Welcome to the 2012 Hilux vs Amarok review and comparison. Since the the Volkswagen Amarok and the Toyota Hilux were updated for 2012 we decided to revisit and finally take an Amarok for a drive.
First of all the there are quite a few updates to the 2012 Amarok and Hilux. The Hilux gets a slightly updated interior and exterior treatments on all models which do improve looks. The top range SR5 gets the most inclusions which include LSD for the rear axel, GPS, stereo systems, automatic air-conditioning and headlights, electronic stability control, and braking systems, standard cruise control and most indicator mounted on the wing mirrors. You must check with the dealer on which model gets what as it can be quite confusing. The great thing is that they have all been lowered in price across the range.
The VW Amarok has many more improvements and additions to the model range. 4×2 or non-4WD Amaroks can now be purchased as dual-cabs or single cabs along with a turbo petrol in some models. The 8 speed automatic transmission will also be introduced as well as an updated constant 4WD system but without a low range gearbox. VW has decided to fit a very low ratios to compensate – which is fair enough. There are some interior trim updates as well but we couldn’t tell the difference.
So as always we ignore the hype and write what we think this good and bad about the car this Hilux vs Amarok comparison. The Hilux exterior hasn’t dated too badly, the Amarok has. The Amarok interior look nice but still impractical – excuse me while I reach between your legs for my notes because they don’t fit in the ‘glove box’. The Hilux has a more useful interior than the Amarok but also needs more more work, a CRV is smaller and has practical interior than both!
The Amarok drive experience is NOT car like. That said the steering is sharper, and brakes pedal feels better than we remember compared to the Hilux, we also noticed that the suspension settled after bumps quicker than the Hilux but the Amarok is still a utility not a car or even SUV. However the Amarok is not as compliant as the Navara. The Amarok also does feel more car like thanks to the car like interior but you won’t be completely impressed. These are not sports cars and it is quite stupid to even think of them as such. Perhaps the initial stiff suspension setup gives stereotypical ‘sports’ impression (aka the Triton). The Amarok handles normal road traffic fine though but like the small diesel engined competitors does suffer from a fraction turbo lag from stand still. The Amarok’s diesel engines are smooth but more noisy than the Hilux. The Amarok’s manual shift was long by regular car standards and initially vague.
The main problem with the Amarok is it’s unknown reliability and service costs including that one major factor that will effect your decision – the engines require a timing belt! This extra cost that you must take into account if you rare considering longer term ownership. Commercial engines needs to be reliable and low cost to maintain beyond the 100,000km mark. For example (as at 2012) of the high Volkswagen Amarok service costs – the best they can offer $950 for up to 45,000 or 3 years which insults the intelligence of even the simplest business person as that equates to 15,000km a year and $316 per service (when means 3 services) excluding parts like brake pads. Toyota Hilux offers fixed price $170 per 10,oo0 km up to 60,000 or 3 years again excludes brake pads but as history shows it is unlikely you’ll need to replace them in that time frame. Over the same service period of 45,0000km as the Amarok the Hilux only costs $680 over 3 services. Over the 6 services the Amarok will cost even more! The VW Amarok’s timing belt replacement costs about $2000 the last time we asked. So the Toyota is cheaper to maintain.
In all seriousness the price reduction for 2012 Hilux models along with equipment updates still make the Hilux the automatic choice. The current Amarok is NOT impressive for an all new model. In fact just to confuse things the Navara is just as good – in different ways. We are going to be driving the new ST 550 in a few weeks so looking forward to writing a new comparison between that and the Amarok!