The $10,000 Toyota pickup truck is perfect. So, why do we feel sad?
The Toyota Tacoma pickup was manufactured in America for Americans and Canadians, to evade the “chicken tax,” but 181 other countries around the world get the Toyota Hilux pickup. It looks a little like our Tacoma, but more basic. You may recognize it from international news shots of relief aid or conflict areas. Well, it looks like it got a paltry amount, and at around $15,200 to start, it’s pricing itself out of some of those markets. The Toyota IMV 0 intends to fill that low-cost space below the Hilux with a starting price of $10,000. It made its debut at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show wearing the striking Land Cruiser 70 Series model. Shortly after the Tokyo show, we took one for a spin.
Back to basics
Toyota has rethought every inch of this truck with a focus on cost optimization and delivering everything that is absolutely necessary and nothing else. The development team even invited installers from around the world to think about how to better improve the chassis and cab to prepare them for aftermarket builds. Here are some changes, what’s still included, or what’s been left out:
- All flat glass for front, side and rear windshield
- Flatbed and no sides are standard, with a limited number of upgrades like the drop-side model we drove
- There are no anti-lock brakes, but a load-sensitive proportioning valve is standard, and ABS will be optional (the Hilux’s standard ABS makes it difficult for installers to fit heavy-duty rear axles)
- No airbags (these will also be optional or standard in some markets)
- There are no armrests, just door pockets that act as door pulls
- Crank windows
- Abundance of plastic and rubber inside
- Hilux control arm, coil sprung front/leaf sprung rear, easily upgraded for higher GVWR
4 cylinder gas or diesel power
Exact powertrain specifications have not been revealed, but we assume our example was equipped with a 139bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a five-speed manual transmission. (We’re guessing the diesel will be the Hilux’s 2.4-litre, 150bhp, but multiple engines will likely be offered.)
How does he drive?
Although it has airbags and ABS, this streamlined truck feels much lighter than its size suggests, so it gathered speed quicker than expected. The long shifter action was reminiscent of a full-size Yank truck of the past, though its respectable precision was not. The trick windshield generates some wind noise at highway speeds, but engine and road noise from Bridgestone Duravis R611 commercial vehicle tires (215/65R16 for much of the sidewall) prevent your ears from focusing on it.
We had no real opportunity to push IMV 0 around any curves, but what would a potential customer do then? Braking felt strong and I was confidently able to gain much more mass. But in today’s world where new cars average $50,000 in the US, it was incredibly refreshing to drive such basic, no-frills transportation. As you drive this truck, you will immediately realize how it will enable people in other parts of the world to do the hard work necessary to make a living, build a community, help others, etc. In this way, it is a completely different kind of “lifestyle vehicle” business than we are used to.
As equipped, the drop-side flat bed features a back door with no latches – simply rotate it and slide a pin on each side to open or secure it. There is a bed step to aid climbing. It’s just a stamped and folded hole in the approximately 3/16 inch steel that makes up the side of the bed. There is plenty of flat space on which to attach items, and there are mounting points for roof racks along the upper sides of the cab. But Toyota’s long-term plan is to reduce profit from selling the base truck and make profit from equipment capabilities. Two on display at this year’s Japan Mobility Expo depict an upright worker carrying a heavy load, and one is outfitted as a pop-up café. Computer images showed it serving as a ground transport vehicle, racing support vehicle, etc. Rest assured, the Third World is bound to put the IMV 0 to work doing things much heavier and more difficult than any of these ideas.
When and how much?
Don’t bet on the IMV 0 name to be able to produce; There’s a lot of heritage and goodwill invested in the Hilux. Some believe the Hilux Champ may be the production moniker. In any case, it’s scheduled for delivery to ASEAN markets starting in 2025, with pricing in markets that tolerate the deletion of airbags and ABS equivalent to $10,000 in 2023. In highly regulated markets, expect to pay up to $5,000 Less than today’s mainstream Hilux. Watch for them in CNN International broadcast footage starting then.
Toyota IMV 0 pickup specifications
|Front Engine, Rear Wheel Drive/4 Wheel Drive, 2-3 Pass, 2 Door Truck
|Engine (MT Corporation)
|2.0 L/139 hp (est.)/136 lb-ft (est.) DOHC 16-valve turbodiesel I-4; 2.4 L/150 hp (est.)/253 lb-ft (est.) DOHC 16-valve I-4
|3,300-3,500 lbs (MFR)
|Length x width x height
|208.7 x 70.3 x 68.5 inches
|8.0-9.0 seconds (East mt)
|EPA city/highway/comb. mpg
|Late 2024/2025 (global markets outside the US)
(Tags for translation)pickup truck