Protecting your Hilux’ front end is important if you’re taking your prized possession off the beaten track. Dings, dents and scrapes are a common occurrence for vehicles venturing off-road, which is why the first thing many 4×4 owners do is install a bull bar or grille bar.
While similar in function and style, there are quite a few differences between bull bars and grille bars. Bull bars protect the middle of your Hilux’ front end, whereas the grille covers the entire front end, including the headlights. So, should you get a Hilux front grille or a bull bar?
The answer to this question will depend on how you intend to use your Hilux and personal preference. That being said, here are the key differences between grilles and bull bars, and what you should look for when shopping either of them to ensure you buy a quality product that will offer proper protection and improve your Hilux’ appeal.
While your Hilux stock grille will do a decent job protecting your radiator and engine from debris and impact, it’s probably a bit boring in the looks department. Most stock grilles are manufactured from drab black plastic that doesn’t offer too much in terms of style. Plus, everyone who drives a Hilux has the exact same grille as you, so if you want to stand out from the crowd, an aftermarket Hilux front grille is the way to go.
Aftermarket grilles can take your Hilux’ look to a whole other level. They’re available in a wide range of finishes and can be made from different materials, giving you a large variety of options to choose from. From black chrome to chrome and polished and clear-coated black, you can find a grille with just about any type of finish you can think of.
Aftermarket grille bars can be made of either stainless steel, aluminium or ABS composite. Stainless steel grilles provides a great look for your Hilux, and they last the most. Stainless steel is rust-resistant and durable, making it ideal for those driving in high-precipitation or humid climate.
Aluminium grilles, while not as durable and rust-resistant as stainless steel, are more affordable and lightweight. Aluminium grilles look great when polished, and they can also be brushed for a more modern look, or finished with black coating for a more understated style. ABS composite grille bars provide a sleek look, without the high price tag or heft. While these grille bars don’t offer as much protection as aluminium or stainless steel grilles, they’re easy to install and are easy on the wallet.
Furthermore, grilles come in a wide range of styles, the most popular ones being bar billet grilles, punch billet grilles and mesh grilles. Bar billet grilles provide a classic, classy style, and they’re easy to bolt-on. Billet grilles are available in horizontal and vertical designs, and they’re easy to install over your factory grille, or replace it completely. Punch grilles provide an easy way to achieve a custom look. These grilles also allow for greater air flow to the engine.
Lastly, mesh grilles provide a high-performance and clean look. They look like intertwined pieces of metal and look great from afar and close by. They can take on a sleek chromed-out appearance, or a black powder-coated for a more aggressive look.
Bull bars perform a few functions that will make your off-road experience easier.The main function is obviously protecting your Hilux’ components in the events of collision. However, they also serve as a mounting platform for other off-road accessories, such as driving lights, winches, antennas and light bars.
Important factors that will impact your decision are where you intend on driving your Hilux, how much extra off-road gear you’ll be carrying around, and what other accessories you’ll want to fit on the bull bar. The bull bar you choose should be made using quality, strong materials like stainless steel or aluminium. You also have to make sure the bull bar you choose is manufactured to high-standards, is well-designed, properly engineered, and compatible with your parking sensors, SRS airbags, adaptive cruise control systems and lane departure warning systems.
Stainless steel and aluminium bull bars are both durable. Stainless steel is more durable and rust-resistant, while aluminium is more lightweight. However, not all stainless steel and aluminium bull bars are made the same. Some have a better design that features more folds that improve its overall strength, whereas others are made from higher-grade and thicker materials. Basically, you get what you pay for. Similarly to grille bars, there are also ABS plastic bull bars that don’t offer as much protection but improve the overall aesthetics of your Hilux.
In terms of design, you should choose a bull bar that suits your driving style. If you’re mostly driving in areas where there’s a decent chance of animal strikes, you’ll want a bull bar that provides as much protection as possible, including to the bonnet, cooling system, headlights and under vehicle components. If you’re driving off the road, through rocky and scrub terrain, get a bull bar with outer tubes that are compatible with side steps and rails for extra protection the sides of your Hilux.