- Choice of punchy diesel engines and single or double cab versions
- Very capable off-road but drives well on the Tarmac too
- Outstanding reliability and packed with tech
- A little cramped in the back of the double cab
- Tailgate drops with quite a force - watch those fingers!
- some rival offer better payloads and oters are more reasonably priced
The Hilux has been on sale in the UK for five decades now and offers the ideal solution for business and pleasure while still being happy to put in a day's grafting. It is globally renowned for its go-anywhere ability and has conquered the North Pole, Antarctica and Icelandic volcanoes, as well as scooping top honours in the gruelling Dakar Rally on more than one occasion. A 2.8-litre diesel engine was recently introduced along with some eye-catching design enhancements to further strengthen its appeal. And customers can choose from manual or auto gearboxes, single or double cabs and five trim levels.
On The Road
Customers can select from Hilux trim grades called Active (available in single or double cab guise), Icon, Invincible, Invincible X, GR Sport or Invincible X AT35 - all double cab. The 2.4-litre diesel engine delivering 148bhp and 400Nm of torque can be selected for Active, Icon and certain Invincible versions, while from Invincible upwards the vehicles feature the new 2.8-litre diesel unit delivering 201bhp and 500Nm of torque. Our Hilux Invincible X could complete the 0-62mph dash in a very respectable 10.7 seconds and maxed out at 109mph. It featured an upgraded six-speed automatic gearbox, although it is also on sale with a six-speed manual transmission if required. Toyota claims the vehicle now has the muscle power to match its looks and they are not wrong. The acceleration is sharp for a vehicle weighing in at more than 2.1 tonnes and there is plenty of power on tap at all times. The road holding is confident and assured into tight bends and the Hilux cruises at 70mph on motorways, although the noise levels within the cabin are more noticeable at higher speeds. The driver can flick between drive modes called Eco and Power with Eco maximising fuel efficiency and Power introducing sharper responses to throttle inputs for a more engaging driving experience.
Despite being a pick-up where emphasis is generally on ability rather than comfort, the Hilux is surprisingly refined on longer journeys. It retains the ladder-frame chassis to achieve exceptional durability making it the master of off-roading, but the revised suspension set-up on the mos recent model, along with upgraded power steering, improves on-road comfort too. There is a clever Pitch and Bounce Control system that automatically adjusts engine torque in response to road surface conditions and this helps improve the all-round ride and handling, It delivers a flatter ride and the steering feel is also improved offering added driver feedback. The acceleration through the automatic gearbox is nicely timed for both relaxed and more engaging driving, and although there are no paddles to change gears manually, the gear lever can be used if you fancy taking extra control. Despite its weight, the Hilux is deceptively agile with a turning lock of 6.7 meters, but it is a lengthy vehicle stretching 5.3 meters so a large parking space will always be needed. The parking sensors, reversing camera and 360-degree monitor all help when manoeuvring in tight spaces or trying to avoid hard-to-see obstacles such as rocks when off-roading.
The latest Toyota Hilux boasts a powerful new front end giving the vehicle a stronger road presence. There is a bold, three-dimensional grille and new-look bumper that reinforce its tough, go-anywhere credentials. The look is most emphatic on the Invincible X model, as tested, with additional wheel arch mouldings and fog light surrounds that match the carbon grey grille surround and satin-silver front under-run. There are LED headlights and tail lights plus model-specific 18-inch alloy wheel designs. Front and rear scuff plates, rear privacy glass, a shark fin antenna and electrically adjustable, heated door mirrors with integrated indictor lights complete the exterior look. Our vehicle was supplied in a new colour shade that is exclusive to the Invincible X models called Titan Bronze. Moving inside, the Active models that are designed to be workhorses, feature easy-care PVC upholstery while the high-end Invincible X gains leather seats and trimmings. The interior is practically laid out with all control, dials and readouts easy to operate on the move and there is a clutter-free, yet feature-rich feel to the Hilux. the 2.8-litre diesel engine is relatively refined, but as is the norm in pick-ups, there is a fair amount of cabin noise when the vehicle is pushed on.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Despite all its off-road ability and rough, tough nature, the Hilux features plenty of creature comforts. For example, all but the entry-level Active grade come with the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system with faster software and responses to touchscreen commands. On the invincible X there is also sat nav. The smartphone integration is new on the latest models via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and this is available from icon grade upwards. Our test car featured a nine-speaker JBL premium sound system, eight-inch touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, rear-view camera, 4.2-inch driver information display with large dials featuring neat blue needle pointers and a cooled upper glovebox. a 360-degree camera is really useful when venturing off-road and there is duel air conditioning, duel-tone leather upholstery, a leather steering wheel with audio controls plus leather gear shift lever. Heated front seats, that are power-operated, are a really nice touch to fend off the winter chill and the front and rear parking sensors are also a great benefit. The elevated seating position results in excellent driver visibility and grab handles make getting in and out of the cab that little bit easier
