Toyota HiLux GR Sport update

HiLux GR Sport everything you need to know

Toyota HiLux GR Sport – Overview

In 2018, Toyota Australia started planning for a replacement for the top-of-the-range HiLux Rugged X. The GR Sport is inspired by the Dakar rally so that means its more than cosmetic. Its functional as well.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport

It’s the result of extensive development, including by Australian styling design and engineering evaluation teams, the HiLux GR Sport takes the desirability and capability of Australia’s favourite pick-up to new levels.

The brief was to develop a higher performance HiLux that delivered high-speed off-road and sportier on-road performance, without sacrificing the towing, payload, and off-road capabilities. It also had to retain the reliability and durability that had made HiLux an Australian Icon. .

The exterior styling of the first-ever HiLux GR Sport was developed by Toyota’s Design team at Altona. In a strong partnership with the body engineering team at TDEM (Toyota Diahatsu Engineering Manufacturing) in Bangkok, new remote working methods were pioneered for true “location-free” development.

The Australian Design team started design proposals in 2019 that were presented to the HiLux Chief Engineer Konishi-san using VR, who was so impressed that he supported development not just for the Australian market, but as a global product.

A core part of the development was to widen the track of the existing HiLux and while this was also applied to HiLux Rogue, it was originally developed with the HiLux GR Sport in mind.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport water crossingLocalised testing and design

By 2021, Toyota Australia had a prototype vehicle that underwent extensive testing and evaluation.

Over the course of the past two years, Toyota Australia engineers from its vehicle evaluation division tested and evaluated the HiLux GR Sport over more than 100,000km with the majority undertaken at its testing facility at Anglesea in Victoria.

To ensure the GR Sport met its targets, it was also tested in the sand dunes in SA, desert areas around Mildura, and the Victorian high country, and towing heavy loads over long distances. Extreme altitude testing was conducted in Argentina as part of the global development program.

The result is a HiLux that more than meets its all-terrain performance targets, that was proudly designed in Australia, and led by Toyota’s engineering and evaluation teams based at Altona.

Fast forward to September 2023 and we now have the HiLux GR Sport released in Australia.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport driving

HiLux GR Sport exterior

The GR Sport looks like it means business. All the added GR bits both look good and for the most part are functional as well

Cosmetic GR features include;

  • GR Sport front bumper and fascia
  • GR sport mesh grille with TOYOTA badge
  • Unique design satin dark grey wide track overfenders
  • Gloss black rear bumper, black door handles and mirror caps and Gloss black HiLux badging

The huge, oversized wheel arch fenders house 17-inch gloss black alloy wheels with 265/65R17 Bridgestone Dueler AT tyres.

The tyres are an excellent choice and balance between all terrain duties and road work. They are relatively quiet yet practical.

They also happen to the tyre of choice for my own Pajero.

However, there is a visual issue.

The smaller 17-inch tyres in the large arches make the GR Sport look a little like an elephant in a tutu dancing on tiptoes.

Although Toyota wouldn’t say so, they might expect buyers to make their own tyre choices and the overfenders will keep wider tyres legal.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport exterior adittions 1

More functional GR Sport additions include.

  • Front underbody skid plate made from 4mm-thick pressed and laser-cut aluminium alloy and powder-coated in a matte silver colour
  • Red rear recovery points made from 20mm steel, with a large cross-sectional structure that has been tested to accommodate an 8,000kg snatch strap or 9,000lb winch.
  • These are bolted to the towbar structure with high tensile bolts.
  • Heavy-duty steel rock rails 2mm thick steel tube
  • Five-piece moulded tub-liner with GR branded headboard and anti-slip floor

Unfortunately, if you want heavy duty front recovery points you need the optional bull bar that has them integrated.

HiLux GR Sport supports fitment of accessories including a soft tonneau cover, hard lid, canopy, sports bar and dust defence kit.

