Categories
Automotive

No More Potholes!

Although Winter Wonderland is gonna cause traffic chaos in Salmiya, one of the benefits of having them in the neighborhood is that they’ve started fixing all the roads around the area. There are now zero potholes or any broken roads from my apartment to the Gulf Road because they’ve been paving all the roads during the evening. Thank you Winter Wonderland!

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Automotive Events

Tickets for Hankook 12H Kuwait 2022 On sale

Kuwait Motor Town will be hosting the final round of the 2022 24H Series endurance race early next month and tickets just went on sale for it.

The ‘Hankook 12H Kuwait’ is a 12-hour uninterrupted race that starts at 12 PM and goes on until midnight to ensure competitors experience racing during the day and night. The race takes place on Friday, December 2nd, but there are qualifications and practice sessions the day before. Tickets start at KD3 for a one-day pass, and KD5 for both days. They also have VIP tickets.

If you’re interested to find out more or buy tickets, visit the KMT website kmt.kw

Categories
Automotive

Landcruiser FZJ – From Kuwait to Barrett Jackson

Last December, @classic_rides_q8 started posting pictures of his 1994 Landcruiser FZJ with Kuwaiti plates but all the photos were in Arizona. I’ve never met the guy but we’ve been in contact for a few years now through Instagram and it was because of his account I was able to find my first Datsun. So I sent him a message asking how he got the car to the States and he told me it was was a simple process using a RORO service and it cost him only $3,500 including taxes.

I think his plan was to use the car while he was there and then sell it before coming back to Kuwait. That plan changed when the car was accepted at the Barrett Jackson auction, the worlds great car collector auction. The car went on the chopping block and quickly sold for $38,500. You can watch the whole thing unfold in the video above which was originally posted on his Instagram account. It’s a pretty good-looking Landcruiser.

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Automotive Events

KTC – Kuwait Track Challenge

Next weekend there is a new racing event taking place at KMT called Kuwait Track Challenge. What sets this race apart from other local races is the fact that they’re offering fairly large sums of cash for the winners totaling KD65,000.

When they first announced the event I was pretty impressed by the prizes but I didn’t really realize how much more exciting it would be making the competition until this week. For those of you not into cars or racing, there are different classes for the cars during races to make it fair. The classes for Kuwait Track Challenge are divided by tire size because usually, the more powerful and larger the car, the larger the tire sizes. So for KTC, they’ve split it up into the following three classes:

Pocket Rocket – 245 tires and below
Sleeper – 285 tires and below
Outlaw – All tire sizes

Every category will have 5 winners who will each win:
1st – $32,000
2nd – $13,000
3rd – $9,700
4th – $6,500
5th – $3,250

Because of the large cash prizes, what I realized this week is a lot of people are taking this competition very seriously by actually investing money into their cars with hopes the upgrades they make will pay for themselves if they win. It’s actually gotten me excited to watch the races because I now want to see what everyone has done to their cars.

The event will be taking place next week over two days, November 4th and 5th at Kuwait Motor Town. There will be food trucks and music as well for people who want to come by and watch the event. If you’re interested in participating in the races registration as of now is still open. Here is the link to register, and they’re on Instagram @challengethetrack

Categories
Automotive

Aston Martin is Now in Al Hamra Tower

Aston Martin have opened up their new showroom in place of where Hermes used to be located in Al Hamra Tower. But, that’s not why I’m posting about it. The reason I’m posting this is that they have the stunning DBR22 CC100 on display right now inside their showroom and you can walk up to it and have a good close look at it. I doubt you’ll ever come across one in person so if you’re into cars you’ll appreciate this. Next on my to-see list is the Valkyrie, so hopefully they get that eventually on display.

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Automotive People

Around the World in the MAN KAT 8×8

I was picking up breakfast from Mcdonald’s next to the Kuwait Towers when I spotted this large military-like truck parked across from Mcdonald’s. I knew it wasn’t military because it had German plates on it and the words tourist printed in large near the front along with a German flag, I snapped a few photos and then later once back home decided to google it.

Turns out the truck is a MAN KAT 8×8 and is being driven around the world by a German lady called Petra. She started her journey on June 2020 and is currently in Kuwait having come from Iran.