Space & Practicality
Manufacturers of pick-ups are under increased pressure these days as they need to develop vehicles that can tow a house, traverse a mountain range, yet still offer all the refinement we demand along the way too. It would seem Toyota has a very good balance with the Hilux. It can tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, while the Hilux Double Cab boasts a class-leading 310mm running ground clearance, along with approach and departure angles of 29 and 26 degrees respectively, plus the ability to wade through water to a depth of 700mm. Toyota has also recently enhanced the off-road performance of the Hilux with the addition of an automatic electronic control that replicates the effect of a mechanical limited-slip differential. This gives better traction and acceleration of power over low-grip surfaces. The Hilux has a payload of just over one tonne but be careful when opening the tailgate as it drops with quite a force. There are plenty of storage compartments throughout the cabin, including a double glovebox (the upper one is cooled), front and rear cup holders, deep door bins, a sunglasses compartment, a central cubby box, trays and seat back pockets. The Active Single Cab model can carry two people, the Active Double Cab will accommodate four, while Icon, Invincible and Invincible X can cater for five occupants. Side steps and grab handles and practical features as it's quite a climb up into the cab.
While the likes of Isuzu and Ssangyong can offer more competitively-priced pick-ups and the Ford Ranger delivers outstanding on-road performance, there is plenty of plus-points to the Hilux. Prices start from £25,136 (excl. VAT) for the entry-level Active version powered by the 2.4-litre engine with a single cab design. The range-topper is the Invincible X AT35 Double Cab costing £55,969 (excl. VAT). The 2.4-litre diesel engine can deliver a combined 27.1 to 30.0mpg depending on design and transmission, while the 2.8-litre unit can deliver from 28.5 to 33.2mpg. Carbon emissions are high, as is the norm in the pick-up sector, with models emitting between 224 and 274g/km, but as the Hilux is classed as a light commercial vehicle, the tax payments are fixed at £290 rather than being based on CO2 emissions. Our test model, in Invincible X Double Cab guise with the more powerful engine, cost £36,470 excluding VAT and could deliver a combined 28.5-29.7mpg with CO2 emissions between 248 and 259g/km. it was listed in insurance group 45.
Quality & Reliability
Toyota has an enviable reputation for reliability and if further proof is needed then look at how many older models are still hammering down broken roads and mud tracks across Africa. The trucks offer year-after-year of problem-free motoring and that's why Toyota is often viewed as the go-to marque for hard-working vehicles. The Hilux was introduced to the UK market in 1972 and the latest changes came into force in 2020 with new styling and a more powerful engine added to the mix. It offered improved off-road handling and the Hilux went on to win the gruelling Dakar Rally in 2022. So, it should be able to cope with UK demands then! The build quality is exceptionally high, but it's also packed with everyday creature comforts that we demand from our vehicles. There are plenty of wipe-down hard plastic surfaces and the materials used throughout have been developed with longevity in mind. The Hilux comes with a standard three year, 60,000-mile warranty but owners can take advantage of the excellent Toyota Relax programme that requires vehicles are serviced at an authorised Toyota centre. in return, they gain an extra year and 10,000 miles cover up to a limit of 10 years or 100,000 miles.
Safety & Security
With every version of the recently face-lifted Hilux featuring the impressive Toyota Safety Sense system, the vehicle was awarded a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating. Safety Sense Introduces a pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert and road sign assist, downhill assist, vehicle stability control, traction control, trailer sway control and a full suite of airbags. Isofix child seat anchors are standard in double cab versions. All Hilux models have remote central locking, a locking tailgate (apart from Active single cab) and an engine immobillser.
The Toyota Hilux is one of, if not the most dependable and capable pick-ups on sale today. It offers an excellent alternative to large SUVs that are flooding the market and is fun to drive on-road, while still producing the goods when faced with more challenging terrain.