Sibling Rivalry: 2012 Toyota Tacoma vs. Toyota Hilux


    Toyota has had a busy year. Not only has it released a new global-market midsize pickup truck — actually identified as a full-size truck outside the U.S. — but it also has made a few styling upgrades to the 2012 Tacoma sold here in the U.S. and Canada.

    When looking at the two new 2012 Toyota pickups, it’s hard not to think North America got the shorter end of the stick. The new Hilux not only gets a better selection of engines — especially if you like turbo-diesels —  but it arguably gets the better interior and exterior styling.

    After recently seeing the new Thailand-built Chevy Colorado and the new Ford Ranger (recently announced to also be built in South Africa), what is it about global styling that seems to have advanced past U.S. market design? Don't Americans want stylish pickup trucks too?  The obvious answer is they do, as long as they don't have to suffer downsized capability. 


Tamoma Front II

    The Hilux (top) is more aerodynamic, almost like the styling you'd imagine on a new SUV or crossover. The windshield is larger and has a flatter angle compared to the Tacoma (above) as well. The 2012 Tacoma's face is meant to be wider and less compressed. In fact, the grille is larger and more upright, making for a flatter face in the wind.  


Tacoma Baja Int

    The differences on the inside are subtle but clear. The Hilux (top) has a more organic, flowing look and feel. The Tacoma (above) is still more angular and sharp. There seems to be a conscious decision by Toyota designers to try to make the U.S. version more rugged and manly, while the global interior could almost go into any car, van or small pickup. 

HILUX Gauges

Tacoma Gauges

    The gauge cluster follow similar simalar theme. The Hilux's design (top) is more open and common to car styles. Tacoma's instrument gauges (above) still echo the old-school barrel styling that many old pickup trucks used to have. 

Hilux Rear

Tacoma Rear

    Although the rear of the midsize pickups are, of course, more designed for function than style, look at the wheel arches. The Hilux (top) has a flowing, rounded arch while the Tacoma (above) stayed with the trapaziodal shape. We're guessing someone thought the more angular shaping was more masculine. In the Tacomas favor, the rear window sizing on the Hilux does seem a little odd. 


Both are ugly,but the Hulix is a better looking truck !
Tacoma is the ugliest truck for many years,yes people buy them..but they also buy Cubes and Smart cars !!! People like ugly vehicles,as they look like their vehicle !

I don't really like either of them, I don't like the updated front end on the Tacoma, I thought last years model looked better. The Heulix has what looks like a car front end on it, doesn't really fit the truck and the rear window looks stupid, also the hitch is ugly.

both are ugly sorry toyota keep trying

Hilux has engines going for it, tacoma is better styling although I enjoy my 2010. Styling is a personal choice and IMO the second best looking truck out there is the Dodge Ram. The rest are bricks.

Ha, Mike Levine and I were having this exact same discussion just a few weeks ago! Must have inspired a parting shot here. ;)

Yes, the Hilux is the better looking of the two—much better looking! Never understood why Toyota decided that North America must have its own mid-size truck. I have no doubt the HiLux would sell just as well—if not better—than the Tacoma.

While the hilux looks much better than the tacoma it still looks like crap to me.

Because Americans need big and mean looking trucks to over come our social disorders. If you buy the small truck, your a puss. But if you buy a 1 ton dually, with the diesel your a boss. /facepalm
Seriously though, who doesn't love driving their lifted full size trucks to wally world.

They both look like crap but for different reasons. Either interior looks fine to me. But is the Tacoma still using the goofy hand level to the left of the shifter as an emergency brake? Get with the times already.

Crap, level should read lever.

Looks r subjective. I personally prefer the taco look over the hilux. I'm not a fan of suv/crossover front ends on a truck. Truck should just remain truck looking. I choose my truck based on drivetrain, functionality n durability over looks any day.

I'll stick with my '91 S-10. I wouldn't take either one. They're both ugly and made by Toyota.

you americans want the hilux and its diesel engine..........we, south americans and asiatics, wants the tacoma!!!!
you have a lot better truck!!!!!!

