Toyota Hilux 3.0-litre 171 Invincible v Isuzu D-Max 2.5-litre 163 Utah

  • Both known for strength and built quality
  • D-Max boasts 3.5 towing capacity
  • Hilux better off-road with 700mm wading depth

When it comes to operating heavy duty pickup operating, two names stand out from the crowd. The Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux Both are renowned for their strength and build quality, and both vehicles have deep roots within the farming community.

In this article, we pitch the most powerful and luxurious versions - the 2.5-litre Utah and 3-litre Invincible respectively - of the two titans up against each other to see which one really deserves to be crowned ‘King of the Pickups’.

Toyota Hilux Isuzu D-Max

Cab Comfort

Climbing into the cab is slightly easier on the D-Max as it sits lower, but both are level-pegging in terms of driving position and visibility. The D-Max features the more luxurious, and easier to clean, leather upholstery, while the Hilux has netted cloth seats.

Toyota Hilux Isuzu D-Max

It’s very difficult to separate these two in terms of spec, as the Invincible and Utah are the highest trim levels on the Hilux and D-Max respectively. Both vehicles boast a touchscreen display with satellite navigation, air conditioning, rear parking sensors and cameras,

The infotainment system on the Hilux is very simple and user-friendly, while the Pioneer system on the D-Max is too complicated for its own good and the satellite navigation has some tedious features.

Toyota Hilux Isuzu D-Max

Having said that, the D-Max is finished a lot better. The gearstick, handbrake and steering are smooth to operate, while the same features on the Hilux feel dated, and the gearstick feels notchy. The D-Max also claims greater storage space, including a decent size cubby box between the seats and a couple of small ones integrated in to the dashboard.

Cargo Capacity

While the D-Max is both longer than the Hilux, the Hilux’s shorter nose means that, surprisingly, it has the longer load space. Up to 60mm longer loads (1,545mm v 1,485mm) can be carried in the Hilux, although the D-Max is slightly wider at 1,530mm (Hilux: 1,515mm).

Toyota Hilux Isuzu D-Max

Payload is exactly the same on the two models at 1,060kg, although recent adjustments to the D-Max means it has the upper hand, by far, on towing capacity. At, three-and-a-half tonnes, it beats the Hilux by 700kg.

Toyota Hilux Isuzu D-Max

Driving impressions

Whereas the 3-litre engine in the Hilux is half a litre bigger than the 2.5-litre D-Max, there’s only 8bhp (Hilux 169bhp and D-Max 161bhp) separating the two models. However, it’s the D-Max which comes out on top for pulling power, with 400Nm compared to 360Nm of the Hilux, although the two are very evenly matched in both respects.

Another surprising outcome was the engine noise; the grunting from the smaller D-Max engine was far greater than the gentle growl of the Hilux. Both engines are coupled to a five-speed automatic gearbox and, although the D-Max is easier to use, the Hilux provides much smoother and more rapid gear changes.

The ride on the D-Max is slightly firmer, while the Hilux tends to bounce around when unladen. The vehicles handle potholes and bumps in the road extremely well, but the Hilux benefits from better traction with the permanently active four-wheel-drive mode.

Incidentally, when heading off-road, four-wheel drive is selected via a turn switch on the D-Max. Both are respected for their off-roading abilities but the Hilux just has an edge over its rival because, although they have similar ground clearances of between 220 and 225mm, the Hilux has a far superior wading depth of 700mm, compared to 500mm on the D-Max.

Cost of ownership

In terms of pricing, very little separates the two. A standard Hilux Invincible 3-litre 169bhp Automatic will set you back £27,753, including VAT, while a D-Max Utah 2.5-litre 161bhp Automatic will cost £26,284, which includes the VAT and the Aeroklas canopy.

The same goes for fuel economy. Both achieve 38.7mpg on the motorway runs, although the D-Max’s combined figure is slightly better at 33.6, whereas it's 32.8mpg on the Hilux. Service intervals are set at 12,000 miles or two years on the D-Max, and 20,000 miles or two years on the Hilux.

The real difference though, is the warranty. Toyota’s three-year, or 60,000-mile warranty is no match for Isuzu’s five-year, or 120,000 mile warranty, which provides great peace of mind for heavy duty operators.

Conclusion

Toyota Hilux Isuzu D-Max

While the D-Max certainly has the upper hand on the warranty and towing capacity, the Hilux is more refined and has a much deeper wading depth. Neither pickup is the most comfortable vehicle to drive, but they’re both built to very high standards and are able performers on and off the road. 

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