norm. Stringent lift laws in Australia keep the tire size just an inch or so over stock for street use.
Tech Specs1994 Toyota Hilux
Engine: Stock diesel 4-cylinder
Transmission: Stock manual
Transfer Case: Stock
Front Axle: Stock with ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Stock with ARB Air Locker
Springs & Such: Old Man Emu springs and Nitrocharger shocks
Tires & Wheels: Cooper Discover STT Pro 32x11.5R15 on 15x8 Bathurst Globe Alloy
Lighting: AR21 Intensity LED driving lights
Other Stuff: ARB Deluxe winch bar; ARB sidesteps and brush rails; ARB rear bar; Smittybilt Gen 2 X20 winch; ARB Classic canopy; Outback Solution drawers; ARB 78L Fridge Freezer; Recaro seats; flares; Safari Snorkel and Turbo Kit; wheels and tyres (tires); GME TX3350 UHF radio; Rhino Pioneer Platform rack