What is it: 

This is the new performance flagship of the Toyota HiLux range. 

It has had a modest power bump compared to the Toyota HiLux SR5 but there is long list of other changes that elevate the GR Sport a step above other models in the Toyota HiLux range.

It gets four-wheel disc brakes, a wider track (wider axles and the rear shock absorbers have been moved outboard of the chassis rails) for better on-road stability and off-road articulation.

Other changes: GR Sport fender flares (different from the Rogue fender flares), heavy-duty suspension (KYB mono-tube shock absorbers and stiffer coils), and a bold new front fascia (it looks like the HSV of HiLuxes to me).

GR Sport seats, paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, and JBL premium audio are also part of the package. The list goes on.

Price:

The RRP is $74,310 which translates to $80,300 drive-away in NSW on the Toyota Australia website. Registration and stamp duty vary in each state, so check the Toyota website for more details.

As a guide, the Toyota HiLux GR Sport is about $3000 dearer than the Toyota HiLux Rogue – and about $15,000 less than the Ford Ranger Raptor, which is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine (292kW/583Nm).

Engine:

The 2.8-litre diesel four-cylinder in the Toyota GR Sport has had a 10 per cent bump in power and torque versus the standard configuration of this engine (up from 150kW/500Nm to 165kW/550Nm).

Transmission:

A six-speed automatic with two-wheel-drive and selectable four-wheel-drive (with low and high range) is standard.

0 to 100km/h (as tested):

The Toyota HiLux GR Sport is the fastest HiLux in showrooms today, however it’s no Ford Ranger Raptor rival under the bonnet.

We VBox-tested two Toyota HiLux GR Sport utes over the past six months; a white example stopped the clocks in 9.6 seconds and a red example completed the task in 9.9 seconds (so much for red cars going faster).

Both vehicles had travelled similar kilometres, test conditions were the same, and it was the same test surface, so we’re not sure why there was a 0.3 second difference.

But it demonstrates that performance times are a guide and you can get variation from car to car.

Dull fact: Over years of testing we have found greater variation in acceleration times on slower vehicles (especially utes which can get affected by wind due to their large surface area, or subtly different shift patterns in their automatic transmissions in back-to-back acceleration tests).

Fun fact: The 4.0-litre V6 petrol version of the Toyota HiLux that came out in 2015 (but was discontinued a couple of years later) is quicker than the new GR Sport. It stopped the clocks in 9.1 seconds back in the day.

Turbo diesel V6 versions of the Ford Ranger and VW Amarok do 0 to 100kmh in 8.2 to 8.6 seconds (results varied from model to model). 

And the bi-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel Ford Ranger and VW Amarok utes are in the 10.0 to 10.2-second bracket for the 0 to 100km/h dash.

The Ford Ranger Raptor powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine does 0 to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds in our VBox testing – so it’s clearly in a different league when it comes to acceleration.

And the VW Amarok Aventura powered by a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine does the 0 to 100km/h dash in 7.5 seconds.

So the Toyota HiLux GR Sport is outgunned by a number of rivals in straight-line speed, but it is epic off-road.

Emergency braking from 100km/h (as tested): 

Running Bridgestone 265/65/17 Dueller AT tyres developed for the GR Sport, it pulled up from 100km/h in an emergency stop in 45.6 metres (red car) and 45.8 metres (white car). 

Although these distances were consistent with each other, they represent below average braking performance for double-cab utes.

Our testing shows most utes pull up between 42 and 44 metres.

At least the GR Sport pulls up in a shorter distance than the Ford Ranger Raptor (47 metres in our testing).

All-terrain rubber is not as good as highway terrain tyres when it comes to emergency braking in the dry – and is especially poor in the wet.

Good points:

This thing looks the business and its presence with the new aero nose and wider stance can be spotted a mile away.

The sports seats look like they’re out of a performance car. The large side bolsters keep you pinned in position.

However it would be a hassle to clean mud off the suede seat material, so buy seat covers and bring a towel when you go off-roading.

Inside, the Toyota HiLux GR Sport gets all of the luxuries also found in the Toyota HiLux Rogue – but gains paddle shifters behind the steering wheel and gets GR Sport graphics in the instrument cluster and on the seats.

The red seatbelts are also an unsubtle reminder this is not a normal HiLux.

Deleting the rear sway bar means the GR Sport has better articulation off-road than other HiLux models.

The shocks and springs have been beefed up to compensate for the lack of a rear sway bar.

I love the precise brake pedal feel of the Toyota HiLux, and the GR Sport is better again thanks to the fitment of four-wheel discs – including larger front discs.

  • Toyota HiLux GR Sport brakes: 338mm x 28mm front discs, 312mm x 18mm rear discs. 
  • Regular Toyota HiLux brakes: 319mm x 28mm front discs and 295mm rear drums.
  • Ford Ranger Raptor twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 brakes: 341mm x 34mm front discs, 332mm x 24mm rear discs.
  • Ford Ranger Raptor twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel (previous model) brakes: 332mm x 32mm front discs, 332mm x 24mm rear discs. 

The suspension changes bring better road-holding and off-road articulation. The GR Sport elevates the HiLux’s capability to a whole new level.

Bad points:

A heavy-duty plastic drop-in tub liner is standard but, for now, you cannot option the locally-fitted carpet lining and motorised roller shutter from the Rogue and put it on a GR Sport. 

That modification would be a DIY operation after scanning the online classifieds for a Rogue tub set-up that is being sold.

The locally-fitted (metal) rock sliders are too narrow and slippery to use as side steps. 

Overseas, the GR Sport comes with the wider plastic sidesteps fitted to the HiLux SR5 and Rogue. I would consider fitting these if I bought a GR Sport.

Fuel economy was a little worse than other four-cylinder diesel double cab utes (10.0-10.5L/100km on test versus 8 to 9L/100km for the category average).

This is likely due to the extra power, the extra friction from the all-terrain tyres, and the larger surface area as the GR Sport pushes air out of the way at freeway speeds.

What the haters say:

Doesn’t have enough grunt, mate, a Ford Ranger Raptor will blow its doors off.

What the haters don’t understand:

More grunt under the bonnet of the Toyota HiLux GR Sport would be welcome, but given the cost of developing an all-new engine for a niche model sold in relatively low numbers, that is not likely to happen anytime soon.

This is the best Toyota could do as the current generation Toyota HiLux approaches the end of its model cycle (a new generation is due in 2025).

To be frank, it is quite remarkable Toyota invested so much time and money in finding a 10 per cent power and torque upgrade – as well as making the vast engineering changes to the chassis – to develop a GR Sport version of the HiLux.

Should you buy one?

Absolutely. I would buy one of these and fit the genuine Toyota hard-lid and sports bar so the cargo is secure in the back.

Or I would try to find a tub from a Toyota HiLux Rogue being sold online (after it had been discarded by someone who fitted a toolbox on the back of their ute) and buy it to get the motorised roller shutter and carpet flooring.

Also consider:

Toyota HiLux Rogue, Ford Ranger Raptor.