Far from what used to be tools for hauling goods from one farmland to another, cars like the Toyota Hilux Conquest show that an off-road capable and utilitarian vehicle may be used for more lifestyle oriented purposes, such as going to the beach, or camping at the woods. Nevertheless, the Hilux Conquest addresses one concern that many of its buyers have been looking for: aggressive looks. Not that the Hilux isn’t a nice truck to look at, but the truck has been such a successful household name in the Philippines, its success also became its (aesthetic) downfall. The competition has been offering much more aesthetically pleasing trucks for quite a while now, which drew the Hilux close to anonymity. Known over the years as a truck with literally a bulletproof reputation, is the Hilux Conquest more than just a pretty face? Let’s find out.
Compared to the standard Hilux, the Conquest’s most obvious change would be its front fascia. Remove the TRD accessories fitted in this particular test unit, and you’ll see a new blacked-out hexagonal grille, which are flanked by a nice pair of automatic LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. The lower front bumper has also been revised to better complement the grille, and when taken as a whole, the Hilux Conquest indeed looks very handsome. This test unit’s Nebula Blue Metallic paint further adds to the head turning looks. Additionally, the Conquest variant also adds the same 18-inch alloys found in the V variants of the Fortuner, as well as a rear sports bar. All these upgrades are well and good, making this Hilux Conquest easily stand out in the truck segment, until you get to see the rear and read the cheesy “Conquest” stickers at the back. I would’ve preferred if Toyota opted instead for the iconic “TOYOTA” lettering that they used to put in their trucks, because as it stands, that’s the one design feature that somewhat spoils the Hilux Conquest’s look. Weird sticker aside, the Hilux Conquest is one of the most handsome trucks in my personal opinion, and I would probably buy one solely based on looks.
The Hilux Conquest features roughly the same useful and well laid-out interior as the standard G variants, meaning that it uses a predominantly black interior. It’s mostly made out of hard plastics, but that’s to be expected in this segment. The main differences lie in the more liberal use of piano black finishes across the cabin, replacing many of the silver finishes found in the standard G variant. This gives the interior a much more modern vibe, and while piano black finishes are normally prone to scratches, Toyota’s seem to be more durable than its competitors. The seats are upholstered in fabric, which feel quite pleasing to the touch, but a leather interior would’ve been better, especially considering its price tag.
Space and Practicality
The Hilux’s interior is nicely laid out, with plenty of storage places scattered all over the cabin. There’s a generous two-tier glove box, as well as numerous cupholders and large door bins. There’s also a nifty coat hook located behind the front seats, which is useful when you want to carry your coat to a meeting after coming from the farmlands.
As usual with these pick-ups, front space is quite generous, but the rear passenger’s aren’t provided with a ton of space. The seats are quite flat and don’t provide plenty of thigh support, which means that rear passengers will easily feel sore after a long journey. Nevertheless, space is still quite good, with decent head and leg room for tall adults.
With a bed size of 1,525 mm x 1,645 mm, and a depth of 480 mm, the Hilux offers one of the largest beds in its class, which pays dividends when you want to flexibly carry plenty of items at the back. Its payload capacity of 1,115 kg is also quite capable, which is just slightly more than the weight of a Toyota Wigo. Towing is up to 3.2 tonnes, which is also about par for the class. I was able to have the opportunity to load the bed with a fridge, a few food items, as well as a few office supplies, and while this small amount of payload is basically a piece of cake for the Hilux, it was still a good opportunity for me to be able to test the bed’s flexibility thanks to its generous size.
Features, Safety, and Infotainment
The Toyota Hilux Conquest 2.8 4×4 AT is equipped with goodies such as automatic LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, passive entry with push button start, power folding mirrors, as well as a nice list of safety features such as ISOFIX child seat mounting points, electronic stability control, and six airbags. All the TRD embellishments in this vehicle are optional accessories, and are purchased separately from the vehicle.
