1996 Hilux Surf 2.7L
Many feel that Toyota built the best SUVs of the 1990s and it's really hard to disagree. The portfolio of off-road vehicles was aging by the middle part of the decade, and the revamped Hilux Surf would end up anchoring sales for the brand during this time. Trucks like this 1996 SSR-X were capable, affordable, and offered decent safety and performance. This RZN185 is a particularly special example, sporting a one-off TRD Cement Gray paint. The body is in good shape overall and is accented by the optional OEM front valance, blacked-out stock alloys, privacy tint, and a set of factory rainguards. As eye-catching as this Surf might be, the best part is under the skin. Powered by the same 2.7L I-4 as the stateside models, parts are readily available and easy to find on the cheap. With only 99k verified and documented miles, it's barely broken in, as 4Runner owners will tell you! Packed with plenty of power options and fresh off a recent service, this Japanese Classic 4x4 is ready and willing to take you on your next adventure.
The cabin is a massive upgrade over the outgoing Surf models. For starters, this generation comes with dual SRS airbags for those occupants up front. The view of the road ahead is clear and commanding and the dash is in good shape and lacks any cracking or discoloration. Atop the windshield a field monitor allows the driver to monitor temperature, the direction of travel, barometric pressure, and altitude. It works as it should and is located adjacent to an electric retractable sunroof. It provides some additional ventilation and along with the power windows, and the electric locks and mirrors make daily use enjoyable. The seats are trimmed in gray, durable cloth. They lack any major rips, stains or tears and are comfortable on long drives. The door cards are in equally good shape and lack any major imperfections. The driver benefits from adjustable lumbar support and a tilt-adjustable steering column. The automatic climate control is simple to use and blows cold a/c. Rear privacy tint also helps to combat the heat. If you want a real breeze we recommend dropping the rear glass, as it's powered. The OEM audio was ditched for a quality Pioneer unit in Japan, which is intuitive to operate. It sounds great and compliments the four-banger well. That's not to say the cabin is perfect as there are some light scuffs and stains on the carpets and headliner. Still, it's obvious this car was cared for in a prior life overseas, and the glovebox even includes a bunch of prior maintenance records which can be handy to have around!
This body-on-frame SUV is one of the most convenient ownership options we have for an SUV. It's the perfect size and the 2.7L makes all the power you need for daily use. This RZN-185 is fresh off an oil service and starts up promptly thanks to a new 12v battery. It idles with confidence and breaths a bit more efficiently thanks to a new engine air filter we installed here stateside. The selective transfer case gives the driver several options depending on outside conditions. With the click of the button on the lever, the Hilux can switch between 2WD and four. Low gearing is also available if the going gets tough. The automatic transmission shifts seamlessly and highway gearing is just fine for sustained high-speed jaunts. The OEM suspension handles the rigors of daily use and gobbles up potholes large and small. The power steering is nicely weighted and communicative as any truck we currently import. The brakes display confidence and the black painted alloys are all wrapped in new all-terrain Falkens at all four corners. These look killer and will provide plenty of year-round grip for tens of thousands of miles to come. We even replaced the spare tire too, should you need it in a pinch!
*California Residents: In order to register a Grey Market vehicle in the state of California then it will have to be made CARB compliant first. CARB certifications will have to be performed within the state. Depending on the vehicle and any existing modifications will affect the pricing. Typically CARB compliance will range between 5-10K. Additional information can be found on the California Air Resources Board website.