Should You Take the Toyota Hilux Off-Road?

Even though it was discontinued in 1995, the Toyota Hilux is still an outstanding pickup truck that’s equipped for casual off-roading. Click here to read more!
Written by Samuel Todd
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
If you’re one of the lucky few who own a Toyota Hilux in North America, you can look forward to taking your truck on some epic off-roading adventures. 
Though the Hilux was replaced by the
Toyota Tacoma
in 1995, it remains one of the sturdiest designs in
history. You might not be charging through the Australian outback, but you can still do plenty of trailblazing here in the US—assuming you’ve got access to the legendary Hilux!
Ready to learn more about the Toyota Hilux’s off-roading chops?
, our
super app
, is here with the information you need. We’ll break down all the specs—ground clearance, torque, tires, you name it—and even offer some outstanding alternatives to the rugged Toyota Hilux. 

Can the Toyota Hilux go off-road?

Yes! The Toyota Hilux was designed to be an all-terrain pickup, and its reputation survives to this day. Of course, because most Hilux trucks in the US were built in 1995 (or earlier!), the pickup isn’t quite going to compete with 2022’s
Ford Bronco
Toyota 4Runner
. Still, the Hilux was an off-roading beast for its day.
So, what made the Hilux such an outstanding off-road vehicle? Let’s check out some of the main factors.
MORE: Is it illegal to buy a Toyota Hilux in the US?
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Ground clearance

Ground clearance, or the amount of space between your truck’s chassis and the road, is a crucial component of off-roading greatness. The 1995 Toyota Hilux features a clearance of 8.26 inches—not perfect for climbing logs and boulders, but good enough to get the job done.
Ideally, an off-roading vehicle would have a ground clearance of between 8.8 and 10.8 inches (for example, the
Jeep Wrangler
has a 9.7-inch clearance). If you can afford to import a 2021 Hilux from Australia, though, you’ll be rocking an incredible ground clearance of 11 inches!


Another key to all-terrain success is low-end torque. In a nutshell, a truck with low-end torque creates lots of power at a low RPM, which is the sweet spot for off-roading.
The ‘95 Hilux holds its own in the torque department, producing up to 180 lb-ft at 4800 RPM. Again, that won’t compete with today’s top vehicles, but it’ll easily propel you over roots, ruts, and bumps in the trail.


Remember, all that torque is useless without traction! For 1995 Hilux owners, we have good news and bad news: on the plus side, the truck comes with grippy
all-season tires
that tackle tough terrain without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, the tires are only 15 inches in diameter, which is pretty darn small.
As long as you steer clear of large rocks and deep ravines, you should be all set. Alternatively, you could upgrade your Hilux with some nifty
aftermarket mods
, like
these ones
for the Toyota Tacoma!
MORE: Winter tires vs. all-season tires: Which is better?


Anybody who’s been off-roading before knows that it’s nearly impossible to conquer a trail without four-wheel drive. The ‘95 Hilux came with both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive powertrains, so if you’re buying one used, be sure to opt for the all-wheel-drive version!
If you’re picking up a Hilux from Australia, virtually every trim level comes with AWD, so you’ll have plenty of fantastic options to choose from.


Before we reach a final verdict, we’ve got one more area to cover: approach and departure angles.
  • Approach angle: The maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: The maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
The Hilux can climb at an angle of 29 degrees and descend at 26 degrees. Those numbers are much better than most sedans and SUVs, but they aren’t in the same league as trail bosses like the Bronco and 4Runner.

Off-road rating: Rough and Ready

So, where does all of that leave the Hilux? Let’s give it a rating using
highly technical DIRT rating system:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
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For the Toyota Hilux, we’ve bestowed a rating of R, or Rough and Ready. Its solid clearance, rugged tires, and all-wheel powertrain make it a great fit for some casual off-roading. However, because the ‘95 Hilux is a bit outdated—and the 2022 Hilux is mainly sold in Australia—it doesn’t quite ascend into Trail Boss territory.
If you want the swagger of a true Trail Boss, check out the alternatives in the next section.

The best off-road alternatives to the Toyota Hilux

No doubt, the Hilux is an awesome pickup truck—but it’s super hard to get behind the wheel of one in North America! Thankfully, Jerry has put together some of the best alternatives to the Hilux, including its fabulous successor, the Tacoma.
Take a look at these gritty off-roading champions:
Best affordable alternative
Ford Ranger
The 2022 Ford Ranger features AWD, 8.9-inches of ground clearance, and an affordable price tag of less than $30,000.
Best Toyota alternative
With a whopping 9.4 inches of clearance, the Hilux’s successor is every bit as tough as the original design.
Best alternative for serious off-roading
Ford Bronco
The Wildtrak is firmly in Trail Boss territory. With all-wheel drive, a powerful V6 engine, and climbing angles of 43.2 and 37 degrees, it’s got everything you need for off-roading and then some.
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

We hate to say it, but off-roading vehicles come with one major downside: finding cheap insurance can be a struggle. Insurance companies think off-roading is a risky activity, so they raise your monthly payment—but with
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Our top-rated insurance super app is revolutionizing the world of car insurance shopping. Signing up takes just 45 seconds, then we’ll deliver the lowest prices from more than 55 top insurers right to your fingertips! Tap your favorite, and you’ll be on your way to heavy-duty insurance savings.
Oh yeah, speaking of savings, just how much can you save with Jerry? On average, Jerry users save more than $800 each year on insurance! That’s more than enough for some sweet all-terrain upgrades.
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