Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport - A gentle giant on the streets
Sanjay · Feb 25, 2023 08:00 AM
Maybe you're worn a little thin from SUV this, SUV that. It's all good, some of us like our car ownership résumé diverse, and if you belong to this subset...you'll want to pay attention to the 2023Toyota Hilux GR Sport.
Price: RM 159,880
Segment: Pick-up truck
Engine: 2.8L 1GD-FTV turbodiesel (204 PS/500 Nm)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Part-time 4x4
Origin: CKD, Shah Alam
For a model that's synonymous with hard work, sweat and soil, having a pretty Gazoo Racing variant smells like a quick cashgrab. But as other models have shown, there's more to just bodykits and stickers for the GR-S brand.
There's this feeling that UMWT threw the kitchen sink at the Hilux GR-S. In terms of kit versus the price you pay, it's richly in your favour – there's a whole list of visual accountrements to go with its small but meaningful performance update.
Under the frame, Toyota's given the Hilux firmer, faster monotube dampers. It's not the only comfort upgrade actually, there's matching leather-and-suede seats inside that's ported over from the Fortuner.
That's a good sign that upping comfort sits pretty high on the list of priorities for this one. The hotchpotch access roads we briefly drove it on – the same as we did in the Corolla Cross GR-S – proved that the Hilux upgrades helped in smoothening the Hilux's ride.
The improvements in ride sophistication is quite palpable. Where the 'regular' Hiluxes have a slightly fidgety gait, particularly when coming off challenging roads, the GR-S smoothens these rough edges better.
In other words, body roll is better reigned in, and there's less of that jiggliness if you're sitting at the back. That's nice.
We'll give some points to the seats too. The material mix is better (suede is much more breathable than leather on a sweltering day), and its shapelier form holds the body better in the turns.
Put it this way: if the Triton Athlete is the reigning king of comfortable pick-up trucks, then the Hilux GR-S is dangerously close to staging a coup d'état. We need to spend extra time with it to give a more thorough verdict, but as it is, it's looking positive for Toyota.
Good looks too
Leave the hardware talk aside and we still have quite the looker. The brash T O Y O T A script up on the bespoke looked good on 70's Land Cruisers, and remains not half bad here on the bespoke front fascia.
The rest of the accountrements – 18-inch wheels, GR badges and livery – makes for a truck that sets itself apart pretty well. But it's the cabin that'll win the most points.
There's a new leather steering, start/stop button, pedals, and a set of mats, all GR-branded of course. Of them the steering wheel is the best part – paddle shifters are behind them, for the first time in Hilux.
Nifty is as the Optitron speedometer goes too, which now features GR animation upon startup, and red dials too. The entire package complements the car very nicely indeed.
Amidst all that changes what remains the same is the 2.8-litre 1GD-FTV turbodiesel mill. 204 PS and 500 Nm comes out of it (plenty enough really), paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Since the GR-S is built upon the Rogue variant, everything that's in there continues here too; including the full array of Toyota Safety Sense ADAS, and A-TRC (Active Traction Control).
Dear buyer of a Hilux, you're in the enviable position of being completely spoilt for choice.
The answer might seem like a cop out but that's how strong today's Hilux range is. At least at the top end of the range – where the Rogue and GR-S sit – the gap is a little too close to call, in terms of features and overall performance.
But if comfort in a truck is what you seek, then the Hilux GR-S edges ahead. It's one of the models where the changes are best experienced for themselves. Genchi genbutsu, as they say.
With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.