I found a video on YouTube where she gives a tour of her truck and you can check that out below although it’s in German (inside tour starts at 19:30).

If you want to follow Petra on her journey or want to check out photos from her previous trips, her Instagram is @katweltreise

Categories
Automotive Events Sports

24H Series Coming to Kuwait

The 24H Series sports car and touring car international racing series is coming to Kuwait. Kuwait Motor Town is set to host the final round of the 2022 24H SERIES, marking the first time a venue in Kuwait has hosted an international circuit racing event.

The inaugural Hankook 12H KUWAIT will take place from 30 November to 2 December, just over two months after the final European round of the 24H SERIES at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on 9-10-11 September and just six weeks before the 2023 season opener at the Dubai Autodrome on 13-14-15 January, with a format and a date for the event also confirmed.

To summarize, this is a pretty big deal. KMT opened in 2018 with the aim to eventually host international racing events and this will be the first of eventually many more racing to come. We have a pretty great track layout (video above) so I’m really interested to see how it works for races. To stay posted on this event and other, Kuwait Motor Town is on Instagram @kmtkw

Categories
Automotive

Modify Your Landcruiser with Arctic Trucks

As I mentioned in my road trip to Dubai post, I drove there to get some things installed on my Hilux truck at a place called Arctic Trucks. They’re actually an Icelandic company that build trucks for the arctic but what works for snow also works for sand. While I was at their shop I saw the new Landcruiser above modified with their AT35 kit and it looked hot!

They have kits for all the different Toyotas including the LC200, LC300, the FJ, Prado, and the Hilux. I have the Arctic Truck brochures for the LC200, LC300, and Hilux trucks which include the modifications they make and their prices. If you’re interested in modifying your Toyota then here are the brochures:

Toyota Hilux AT35 Brochure
Toyota Hilux AT37 Brochure
Toyota Lancruiser LC200 AT35 Brochure
Toyota Lancruiser LC300 AT35 Brochure

They also do Nissan Patrols but I don’t have the brochure for that. You can check out more photos on their Instagram page @arctictrucksme

Categories
Automotive Travel

Kuwait to Dubai and Abu Dhabi by Car – Everything You Need to Know

On Thursday morning I headed to Dubai in my car for the weekend and just got back last night. I had a few things I needed to do on this trip, first thing was to stop at Abu Dhabi since I have a car being restored there and I needed to check on it and take it out for a test drive. Then I needed to head to Dubai because I had some things I needed to install on my car at Arctic Trucks (Mountain Top roll cover and sports bar, and Rival4X4 skid plates). Finally, on my way back I also needed to stop over in Khobar for work.

Kuwait to Dubai is a very doable trip. Its long, and it’s not something I’d do often, but it would be something I’d be willing to do if I needed to get something from Dubai which we don’t have in Kuwait. Like a couch or something, I don’t know, I just like the idea that if I found something in Dubai that I can’t ship to Kuwait or bring back on a plane with me, then I can just drive there pick it up and come back.

So here is everything you need to know in case you want to do the same trip. This also applies to driving to Qatar since you drive by the Qatari border on the way to the UAE one.

Trip Duration
I left my place in Salmiya at around 6AM, and got to my hotel in Abu Dhabi by 6PM Dubai time (5PM Kuwait time). The trip took exactly 11 hours including stopping for breakfast, a few photoshoot stops, and all the border crossings. If you’re heading to Dubai directly just add another hour on to the trip.

Google Maps
Trusting Google Maps will take you on the best route is not the best idea in the world but it’s something we do. At one part of the trip it made me exit the main highway and go through a tiny road where I swear I read a sign that said for use by ARAMCO contractors only. I wasn’t sure if 30 minutes later I’d end up at a security gate and have to turn back, I just hoped I’d end up back on the main road eventually. It did take me back to the main road but this brings up an important thing which is my trip could be different from yours. Yesterday coming back from Khobar Google sent me on a different and nicer road than my last trip back so just be aware of that.

Kuwait to the UAE Borders
I’ve already covered driving through Saudi in my previous post and the same rules apply here again. The Saudi leg of the journey although long actually passed by really quickly. The thing about driving in Saudi is the roads and scenery change very frequently. There isn’t just one straight highway from here to UAE and so the journey feels a lot more interesting since you drive through a variety of terrain and road types. You could be on a highway for 30 minutes, then a back road for 30 minutes, then driving through a coastal town for an hour, then through sand dunes for another hour, etc. The only issue I faced on this trip was the lack of fuel stations.

