If there’s one thing Aussies do better than anybody else, that’s utes. We’re credited for inventing them, and many Aussie teams have worked on the design and mechanicals of past and current models. Many brands also do their testing here, considering the harsh conditions, before they see global releases. The current best-selling nameplate in any vehicle category, the Toyota Hilux, has been a customer favourite for over half a century, has gone through quite a few iterations, and comes with the choice of diesel or petrol powerplants and rear or 4WD. You can also tailor the cab to suit your needs, get versions with factory-fitted trays, or go with tubs. And then there are the Rogue and GR Sport models that are packed to the brim with gear and ready for the next Outback journey.
Why Have an Aftermarket Exhaust for Your Hilux?
Despite the suspension tweaks, sophisticated drivetrains, standard protection and safety gear, one area lacking in both diesel and petrol cars is the exhaust system. You might be paying close to 6 figures in a fully decked-out Hilux, but it’s the stock exhaust that misses out on any sort of upgrade. You get mild steel tubing that’s only gone through crush bending to save on costs, and in narrower designs that don’t do the 150kW in the new diesel engines any justice. There are far too many bends that restrict exhaust flow, and ultimately end up hurting performance.
The stock variants are also known to crack, rust or rupture when pushing the Hilux harder. What’s more, the material lacks strength, and the thinner walls won’t last even on minor impact. So, can you do better? Definitely. Sourcing an aftermarket Toyota Hilux exhaust system will give your ute more push, letting the engine breathe and produce up to 10 per cent more power. The ute accelerates faster, has more grunt in technical terrain and does better in towing. The modified designs and better materials also let you tweak the engine and exhaust sound just the way you like, and the piping will run circles around anything you throw at it. Not only will it last longer, but also look better.
Choosing Your Next Exhaust
Aftermarket systems have a lot going for them. Hilux owners can get complete setups, or choose to change out worn or damaged parts within the system. When choosing your next Hilux exhaust, consider:
- Materials – high-grade (304 or 409) stainless steel is the entry point into quality piping. The alloys have high heat and corrosion resistance and won’t deform, bend, or crack on impact. Costlier systems include upscale materials like titanium, carbon fibre and Inconel along defined sections or the whole tubing. These warrant better performance, lower weight, and more durability.
- Advanced manufacturing processes – choose mandrel-bent piping. This ensures more strength in the steel, keeping pipe uniformity intact in demanding conditions. Individual parts can also undergo CNC machining for more precision, as well as treatment, specifically anodising, to improve corrosion resistance.
- Compatibility – parts and complete exhausts are sold for specific engines, meaning there are differences between diesel and petrol variants, and differences within the wide range of aspirated and turbocharged diesel engines. Common sense dictates to get the exhaust for the engine in your Hilux.
- Sizing – parts and tubing will generally be wider than what came as stock. For the Hilux, there are generally three tube diameters, 2.5, 3 and 3.5-inch variants. Tubing width impacts flow, the ability of exhaust scavenging (or purging spent gases and replacing them with new air for intake) and determines exhaust velocity, or how fast the gases exit the tips. Faster exhaust gases translate to more power.
Complete Systems and Separate Parts
Axle-back, DPF-back and turbo-back layouts are the ‘complete’ systems available for the 2.8 and 2.4 turbocharged diesels. The first changes stock parts from the rear axle to the exhaust tips with wider and straighter piping throughout and can have revised mufflers (with or without resonators) to tune the engine sound. Here, Hilux owners can choose between loud and quiet exhausts. Axle-back systems also improve the durability and looks of the tips and go with wider tailpipes. The performance gains are subtle, but, then again, this is the least expensive full system out there.
More power gains are offered with DPF-back Hilux exhausts. These have wider mid-section pipes, so improve scavenging and speed up the exhaust flow. The good news is that here too you have all the configuration options of shorter axle back systems, but also more horsepower to play with. The wide tubes additionally help if you’re after a louder exhaust note.
To get the most power and torque, choose a turbo-back Toyota Hilux exhaust. This has reworked header tubes and downpipes, significantly improving scavenging and speeding up subsequent combustion cycles. All stock parts go in the bin, and buyers get wider and straighter layouts, that still fit the recesses for the stock unit. With more material though, this is also the most expensive option, but you get your money’s worth. Matching systems for aspirated engines in both fuel types are of the header-back type, and come with most of the gains, minus the benefits of better turbo spooling.
Lastly, consider how separate parts benefit Hilux exhausts as a whole. All aftermarket units are modular designs, so you can mix and match parts to suit your needs. You can fit a better DPF filter or catalytic converter and improve an older Hilux’s emissions, choose dump pipes for more performance, faster acceleration and even better sound, or straight tubes and cat and DPF-deletes to get faster airflow. All these also work with stock systems when purchased with the right mounting hardware.
Choose Local Brands
Exhausts can get pricey. But local brands keep things sane, and most are also hand built, and real-world tested, so you’ll know they deliver on quality and performance, as well as last. Warranties are another addition rarely seen in dodgy, low-cost imports. Get an exhaust that gets the most out of the engine in your ute, before spending on necessary outback accessories and parts and enjoy the added power, deeper sound and a system that outlasts a car marketed as unbreakable.