The new powertrain variant adds a belt-integrated starter-generator to the Hilux’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, with electrical power supplied by a 48V battery under the back seat – weighing just 7.6kg – which charges under deceleration and braking.
The new Toyota Land Cruiser is also set to adopt this set-up as an option when it launches next year.
The system can contribute an extra 16bhp and 48lb ft under acceleration. Toyota has not said what impact this has on the Hilux’s 10.7sec 0-62mph time, but it is not expected to make for a tangible boost in outright performance.
Instead, Toyota highlights a projected 5% efficiency boost compared with the non-electrified diesel engine, a gain that's also helped by an improved stop-start system, which keeps the engine off for longer at a standstill.
No figures have been disclosed, but based on the pure-diesel pick-up’s WLTP-certified 29.7mpg, the new MHEV should be able to muster north of 31mpg.
This new system also makes for a “more comfortable drive in traffic”, Toyota claims, courtesy of quicker throttle responses and a quieter start-up.
Importantly, the firm says the addition of these efficiency measures also improves the pick-up's off-road ability, with the regenerative braking system working to improve stability on steep descents, and electrical assistance giving smoother acceleration on tough terrain.
The idle speed has been reduced from 720rpm to 600rpm too, which, Toyota says, will make the truck easier to control.
The firm adds that special attention has been paid to waterproofing the new electrical components so the Hilux Hybrid can still wade at depths of up to 700mm. Load-lugging abilities are unchanged, with a maximum payload of 1000kg and towing capacity of 3500kg.
Prices will be revealed closer to the Hilux Hybrid’s mid-2024 launch date, but it will no doubt carry a small premium over the existing version.
Kwinten Sijs, senior manager for product marketing at Toyota Professional, said the mild hybrid does not pave the way for a plug-in hybrid version to rival the new Ford Ranger PHEV but other alternative powertrain options are on the cards for the Hilux.
“We are acting and thinking as a multi-pathway [manufacturer] and that goes for all our models, including Hilux,” said Sijs. “It is of course a global model, so this needs to be considered during development.
“Currently, there is no concrete plan in terms of alternative powertrains on top of this one, but for sure that is something which is being considered. Maybe in the coming months, there will be a more concrete roll-out of alternative powertrains for Hilux. But currently we still have to go with the ICE engine. It is a first, small step.”
Notably, Toyota has built a fully functioning hydrogen fuel cell-powered version of the Hilux, with a range of 365 miles and comparable specifications to the diesel-powered truck, and is in the process of determining its capabilities and market demand ahead of a planned market launch.