2008 TRD HiLux 4000SL Review

2008 TRD HiLux 4000SL Review

$14,710 $17,490 Dealer
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The all new TRD HiLux... a performance utility it ain't...

Model Tested:

  • 2008 TRD HiLux 4000SL - $64,990 (RRP)

Pros: Appeal, desirability, practicality.Cons: Performance, handling, noise, interior refinement, stereo.

CarAdvice Rating: 2.5/5

The TRD HiLux has been one of those reviews that I have procrastinated on for some time, not because I am lazy or because I am trying to avoid another scathing review... wait... no, the later is correct.

You see, I have tried, I really have, I waited a few weeks, I thought perhaps if time goes by, the TRD will make sense, perhaps it just confused me? Perhaps Toyota had given me a less than perfect example? Not so, excluding Anthony, the rest of us at CarAdvice are yet to fall in love with anything with a TRD badge.

Here is the essential problem. Despite what Toyota says, TRD is in fact in competition with HSV and FPV. You can't launch a performance brand and expect not to be compared to the traditional players.

Sure the TRD Aurion is far more comparable to its Ford and Holden counterparts than the HiLux is to the HSV Maloo and FPV Tornado (F6), but you still have to compare.

I will try and get the good bits out of the way and perhaps try and convince myself through this review that the TRD does make sense, to someone.

Under the bonnet and with subtle TRD badging sits a large 4.0-litre, quad-cam, V6 petrol engine that delivers 225kW of power and 453Nm of torque.

Yes, only 225kW from a 4.0-litre V6 with a supercharger. Somewhat strange? More so when you consider the 3.5-litre in the TRD Aurion tends to make more power (241kW) but obviously has less torque (400Nm).

TRD has managed to increase power over the Dual-cab HiLux by 28.5 percent while torque goes up by 20.4 per cent. Which in a way explains the 25 per cent price increase. But is it warranted?

Short answer? This car is a tad ridiculous, I am not sure why TRD would put their name to it, because as far as performance or handling goes, or hell, even just sporty nature, the only thing this utility has going for it is a supercharger.

Sure, it has monotube Bilstein shock absorbers, larger front brake rotors and callipers, a body kit, and if you're nice they'll even throw in a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever. But how does that warrant a TRD badge?

I admire Toyota, they make cars that leave many other manufacturers in envy, but if I remember correctly, we were promised some time ago that the Big T would do away with its bland 'fridge-on-wheels' image and revitalise itself? If TRD is suppose to be the answer, it is a complete failure.

How can Toyota associate its Formula 1 technology with this utility, about the only thing the HiLux and the Toyota Formula 1 car have in common is the badge. But let’s be fair, the HiLux has enormous appeal, so much so that it's consistently the third best selling car in the country.

Therefore from a business and marketing perspective, Toyota would be mad not to launch a TRD variant, as there are undoubtedly many buyers who just have to have the best. But what damage does an unfinished product have on an establishing brand?

My week in the TRD started off when I collected the HiLux from Toyota headquarters in Brisbane. From here, it became an interesting experience, because despite how much I began to despise this vehicle, I knew there were countless tradies that dreamt of it at night. In that respect, this car is brilliant – a brilliant marketing exercise.

Drive it through a construction site and you'll know what an attractive blonde feels like. Work stops, tools are switched off and fingers begin pointing. “It's a TRD!”... well thank you, yes it is.

“Awesome Ute mate...” - Thanks! “Can I get a ride?” - Aw, maybe next time?

You get more compliments in this than in a hot Italian supercar, but we are after all, in Australia.

Whoever is in charge of Toyota marketing, needs to get a pay raise, as not only has the Prius become a icon (false or not) and started a revolution, but it now seems that as long as there is a Toyota badge on it, it will sell.

By this point you're probably wondering if I am ever going to talk about how it drives, perhaps it's best if I don't? Didn't think so.

Getting inside the car is surprising to say the least! My evaluation vehicle was the HiLux 4000SL, which sits above the 4000S. For that L (and an extra $5000) you get leather seat trim, carpet floor covering, TRD carpet floor mats (in lieu of rubber), six-CD in-dash changer and Optitron speedometer.

