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By KEVIN DU PLESSIS
South Africa loves the Hilux. There’s no question. And it remains a great choice for anyone looking for the ultimate workhorse as we see in an updated and tweaked model line-up after the release of the limited edition Dakar. Hold on to your hats, it’s a stunner!
Being a first-timer with the Hilux, although I have no lack of experience with its competitors, what struck me immediately was the premium feel of the Raider. It has a beautiful interior design that sets it apart from other bakkies, and on top of that it has a very impressive infotainment system (including DVD-playback), that I felt lacked nothing except perhaps CarPlay and Android Auto. Luxury is uncommon in a pickup and that together with its good looks makes it stand out.
Starting a monster diesel engine like this has a distinct loudness to it, but in the Hilux cabin it felt like the engine noise was coming from much further away. So, you are sitting in a premium elevated cabin, with most of the functionality you could wish for (with obvious features like a reverse camera and Hill Start Assist), lots of storage space (with an air-conditioned glovebox), and all the on-board computing you need. Perfect.
Outside, the face has been nipped and tucked to include a striking chrome grille surround with complementing door handles and side mirrors. Full LED headlamps and fog lights, and trendy Daytime Running Lights. Befitting the flagship status of the Raider, it has 18-inch alloy wheels on which its familiar 2,8 GD-6 4-cylinder engine continues to impress its drivers.
The sheer driving pleasure that comes with this powerful engine and a slick turbo that seems to have no lag, has tipped me over to the Toyota side when it comes to pickups. Shifting gears was slightly uncomfortable at times, but as you get used to the stick, it becomes a non-issue. Its nifty eco driving calculator also made it exciting to save on fuel costs through monitoring your own driving habits more effectively.
So if you are even remotely thinking of a double cab or a 4x4, be sure to put this guy on top of your test-drive list. It’s hot, it’s desirable!