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Toyota Hilux 2700 4X4 
Double Cab Legend 35 and 
David Bullards 15 year-old Hilux

Broadcast dates : 23rd January 2005
27th January 2005

The Legend 35 is a dressed-up version of the basic Toyota Hilux 4X4 Double Cab.

The current Hilux has been around since 1998 and is due to be replaced by a new version in the not-too-distant future.

As for Davidís 1990 model, itís a testimony to the durability of these workhorses.

The big change in the past 15 years has been the evolution of the Double Cab pick-up, from a bakkie with a few add-on stripes, to a luxury family car.

Full leather upholstery, electric windows and mirrors, pile carpeting, airbags, car-like instrumentation, power steering, air conÖ these are all taken for granted.

By contrast the 1990 Hilux looks rudimentary with the emphasis on ruggedness.

Cloth upholstery, rubber floor mats, sharp-edged plastic dash, it nevertheless did have air-con and power steering.

But space was a bit tight for the rear passengers back then, while the load bay was huge.

Toyota is justifiably proud of the Hilux, these vehicles having been market-leaders since David was a young tearaway.

The Legend 35 dress-up kit is more a bit of fun than serious off-road gear, consisting of a chrome bull bar, tubular running boards, a very solid roll bar and some Legend 35 decals.

Not the hard-core Hilux fanís first choice perhaps, but the serious off-road hardware is still there.

Back in 1990 this range-topper Hilux 4X4 got by with plain old steel wheels and a few stripes.

But even today Toyota believes in no-nonsense manual wheel hubs rather than electronic hub locking, the emphasis still being very much on reliability.

One of the big changes to the current Hilux was a switch to independent front suspension for a more car-like ride on tar.

The engine on the two-comma-seven offers a wonderful mix of on-road ease and off-road lugging power.

Fuel injection is now common on off-road vehicles where once carburetors were deemed inherently more reliable.

The two-comma-seven-litre four-cylinder motor is no drag racer but it produces a hundred-and-eight kiloWatts and two-hundred-and-thirty-five Newton metres of torque at four-thousand revs.

The old two-comma-two-litre four-cylinder mill, like the rest of Davidís Hilux, is in fine nick, remarkably tidy for a fifteen-year-old powerplant.

By todayís standards its power delivery of seventy kiloWatts is modest, but back then it was more than acceptable.

What really makes the old Hilux a bit rough on urban roads is the solid live axle on the front. But some die-hard off-roaders still swear by this system for reasons of durability.

David admits that he mainly uses his Hilux for trips to the local rubbish dump and taking his dogs on outings. But the Hilux and David have seen serious off-road action in their time together.

Body-roll is much more pronounced on the old-timer. The body control on the Legend off the road is super. Wishbone front suspension may be more vulnerable to rocks but the excellent low-range gearbox and strong engine torque enables a driver to "walk" it slowly over obstacles.

Thereís no need to rush things with momentum and risk underbody damage.

There have been gigantic strides in all aspects of Hilux performance over the years. The chassis is more rigid than ever and the overall balance of the vehicle is good. Low-rev capability, which is vital to serious off-roading, and generous suspension travel, is one of the keynotes.

It lacks the traction control and corner-assist electronic devices of more on-road Ėorientated Sports Utility vehicles, but this is a plus out in the bush where complexity can be disastrous.

Itís for this reason that the vehicle is as popular as most light cars on the road today, despite representing a sizable investment.

Over the famed axle twister course at Protea Eco Adventures near Krugersdorp, or Mogale City as itís now known, David discovered that a lack of a diff lock could lead to frustration in his pride and joy.

In the Hilux Legend 35, a diff lock is standard and makes unruffled progress of seriously undulating terrain a breeze.

Yes, 4X4s have become more and more car-like over the past decade, but the Hilux hasnít traded-off any serious off-road acumen for people-pampering considerations.

As for the old 1990 model, itís rightfully regarded as a classic because of its ruggedness.

But if you are looking at a holiday in the swamps or rocky mountains far from civilization, this is still the standard-bearer.

At R323 500 itís serious money like many Toyota offerings, and personally we could do without the chrome gizmos.

We wonder what weíll be driving 35 years from now!

Toyota Hilux 2700 4X4 Double Cab Legend 35
  • Engine: Four cylinder petrol, 2 694 cc
  • Power: 108 kW @ 4 800 rpm
  • Torque: 235 Nm @ 4 000 rpm
  • Transmission: Four-wheel-drive, low ratio transfer case, five-speed manual
  • 0-100 km/h: 13,4 seconds
  • Top speed: 156 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 14,6 litres/100 km (claimed figures)
  • Price: R323 527

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