There is also the part-time four-wheel drive with Toyota's automatic disconnecting front differential (ADD) which is not available on the 4000S. The ADD allows for on-the-move shifting between two and four-wheel drive.

As far as the interior goes, it's a mélange of colours and materials. The leather seats are nice, and definitely made for those of us that like our fast food, but the rest of the interior simply doesn't match. The seatbelt buckles are a completely different colour, so is the high-low gear selector. Then there is the stereo - oh dear!

I recently convinced my folks to buy a new Toyota Corolla, which they did, for less than $30,000. So why is it then, that a $65,000 car has essentially the same stereo head unit, with the addition of Bluetooth?

The sound quality that comes out of the HiLux is incomparable to nearly anything else on the road today, and I don't mean that in a good way. The cheapest Kia has more bass and a crisper sound. To top it off, there are no audio controls on the steering wheel. So where does your $65,000 go? Surely the “?” tattoo on the blonde didn't cost that much?

It's also worth noting that the wheels on the TRD look somewhat outdated, Toyota must come up with a better looking set of rims for their range-topping HiLux.

Turn on the ignition key - thankfully there is no start button - and the 4.0-litre comes to life, although without much of a roar. If you want to nail it, leave it in 4WD, unless of course you feel the need to entertain yourself.

So how does 225kW and 453Nm of torque feel in a HiLux, it feels good, but not great. The Ute can rush from 0-100km/h in 7.2 seconds, which is not bad, but is by no means quick.

Also while it's getting you to the speed limit, the whine from the supercharger is not what one would expect, it sounds more like a Prius on steroids. A very tinny electric noise, which left many passengers extremely confused.

At least the gear shifts are smooth, thanks to Toyota's five-speed automatic transmission. Even then, it has a tendency to hunt gears on the odd occasion.

No doubt the Bilstein shocks help (a little), but don't expect to go around any corners like you would in even a normal sedan, there is still enormous amounts of body roll – again, why the TRD badge?

The HiLux actually comes from Thailand but the TRD bits are put together here in Australia and if you open the bonnet, this becomes rather obvious.

I am not nit-picking here, but even the clips which hold the wiring looms are of random colour, then of course, there is the cold air intake which sits in the driver side wheel guard, this is great for performance, but I thought this was suppose to be a capable off-road utility? Not exactly water proof.

Speaking of off-roading, the HiLux was taken to a 4WD track near Australia Zoo and I humbly bow down to the Toyota gods as this thing can pretty much go everywhere. It can also carry a 948kg payload.

Fuel consumption is officially 12.9L/100km, although real world tests returned around 14L/100km according to the car's own trip computer. The HiLux also sips 95RON fuel and I would need a lot of convincing not to go for the 3.0-litre turbo diesel.

No doubt it's a confusing car to analyse. On one hand it's every tradesman’s wet dream, on the other, it's nothing more than a glorified HiLux undeserving of the TRD badge.

Perhaps I am far to concerned with the actual performance and feel of this car and I am not appreciating it for what it is. Maybe I had much higher expectations of TRD?

Either way if TRD wants to be taken as a serious performance brand, some serious thought is absolutely essential!

CarAdvice overall rating: How does it drive: How does it look: How does it go:


  • Engine: 3956cc V6 DOHC 16 Valve VVTi
  • Power: 225kW @ 5,400rpm
  • Torque: 453Nm @ 2,800rpm
  • Induction: Eaton M90 Supercharger
  • Transmission: Five Speed Automatic
  • Differential: 3.58:1 (LSD)
  • Brakes: Disc/Drum (with ABS)
  • Fuel Consumption: 12.9 litres / 100km (Combined)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 76 litres
  • Fuel Type: 95RON Unleaded
  • Safety: Dual Front Airbags
  • Spare Wheel: Matching Alloy
  • Towing Capacity: 2,250kg (Braked)
  • Turning Circle: 12.2 metres
  • Warranty: 3 year / 100,000km
  • Weight: 1,850kg (Tare) / 2,810kg (Gross)
  • Wheels: 17 x 7.5″ Alloy