I think I counted 8 fuel stations that were open from Kuwait to the UAE borders, and that’s including both sides of the highway. This was the only thing that made me anxious on the way because I didn’t know if I’d find a gas station on the road ahead or not. Google Maps isn’t helpful and at one point when I needed fuel I used Google Maps to find one in a village I was driving by and Google Maps took me to a gas station under construction, and then another gas station that turned out to be a garage. So in case you need them, here are some fuel stations where I filled up at:

First stop after the Saudi borders. There is a McDonalds there so you can also have breakfast: https://goo.gl/maps/LFhKgeHkmmekjxUi8

Second station I filled at. This was in a village when I wasn’t sure if I’d find another station on the highway ahead (turns out there was): https://goo.gl/maps/CUh3oL2nteFyhfNx7

This is to where you should fill up instead of the village station I mentioned above: https://goo.gl/maps/k6zDv9PrLGMvf3FL9

For my third stop I used this station. It’s located on the other side of the road but it’s easy to U-turn to and get to. It’s located in a beach town called Salwa and it’s near the Qatar border: https://goo.gl/maps/dbY3HRz4dr7bv9Hq9

Last station before UAE border. You should fill up here before crossing into the UAE. https://goo.gl/maps/U7sdkoJRGd868hMD6

So basically there were around 4 fuel stations on the way to the UAE with the rest all closed down, abandoned or located in villages and towns out of your way.

Qatar
As I mentioned at the start of this post, you need to drive by the Qatar border to get to UAE. At one point you’ll get to a roundabout where if you go straight you get to the Qatar border, or if you turn right you head towards UAE. Because I didn’t cross into Qatar and experience the trip to Doha, I didn’t make this a Qatar guide as well.

UAE Border
Once I got to the UAE border the process was fairly easy at the Saudi side. It was just me and another car crossing at that time. The guy at the window didn’t even take my passport, I had opened my passport to the visa number page and held it out of the window to give it to him and he just looked at the number and typed it out on the computer and handed me a slip. The UAE side of the border was super nice, multiple lanes and looks like a proper border. I had to drive through an X-ray machine first before arriving to passport control. Even though I usually use the eGate when I arrive to Dubai, after giving the border guy my passport he told me I needed to drive around to the immigration building and get my passport stamped there. It wasn’t busy so the process there was also fast, I filled up a paper and had my iris scanned and then got the passport stamped. I got back into my car and then drove through the border. I had to get car insurance before leaving the border, the minimum duration was 2 weeks and it cost 210AED.

UAE Border to Abu Dhabi
As soon as you get into UAE you’re suddenly on a proper 3 lane highway with a speed limit of 160KM/h. The fuel stations on this road are also a lot nicer than Saudi, and the convenience stores and bathrooms at the stations are proper. I stopped at the first one to fill up and get a sandwich and coffee for the remaining leg of the trip. This was actually my least favorite part of the whole trip. It was around 3 hours of driving in a straight line going 160km/h with the exact same scenery. It was super boring.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai Toll Gates
So this is something I was hoping to work out but couldn’t really do it properly. So Abu Dhabi has toll gates on the road called DARB. I couldn’t figure out how to get it working with my Kuwaiti license plates and I need to check and see if I have any tolls so I can pay them before I get at fine. In Dubai they use Salik and I picked up a Salik tag with 100aed on it from a gas station on my way to Dubai. I couldn’t get it set up. Firstly I couldn’t access the Salik website using my phone data (you can’t use the App btw if foreign plates). Then when I did access the website using a shops wifi, it wouldn’t send me the OTP to my phone to verify. Luckily Google Maps has an option to avoid roads with tolls and I used that. Next day I set up Salik with my friends phone number who lives in Dubai and it worked. But it also told him that it would take up to 5 days to activate. They then called him this morning because they needed my car chassis number, he gave them my number and they spoke to me while I was typing this post up. My Salik is now active and any toll gates I passed under while I was in Dubai will now be deducted from my Salik account.