Unlike the Rogue, there is no roller cover, which is a good thing for me and with that you do get front tie down points. However, these are situated halfway up the tub sides. When will manufacturers understand that tie down points need to be low to actually tie down many loads.

The GR Sport doesn’t have a 12V accessory socket in tub.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport

Colour options

The HiLux GR Sport will be offered with Glacier White, Frosted White, Silver Sky (Stunning Silver from late 2023), Eclipse Black and Feverish Red finishes, with Glacier White, Frosted White and Feverish Red able to be paired with a two-tone black roof.

Toyota HiLux GR Sport 2023 exterior 2

Wider track and body

GR Sport gains the same track width increase as the HiLux Rogue, growing by 135mm at the front and 155mm at the rear, along with a 15mm increase in ride height, compared with the core HiLux range.

Body panels have been adjusted to suit, starting at the front with a newly designed wide-track bumper that offers greater clearance and protection along its lower edges and improved aerodynamics along the upper sections.

This includes the adoption of highly visible “air curtains”, which are not only functional but also provide a dramatic cue to the capability intentions of this vehicle.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport interior

What is the GR Sport like inside?

The current HiLux has been around for a while. To that end the interior is starting to feel functional but a little dated. This mainly revolves around the central screen. It’s a little small by todays standards.

However, the GR Sport additions add both comfort and bling.

2023 Toyota HiLux

GR Sport highlights include:

  • Suede and leather-accented sports seats with GR-logo with contrast stitching
  • Leather-accented steering wheel with paddle shifters and GR logo
  • Aluminium sports pedals
  • Red seatbelts on all seats
  • Unique trim on dashboard and doors – “Technical mesh”
  • Modified combination meter with GR logo on start-up
  • All-weather floor mats with GR logo for driver and front passenger

I must admit I love the steering wheel. Its thickness and leather feel are spot on. With clear and easy to use controls its functional. A nice touch is the red centred stitching at the 12 o’clock position.

Also, the wider thumb rests are perfect for off road driving where keeping the thumbs out means you reduce the risk of breaking them.

I love the old-style cruise control stalk. I know others feel its dated, but its practical, functional, and easy.

The instrument cluster features a unique design for GR Sport, backlit in a blue hue to match other switches and illumination through the cabin. The multi-information display also features a unique GR start-up animation.

Heated front seats that hug you are comfortable with eight-way electronic adjustments for the driver.

Apart from that it’s pretty much standard HiLux inside.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport interior

What features does the HiLux GR Sport have?

Comfort and convenience

  • Dual zone climate control
  • Electrochromatic mirror
  • Smart entry and start.
  • Automatic lights
  • 1 x USB, 2 x 12V accessory sockets, 1 x AC220V accessory socket
  • Power windows
  • Door pockets with bottle holders
  • Satellite navigation

2023 Toyota HiLux Feverish Red with Black Roof

Infotainment technology and connectivity

The central 8.0-inch touchscreen has both touch functionality as well as side button controls.

Its dated now, compared to newer screens like the Ranger. The lack of wireless Apple CarPlay is also an issue. The system does come with voice recognition.

There is a wireless charging tray, but like many 4WDs it’s a little impractical when you are bouncing around on a rutted track. One thing though is that the Bluetooth connectivity is particularly good.

We got to test the 9 speaker JBL audio system a bit, Its good. Crisp sound especially from the raised dash speakers. The infotainment system also comes with AM/FM/DAB+ radio.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport engine

Engine and Drivetrain

Engine

The GR Sport has the same 2.8 L 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that sits in other HiLux models. However, Toyota engineers worked to enhance the output by changing the turbocharger characteristics and fuel injection control via ECU tuning.

The result is a 10 per cent increase in power and torque, with maximum outputs of 165kW at 3000rpm and 550Nm from 1600-2800rpm, making it the most powerful diesel HiLux to date.

2023 Toyota HiLux transmission and 4WD controls

Transmission

The more powerful engine is paired exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission which has been recalibrated to take advantage of the stronger engine outputs.

