No screens, no radio. Heck, it doesn’t even have a tachometer. The Toyota IMV 0 is like other modern cars in that it doesn’t have many switches on the interior, but in this case, it’s because there’s almost nothing to turn on and off. Based on the same platform as the Hilux, Toyota’s global market pickup, the IMV 0 starts as a blank template of four wheels, flatbed, and two-door cab. Of course, if you want to add some amenities, Toyota will be glad to add them on, and it’s likely that, like the Hilux, fancier models will be available depending on where it's sold. But let’s take a moment to appreciate the bare necessities.
The IMV 0 was developed in Thailand, a country so mad for pickups that they make up almost half of new vehicle sales. Toyota sold 145,435 Hilux copies there in 2022, or about 17% of the total market (and it was second place behind the Isuzu D-Max). This plus Thailand’s proximity to the Japanese mothership and other Southeast Asian markets makes it a hub for truck development. The IMV 0, which will likely be called the Hilux Champ (in the Phillipines, it was introduced as the Tamaraw Concept.)
Most recently Toyota brought the truck to the Japan Mobility Show to showcase its versatility, envisioning modular units attached to the back that can transform the IMV 0 into a mobile coffee shop, DJ booth, or overlanding RV. Following the show we had a chance to see the IMV 0 up close at Toyota’s Shimoyama Tech Center in Japan. IMV stands for Innovative International Multi-Purpose Vehicle, and it’s no coincidence that it’s the same as the platform name for the Hilux and related vehicles since 2004.
Compared to the features of the Corolla sedan, Toyota’s entry-level model in the United States, the IMV 0 is in an entirely different universe. Forget LED headlights, power windows and door locks, or standard adaptive cruise control. The IMV 0 doesn’t even have any trim on the A-pillar. The instrument cluster dial that would normally show engine RPM is just a big blank circle. It doesn’t even have a shift light. Then again, the 2024 Corolla starts at $22,995. The IMV 0/Hilux Champ will be the equivalent of about $10,000 when it launches in Thailand.
And no, there are no plans to sell this truck in the United States, although it will be sold in Mexico. It’s nice to think that a bare-bones truck at a rock-bottom price could find a customer base in America, but that’s unlikely to sway Toyota, which is only making the thinnest of margins on the base model. And besides, a big reason we don’t already get these cheap foreign-market trucks is because importing them from North America comes with the 25 percent “Chicken Tax” tariff. Add in the cost of stability control, lane-keeping, automatic emergency braking included in the Toyota Safety Sense suite that is nearly standard across the U.S. lineup and it’s easy to see the price ballooning into Ford Maverick territory. That’s for a truck that doesn’t even have map pockets in the doors.
The base configuration of the IMV 0 comes with rear-wheel drive and a gasoline 2.0-liter inline-four matched to a 5-speed manual transmission. Four-wheel-drive and diesel variants will also be offered. Literally everything else is extra. But while the IMV 0 starts simple, it’s made with those upgrades in mind. The bed, roof, and back of the cab are all pre-drilled for accessories, so adding bed sides or a cargo rack is as simple as bolting them on. Even the front fenders are secured with bolts for easy replacement or customization. The same goes for the three-piece plastic bumper. It’s exactly the sort of thing that appeals to business owners looking to keep down the cost of repairs, although it’s nice to think that this flexibility will also be used for endless personalization like so many Jeep Wranglers. Speaking of the Wrangler, the IMV 0 is more than a foot and a half longer than the four-door Jeep. Compared to other trucks, though, the IMV 0 is relatively small by American standards - it’s more than two feet shorter than the 2024 Tacoma and ten inches smaller in both width and height. Despite being billed as a mini-Hilux, the IMV 0 is almost identical in dimensions to the equivalent single-cab version. It doesn’t feel small, but from the driver’s seat, the IMV 0 lacks the sense of hugeness of even midsize American fare.
If you are curious, the engine in the test vehicle was a 1TR-FE 2.0-liter four. In dual-VVTi form as found in the current Hilux, it makes 137 hp. That had to contend with a curb weight of 1,555 kg (3,248 lbs).
The closest equivalent to the interior of the IMV 0 we have in the United States is probably a rental moving van. Vinyl seats, rubber-lined floor, and a trio of HVAC controls under the hole where a radio might go. For this truck’s Southeast Asia and South American markets, less stuff also means less stuff to break. On the smooth surface of Toyota’s oval track, the IMV 0 feels slightly bouncy with nothing to settle the rear leaf springs. The steering is light, and the gear shifter is somewhat rubbery. The IMV 0 feels more rugged than cheap, the kind of vehicle that can stand up to the daily abuse of hauling cargo on under-developed roads. Acceleration is best described as present and accounted for - on our brief lap around the test track it was hard to tell exactly how slow or fast the IMV 0 is. But we’re not sure it even matters. There’s an innate appeal to the simplicity of the IMV 0, the singular focus of hauling people and stuff from point A to point B. They don’t ask you how, they ask you how many. And to that, the IMV 0 seems like a truck that gets the job done, one way or another.
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