Vehicles today have increased in price so much that it’s normal to expect a $500+ monthly payment when financing or leasing. However, not all vehicles seem to have a hefty price tag, as Toyota has a refreshingly cheap pickup available in Thailand that makes us wish it was on sale everywhere. It’s called the Toyota Hilux Champ, and its starting price is 459,000 baht, which comes to $13,070 USD with current exchange rates. It’s aIf you want all the goodies, the price will increase to just $16,430, and it makes us think of the times when Ford released the Model T, so that everyone could enjoy the conveniences and utility of personal transportation.
What Is The Toyota Hilux Champ?
As you’d imagine with this work truck, paint options are limited to white, silver, or grey, but plenty of body styles make the car more unique for your needs. The Toyota Hilux Champ can be transformed into an RV, food truck, medical van (with a refrigerator), or a camper with a rooftop tent. It depends on what you want, but the conversions will undoubtedly make this small yet mighty truck pricey, from the van, which will cost 80,000 baht ($2,300), to the RV, which will be 2,000,000 baht ($57,000). Yes, they’re going to offer an RV.
The Toyota Hilux Champ, also known as the IMV 0, is the latest vehicle based on the global automaker’s IMV platform intended for SUVs, pickups/light trucks and passenger cars from Toyota. The name “IMV” stands for “Innovative International Multi-purpose Vehicle,” uses a ladder frame chassis construction, and also underpins the mighty Toyota Hilux. These body-on-frame designs are superior to unibody designs, like the Ford Maverick and Honda Rigdeline, when it comes to towing, payload, and durability, making them perfect candidates for work and utility. Hence why every truck and SUV worth their weight under the sun uses this design.
As it shares a platform with the standard Toyota Hiliux, the front suspension of the IMV 0 is independent double-wishbone, while the rear suspension is a leaf spring. The various engines are mounted longitudinally, while the point of assembly for the Hilux Champ is Samrong Tai, Thailand. This makes it subject to the dreaded 25 percent “Chicken Tax” tariff, should Toyota attempt to import it.
This small truck may not look super heavy, but don’t let that fool you, as the long-wheelbase model with a bed and a diesel engine weighs 6,150 pounds. With the diesel engine, the two-seat Toyota Hilux Champ has a maximum payload capacity of 2,204 pounds, which is pretty impressive. Remember, kids, weight moves weight.
Toyota Thailand will sell the Hilux Champ in eight trim levels, including short and long wheelbase lengths and a spartan variant without a bed. Customers have a few powertrain options, including the aforementioned 2.4-liter diesel, along with a 2.0- or 2.7-liter gas engine. All of that output is routed to the wheels via a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The truck is made locally at the Samrong Plant, and Toyota says it has over 100 compatible accessories for the little beast. If it could be brought to other markets, Toyota might be sitting on a gold mine; just look at the Ford Maverick.
Similarly, Chevrolet sells a low-cost truck in Mexico called the S10 Max. The caveat is that it’s made in China (it’s actually a rebadged Chinese truck), and thus also subject to the Chicken Tax. Maybe GM could find capacity for such a low-cost truck to be built in North America, instead of low-demand six-figure electric trucks? We dare to dream.
While the Detroit 3 are busy fumbling around over electric commitments and high-priced pickups, Toyota appears to have built a turn-key solution for America’s truck problem. But they, too, have to bring it here.