It was a soggy Saturday. Across Ekiti and Ondo State, highways were turning to waterways. Ordinarily, it was not the best of time to stress any vehicle through a muddy, slippery and rough jungle. Well, Toyota Nigeria Limited (TNL) chose that period to allow enthusiasts to push its new Hilux through a hellish route.
Lest I forget, before the test-drive proper began, a supposed off-road pick-up van was driven through the terrain awaiting the Hilux. It returned not in one piece. I won’t say more than that. Neither would I buy one.
With what became of that truck, if the Hilux were to be a human, its family would be worried, probably praying with holy oil and maybe waving on the air papa’s miracle handkerchief.
The location was the Smokin Hill Golf Resort, Ilaramokin, Ondo State.
Like a beautiful bride waiting outside a wrestling ring to cheer up her contesting spouse, a beautifully decorated Toyota Hilux was on display at a spot overlooking the test track.
Waiting at the take-off point of the test-track were two similar Hilux, one of which had camera devices stuck on its front back and side to capture the upshot of the Hilux when traveling through the hellish route.
What I drove is the Double Cab Hilux, which offers seating for five. Its engine idle speed has been lowered a bit, resulting in quieter and smoother idling.
Sitting behind the driving wheel, I slammed its door, which is a bit lightweight. Even before take-off, holding the Hilux steering wheel, gives a feeling of toughness.
It is equipped with a side turn signal light on the mirror, a Display audio system, a power window, a steering switch with audio and a telephone with VR.
It also comes with Day and night inside Rear-View mirror, wireless door lock, manual air conditioner, smart entry with key start, Daytime Running Light (DRL), Bottle and cup holders, sun visor and console box with armrest.
Safety: To keep its occupants and the truck safe and secured, the Hilux comes with an Anti-lock braking system (ABS), Assist Grip, All occupants’ headrest, Driver and passenger Dual SRS Airbags, Rear door child lock, Immobilizer and siren Anti-theft system.
How does it Feel Driving the Hilux
Remember, I tested the Hilux through a terrain that is unforgivably muddy, slippery, stony, waterlogged, and at some places flooded and hilly. So it’s not a terrain for speed testing, but more of endurance and ruggedness trial.
With a ground clearance of 310mm, I knew the Hilux was well ready for a jungle battle. I pushed the manual transmission on the first gear and it took off smoothly. Because it comes with Hill Descent Control (HDC), descending down a steeply and slippery hill was not a problem.
To let you know how terrible the terrain is, it was impossible to go past 40km/hour, which was why I never used more than the second gear. There was this deceptively smooth corner. Oh no.
The most dreadful spot was a flooded section packed with heavy, lumpy granite rocks almost covered by the waters. I felt like the featured hunter in a Yoruba Novel titled: “Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irumole,” meaning, “A brave Hunter in the Forest of the Spirits.” What flashed through my mind was the truck that earlier went through that terrain and returned in pieces. Will I get stuck? Well, I remember, the Hilux comes with a magic button, which once turned clockwise, sets the truck on low gear driving mode, a condition that prepares it for a worst-case scenario. Cruising through, I heard a loud smacking sound.
“Oh no!!” I thought something had broken. But as the members of the Nigerian RCCG church normally pray: “Nothing broken…Nothing missing.” It worked. The Hilux completed the grueling journey triumphantly.
From whichever way you look at it, the Hilux remains a pick-up truck with an unmistakable road manner. But judging from my off-road experience, I can testify that it remains rugged. It drives like A Pick-Up Truck, which it is.
I drove it through that hellish terrain around the Smokin Hill in Ondo State. It toddled through the same route from which another pickup truck returned in two pieces. It went. It saw. It not only conquered, but Hilux also returned, losing no parts of its body.
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