Before the Toyota Tacoma was born, there was the Toyota Pickup. In North America in 1976, the name Pickup was more favored than Hilux, which is the name of the series of compact pickup trucks. Its presence, however, was short lived. When the Tacoma was introduced in North America in 1995, the production of Pickup/Hilux was discontinued.
1968-1972: The first Pick-up
Toyota started manufacturing the Pickup in March 1968 as a truck with a short wheelbase and a 1.5 L engine. After three years, it upgraded to a more powerful 1.6 L inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine. In 1969, however, a long-wheelbase version was produced, but it was only available in North America in 1972. The Pickup was equipped with a four-speed manual transmission. Towards the end of this generation, the engine of the Pickup continued to upgrade: from 84 hp to 109 hp.
1972-1978: Changes and upgrades
Though there had been a delay in having the updated Pickup available in the North American market, a 2.3 m long bed came in April 1972. A month after, the 1973 model of the Pickup was introduced; it boasts of a cozier interior and some minute changes in its exterior. However, the great overhaul took place in 1975, where a larger 2.2L engine was introduced together with the SR5 upscale trim package. It was also in this gen when the five-speed manual transmission was an option. The name “Hilux” was completely replaced by “Truck.”
1978-1983: Simple and automatic
With a simpler body style, the four-wheel drive Pickup with a solid front axle and leaf suspension debuted in this gen. From the Hilux series, it was the first automobile with an automatic transmission. Toyota was also able to enter the SUV market in North America, the Pickup being the model for three new SUV models: Trekker, Wolverine, and Trailblazer.
1983-1988: The bigger Xtracab
A two-door or four-door Pickup with a two-row extended cab option called the Xtracab was made available in North America in 1983. With a larger cargo space, there were also engine upgrades for the Pickup. Fuel injected engines, from diesel to turbocharged ones, are also introduced to level with truck competitors.
1988-1998: Hilux ends production in the US
A longer wheelbase of up to 3,099 mm with the Xtracab combo made the Pickup bag the Truck of the Year award from a popular auto magazine. Modifications, such as a grille change and the new Toyota emblem, were visible in the 1991 model. However, this gen marked the end for the Hilux series in the United States. The Toyota Tacoma replaced it in 1995.
1997 to present: The new Pickup
The Pickup was redesigned together with the Tacoma for selling in other countries. The latest upgrade of this model was the Toyota Hilux Vigo “Champ”–a five-speed automatic transmission with 3L 171PS and additional center headrest on rear double cab seat sold in Thailand. Nevertheless, the Toyota Tacoma remains as the standard-bearer for the Toyota’s truck line.