The best option to keep things simple is tell Google Maps not to use roads with tolls.

UAE to Kuwait
On the trip back to Kuwait I stopped in Khobar. I was meant to spend the night there but I ended up arriving quicker than I expected and once my meeting finished I realized I could make it to the Kuwait borders by 6PM (when there would still be some light). On the way back I left Dubai at 6:20AM (so 5:20AM Kuwait time). I headed to Khobar first, took the scenic route and stopped a few times for photos. I got to Khobar at 1:40PM (so 2:40PM Dubai Time). I was done with my meeting by 2:50 and figured if I skipped lunch and stopped for fuel only once I could make it to the Kuwait borders by 6PM. You do not want to drive on Saudi roads in the dark. I crossed the borders by 5:53PM. What sucked was that Google this time took me through a very scenic seaside road back to Kuwait and I couldn’t stop to take pictures because of my schedule.

Cost Breakdown
Here is the cost for the journey that includes my fuel stops and car insurance:

Saudi
138SAR – Saudi car Insurance
78SAR first fuel stop
95SAR second fuel stop
50SAR third fuel stop
53SAR forth fuel stop

UAE
210AED – UAE car Insurance
155AED – fuel stop

on the way back:

UAE
190AED first fuel stop
113AED second fuel stop
145AED third fuel stop
37AED forth fuel stop

Saudi
61SAR first fuel stop
111SAR second fuel stop
65SAR last fuel stop

Conclusion
I liked the trip and I didn’t find it really that exhausting. I’m not sure how many speeding tickets I got on this trip. On the UAE road where the speed limit was 160KM/h, I got flashed twice going 155KM/h. I was on cruise control and Waze was saying 155, and my car speedometer was saying 155 and I still got flashed, but only on by two cameras. I’m hoping those were just average-speed cameras that take photos of every car, I hope. Then in Saudi, the speed limit is mostly 120 so I would drive under 140. I’d pass by 20 cameras with no issues and then one would randomly flash me. No idea whats going on there. But, I did get flashed at one point for going over 140 but that was my mistake since I didn’t have it on cruise control and didn’t notice my speed.

Hopefully this guide is helpful in case you want to make this trip. I might have missed something or not covered a subject so if you have a specific question, let me know in the comments.

Categories
Automotive

UDrive Driving School

Here is something you didn’t think we needed, a luxury driving school. UDrive is a new driving school that just opened and they currently have two premium learner cars, an MG SUV and a Porsche Macan.

The Porsche is what caught my attention since I’ve never seen a Porsche learners car with two steering wheels. I didn’t even know they made them or would be willing to make them.

Currently, UDrive offers two courses, the first one is Introduction to Driving 101 and is intended for brand new students who’ve never driven before. It’s a 12-credit course and the cost is 379KD and will use the MG SUV.

The second course they have is called Advanced Driving 102. This is also a 12-credit course but costs 679KD and uses the Porsche as the learner’s car.

Both courses provide you with all the necessary education and training needed to get a driver’s license in Kuwait. If you’re looking for a “premium” learning school, their Instagram account is @UDriveKW and their website is udrivekw.com

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Automotive Information

Hilux: Everything I’ve Done So Far

It’s been a month since I got my Toyota Hilux and since then I’ve done two Saudi trips and driven over 5,000KM in it. I’ve also started personalizing the car with various upgrades similar to what I did with my FJ Cruiser 12 years ago and my Wrangler before that. But, the difference this time around is that I’ve mostly managed to find everything I needed locally instead of having to ship things in. Here is what I’ve gotten done so far and from where:

Window Tint
The first thing I did was get my windows tinted, I previously used Huper-Optik on my FJ and decided to use the same brand again since I didn’t have any issues with it after 12 years. Motorworks are the dealers for it so went and got my tint done there at their new workshop. They took over the old Mercedes garage on the 4th Ring Road so their place is now HUGE. I dropped the car in the morning and picked it up in the afternoon and it cost me 110KD. Need to actually take one of my other cars back there to get tinted as well now that I think about it.

Paint Protection Film
For PPF I decided to get it done at ProTech Monte-Carlo. To save money I originally went and got it done at another place first, but they didn’t do a good job and had missed some spots so I decided to get it done again at ProTech. This happens when you try to save money, you end up spending more than if you had done it right the first time around. I only got the front of my car done, so full hood, full fenders, front bumper etc. I think I paid around 190KD but that’s because I kept some of the previous PPF from the first place on. ProTech are really the best at details with the aim of making sure you can’t tell there is any protection on the car. I really regret not going there to begin with but oh well.

Wheels
I originally was planning to buy my wheels online but the vast amount of options available was giving me anxiety, especially since you basically have to imagine them on the car. In the end I decided to go local and ended up trying to decide between two brands, EVO Corse (Epic Overland are the dealers) or BRAID (Formula Wheel are the dealers). I decided to go with BRAID and now that they’re on the car I think I made the right decision. The original Hilux wheels were 18″ but I went with 17″ BRAID’s because I prefer having more rubber between the road and the car. I tend to hit or scrape my tires on curbs so more rubber means less chance the wheels are getting scratched. I paid 590KD for 4 wheels.

Tires
I’m a big fan of BF Goodrich and Michelin tires, the same dealer (KAICO) sells both brands and they’re the only two tire brands I use on all 7 of my cars. I decided to get the BFG All-Terrains for the Hilux, the same ones I had on my FJ and they’re great because they’re pretty much puncture proof. The original tires on the car were 265/60/R18, I decided to go larger and so went with 265/70/R17. They’re just over an inch taller and I was able to fit them with no bodywork modification. Other than looking better and raising the car height, my speedometer is now also accurate instead of it being around 10km off. Four tires cost me 420KD.

Lift Kit
To fit the larger tires and also improve the ride quality a bit I had to get a lift kit. There is only one place I trust for any 4×4 work and its ORP. I posted about them 12 years ago when I had the lift kit on my FJ installed there. Back then they had just opened, it was a tiny garage and they were just getting started. Since then they’ve grown a lot and now have a pretty big showroom with a much much larger garage in the back. They are also dealers for multiple 4×4 brands including Old Man Emu, ARB, WARN, Rhino, Mickey Thompson, Fabtech, Total Chaos, Method, TJM, FOX, you name it. They’re so good that people from around the GCC bring their 4x4s to them to get them modified for offroading. They’re so miles ahead of everyone and their customer service is the best there is.

Anyway, because I’m continuing to stick to brands I trust I went with Old Man Emu for my suspension again which is the same brand as what I had on my FJ and my Wrangler before that. ORP was out of stock on my rear shocks so had to get those from Alsayer who are also the dealers. I then needed OME upper control arms and both ORP and Alsayer were out of stock so I checked in Dubai and Riyadh since I had trips to both places. Dubai was also out of stock but I did find one last piece at the OME dealer in Riyadh and so got it from there. In total it cost me around 450KD for everything including installation and alignment (which ORP do in-house). Installation took a day so dropped the car in the morning before work and then picked it up after work.

Sound System
The last thing I did to my Hilux was upgrade the sound system and I decided to go with FOCAL since they made speakers that were plug and plug with my Hilux. I ended up installing the speakers myself which were relatively easy and only took a few hours following a step-by-step video on YouTube. What a difference the speakers made, I can’t believe they sound this good and they didn’t even require me to install a separate amp. I ended up ordering them from a website in South Africa called Angrijeep because the price there was 50% cheaper than anywhere else. They cost me 115KD and another 35KD for shipping plus I ordered a Dynamat Kit from Amazon which cost me 30KD plus 16KD for shipping. I definitely got the best bang for my buck.

Whats Next
I’ve pretty much done everything I wanted to do except I now need to get a roll cover for my tub in the back. That way I can put tools and gear in the back and not worry about them getting stolen or damaged by the weather. I want a Mountain Top EVOm roll cover and the only dealer in our region is Arctic Trucks Dubai, so I’m heading there in a couple of weeks. Since I’m driving all the way there I’m also going to get a few other things including a Mountain Top spots bar and Rival 4×4 skid plates. Once I get those fitted the only thing left will be installing a tailgate control locking kit since right now the tailgate doesn’t lock and unlock with the remote. I think I’ll be done after that, I hope.

If you have any questions or are curious about the availability of any brands locally, let me know in the comments.

