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How To Import a Toyota Hilux Into The USA

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Wondering how to import the Toyota Hilux into the USA? Really wanting a virtually indestructible compact pickup with a turbo diesel? Sorry to disappoint, but after talking with many importers the truth is you can’t. However, you can still get a diesel engine into your Tacoma.

How To Import a Toyota Hilux Into The USA

Looking to import a Toyota Hilux into the USA? Sorry, you can't. Yet, you can go diesel with your Tacoma.

First why the Hilux? The Toyota Hilux is a very popular truck worldwide and as the BBC show TopGear showed, it is virtually indestructible. Combine that with its compact size and the turbo diesel under the hood, it has become very appealing. The problem is that it does have the turbo diesel under the hood.

According to several importers, they don’t know anyone who would even attempt to import it. The Environmental Protection Agency’s rules for air pollution literally makes this truck impossible to legally be imported. The truck would have to go through so much modification that it isn’t financially feasible with some estimates that you would double the sticker price.

Now that doesn’t mean you won’t see them from time to time. There are many forum posts out there where people have spotted them. They are most likely driven across the border and are not permanent U.S. vehicles, meaning they can’t be licensed and plated like other vehicles.


This is a 1989 Toyota 4runner with a 617 Mercedes Diesel engine.

How do you then get a diesel engine into your Tacoma? Well, it isn’t so simple, but it is possible with a used Mercedes Diesel engine. Many truck owners looking for more low-end torque and the ability to run on bio-diesel are finding relatively cheap, used Mercedes Diesel engines and swapping out there gas engines. The process is pretty advanced, however, if you are handy as a mechanic, you can make it work.

While you probably will never get to import a Toyota Hilux into the USA, adding a diesel engine is a possibility. What do you think, is the desire to have a diesel so strong that you would consider switching out your engine?

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  1. I think the desiel engine is not that great for toyota I think going the Hybrid way is going to encourage more buyers and support a clean mother earth.

    • What are u talking about? Have you ever heard of better gas mileage well outweighs the pollution comming out of a diesal motor? If you want to help mother earth it’s not the consumer diesal trucks that should even be a blip on the radar. Clean up the 18wheelers by converting them to natural gas and make them more aerodynamic. Thus dropping the heavy usage of foreign oil causing a drop in the long term gas prices for both diesal and gas engines. EPA should have funds pulled along with a few other worthless goverment agencies and be put into streamlining our larger working vehicals. Sorry don’t want to start goverment debate here. So say what you will but the Prius is not the answer to cleaner air and water. Show me a vehical completely independent of any harmful chemicals, oil, plastics, ect and sans über large weighted down batteries and you might just have somthing worth the price of admission. Next you are going to say all forms of Motorsports should be banned to save mother earth.

      • Jordan – I’m with you – the efficiency of a diesel is superior to a hybrid, especially in the case of a pickup truck.

        • William Su says:

          I don’t think hybrids is really the way to go, but its good technology to increase efficiency. Diesels with turbos do make a lot more sense specially in larger vehicles like trucks and suvs. The future is definitely more than likely electrics considering how much power can be generated by a single motor, and how low maintenance it is. Right now hybrids are starting to go into the racing scene, but in some conventional cars you can get better mpg from a petrol NA than from a hybrid.

    • You are obviously a Democrat who loves the EPA. Hybrids are good but they are not the saving grace of “Mother Earth” Only being good stewards will save “Mother Earth.” Consider you pay upwards of 10 grand more for batteries that you have to change in approx 5 – 7 years, (BTW, they are not cheap nor are they replaced for free) and gas burning engines with Direct Injection and Turbos are getting equal MPGs as a Hybrid; I do not see spending the extra upfront costs of Hybrid Technologies. Also, since the EPA is controlled by Obama; do you think he will allow what is good for the people? He is turning the United States of America into the Divides Socialists formerly called America. Stop drinking the Democratic Koolaid that Reid and Pelosi pass around and wake up. Honestly take a look at the state of where we are versus 4 years ago. You can have his “Change” I don’t want any of it. Keep dreaming of a perfect Utopia where the Government will take care of you! If you honestly believe the stuff you wrote in your post, you are definately part of the problem instead of being part of the solution.

      • “He is turning the United States of America into the Divides Socialists formerly called America.” – I think that says it all right there.

        If you’re not going to take this comment form seriously, we’re not going to respond. :-)

        • Tim Esterdahl says:

          Besides, according to your logic Philip, everything he is doing is illegal since he really isn’t a US citizen. Right?

      • Nick Name says:

        Ditto on your op-Ed
        Everything that was great in this country went to hell in the past 4 years and whenever a bleeding heart liberal , progressive democrat gets in power it all turns to sheit. Just look at any city ruled by democrats, they are all falling apart and the same go’s for liberal run states. At the rate we are going you can kiss this country goodbye in less than 50 years.

        • kilgatron says:

          Nick Name, you misinformed nitwit. Damn near every conservative state in this country is at the top of the list of sucking our nation dry. Get educated. Then have an informed opinion.

