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Toyota Hilux vs Toyota Tacoma: what’s the difference?


Chasing Cars compares two of Toyota’s most popular utility vehicles, but what’s so different about them?

Although the Toyota Tacoma and Hilux are two very different beasts, they do share some common characteristics; they’re off-road capable with four-wheel drive, have a large rear tray and seat five people. 

But there has also been a lot of talk recently surrounding the next Toyota Tacoma and one key question: will the Tacoma share its parts with the next Hilux?

Often the greatest indicator of the future though is the past though so let’s break down what makes these two utes so similar yet so different and how they might look in the future.

Toyota Hilux Rogue 2023 hill
The current Toyota Hilux Rogue

Two utes with two different flavours

Although some people believe the current-generation Hilux rides on a TNGA platform, the utility vehicle actually rides on Toyota’s IMV ladder-frame platform. This platform was developed for the Asia-Pacific region and also underpins the Toyota Fortuner large SUV. 

The Toyota Tacoma, on the other hand, is the distant American cousin of the Hilux, though it’s roughly the same size and also sits within the global ‘midsize ute/pickup’ designation. 

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro edition front 3/4 static
The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro edition

It has been on sale in third-generation form since 2015, and Chasing Cars deputy editor Curt Dupriez had the pleasure of piloting one on a recent trip to the states and noted that the Tacoma was softer and more refined than its Hilux sibling, though this came at the expense of its core capacity figures. 

Future Tacoma and Hilux could share Land Cruiser bones

Both models will be replaced soon, with the new-generation Tacoma already being teased in the US, with a hybrid drivetrain already confirmed. 

Tacoma and Hilux could soon use the TNGA-F platform used for the Land Cruiser

The Tacoma is very likely to move to the TNGA-F platform shared with the Land Cruiser 300 Series 4WD wagon and Tundra full-size pickup, which could mean a bigger ute in almost every proportion. 

A wider and tougher-looking Hilux is also expected to ride on this same TNGA-F platform. 

Dimensions and towing capacity

Toyota Hilux SR5 2022 side
A 2022 Toyota Hilux SR5

The Toyota Hilux Rogue, as an example, measures in at 5325mm long, 1855mm wide and 1865mm tall, with a wheelbase of 3085mm.

The Tacoma, meanwhile, is 5392mm long, 1910mm wide and 1793mm tall, with a longer wheelbase of 3235mm. 

In terms of towing, the Hilux Rogue has a 3500kg towing capacity and can take a payload of 794kg.

Toyota Tacoma 2022 Trail grey rear end
The Toyota Tacoma is more lifestyle focused than commercial

The Tacoma has a lower rated towing capacity of 2900kg, and a payload of just 514kg. 

Tacoma more lifestyle focused, Hilux largely commercial 

Up until 1995, the then fifth-generation Hilux was imported into the US, branded as the Pickup model line. During that year, the Pickup was replaced by a different, American designed and built midsize pickup named the Tacoma.

Toyota Tacoma 2023 rear mountains
The Toyota Tacoma that deputy editor Curt Dupriez used on his USA trip

With the HiLux remaining as Toyota’s do-all midsize utility for many global markets, the Tacoma reformulated the midsize pickup concept for North American buyers tastes.   

Thus, the Tacoma was designed as predominantly petrol-powered, nicer riding and comfier vehicle, a sport pickup with fewer concessions for commercial-type use, that was and remains targeted towards North American, where the larger F150 has traditionally been charged the towing and payload-lugging heavy lifting.    

The Tacoma is therefore considered as more of a lifestyle ute than a predominant force in the commercial space. 

Toyota Hilux SR5 2021 front 3/4
Diesel-powered Hilux can be used for work or play

The Hilux, on the other side, has much more commercial background and is more capable in terms of what it can hold and tow, making it the perfect choice for tradespeople or commercial workers who can also use the ute on the weekends recreationally. 

What powers the current Tacoma and Hilux? 

The current Hilux’s core engine option is a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine that produces 150kW/500Nm. A smaller 2.7-litre petrol engine or 2.4-litre turbo-diesel unit are also available for lower grades. 

Toyota Hilux Rogue 2022 engine
The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine from the Toyota Hilux Rogue

The Tacoma, meanwhile, has been powered by either a 2.7-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with 119kW/244Nm, or a 3.5-litre V6 engine with 207kW/359Nm since 2015. 

Off-road features compared 

The Hilux in current top-spec Rogue guise is arguably the best performing Hilux that there has ever been. 

Toyota Hilux Rogue 2023 rear driving
Rogue variant has been revised and widened for 2023

Toyota recently widened the track of the Hilux Rogue for better stability off-road, as well as beefing up the suspension and adding roll bars for greater handling. A rear differential is standard on higher Hilux grades such as the Rogue. 

However, the Hilux GR Sport has been announced for Australia with more power (165kW/550Nm) and more focus on off-road performance.   

The current Tacoma is currently offered in seven variants, however the TRD Pro comes fitted with Fox internal bypass shock absorbers, a Pro front-mounted skid plate, a locking rear differential, a performance cat-back exhaust and 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped in off-road tyres.  

Toyota Tacoma 2023 rear highway
Toyota’s Tacoma is available in multiple variant grades

What standard equipment do you get with both these models?

The Toyota Hilux is well specced even in the lower grades, however the Rogue model is fitted with the following standard specifications:

  • 8.0-inch central touchscreen 
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity
  • Satellite navigation 
  • Motorised roller tonneau cover 
  • LED headlights 
  • Wheel arch extensions 
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Rear differential lock 
  • Panoramic view monitor (360-degree camera)
  • Rear ventilated disc brakes
Toyota Tacoma 2022 TRD Pro lime green profile
The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro edition

To contrast, the TRD Pro variant of the Tacoma is fitted with the following features:

  • 8.0-inch touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality 
  • Six speaker JBL sound system
  • LED headlights and tail lights 
  • Heritage ‘Toyota’ front grille
  • Sunroof 
  • Goodyear all-terrain tyres
  • Multi-terrain monitor 
  • Keyless entry
  • Wireless smartphone charging 
  • Three USB ports 

Although the Tacoma has more standard off-road features, both models are surprisingly similar when it comes to their standard specification. 

Toyota Hilux Rogue 2022 rear view
The Hilux Rogue will soon be joined by a performance GR Sport variant

What are the core markets of these utes?

The Toyota Hilux’s core markets include Australia, Thailand, the Philippines, South Africa, Japan and India, as well as parts of Europe.

The Hilux is predominantly built in Thailand, South Africa, Malaysia and Pakistan. 

Toyota Tacoma 2023 silhouette image
The 2024 Toyota Tacoma is not far off from being unveiled

The Tacoma, meanwhile, is very American focused, selling in North America, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Bermuda and the island of New Caledonia. 

The Tacoma is built in Tijuana, Mexico, and Texas in the United States.