Before I start this review, I'm going to level with you, I've never understood the fascination with owning a double-cab bakkie. There's no doubt its a popular segment because you see more and more of these things on the road, and more often than not, people who buy them rarely purchase them for the purpose they are made for, which is what boggles my mind even more! Why pay so much for something that you'd probably use 10 times maximum, for actual double cab work during the time you will have it? To start off with, you got a bin, which most people tend to not cover with a canopy for aesthetic purposes, so you get that tarpaulin type stretchy cover for it, some fancier ones come with an aluminium frame so water doesn't collect in it thereby making it a portable pool but to remove this frame and cover is a bitch! So while it has adequate storage, it's not the easiest to access. Then you get to the back seats, which have gotten bigger over the years but still not the most comfortable place to sit, for one, the door is narrow, secondly it's high and the seats are raised, so it isn't very easy to get in there, all of this is oblivious to the front passenger and driver since everything seems pretty normal to them.
Okay, one thing I can agree is that most manufacturers are making some damn good looking double cabs and while they not only look good, they are brilliant vehicles in their own respect. Take for example the Hilux, which I am talking about today, apart from being one of the most trusted and reliable bakkies on the market, it also proved it's self in the worlds toughest rally's, the Dakar which is what this limited edition version is all about, it's to celebrate the achievements of their Gazoo Racing team in the 2018 Dakar Rally. The limited edition Dakar Hilux is available in two engine variants, which are the very popular 2.8 GD-6 Turbo-Diesel and the 4.0L Petrol V6, we had the Turbo-Diesel 4x4 on test and here's how it went down.
Styling on the Hilux has been its main downfall when compared to its competition, while it didn't look particularly bad, the other bakkies on the market just looked better. However, Toyota realised this and with this model made some minor tweaks which did the vehicle a world of good. The Dakar comes with redesigned grille which will flow onto the rest of the Hilux range in due course but the Dakar's grille is blacked out. It adds so much more character to the Hilux, gives it more presence and goes more in line to the bigger vans offered by Toyota in the US. Toyota also threw some Dakar badges and stickers around the car which, isn't as in your face like some of those fake "Raptor" decals but definitely add to the aesthetic appeal. The Dakar also has revised head lamps which feature an LED row cluster of daytime running lights which flow into the new grille and they've upgraded the headlamps to LED. The Dakar Edition also has the exterior mirrors and door handles finished in high gloss black as well as some chrome finishing on the metal work. Overall, a very appealing package by Toyota and one that should reel in some sales for those who were opting to go for the other brands.
I can't speak highly enough about this 2.8L GD-6 engine from Toyota, I enjoyed it in the Fortuner and with the Hilux it feels more at home. The only gripe I might have is that it is quite loud, even when idling, but then again you have to remind yourself you are in a bakkie and not a luxury SUV. The power derived from the engine produces 130kW and 420Nm of torque, which translates to effort free driving on normal roads but where it shows its true strength is on the paths less traveled. That torque comes really handy when you're off road, and while many people told me its impossible to get stuck with the Hilux, I did. But it entirely was my fault, I had it in the wrong settings while driving in soft sand. Toyota made the 4x4 controls really easy to use, it's basically like an aircon selector knob, to select what mode you want to be in. So I just switched the diff lock on, put it in low 4 and the bakkie practically got unstuck itself. I was amazed at how relatively easy it got unstuck, even with half the tyres buried in sand.
Like I mentioned earlier, a double cab bakkie isn't really built for comfort, especially the second row of seating but I have to admit, the inside of the Dakar was really nice. The seats were covered in premium black leather with white stitching. The steering wheel also leather covered with high gloss bottom, and full multi-function controls for audio and vehicle status. The Dakar comes with a large touch screen infotainment center, and has satellite navigation standard on all Dakar models. The cab comes with climate control air-conditioning which I'm sure the guys on the rally would love but doubt they get those in the actual rally spec Hilux. Moving into the back, which features a full bench seat, also covered in that nice leather with the fancy stitching and to their credit, is much more spacious than some of the other double cab bakkies I've sat in before.
While I did enjoy my time with the Hilux Dakar Edition, especially when scaring away slow drivers in the fast lane of the highway, it didn't change my perception of double cab bakkies in general. I do however have a better understanding of why people would buy these cars. The only problem I'd have if I owned one would be people I know calling me on the weekends asking me to help them transport stuff for them since I got a bakkie. While the competition in the segment might still be hotly contested and even with new manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz coming to the party, you cannot write-off the Hilux. It's been through it all and still remains one of the best on the market. Credit to Toyota for not resting on their heritage and laurels but also putting out a great product every time and sales figures just goes to prove that.
2.8L GD-6 Turbo-Diesel
6 Speed Manual
Photography by Mavric Photo