A change in oil pressure control has seen shift operation speeds enhanced, while the shift mapping has been revised to provide a more direct and responsive feel, both in normal and sport mode.

For manual shifting, the GR Sport features steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for easy operation

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport Filmed on a closed circuit under controlled conditions. Fresh water crossing shown.

Drivetrain

HiLux has a dual range 4WD system with shift on the fly capability. Shifting to 4L requires stopping and shifting to neutral as all dual range transmissions do.

To assist in heavy-duty off-road situations there is a rear differential lock.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport suspension

Suspension

The GR Sport shares the same wide track layout as the Rogue. However, there are significant changes to the HiLux GR Sport suspension which includes: different coil spring tuning, with the front coil spring rigidity increased.

Front and rear shock absorbers have been upgraded to KYB monotube type dampers with increased piston diameter, tuned specifically to suit the HiLux GR Sport.

Furthermore, the rear sway bar has been removed to promote greater rear axle articulation.

Front suspension is a double wishbone style and stabiliser bar and monotube damper. Rear suspension is a leaf spring design with monotube dampers.

2023 Toyota HiLux wheels, tyre and brakes

Brakes

Braking performance comes courtesy of large, ventilated disc brakes on all four corners, red-painted with GR Logos. Size is 338mm x 28mm four-piston fixed callipers at the front and 312mm x 18mm single-piston floating callipers at the rear.

2023 Toyota HiLux towing

Towing

The standard fitment of a towbar also helps improve the torsional rigidity of the chassis, contributing to enhanced handling stability. Towing capability is 3,500kg braked towing capacity with a 350kg tow ball rating and seven-pin trailer wiring harness.

2023 Toyota HiLux on forest trail

What is the HiLux GR Sport like to drive?

While the HiLux has the GR Sport nameplate, its not a sport vehicles by any means. Its a highly modified 4WD Ute and that’s a good thing. It does have a connection to the Dakar Rally, hence the moniker. So forget thoughts of the GR Corolla and buckle up.

Driving the HiLux GR Sport feels immediately different to other HiLux Utes. 

This comes from three main areas.

  • Wider track, the same as the Rogue.
  • Improved and raised suspension, and
  • more power and torque.

The wider track ensures a more grounded feel. It actually feels more connected to the road. Imagine a black Panther squatting ready to pounce. Well its not quite there but you get the picture.

The upgraded suspension with modified coil spring tuning feels firm yet compliant. With KYB monotube dampers there is controlled rebound.

These factors combined means the GR Sport it rides slightly firmer, with less bounce and a lot more direct responsiveness.

Factor in a 10% increase in power and torque and that magnifies the responsive feeling. More power is always appreciated.

Over tar roads, motorways and dirt roads the HiLux feels composed and more sport SUV like. Its still a Ute, but better than most others. It easily accommodates corrugations, dirt roads and mid corner bumps.

You could use the analogy of surefooted to describe the driving feel. 

We drove some forest trails through the Canobolas State Forests and it was all to easy and comfortable.

Its improvement by marginal movement. It all adds up to the best riding and handling HiLux ever built.

With Bridgestone Dueler AT tyres, on road noise is reduced and they are a good balance between on road ride and off road capability. Dedicated enthusiasts will no doubt replace them with their favourites over time.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR SportOff Road Driving

Here, again marginal factors add up to major improvements.

Off road driving included forest trails, steeper rocky and rutted inclines to reach a trig point and a specialised off road track, run by the Canobolas 4WD Club.

In the gnarly sections you can feel the extra torque. It comes in at the same RPM as normal HiLux engines, but there’s more. As a lot of difficult 4WD work is heavily dependent on the right foot. More torque earlier, with a wider delivery band means greater control.

Improved clearance, wider track and better suspension shined on the off road section.

Furthermore, the rear sway bar has been removed to promote greater rear axle articulation.

