Tacoma or Hilux: America's Toyota Pickup vs The World's Toyota Pickup
If you are a knowledgeable fan of Toyota pickup trucks you’ll know that the extremely popular Toyota Tacoma is basically an all-American truck.
While Toyota trucks are known and loved around the world, our Tacoma is designed specifically for the North American market and built here as well.
It wasn’t always that way though. Up until the late ‘90s the American market “Toyota Truck” was basically the Toyota Hilux with some market-specific changes. But with the introduction of the Tacoma in 1998, the two trucks set out on divergent paths—the Tacoma for North America and the Hilux for the rest of the world.
Knowing that, we thought it would be interesting to compare the current Tacoma vs the current Hilux to see how they compare.
While they may look very similar to a casual observer, the Tacoma is a very different truck than the Hilux. However, the current generation of each has been on the market for about the same time.
Both trucks went on sale in 2015 with the Texas-built Tacoma entering its third generation and the Hilux entering its eighth generation with factories around the world, including Thailand, which is a huge market for the truck.
You expect everything to be bigger in America, and that's definitely the case when it comes to comparing size of the Tacoma and the Hilux—though perhaps not as much as you'd think. The popular double cab, short bed Tacoma is approximately two inches longer than a similar spec Hilux.
It's basically the same when it comes to width, with the Tacoma coming in about two inches wider than a comparable Hilux. This is expected with American roads and parking spots typically larger than you find in the Hilux' big markets.
The engine options for the American market Tacoma have always been pretty simple, and that's still the case today. Base model trucks come with a 2.7L four-cylinder engine, but the majority of Tacomas are powered by a 3.5L V6 engine.
The Hilux also has gasoline four-cylinder and V6 engine options depending on market, but its the four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that is most common.
These turbodiesel range between 2.4 and 3.0 liters in displacement, and as you'd expect their horsepower figures aren't impressive but their torque numbers are, with outputs of up to 370 pound feet.
Which is Better?
Is one of these Toyota trucks better than the other? No not really. Toyota is a massive, successful company and by now they've really honed in at what different pickup buyers around the world are looking for. A truck that's popular in the Middle East or in Southeast Asia will be different than what's popular in Texas.
It should be said that the current Tacoma platform is getting up there in age, and when a replacement comes we will likely see a shift in powertrain away from the current naturally aspirated engines and toward turbocharging and hybrid tech. Whether this happens on the Hilux remains to be seen.
Typically in the modern auto industry we've seen carmakers increasingly merge their global models into shared platforms, and Toyota has been no exception to this. However given the strong sales numbers and loyal following of both the Hilux and Tacoma in their respective regions, we imagine that the two trucks will continue on their own paths for the years to come.
If the forces of electrification eventually force these pickups to go all EV, it's likely the Tacoma and Hilux may once again become the same truck on a new electric platform. But for now they will remain distinct offerings suited to their own markets.
More From Driving Line
For a deeper dive on the Tacoma, we look back on the history and evolution of this best-selling pickup truck right here.