Our last test drive was a little unusual. Typically we decide on a destination, somewhere that gives us opportunity to explore somewhere of particular interest. This means some planning but offers another purpose for the drive.
This time the first mission of our test drive was to visit the new premises of Global Tuk Tuk in Tha Yang, but that’s another story. After that we headed inland, vaguely hoping to find the way to Khao Phanoen Thung. This is a 3,578 ft / 1,091 m mountain peak in Kaeng Krachan National Park.
This should have been a good test for the traction and four-wheel drive capability of our ‘borrowed’ Toyota Hilux Revo! The good news – we followed the signs and found the entrance to the Khao Phanoen Thung road; the bad news – the road was closed. In hindsight this should have been anticipated, it is the wet season after all. Memo to those exploring the hinterland: take the time to plan your journey! But let’s return to the test vehicle.
Khun Tanawat Pikluntong from Toyota MuangPetch introduced us to the test vehicle with full attention to detail. He describes himself as a trainer and he seemed to appreciate that driving his vehicle would be a little different to driving my usual 10 year old sedan. The Revo was only released in Bangkok in May this year as a replacement for the now aging Vigo. My first impression and comment to my test ‘co-pilot’ was that I felt like I had just entered the cockpit of a jet fighter.
The central dashboard comes with a large ‘floating’ touchscreen display as well as Corolla Altisesque central HVAC vents above and its controls below. It is also equipped with push button start, automatic climate control, cruise control, rear HVAC vents and more. The instrument cluster sports a larger multiinformation display that feeds details like instantaneous fuel economy, average fuel efficiency, distance to empty and service interval reminder.
Clearly I would need some training and time to get the most out of what was on offer.
However once underway, it became apparent that despite my lack of familiarity this is a ‘driver-friendly’ vehicle, no pilot’s licence required. Creature comforts include a cooled glove box, multi seat positions and I have to say a steering wheel which had added to the feeling of control. The stop-start feature however remained somewhat disconcerting.
This means that long stays idling in stopped traffic results in the engine turning itself off, but then immediately restarting with any brake release or acceleration. Although this is common in motorcycles, I’ve never experienced this in a four-wheeled vehicle, so it was hard to resist the panic which follows a vehicle ‘stalling’. The benefits in fuel saving far outway my initial discomfort. Toyota has also equipped the Hilux’s cabin with safety equipment such as 7-airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, Trailer Sway Control, VSC, Downhill assist control and Hill Assist control.
Externally the new Toyota Hilux Revo comes with a design that falls in line with the company’s design philosophy. It’s a step up from the aged design of the Hilux Vigo and gives the Hilux line a fresh face. It sports a large set of projector headlamps with DRLs that flow into a trapezoidal 3-slat grille, somewhat similar to the new Toyota Corolla Altis. The lower fascia has been made simple, featuring a single air inlet and fog lamps on both sides.
The hood ditches the tacky air scoop, leaving the pickup with a simple and clean front end. As many purchasers of this type of vehicle have no intention to fill the rear cargo bed with pineapples or use it for any other commercial purpose, a softer chassis setup for a more car-like driving experience and a classleading amount of safety features add to the appeal of those who are more interested in presentation hardnosed performance.
Our test vehicle was coloured ‘Attitude Black’ which would also appeal for drivers with a driving ‘attitude’. After leaving behind the disappointment of our attempted visit to Khao Phanoen Thung, the roads heading more or less south (routes 3410 or 3510) offer green landscapes between green mountains and wandering rivers; a pleasant scenic ‘Sunday cruise’. Then we spotted a sign towards Chang Hua Man, the King’s Royal Project, so a diversion to revisit this working farm property displaying trial crops and best sustainable agricultural practices. That’s yet another recommended day trip and alternative Thai cultural experience.
The signs had led us along a very pot-holed and degraded back entrance road, so we did experience the Vigo’s ability to negotiate these conditions. I would have been cringing driving my older sedan, but a relaxed and comfortable ride in this quality machine was experienced. It isn’t surprising to see how Toyota is making loud noises with its all-new Hilux Revo, judging from the lavish world premiere it staged in May followed by a series of promotions. It’s a more than worthy successor to the Vigo. Our thanks to the Toyota MuangPetch crew for the opportunity to ‘pilot’ the latest Toyota vehicle.