Additionally, the Hilux Conquest is fitted with a touch screen infotainment system sourced from a local supplier. The interface isn’t the nicest to look at, but it’s intuitive enough that changing a radio station or connecting via Bluetooth can be done in just a few steps. Smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is not available, and the sound quality from the speakers is so-so.
Under the hood of this Hilux Conquest is Toyota’s 1GD-FTV 2.8-liter inline-4 turbodiesel engine producing 174 hp @ 3,400 rpm and 450 Nm of torque @ 1,600-2,400 rpm. A 6-speed automatic transmission sends the power to a variable 4×4 system with Auto Differential Disconnect at the front axle.
How It Drives
Starting the Hilux Conquest initially emits a rattle from the diesel motor, but once settled, the idle noise is quite muted compared to most of its competitors. The 2.8-liter turbodiesel engine’s seem small compared to all of its competitors, but what the spec sheet doesn’t tell you is how the Hilux Conquest’s powertrain admirably on the road.
Put your foot down, and the Hilux doesn’t accelerate with a surge of urgency. Rather, it delivers its power and torque smoothly without causing too much motion sickness to its occupants. With peak torque arriving early at just 1,600 rpm, all the way up to 2,400 rpm, the engine doesn’t need to be revved hard in order to get the Hilux going. It’s a smooth companion, especially on long journeys where the engine’s torque spread becomes useful for passing slower vehicles. Even in triple-digit speeds, not a lot of road, wind, and engine noise permeates through the cabin. The 6-speed automatic transmission is well mated to the engine, too. While it does come with the option to drive it in manual mode, it’s barely needed in most situations, as the transmission downshifts to the correct gear when needed.
The torque curve is also ideal for towing and carrying heavy payloads, since the engine doesn’t need to be revved hard in order to pull the weight it’s carrying. As a result, fuel economy is quite nice for a relatively big diesel motor, peaking at 10.5 km/l under my hands.
Take it into a corner, and the Hilux is surprisingly an obedient truck to hustle. It’s not a Toyota 86, but its handling is quite good for a truck of its size and class. Unlike many of its competitors, the Hilux still uses a hydraulically-assisted rack, which makes the Hilux quite heavy to handle in small confines and tight parking spots. Out in the open road, however, the hydraulic steering makes the Hilux stable, as well as providing a lot of feedback to let me know what the front wheels are doing. The firm and taut suspension keeps the Hilux’s body roll in check, as well as avoiding the Hilux from squatting when the bed becomes fully loaded.
On The Downside
With all trucks nowadays receiving numerous ride improvements despite the rear leaf spring set-up, the Hilux remains to be the firmest of them all. Just the slightest of bumps is enough to make the rear axle unsettled, while small road undulations can sometimes cause the rear to hop and make the driving experience quite a jiggly one. As always, loading the rear will make the suspension feel softer and more settled, but when it’s empty, the experience is far from comfortable.
Lastly, at its price tag of P1,777,000, it’s missing quite a lot of features found in many of its rivals that even cost less. It doesn’t come with leather seats, nor electric seat adjustments, and while rear sensors are standard, a rear view camera is something that need to be installed separately at the dealer. While we’re on the topic of safety, it even lacks active safety features that its rivals like the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Chevrolet Colorado LTZ have, such as blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, among others.
Trucks have certainly come a long way from what used to be merely tools to carry goods from one farm to another. Luckily, the Toyota Hilux Conquest manages to be at the forefront of this shift in consumer preference. This Conquest variant builds on the Hilux’s legendary reliability, solid driving dynamics, and durability, whilst adding the much needed style and flair that many consumers have been asking for. It may be expensive, but the Hilux Conquest is a solid pick-up truck that provides excellent driving dynamics and capability wrapped in a body that is in my opinion, one of the most handsome designs in its segment. It’s a handsome truck that will last forever, and forever may be the reason why many are willing to splurge for the Hilux Conquest 2.8 4×4’s price premium.
Price and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 3.9 out of 5