1997 Hilux Surf KZN185
Available for: $18,495
Shopping for a used SUV in the US market is nothing short of an arduous task. High mileage, structural corrosion, and interiors riddled with pet hair are some of the common factors that plague our stateside used car offerings, and drab 90's color schemes don't do much to seal the deal. This 1997 Hilux Surf may just be a cure for those ailments, thanks to a turbo diesel drivetrain, 151k verified miles, and a snazzy TRD-inspired graphics package. Finished in Desert Dune Metallic (1A5), the exterior certainly looks better than any other plebeian SUV on the road, save for some expected rock chips and paint fade here and there. While our records from Japan indicate a prior replacement of the left front door and rocker panel, she doesn't seem too bruised up and the repair looks to have been professionally done. Set off by OEM rainguards, rear privacy tint, and 16" five-spoke alloys, this head-turning Surf looks the part, and is a capable Japanese Classic any enthusiast can appreciate.
The interior follows suit in terms of condition, and the factory striped cloth upholstery clearly seems to have been cared for in a prior life. The rest of the interior upholstery has seemingly resisted any serious use and abuse as well, from the door cards to the headliner. Save for a few stains and spots of bolster wear here and there, the condition of this cabin should be plenty adequate for the next owner, and the dash is even free of the typical age-related peeling these tend to succumb to. The center stack is finished in a complementary flat black trim and houses Kenwood audio, and fully functional automatic climate control system. While the range of FM frequencies is limited, the sound quality is clear, and MP3 functionality allows you to play your favorite tunes throughout the cabin. Those in more temperamental climates get to choose between cold A/C and hot heat as well, and a power moonroof and power rear glass work in tandem if you prefer a more open-air driving experience. Power windows work too, as do the locks and mirrors. The rear bench offers up ample head and legroom for your precious cargo in the back, and it can even fold fully forward if you'd rather use this one as a dedicated hauler. Overall, this 25-year-old cockpit has seemed to stand the test of time, save for an inoperable field monitor, and the next owner should have no issues preserving the legacy of this darling surf!
Under the hood, Toyota's 1KZ-TE remains the brand's most premium offering in this chassis. With plenty of torque, efficiency, and a number of half-million-mile examples still trekking across the globe, there's really no way to go wrong with this awesome powerplant! We've done a few key maintenance items up on the list here to get this one ready for the road ahead, starting with a new 12v battery that help this one crank over with haste. For a diesel, the idle is surprisingly quiet and vibration free, and a fresh oil and filter service, as well as a new fuel filter, ensures this one will consistently run in tip top shape. Further aiding in operation are a new alternator, AC compressor, and a new serpentine belt to run the aforementioned accessories without issue. With the maintenance performed, this one runs right as rain, and the turbo helps spool this one up to highway speeds in a jiffy. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly, and 4wd is easily accessible, with a center locker on the ready should you become entrenched in sand, snow, or mud. To reinforce the drivetrain, we've installed new inner and outer tie rods in the front, and a fresh alignment was performed afterward to keep her tracking straight as an arrow. The ABS brakes bite hard and bring this truck to a screeching halt if necessary, and it certainly doesn't hurt that the all season Falken rubber delivers plenty of grip for starting and stopping this beast!