The Hilux Surf line of vehicles made by Toyota is predominantly classed as off road transportation. First introduced in 1984 into Toyota’s line up, they decided to not build the vehicle from the ground up as an entirely new model but rather took an existing model, the Hilux, and made modifications to it.
First generation of the model produced from 1984-1989
This first incarnation of the model was mechanically identical to the Toyota Hilux pickup. Toyota simply added a removable fibreglass top to it to change it into a Hilux Surf. All models had two doors and were identical from the dashboard forward to the Hilux. Almost all of the changes to make it a Hilux Surf were done to the rear half of the vehicle. Rear springs were downgraded from the Hilux pickup model and contained one less leaf. This resulted in problems later as with the addition of rear seats and the fibreglass top the rear leafs tended to sag over time.
1986 saw the model undergo some serious front suspension design changes. The solid front axle previously used was changed over to an independent front suspension setup. This allowed the model to be more driveable at highway speeds and also created more room in the engine bay allowing the use of larger engines in future models. While this change did have an impact on the off road capabilities of the vehicle the solid front axle was retained on the Hilux pickup models.
In 1989 Toyota released the second generation of the model, this model ran from 1989 – 1995, the vehicle was redesigned but kept its reliance based on the Hilux puckup. The newer generation still looked similar to the Hilux pickup but they also included a full steel integrated body instead of the bolt on fibreglass cap. This generation also saw the use of rear coil spring suspension system which in time would be known for having the same sagging issues as the leaf spring design did. Most second generation Hilux Surf’s are five door models. While most other manufacturers were making offroad vehicles as pickups with tailgates that folded down the Hilux Surf also had a window in the tailgate which had to be lowered before the tailgate could be opened.
In 1995 Toyota released its third generation of the model, this model would run from 1995-2002. Key changes for this generation were the exterior. It received an all new body shell on an all new chassis. In this generation the model shared practically nothing with the Hilux pickup. It began to have more in common with a Land Cruiser than it did with the vehicle it was originally based on. The body was made to be longer, more interior space was available, the inclusion of dual air bags, four wheel coil spring suspension, ABS brakes, and a rack and pinion steering system were a standard now where they had not been in the past.
In 2002 Toyota released its fourth generation of the model, this run lasted from 2002-2009. The chassis and body were once again changed significantly. The vehicle was now targeted at people looking for a medium sized semi luxury off road vehicle. Most of the chassis continued to be shared with the Land Cruiser of the same years.
2009 saw the launch of the present fifth generation of the Toyota Hilux Surf. This vehicle is still in production now and is in high demand across the world. Gaining popularity over the years in both off road markets and also for the normal commuter markets as well. This if a robust line of vehicles that ticks many of the boxes people are looking for when purchasing an off road vehicle.
Engines available by generation: