Skip to main content

Toyota is highly regarded in the United States for its trucks like the Tacoma and the Tundra, but there is one truck in the Toyota lineup that American drivers can’t have. The Toyota Hilux was once seen as one of the most innovative trucks on the road. The truck has gained a positive reputation for its comfort and space in a time when most trucks were strictly for hard work. But, it cannot be purchased at American dealerships. What gives?

Toyota maker of some with the lowest 10-year maintenance costs
Toyota dealership business logo | Don and Melinda Crawford via Getty Images

Other vehicles have been banned in the United States 

The Toyota Hilux is just one noteworthy vehicle that has been banned in America. Many other desired cars have also been banned, including the popular Land Rover Defender and Nissan Skyline GTR. 

While the word “ban” has connotations of scandal, most of these vehicles are only banned because of a law called the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act, or IVSCA.

According to Slash Gear, the IVSCA states that if a car could not be purchased in the U.S., then it could not be imported either. Because there are no Land Rover Defender models sold at Land Rover dealerships in the United States, a driver couldn’t simply import one.

The IVSCA does not apply to classic vehicles, though, and it defines classic vehicles as being 25 years old. If your dream car is a classic foreign car, you won’t have to worry about how the IVSCA will do.

If you have a newer foreign car that you really want, you may be able to take advantage of another exception if you claim the car as a car meant for show and display. Doing this requires a driver to only drive a car for up to 2,500 miles per year, though.

Why you can’t buy a banned Toyota Hilux in the United States

The Toyota Hilux is a revolutionary pickup truck, but since the ’90s, it has been unavailable in the United States. Toyota first sold the Hilux in America in 1969, and it was a remarkably forward-thinking truck.

Pickup trucks in that era were not designed with daily driving in mind. The typical truck owner used their truck to assist with farming or other jobs. The Toyota Hilux, meanwhile, provided extra cabin space and had a more comfortable ride. 

Today, trucks are common everyday vehicles, but in 1969, the Hilux would have been an anomaly. If it was seen as such a special vehicle, then why did it get banned? The primary reason for the Hilux’s departure from American dealerships is the launch of another Toyota truck, the Tacoma.

In many ways, the Tacoma provided the same experience as the Hilux. It was designed to be both functional as a work truck and comfortable for daily driving. Because of this, the Tacoma replaced the Hilux in the United States, and Toyota hasn’t sold the Hilux in America since then.

Specs of the new Toyota Hilux 


3 Popular Used Pickup Trucks That Are More Reliable Used Than New

Outside of the U.S., the Hilux is still a popular Toyota model, and Toyota continues to produce the Hilux today. The Slash Gear article also states that if a buyer truly wants to drive a Hilux in the U.S., it is still technically legal, but it comes at a major cost. Imports like the Hilux come with an additional 25% tariff, and because the Hilux is considered so similar to the Tacoma, paying so much extra for a Hilux may not be worth it. 

The Toyota Hilux isn’t just a renamed Tacoma, though, and it has plenty of features that continue to make it an innovative pickup. According to HotCars, the Toyota Hilux is powered by a 204-horsepower, 2.8-liter turbo engine. Unlike the Tacoma, the Hilux offers a diesel engine option.

RELATED: 4 Toyotas With the Highest Estimated Maintenance Costs for the First 10 Years