Toyota’s HiLux might very well be popular with Aussie farmers, Middle East Insurgents, African militias, and in Thailand, where it serves as everything from a workhorse transporting construction and factory workers through to a poor-man’s micro-bus for taking the extended family out on a picnic, but that’s because there’s no moose in any of those counties. And just as well.
Nine years after exposing an undocumented design feature – the potential for Toyota’s HiLux to almost flip onto its side while attempting to avoid a stray moose wandering into it’s path – leading Swedish motor magazine Teknikens Värld has labelled the top of the range Thailand-built HiLux SR5 as ‘“Aint good enough, not even close”’.
Apparently in Icelandic country’s the sudden appearance of moose while driving is somewhat of an accepted driving hazard. The “moose test” is designed to simulate what a driver might do when taking evasive action, such as if you’re driving along and a 500kg (about 1,100 lbs) moose decides the grass is greener on the other side. It’s that natural wrenching of the steering wheel that keeps you from meeting that fleshy, meat-wall head on.
Teknikens Värld tested the 2016 Toyota HiLux, Dodge Ram, Nissan Navara, Volkswagen Amaro, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max – Thailand’s top selling car in H1 2016 (See: Toyota Dominates Asean Car Sales in H1 2016) with sales of 61,946 units – and the Mitsubishi L200. The vehicles were driven through a course of closely placed road cones forcing the driver to make sudden, sharp turns between 56-64kph (35-40mph).
While all vehicles exhibited body roll and minor loss of traction, Toyota’s HiLux looks more like they’re driving it over a ramp or attempting to perform a stunt; almost rolling except for the fast reactions of the driver. Similarly the middle-of-the-range Toyota HiLux with smaller wheels and tires also approached the ‘Ohhhhhh Faaaaaaaarrrrkkk’ point performing the same maneuver.
In the video at the top of the page Toyota’s HiLux displays a little more than an exaggerated roll as the driver negotiates the test track. We shudder to think what the result would be if it was jammed with 30 or 40 standing Thai factory or construction workers, or loaded three metres (9.8ft) high with bales of hay or a couple of full grown steers.
Sounding more than a little dismissive and defensive, Toyota Sweden general manager of external affairs/PR, Bengt Dalström, said: Toyota’s HiLux has been ‘”repeatedly tested according to the ISO 3888 standard for evasive maneuver tests during the development of the model and then it passed the tests successfully. Several technical parameters have an impact on the outcome of an evasive maneuver, so we want to better understand the exact parameters for your test.”‘
Toyota Australia also said local engineers undertook ‘“an unprecedented six-year program to develop and evaluate the model specifically for Australian conditions (covering) 650,000km of real world driving here in Australia”’.
Admiration for Toyota’s HiLux reaches far and wide. It tops the charts in an estimated 42 global markets out of 178. Only the Toyota Corolla follows with 13 markets in its grasp. While some praise Toyota’s HiLux for it’s versatility, others appreciate the five-star safety rating. Even the Taliban, Islamic State (IS/ Daesh), and other rebel groups love the ‘body-on-frame’ construction… it’s perfect for mounting heavy weapons.
That’s no joke. Toyota’s HiLux is so prolific it even has it’s own war named after it, the ‘Toyota War‘, from the conflict between Libya and Chad in the 1980’s where Toyota’s HiLux was the vehicle of choice for Chadian troops.
First appearing in conflict zones in the ’60’s, Toyota’s HiLux remains the vehicle of choice for militia groups globally. Andrew Exum, a fellow of the Center for New American Security, calls the HiLux the AK-47 of vehicles. In Newsweek Exum said “It kicks the hell out of the Humvee”. If you need more proof, Top Gear put Toyota’s HiLux through the gauntlet and still couldn’t kill the thing… probably because of a shortage of moose.
In Thailand, where Toyota’s HiLux is built, the sight of motor vehicles on their side or on their roof is not uncommon… even on the good quality expressways of Bangkok. While some unkind people might claim Thai drivers are somewhat lacking in driving skills, others quickly point the blame at the difference in build quality for cars sold on the domestic market versus those built for export to countries with stringent vehicle regulations such as the USA, Europe, or Australia. Both would be wrong. The answer is clear… it’s those darn moose.
Feature video Teknikens Värld