Update: Ended up driving to Dubai and getting the Mountain Top EVOm roll cover installed, plus the sports bar and the Rival Underbody guard. Got it all done at Arctic Trucks Dubai.

Categories
Automotive

Shocking moment moped thief dressed as Deliveroo rider smashed £3m Bugatti Chiron with a hammer in bid to steal Kuwaiti playboy’s £110,000 Rolex in Lawless London

A video started circulating this morning of a Bugatti in London that was getting attacked by a Deliveroo rider. Turns out that Bugatti was owned by a Kuwaiti and the rider was trying to steal his Rolex watch. The Daily Mail picked up on the story hence the hilariously long clickbait title of this post and you can read their article by clicking here.

If you haven’t watched the video of the attack yet, watch it here.

Categories
Automotive Travel

Hilux to Saudi and Back

Monday I headed to Saudi for the first time in my new Hilux. I wasn’t sure if I had all the correct paperwork to make it past border control since I’m an expat driving a pickup truck that isn’t mine and I so heard I needed a lot of different papers and permissions. But, I made it!

As I previously mentioned, as an expat I can’t own a pickup truck so I had to get the car under a friend’s name. The only paperwork I needed to travel with the car was a power of attorney stating that I was allowed to drive and travel with the car. Getting a POA is a super easy process which I posted about. So that was great.

What wasn’t so great is on my way back yesterday there was a major dust storm. Once I got to Kuwait I realized the dust had sandblasted my windshield and the car’s forward-facing camera. I had PPF on the front of the car but not on the camera and not on the windshield. So now I got to figure out how to get this shit sorted out and how to stop it from happening again (if you have any ideas let me know, especially about the windshield!). I now need to see if both the camera and windshield can be polished or if I need to get them replaced. Not something I wanted to do on a brand new car…

Categories
Automotive

Goodbye FJ 😢

Yesterday I dropped off my FJ Cruiser at the Toyota dealer since I’m trading it in for the new Hilux. I’ve had the FJ Cruiser for over 12 years and didn’t really think I’d ever sell it. I loved it so much I even ended up buying a 1980 FJ (video below, more on that another time). But, after test driving the Hilux earlier this month, I decided I’d part ways with it. 12 years! I was still working in advertising when I bought the car, I was married, I had a dog, I had a completely different life and so it all feels really weird.

I bought the FJ back in 2010 for 10,450KD and yesterday when I dropped the car off, it had done 250,053KM. If the dealer had actually called me a day earlier I might have been able to coordinate it properly so I could hand it over to them with a perfect 250,000 mileage. Over the years I’ve had only a few issues with the car so it’s been pretty great considering how much abuse it’s taken from me. Right after the warranty expired I ended up having a problem with my AC. A common issue with the FJ where the AC evaporator needs to be replaced, a job that involves having the whole dashboard pulled out. That cost me around 650KD to get sorted at the dealer. 5 years later the problem happened again although the second time it cost me 400KD to get fixed. Finally, the last issue I had with the car happened last month when I had issues with my brakes. The dealer wanted 1,000KD to fix but I ended up fixing it outside for 220KD with a used part. Other than those three issues, I’ve had no other problems at all.

Servicing the car was never an issue either which is why I really wanted to buy another Toyota. I actually feel lucky that the two dealerships I deal with, Toyota and Lotus both have been really great. I’ve dealt with other dealerships before and these two by far are the best ones I’ve experienced. They’re also the exact opposite of each other. Toyota is probably the largest car dealership in Kuwait with multiple service centers and a ton of staff, while Lotus is probably the smallest dealership with just one tiny service “corner” and only a handful of staff.

The dealer took the car off me for 2,850KD which isn’t pretty bad considering the original cost of the car and the fact it’s 12 years old. I could have sold it for higher myself directly to a buyer, but I didn’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with different people, the price negotiations, or the process of transferring the ownership.

It was pretty sad letting go of the car but I think it’s for the best and I should pick up my Hilux tonight or tomorrow. I ended up going with grey and got to finally see it in person a couple of days ago after it had finished the pre-delivery inspection. The dealer didn’t have any cars in stock other than the white test drive vehicle so I had to wait till their shipment arrived to see the color in person. I’ll probably post about the Hilux once I get it, but for now, I just wanted to dedicated a goodbye post to my FJ.