Just ordered a 2012tacoma never sat in a hilux don't care to coming from a ex ford guy the taco really is very nice. For all the haters test drive one. P.s. i owned 3 rangers and i blead blue.

I think I'd prefer to stick with the Tacoma. I do think that it's a much better looking truck, which is very strange for me to say as 9 times out of 10 I'll pick function over form easily. I guess If I'm in a truck I'd like to know it.

Hilux looks far better IMO. The Taco just seems like its trying too hard to be something its not and the result is just plain ugly.

I see many similarities. I prefer the Hilux rounded fenders, I like the Hilux interior. I prefer the Tacoma nose. THe Hilux has a mini van nose to it.
I wonder if the hood scoop on the Hilus is as fake as the one on the TRD?
Toyota is rich enough to bring diesels to NA. It would be worth the risk.

Why can't we get the Global Hilux? Mexico does...

Shipped from Idonesia so what gives??? OK, Mexico doesn't have a 'chicken tax' but still. Oh and when did Mexico get deported from North America?

@Mark Williams. You will not hear "manly styling" associated with either the Hilux, Tacoma, Silverado or F series. They are Utes, one step removed from a car.(Lou is correct with his observation)
No the Hilux would be a midsize pickup here as the US has the full size variety.
Trucks are associated with what you would call MDT's and HDT's in Europe and here.

@Unclebud , if he is around can give a much better distinction between the two as he has been in Argentina and has sampled the Hilux there. He was posted he was very impressed by it.
From a post on the New Colorado he said this.
"@Robert Ryan, the Hilux was obviously the truck of choice in Argentina with the 3.0 diesel. Sweet truck. Saw one pulling a horse trailer at about 120km/hour. Loaded with 4 horses. The guys we stayed with also had a brand new one with a camper top, winch bumper, winch, lights, etc. I want one and we could work the sh&t out of one of those"


I think the outside of the Hilux is better, but I prefer the interior of the Tacoma.

But one question, does the Hilux have that worthless plastic "sorry composite" bed or is it made of steel?

And I agree, bring DIESELS here and I will get a second job to make the truck payments!!!

The Tacoma is a nice truck. Hard to argue the sucess of it.

@T Bone you can have an all steel utility bed, for much more severe work.
Cab Body on back

TC on back.

If I was forced to have one of these goofy pickups I would take the Tacoma. The Tacoma does a better job of pretending to look rugged and tough.

I would take any year Ford Ranger over these heaps. Give me a Ford Ranger 4X4 FX4 Level II.

@Buy American they are far from Goofy. The current US Ford Ranger is a lot smaller than the Hilux and a whole lot less capable. The Tacoma is similar but the same size as the Hilux and does not have the 3000lb payload of a Hilux in single Cab configuration.

Robert Ryan-

I was referring to the looks as being goofy -not the capabilities. I am well aware that the Hilux/Tacoma are much more capable than the 18-year old Ford Ranger chassis/design.

@Buy American not an issue here. The Hilux sells like Hotcakes in Australia, was the best selling vehicle for several months.. The current Ford Ranger looks very similar to the old Ford Courier they used to sell here, it had a small diesel option as well
From an English site.

Ford Courier and small Truck Camper

Huge contribution Unfortunately, I have been very well written!

If I was forced to have one of these goofy pickups I would take the Tacoma. The Tacoma does a better job of pretending to look rugged and tough.

I would take any year Ford Ranger over these heaps. Give me a Ford Ranger 4X4 FX4 Level II.

Posted by: Buy American Or Say Bye To America

Same here. I feel the same on both counts.

@Robert Ryan - interesting and very astute comment about pickups and trucks. We usually ditch the pickup part of pickup truck and just say truck.
Our pickups are increasingly encroaching into "truck" territory. The HD shootout is a prime example. The testers needed commercial truck driver's licences to operate those pickups at their maximum.
I feel that is the wrong way to go.
It opens the door for too many underqualified drivers pulling monster loads at interstate speeds.
That is one of the big reasons Ford changed the F450. The 19.5 wheels and tires were not rated for high speed (read 75 mph freeway) running.
Just what I want to see, a 85 year old retiree heading up the Alaska Highway via the Stuart/Cassiar Highway pulling a 18,000 lb trailer.

