Japanese car giant Toyota has just given its HiLux ute one final refresh – the third facelift since 2015.

The first shipments of the 2024 Toyota HiLux range due in Australian showrooms any day now – ahead of the all-new next-generation model due some time in 2025.

2024 Toyota HiLux SR5

The visual changes for 2024 are minor – there’s a new bend in the bumper for certain SR and SR5 versions, while base model Workmate and flagship Rogue and GR Sport variants remain unchanged.

The SR5 gets gloss black in place of chrome in most places, and the SR and SR5 models get a sharp new grille and a new front bumper which looks like it has been pinched on each corner.

However, the big news is the change under the bonnet of SR and SR5 4×4 automatic models and the luxury Rogue edition.

2024 Toyota HiLux SR5

On those variants, the 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel is now equipped with 48V “mild hybrid” technology, however there is a reason Toyota is deliberately not using the term “hybrid” or even “mild hybrid” when describing the new set-up.

While the motoring media are calling it a “mild hybrid” system (to indicate there is some form of electrification added to the engine), Toyota is at pains to make it clear this is not a hybrid as we know it.

While Toyota’s hybrid system – available on the Toyota Corolla, RAV4, Camry and Kluger, among other models in the line-up – can move the vehicle from rest on electric power alone, before the petrol motor takes over at about 40km/h, the updated 2024 Toyota HiLux system is not able to move the vehicle.

Instead, Toyota’s “V-Active” technology (as the company describes it) adds a motor generator, 48-volt battery and DC/DC converter to the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine on models with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Translation: “V-Active” is Toyota-speak for stop-start technology in the HiLux.

To help save fuel, automated “stop-start” technology has gradually been added to new motor vehicles in recent years (particularly from Europe) to eke out even the smallest fuel savings.

It’s the reason you hear cars stop and start their engines in the traffic or when stopped at the lights. The engine shuts off when the vehicle is stopped. And the engine fires up again as soon as the driver takes their foot off the brake and is about to use the accelerator.

Toyota estimates V-Active technology trims fuel consumption “by up to approximately 10 per cent” compared to the same engine without the system.

Toyota says: “The 48-volt system makes the stop-start system … smooth and seamless, with a significant reduction in vibrations when restarting the engine compared to an engine not fitted with V-Active technology.

“The speed of the engine restart is also noticeably short, adding to the smooth nature of the start-stop system.

“Fitting a 48-volt system also allows the engine to be switched off for longer than a typical internal-combustion (diesel) engine when stopped in traffic, with owners able to choose from either a ‘Normal’ or ‘Long’ setting which increases the time the engine is switched off while the air conditioning is running.”

2024 Toyota HiLux SR5

Toyota says engine idling speed is reduced from 720rpm to 600rpm on V-Active-equipped models.

“Braking energy is recovered by the motor generator when decelerating, which contributes to a natural braking feeling to make driving easier,” the Toyota blurb continues.

“When accelerating, the motor generator can contribute power assistance in areas of lower engine efficiency to increase responsiveness and make acceleration smoother.”

Toyota says the 48V motor generator unit “has been positioned high in the engine bay to ensure the V-Active technology” is out of harm’s way when off-roading.

2024 Toyota HiLux SR5

Other things you might want to know if you’re considering a new Toyota HiLux:

  • HiLux variants equipped with V-Active technology add Multi-Terrain Select, which includes six selectable modes. When in high range, MTS can be set to Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud and Deep Snow, while low range offers Auto, Sand, Mud and Rock modes.
  • Updated 2024 Toyota HiLux models equipped with a rear ute tub (rather than the basic drop-side aluminium tray) also come with a tailgate damper (to make it easier to lower) and a tailgate spring (to make it easier to lift and close).
  • The Toyota HiLux’s seven-year winning streak came to an end last year after the Ford Ranger ute topped the Australian new-car sales charts for the first time in almost 30 years, since the Ford Falcon beat the Holden Commodore in 1995. This means, although the price of the Toyota HiLux has increased with the changes, the company may start to sharpen the pencil and do some deals to claw back lost ground from Ford.