Categories
Automotive Reviews

Review: The New Toyota Hilux

I’ve had my Toyota FJ Cruiser for over 12 years which is why I recently started looking for a replacement. My requirements are really simple, a bit more comfort, something I can abuse and still survive 10 years with me, it has to be a 4×4, it has to have 4 doors, and finally, it has to have an automatic gearbox. I don’t like the way the 4-door Wrangler looks, the Ford Bronco is nice but being a Ford I’m not sure about the long-term reliability. The new Defender is great but impossible to get right now, costs over KD20,000, and it’s a Land Rover so can’t imagine it being very reliable. The new Land Cruiser is too big and expensive, the G-Class is crazy expensive, the Prado too boring, and the Jimny too small. I really wanted the Toyota LC76 and was so close to buying one last year but I really do need my main car to be automatic and they only come as manual.

I had kinda given up on finding a replacement until a couple of weeks ago when I spotted the new Toyota Hilux on the road. I had seen them when they first came out a few years ago, but last year they got a facelift and I hadn’t seen one until now. The new model looked pretty nice on the road and I couldn’t get it out of my head all day. So I got in touch with my contact at Toyota and managed to borrow the car for a few days to try out.

Two thoughts came into my head as I drove out of the Toyota dealership and headed to work. The first was my amazement at how comfortable and quiet the car was. The second thought was on how uncomfortable and noisy all my cars must be that I thought a Hilux pickup truck was quiet and comfortable. Seriously, it was very puzzling, I think it must be because the rear wheels are outside of the cabin which is how come it was very quiet. Whatever the reason, my first impression was great.

A lot of people might not know this but the Hilux is actually one of the most popular cars in the world. In Australia for example, it’s their #1 selling car and it’s also a best seller in a bunch of other countries. It’s a durable go-everywhere commercial vehicle and if my FJ could survive over 10 years with me, the Hilux should be able to survive even longer. My whole experience with the car over four days was very positive. Everything from the ride quality to the seating position impressed me. I’m going to start driving to Saudi once a month for work so I need a car that would be comfortable on long trips. That’s why I tried to spend as much time in the car over the weekend and at no point did I feel exhausted or tired. The Hilux ticked all the boxes for me, it pretty much has everything I’m looking for in a new car. Surprisingly the car didn’t feel that big. Since my FJ is wider the Hilux felt a bit more nimble and compact even though it’s a longer car.

It doesn’t have much tech so no features like lane change assist, autonomous emergency braking, or even digital gauges, but I don’t mind that. What I do wish it had was dynamic radar cruise control so it could slow down and speed up depending on traffic. That would be super helpful on my long road trips to Saudi but we don’t get it as an option in Kuwait. Another thing I wish it had was a better sound system, it has Apple CarPlay, but the speakers are pretty crap. In other countries, there is an option to upgrade to a better JBL system, but we don’t get that here either. But, it shouldn’t be too difficult to upgrade the sound system eventually since some manufacturers like FOCAL have made upgrade kits for it. One odd thing is the fact there is just a single USB port in the car and it’s the one I need to use to connect my iPhone so I can get CarPlay working. That means other passengers can’t charge their phones unless I get a USB adapter for the 12v socket. I guess I should be glad it at least has CarPlay.

The model I took out was the Hilux Adventure model which costs KD9,700 KD11,400. They also have cheaper models and a more expensive GR model. I think at this price point there really aren’t that many options and the fact it’s a Toyota is great. I’ve only had good experiences over the past 12 years with them and my FJ has been very reliable and the service costs very low. I actually think the price is a steal compared to the prices of other cars on the market. I was meant to drop off the car back to the dealer on Saturday but ended up keeping it for an extra day just because I really didn’t want to get back into my FJ. When I eventually did take it back I ended up putting my name down on the waiting list for the next shipment. I liked the car so much I’ve decided to get one.

The only issue is because I’m an expat I can’t own a pickup truck so I either need to put it under my friend’s name or the company I work for. They really need to update this law… If you want to find out more about the Hilux, there are a ton of videos on YouTube (I watched ALL of them) but here is a link to the Hilux page on the local Toyota website.

Update: Just a correction with the price. The Adventure model costs 11,400 a different model costs 9,700. I just found out while putting a deposit down on the car 😅