Toyota HiLux Champ officially launches, not coming to Australia

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This Toyota HiLux could be the perfect ute for tradies, but its no-frills ethos means it will likely never be officially sold in Australia.

The Toyota HiLux Champ – a heavy-duty ute for developing countries – has been officially revealed for its home market of Thailand, but it’s no closer to being sold in Australia.

A production version of the IMV 0 Concept – translated to Innovating International Multi-Purpose Vehicle – which debuted in December 2022, the HiLux Champ is Toyota’s low-cost commercial vehicle for Southeast Asia, giving buyers an alternative to the full-size HiLux.

Available in both short- and long-wheelbase styles – measuring 2750mm and 3085mm between the axles, respectively – the Toyota HiLux Champ stacks up at 4970mm (SWB) or 5300mm (LWB) in length, 1785mm wide and 1735mm high.

Despite its smaller appearance compared to a regular HiLux, the long-wheelbase HiLux Champ shares the same distance between its axles as the single-cab chassis HiLux Workmate in Australia, while it is 35mm longer, 15mm narrower and 15mm shorter in height than the popular ute.

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The HiLux Champ’s trays vary between 2312mm and 2647mm in length, while boasting a payload capacity of 1000kg.

Three engines are on offer – a pair of 2.0-litre (102kW/183Nm) and 2.7-litre (122kW/245Nm) petrol engines, and a 2.4-litre turbo-diesel which produces 110kW/400Nm.

Both the 2.7-litre and 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engines are found in the Australian-delivered Toyota HiLux Workmate variants, though the HiLux Champ misses out on its full-size sibling’s 2.8-litre turbo-diesel.

A six-speed automatic transmission is exclusive to the higher-output petrol and diesel engines, while the 2.0-litre petrol offering is only available with a five-speed manual – all Toyota HiLux Champ variants are rear-wheel-drive.

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Standard equipment across the range includes 14-inch wheels, driver and passenger airbags, anti-lock braking and seat belt pre-tensioners.

While the HiLux Champ’s features list is bare for entry-level variants – with halogen headlights, manual wind-down window handles, just two speakers and vinyl upholstery as standard – better-equipped variants come with LED headlights, electric windows and mirrors, plus orange dashboard trim.

In Thailand, the Toyota HiLux Champ is priced from 459,000 to 577,000 baht – equivalent to $19,800 to $24,900 in Australian currency – compared to the 564,000 ($AU24,300) baht starting price of the standard HiLux.

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Unfortunately for Australians who want a HiLux Champ, it is unlikely to be sold in local showrooms, with the brand’s vice-president of sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, saying it isn’t intended to meet Australian requirements.

“We’ve got our (ute) model line-up with Hilux, and (the HiLux Champ) is just not a real good fit right now. So within our model lineup, we’re pretty set right now.

“(The HiLux Champ) will be a great addition for the Asian market, but it just shows the diversity of Toyota’s product line-up and product thinking.”

Jordan Mulach is Canberra/Ngunnawal born, currently residing in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found on weekends either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or swearing at his ZH Fairlane.

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