Having a solid front scrape plate and rock rails also provides some comfort if it gets bit more gnarly than you expected. There si always the rwar diff lock as well for extra help if needed.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport. Filmed on a closed circuit under controlled conditions. Fresh water crossing shown.

The specialised 4WD track is designed to highlight strength and weaknesses.

There is a 45 degree incline and descent, shallow water crossing, moguls, and rutted wheel holes.

The HiLux GR Sport again took it all in its stride.

Improved ground clearance meant the moguls were cleared without fuss.

Greater articulation, meant that even though the rear wheel lifted in the rutted section, they stayed connected more than other Utes would.

Steep inclines and the hill hump all were covered with ease. There was a little tyre slip on the incline, but recovered quickly and on we went.

Low range and extra torque meant that the HiLux GR Sport simply went about its business without complaint.

2023 Toyota HiLux towing

Tow Test

Toyota kindly provided a Kedron off road van for a towing testing. It weighed around 2500kg apparently and there were 4 spare tyres in the Ute Tub. Tow ball rating we were told was around 250kg.

First impressions were that the unit sat flat when hitched. There were no load levelers.

Taking off, the extra torque again was noticeable in shifting the considerable weight.

On the open road we kept the speed to around 90km/h maximum as normally one wouldn’t even contemplate towing such a van without stabilisers.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport towing 2

But having said that the HiLux towed pretty well. The big 4WD van tucked in behind nicely. With sway bars it would go fatser if needed without swaying.

It was a mixture of flat and hilly roads and urban streets.

As always when towing you need to make sure you keep within load limits. This includes the payload, with the tow ball weight accounted for. Also the Gross Combined Mass as well. This is a slightly complex topic and many people, even journalists, often get it wrong.

Toyota-HiLux-5-star-ANCAP

HiLux GR Sport Safety features

The HiLux has a five star ANCAP safety rating.

Features include:

  • Toyota Safety Sense
    • Pre-collision system with day and night pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection
    • High-speed active cruise control
    • Lane departure alert with steering assist (brakes)
    • Road-sign assist (speed signs only)
  • Blind spot monitor
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Panoramic view monitor for tight trails or parking
  • Two front and four rear parking sensors
  • ABS, vehicle stability and traction control
  • Toyota Connected Services
  • Trailer sway control
  • Downhill assist control
  • Seven airbags
  • ID Box anti-theft immobiliser
  • Two rear ISOFIX points

Owner benefits

HiLux GR Sport comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre Toyota Warranty Advantage.

This is extended to seven years on engine and driveline, with capped-price servicing for the first three years/60,000km (whichever comes first) and each 6-month/10,000km service costing $290

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport. Filmed on a closed circuit under controlled conditions. Fresh water crossing shown.

Final Thoughts

To say the HiLux is a success story for Toyota is a massive understatement. It’s been the top selling Ute for many years and the top selling vehicles for a bit as well. Its also due for a new generation.

With recent competitors upgrades going upmarket, Toyota had to do something to remain competitive.

Buyers now have a choice between the more urban based Rogue and the GR Sport.

The additions are good. They aim at rugged off road capability.

Two key areas that contribute to how good the GR Sport is, are the power and torque increases and the suspension upgrades. These do not come at the expense of towing or 4WD capability.

The HiLux GR Sport can sit comfortably against the best the segment has to offer.

2023 Toyota HiLux

What is good?

  • 4WD and towing ability
  • Engine upgrades to power and torque
  • Improved ride and handling and increased ground clearance

What is not so good?

  • Interior is dated.
  • No wireless Apple CarPlay
  • Wheels and tyres look small in the wheel arches

2023 Toyota HiLux

Some more HiLux articles  

Also look at:

Dual Cab 4WD Utes are popular. There are a few on the market and everyone is aiming upmarket

Buyers could look at Ford Ranger Wildtrak,  Isuzu D-Max X-TerrainNissan Navara PRO 4X WarriorMazda BT-50 Thunder.