F-100 has been given the green light and will be better than all of these Tacos and old Rangers. It will be a 2014 release and based off the full-size Ford Transit (not the Connect.)

I know Toyota is mostly greedy about different version design like cheap or expense about Hilux vs Tacoma pickup trucks. I know two related Nissan Frontier and Navarra are prefect models. why Frontier is mostly gasoline and Navara is mostly diesel. I know Frontier have mostly plastic parts for exterior and Navarra have mostly chrome and stainless steel parts for exterior.

I suppose the test between Pickup and truck is can you run it down to the corner shop to buy an icecream. No problem with a F350 bit of a problem with a Dump truck or B Double LOL
I think licensing can get rid of the geriatrics. Some of the stories I see on the RV sites is hair raising. I know in places like Finland , they really make you jump through hoops, before you can get a normal car licence as their back roads are terrible, due to permafrost constantly changing the elevation of the roads.. Something similar should apply for people over 70 who pull large trailers or drive huge motorhomes.
@Dave the Ford Transit is almost Sprinter sized, not much of a candidate for the F100. I think the Global Ranger would fit the bill much better.

If ford does release the f100, they should make it like the size of a Dakota with a v8 option, and with half-ton specs. Then they could put a Solid Front Axle in the F150 to make it a HD 1/2 ton truck (Like the current f150 7 lug, just get rid of the IFS and put a 7 lug SFA). in my opinion

If ford does release the f100, they should make it like the size of a Dakota with a v8 option, and with half-ton specs. Then they could put a Solid Front Axle in the F150 to make it a HD 1/2 ton truck (Like the current f150 7 lug, just get rid of the IFS and put a 7 lug SFA). in my opinion

It would be a good truck for someone to buy that wants to keep the f150 exterior and interior style but be able to run a full size HD plow blade instead of buying a F250 or F350.

It's almost like Toyota hates trucks?

@4.6L V8

If and that's a big IF Ford relese an F-100 of any shape or size I can almost 100% assure you it won't have a V8 in it. Though I'm with you! I just got a 2011 FX4 Supercab F-150 with the 5.0L V8 and let me tell you its a sweet engine, and I can only imagine how it fast a smaller lighter version of my truck would be with it, but alas...the new 54mpg Goverment/EPA mandate is on the horizon, if Ford does produce an F-100 it will be solely in the intrest of raising their C.A.F.E numbers, I honestly wouldn't even expect a V6 in the F-100...If it does come about I would most likely expect it to be powered by a Turbo 4cylinder. Probably the 2.0L used in the new Explorers.

I have to go with ugly on both. But, the domestic small trucks are no better in design or functionality as a truck either these days.

I have a hard time understanding small trucks period. I can not see when I would ever opt for one based on their price range. I buy a truck to tow and haul. None of the compact/mid size trucks are built for that. For the price, I'd rather be in a SUV or sports sedan if I was just driving around and had no need for a truck.

Basically, why pay such a high price for these when there are much better options in the SUV and sedan range for the price? They are priced way too close to full size trucks and offer nothing of value to set themselves apart.

The new Hilux reminds more of the 100 Series Cruiser to me than anything. I don't like the way the facia blends into the body lines on the Hilux, as this makes fitment of aftermarket bumpers more difficult. The running boards are hideous! For every post about how much better the Hilux looks than the Taco, there's a post about how the softer, more rounded styling of the Asian/Global trucks wouldn't work in America. "A truck should look like a truck, not a car".
Visually, I prefer the IP in the Tacoma, althought the storage pods in the Hilux are nice. I prefer the simplicity of the HVAC knobs in the Taco, as well. I don't mind the dash-mount parking brake, as this is flat out old-school Toyota. I can't think of a reason why in an automatic trans vehicle, the parking brake needs to take up so much prominent center console space. A floor kicker works just fine. At least manual tranjs Tacomas should get a manual shift T-case, the full-time unit from the FJ-Cruiser would make a nice option. As for seats, the up-level seats in the TRD trucks are great.
Back window in the Hilux- the bottom edge really only cuts down your view into the bed. I think the seat-backs in the Tacoma actually extend above the lower edge anyhow.
There must be some tax advantages to building the European market trucks in South Africa.
There are often unsupportd claims about the mechanical superiority of the Hilux to the Tacoma. Both use the same axles. Both use the same transmissions. The T-case is different. The frame in the Taco is pretty sturdy. Obviously, it isn't sold as a heavy work truck, and the springs reflect that. Unless someone can come up with some frame comparison pics and measurements, I think that part is not worth talking about.
So other than the diesel engines.... Would I take a Hilux witha 1GR (4L V6) over a Tacoma? Probably not.

