Equipping your Toyota Hilux in preparation for your first off-road trip can be one of the most exciting things you’ve done since you bought it. The Australian off-roads can be tough on your Hilux, and the last thing you need is to damage it and spend thousands of dollars on repairs. Instead, you can spend just a fraction of that money, and make sure you return it in the same shape as you took it out.
There are many protective accessories that can make that possible, but there’s nothing more important than installing a Toyota Hilux bullbar. While your Hilux probably is equipped with a protective accessory at the front straight out of the factory, that accessory is likely made of plastic or cheap steel that won’t do the job as it’s intended to.
And you shouldn’t be mad at Toyota for that. After all, it’s hard to manufacture and push a vehicle like the Hilux on the market for a competitive price, unless you have to cut corners here and there. And to be honest, most people drive their Hilux to the paved roads, so it’s not necessary for them to have all this protection anyway.
For those of us who are in need of an adventure, though, it’s a whole different story. The rough and rugged Australian outback is unforgiving, and if we’re to traverse it, we need to make it our goal to protect our vehicles to the best of our abilities. Fortunately, the aftermarket accessory industry is larger than ever, and due to the fact that the Hilux is the number-one-selling vehicle in Australia, our choices are endless.
Without further ado, here are the steps you should take when deciding on which Toyota Hilux bullbar is best suitable for your Hilux and type of driving.
Step 1: Consider the Material
As aforementioned, your Hilux may already have a factory bar, which is probably made of plastic or mild steel. Unfortunately, neither of these two materials provides any real protection. The reasons for that are that you don’t need any exceptional protection if you keep to the paved roads, and should you ever accidentally hit a pedestrian, you’ll hurt them less than you would if the bar was made of a tougher material.
That being said, aftermarket bull bars are made of stainless or aluminised steel. Both these materials provide outstanding protection, but there are other differences between them.
For starters, stainless steel is stronger, but it also weighs more. As a result, you have to pay close attention to what else you equip your Hilux with, in order to ensure you stay within the recommended vehicle mass. Stainless steel is rust-resistant, meaning it will last a very long time before you need to replace it. In fact, it may outlast your Hilux.
Aluminised steel, on the other hand, is considerably lighter than stainless steel, which is why people who travel long distances prefer aluminised steel aftermarket accessories. The light weight of this type of steel improves your Hilux’s fuel economy considerably. Aluminised steel products are generally powder-coated to provide extra protection against rust and corrosion.
Step 2: Consider the Style
There are quite a few different styles of bull bars. Different styles look different when equipped on different vehicles. Generally, though, bull bars are categorised as either single-hoop, triple-hoop, bumper bars, nudge bars, competition bars and baja bars. Single-hoop and triple-hoop bars are the most popular for off-roading, which is why I’ll only discuss them.
Single-hoop bars provide a great compromise between protection and weight. As their name implies, they come with a single hoop that goes over the grill to protect your Hilux’s radiator.
Triple-hoop bars, on the other hand, provide the most protection, but also weight quite a lot. They’re ideal for off-roaders who travel frequently, and are at risk of coming in collision with an animal.
The ideal style of bull bar for your Hilux will depend on how and where you intend on driving. If you’re only an occasional off-roader who travels long-distances, a single-hoop bull bar is probably the best solution for you. If your trips include driving over rough terrain where a lot of animals are present, a triple-hoop bar will be the ideal choice.
Step 3: Consider the Features
No matter what material or style of bull bar, it’s important to consider whether it comes with a winch mount, UHF antenna mount, auxiliary lights mount, etc. Bull bars that are winch-compatible are generally considered better, as they’ve been tested and rated by third parties to ensure compatibility. Moreover, having the option to pull yourself out with a winch can come in handy, as it requires very little effort to do so, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you can pull yourself out of any situation you find yourself in. Typically, stainless steel bars are better for winch mounting.