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport engine

Toyota HiLux

Model

HiLux GR Sport

Model Price$73,990 MLP*
Engine2.8L 4 Cyl Turbo Diesel Euro 5
Drivetrain6 Sp Sports AT Dual range 4WD
Power165kW @ 3,000rpm
Torque550Nm @ 1600-2800rpm
SafetyFive star ANCAP (tested July 2019)
0-100kmh / Top SpeedTBA / 175km/h
CO2 Emissions213 g/km
Economy ADR8.1L/100km / 80L capacity
Economy on testN/A
Max Range1000km plus.
Servicing6Mth / 10,000km Capped Price
Warranty5yr/ Unlimited km
Road side Assist5Yr. conditional roadside assist

*MLP Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options. Some features mentioned in the article are options. RDAP means Recommended Drive Away Price (without options but including all other charges)

2023 Toyota HiLux GR Sport interior

Overall Rating    

86/100

Behind the Wheel8
Comfort9
Equipment8
Performance9
Ride and Handling9
Practicality8
Fit for Purpose9
AWD/Towing Capability*10 (4WD 5/5 Towing 5/5 )
Technology/connectivity8
Value for Money8

*Towing and AWD capability is measured against similar vehicles in the same class.

HiLux tub liner

Dimensions GR Sport

 
Overall Length5320mm
Wheelbase3085mm
Width2020mm
Height1880mm
Wheels17×7.0 Alloy
Tyres265/65 R17 Bridgestone Dueller AT
Spare TyreFull size alloy with tyre as above
Max ground clearanceUp to 265mm
Wading Depth800mm
Approach30 degrees
Rampover26 degrees
Departure angle23 degrees
Steering typeRack and pinion hydraulic power steering
Turning Circle KTK12.6m
Tub Length1520mm
Tub width arches1085mm
Tub Depth475mm
Kerb Weight2270kg
Payload (kg)780kg
GVM (kg)3050kg
GCM5850kg
Towing Capacity3500kg
Tow Ball rating350kg

 


Toyota HiLux GR Sport Ute Preview – 12 September 2023

Toyota HiLux GR Sport Ute Preview – As you are listening to this, I am at the launch of the new Toyota HiLux Ute. Now I cant give you any drive impressions today, but I can tell what I know so far.

Toyota HiLux GR Sport 2023 exterior 2The HiLux GR Sport comes with a lot of additional bling as well as some performance enhancements.

Visually, red and black feature prominently. There is a new grill, redesigned front bumper for better approach angle and black rock rails.

At the rear, red recovery points and a black rear bumper finish the exterior look, and are paired with a pre-installed towbar, tow ball and trailer wiring harness.

Inside occupants are treated to aluminium pedals, GR Sports seats and GR decals plus more.

The key improvements are performance based.

A more powerful diesel engine with 165kW and 550Nm of torque matched to a 6 speed automatic transmission tuned for the extra performance.

The HiLux sits on the same wide track as the Rogue and has redesigned suspension. This includes  different front coil and rear leaf spring tuning along with KYB monotube shock absorbers.

The removal of the rear sway bar also promotes greater axle articulation and ground contact over uneven surfaces.

The HiLux GR Sport is priced from $73,990 plus the usual costs.

This is a Motoring Minute

I’m Rob Fraser

Toyota HiLux GR Sport suspension

TO LISTEN TO THE HILUX GR SPORT RADIO REVIEW, CLICK BELOW

Readers can find more details about the Toyota HiLux GR Sport HERE 

Toyota HiLux GR Sport suspension

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About Rob Fraser 315 Articles
Rob first learned to drive on the farm in a left hand drive WW11 Jeep when he was 11, many years ago. He has maintained a strong interest in the industry ever since and was hooked on 4WDriving way back then.Often known for taking the 4WD in the driveway over the sports car, he has travelled pretty much everywhere in Australia and when he is bored goes for a drive.