Nate you are right, if you are going to make a small truck make a small truck, there is a market but for these strangely sized "midsized" trucks what is the point. I guess though the only thing that really matters is if the Taliban will like the new Taliban Taxi.

I agree with John, Full size or small. Diesels available in both.
There is a demand for both.

You know, what I find odd? The fact that just about everyone on here bashes the hell out of the Tacoma, but if you're looking to buy a used one out there in the real world, they cost MORE than similarly-equipped full sized trucks that are 4 years newer with half the mileage! These are trucks that were much more expensive to start with! If they suck so bad, how come they hold their value so well?

Obviously, Toyota's target market is NOT the traditional truck buyer...

As for the whole Taco vs. Hilux thing, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I guess the Hilux maybe looks a little better from the front and the Taco maybe looks a little better from the back and the interiors are about a wash...BUT WHO CARES?

They should be comparing things like frame strength and towing/load hauling ability! They should be comparing engines and configuration options! They should be comparing ride quality vs. suspension robustness! They should be comparing driving experience and handling characteristics!

This article totally misses the point!

@Jason H- sadly, Mexico is the closest place where you can put a Hilux next to a Tacoma. Even there, the it isn't an Apples to apples comparison. The Hilux in Mexico is very low-spec.

That is one big sissy step on the Hilux!!!

Love the Tacoma but they need a new update and the best way to go is to make it a diesel and a full redesign. It's about that time anyway. The first gen lasted from 95.5 to 04. The 2nd gen is getting close to that! ANNOUNCE A NEW TACOMA, TOYOTA!!!!

"If ford does release the f100, they should make it like the size of a Dakota with a v8 option, and with half-ton specs. Then they could put a Solid Front Axle in the F150 to make it a HD 1/2 ton truck (Like the current f150 7 lug, just get rid of the IFS and put a 7 lug SFA). in my opinion" -4.6 V8

That is a great idea!

I prefer most of the Hilux's looks except the rear window, the hitch (WTF is that bar for?!) and the HVAC controls. The rotary dials are much easier to use without taking eyes off the road.

I also like that the payload is high in the Hilux. As I have said probably 50 times over the past few years I need to haul more than tow and no vehicle outside of a 3/4 ton fits my needs for hauling but those are way overkill in power, size, price and towing. (I know I can get a heavy duty F150 that is pretty darn close but it requires the highest gear ratios and would cost both mpg's and a lot of money)

If Toyota would increase the capacity of the Tacoma to about a metric ton or a little more for the US and actually update the drivetrains and improve aerodyanmics (to get around 24-25 mpgs on the highway) I'd really have to consider purchasing that truck. I am hoping that either Toyota addresses this in the next 18-24 months or GM does with the new Colorado/Canyon.

all i see r the constant whining about the taco being midsize, yet the mention of a midsize f100 in the u.s. n suddenly midsize is the greatest thing since sliced bread. hilarious.... yeah yeah, we all know... if it's a foreign make, we don't care..... be it compact, midsize or fullsize, gotta complain about something....

Like to see a comparison test between the two. Turbo diesel Hi-Lux versus Tacoma 4.0 liter double cab 4X4's.

Notice the independant front suspension. Also note the proper ground clearance in the last pic..

SFA is old school and even the United States military does not want them on their trucks anymore..

If the military does not want solid axles anymore, then they are no good. SFA break and don't have the ground clearance!

Ford's F-100 is not needed! F-100 buyers will be the same F-150 owners that have this full-size pickup yet you never see them towing anything or hauling anything in the bed! Posers!

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