oqxJzNkp 2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport 2
2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport 2

Toyota Hilux GR Sport: The hairy-chested alternative

2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport 9

What is it?

Toyota scoured the globe to find something extra for its best-selling Hilux pick-up range. 

With inspiration coming from the Dakar, one of the toughest off-road endurance events in the world, plus input from the company’s Australian design team in Melbourne and extensive testing here, the result is the all-terrain performance GR Sport dual cab. 

Seen as a replacement for the range-topping Rugged X, Toyota landed on the GR Hilux race car that was making its presence felt in one of the world’s toughest off-road endurance events, the Dakar Rally, for inspiration, while sharing underpinnings with the existing flagship — the Rogue.

2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport 1

What’s it cost?

It appears the maker has finally come to the conclusion that many present-day pick-ups no longer rely on the brand badge alone for front-on recognition, hence the GR Sport’s unique blacked-out front grille with prominent T-O-Y-O-T-A lettering — a company first.

An aerodynamically enhanced wide-track front bumper with a silver lower moulding and new dark grey over-fenders help to house the increased wheel track.

Black badging, door handles and exterior mirrors emphasise the GR Sport’s dynamic look, while four-wheel ventilated disc brakes are also painted red with GR logos to communicate the model’s performance intentions.

Apart from the $73,990 price tag, there’s more than one Roguish element to the GR Sport.

GR Sport’s track width has increased by the same amount as the Hilux Rogue – 135mm at the front and 155mm at the rear, along with a 15mm jump in ride height, compared with the core Hilux.

Closest rival in the ranks of the hairy chested off-roaders would have to be the Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior ($68,265).

To support the off-road capability of the new flagship Hilux, the GR Sport is fitted with a Dakar-inspired front skid plate, steel rock rails and a pair of red-painted rear recovery points, all developed locally by the TMCA conversions and accessory team.

As opposed to the Rogue’s 18-inch wheels the GR Sport settles for meagre gloss black 17-inch alloys wrapped with Bridgestone Dueler rubber, which look lost in the expansive wheel arches.

There is plenty of room for larger wheels, however.

Spare is a full-size alloy.

The GR Sport features an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with embedded satellite navigation, AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio, and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

A nine-speaker JBL premium audio system fills the passenger surroundings with excellent sound.

GR Sport offers all the active safety technologies found on the Hilux Rogue.

These include Toyota Safety Sense features pre-collision system with day and night pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, high-speed active cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist (brakes) and road-sign assist (speed signs only).

The addition of a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert bolster the Toyota Safety Sense suite of safety technologies offered in the Hilux, while an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror and smart key provide enhanced convenience for owners.

A panoramic view monitor is fitted as standard to the GR Sport, helping owners to gain a full view of the vehicle surrounds when navigating tight spaces.

GR Sport comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre Toyota Warranty Advantage.

This is extended to seven years on engine and driveline, with capped-price servicing for the first three years or 60,000km, whichever comes first, and each six-month/10,000km service costing $290. 

2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport 6

What’s it go like?

Inside upgrades include seats upholstered in a blend of leather-accented and perforated suede trim, with silver accents for the perforated suede and grey stitching.

Red seatbelts provide sporty accents in line with the GR design theme. 

Aluminium pedals complement the new ‘Technical Mesh’ trim of the dashboard and doors. 

The steering wheel features a leather-accented wrap with red centre mark, GR logo and paddle shifters, with a unique visual treatment also applied to the shift lever.

The bulky wheel was not everybody’s friend, as was the notchy action of the stubby gear lever. 

Company ‘lab coats’ have coaxed 10 per cent more power and torque out of the trusted Toyota 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine, stumping up 165kW and 550Nm, respectively.

The six-speed automatic transmission has also been re-calibrated to match the increased outputs.

Despite a 15mm increase in ride height over the core Hilux, climbing into the passenger cabin is made relatively easy by well-placed grab handles.

Most noticeable about the surroundings on settling in the front are four cup holders – two in the front console and two in the dash.

There’s a double-decker glovebox, the upper cooled, the lower with room for log books and other paperwork.

Performance was spritely (negligible turbo lag) as you would expect from the improved engine.

The transmission conducted itself with equal efficiency across the rev range and under varying loads.

Steering was firm to the touch and the transmission moved between cogs on cue, especially when called on to shift down when overtaking.

Toyota puts the combined fuel consumption at 8.1L/100km.

Best on test was 7.5 while 10.6L/100km was recorded in extended mixed work. 

GR Sport’s suspension is allied to special KYB monotube shock absorbers tuned specifically for the vehicle, as well as the removal of the rear stabiliser bar providing increased suspension travel.

Blacktop with blemishes were dealt mostly with smooth delivery, although there was some rock ‘n’ roll (without music) at times. 

The suspension upgrades have not compromised on the Hilux’s full 3500kg braked towing capacity, that is supported by standard fitment of a genuine towbar with towball and seven-pin trailer wiring harness.

Tow-Pro Elite, an optional electric trailer brake controller by Redarc, when fitted to the dash, offers selectable proportional or user-controlled trailer braking modes depending on the road or terrain, vehicle type or driver preference.

A nifty addition left to try out at a later time.

2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport 7

What we like?

  • Bold styling
  • More power
  • Rides 15mm higher
  • Increased wheel track
  • Full-sized alloy spare

2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport 8

What we don’t like?

  • Some body roll
  • Plenty of room for larger wheels
  • Chunky steering wheel
  • Notchy gear lever action

2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport 5

The bottom line?

In a bid to keep the home fires burning two automotive influencers stand out.

For those wanting the full hairy chested out-there pick-up demeanour, the Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior fits the bill; for those more in favour of a laidback look, with quality finish and advanced technology on and off-road, the Hilux GR Sport scoops the pool.

2023 Toyota Hilux GR Sport 4


CHECKOUT: Hilux GR Sport reports for duty

CHECKOUT: 70 Series with the heart of a Hilux


Toyota Hilux GR Sport, priced from $73,990
  • Looks - 6/10
  • Performance - 7/10
  • Safety - 7/10
  • Thirst - 6/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 6/10

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