  2. Would be nice if goverment would open its eyes and see that turbo diesal is the way to go. I hate to admit this, because its a vw bug turbo diesal, (Ilike the old Baja bugs and the chopped bugs myself, and the old wagons), but my friend gets 50+ mpg out of her “new style” vw bug…. I think the true reason our goverment is forcing “blue tech” diesal is because they want to push that extra cost on diesal to make them extremely unappealing to the consumer. Yes I agree air quality ect, I love being out in the wilderness, but I will pass this on, I am an ASE mechanic went to UTI can build a strong piston engine, rotary engine, diesal…. But I am moving on to a job where I don’t have to work on a 60k + voltage hybrid… 1st reason, extremely dangerous to work on. 2nd reason they tools required to work on said hybrid from basic hand tools on have to be non conductive, and lose their nonconductive standard after a few years of use which means they must be turned in to let’s say snap on, and new ones must be bought. In the automotive industry just having enough tools to work on one manufacturer let’s say Toyota you have to spend easily and this is a low ball estimate 15000.00 dollars American to be fully covered for any situation that comes in the door. 3rd the battery’s need replacment every 5-7 years and can easily cost more then the car is worth replacing them. (estimated to be around 4500 for a battery pack). 4th waste caused by said battery packs. 5th cost of vehical outweighs cost gas savings. 6th still need oil products for said vehical, not including just motor oil. 7th your average lube and tune mom and pop shop barely can change oil in hybrid correctly(you don’t want to know how many start the gas motor on them without oil in them due to not having proper training on them). 8th need special diagnostic tools that for the most part average mom and pop can’t afford to invest in or are hard to find them to buy. I could go on and on but my point is do you really want to have no option for repair but a dealership? Last place I worked for an Infiniti dealership charged 600.00 dollars American to simply replace the brake pads and machine and refinish the rotors…. As many of you know to change pads and put on brand new oem spec rotors costs maybe 200.00-300.00 and if rotors can be remachined maybe 150.00-175.00 dollars. So yeah I’m just pineing to take my vehicals to a dealership. I will stop my rant. Point is goverment is pushing hybrids down our throats by thinning out diesal and gas power options. When they should atleast be looking at possibility of a turbo diesal hybrid that charges motors in the wheels and can get extra charge from braking. The obvious disadvantages being cost, weight and heat.

    • Apologize for the typos. On a phone.

    • Oh yeah and 4th disadvantage being where and how to place all those batteries….

    • Jordan – Lot of good points here. I think the biggest is #5 – the cost benefits from increased mileage don’t “earn back” very quickly (if at all). I also didn’t realize that oil change process was unique…can you elaborate a bit on that? What do the mom and pop’s usually do wrong?

  3. I’m a Democrat who loves the EPA and I love diesel pickup trucks and guns too for that matter. The increased mileage the diesel provides would make the US energy independent if enough people switched to pickup trucks with small diesel engines – not to mention the benefit of massive amounts of low end torque. The end all answer would be a pickup truck that was an electric vehicle. The problems at this time with that solution is of course, range and price. Bottom line – we’re not there yet however VIA Motors does offer a good contemporary solution for fleet vehicles. Check out their website.

    • DrLou – Thanks for the comment and thanks for the link.

      If there’s one thing that democrats and republicans can agree upon, it’s that burning billions of gallons of foreign-sourced oil is bad for the USA. The improved efficiency of diesel is a great reason to make the switch…if only the emissions rules weren’t written in such a way to be anti-diesel.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Via motors is an interesting idea, yet the price upgrade is incredibly high. GM knows this which is why they have canceled all of their hybrids. They are going full tilt for diesel vehicles. It remains to be seen if Via Motors can ever really take off.


  4. Because VIA Motors’ current sticker price is $79,000.00 for their Extended Range Electric Trucks, their solution is only financially feasible for those buyers who put on a lot of miles per year. I see this technology as still being in its infancy. EV battery prices will have to come down quite a bit before solutions like this will be affordable and widely accepted. It will be interesting to see what solutions will come forward as we attempt to balance our need to get work done with environmentally responsible solutions. CNG? Hydrogen? All Electric? Biofuels? We are at time in automotive history where a lot of change is occurring.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I think VIA motors would argue that their solution is really only for fleet customers.

      There are having a press conference at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. I plan on attending to really learn more about how they think they will be successful at $80,000 a pop.


  5. Super late comment, but since no one else has mentioned it Diesel Toyz in Austin TX will put a Diesel engine in your Tacoma. They import half cuts from Japan, take out the engine and put it in yours, which I think is vaguely legal as its aftermarket modification. Expect to spend 8 K at least. They’ll also modify it to run on biodiesel, or SVO.

  6. Really? The conservative states are the issue? Please explain how you define educated? Where do you get your facts? Please enlighten us all so we can get up to your level.

  7. Sign this online petition to bring Hilux Diesel to the US

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