- Comfortable ride for leaf spring suspension
- 3.5t towing capacity
- Very tough and durable
- Only one engine option
- Not the most fuel-efficient
Since its initial launch in 1968, the Toyota Hilux has built up a worldwide reputation as a strong and durable workhorse and a capable off-roader. The bulky and tough-looking eighth-generation hit the UK market in mid-2016 and boasted new safety and comfort systems and, despite the increased size and weight, even better off-road characteristics.
There was disappointment for heavy-duty operators, however, as the 2.4-litre unit is the only engine option for European customers. The higher-output 2.8-litre, which is offered in every other market, hasn’t met the stringent Euro-6 emissions standard.
The Hilux comes in four trim levels (Active, Icon, Invincible and Invincible X) and three bodystyles (single, extended and double-cab), and prices at launch range from £29,177 plus VAT to an eye-watering £33,765 plus VAT.
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On- and off-road driving characteristics have improved significantly making the eighth-generation Toyota Hilux one of the best in class in both environments. Engineers have installed a dash silencer to prevent squeaks and rattles and additional soundproofing in the engine bay to minimise noise and vibrations.
Due to this, the Hilux is incredibly quiet and features leaf springs (extended by 100mm) that do a great job of cushioning the blows from bumpy terrain. This makes the Hilux the smoothest and most comfortable pickup to drive with this suspension arrangement, and second only in the whole class to the independent coil suspension of the Nissan Navara.
Apart from being quiet and refined, the 2.4-litre engine is also surprisingly agile and punchy too. There is just one 150hp power rating, and while that may not sound a lot, it feels adequate thanks to the 400Nm of torque - which also ensures it’s strong enough for 3.5t towing operations and steep ascents off-road. The steering is quite light and provides little feedback, but there is little bodyroll in the corners.
The base Active grade is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, but a smooth and decisive six-speed automatic is available from the Icon trim-level upwards.
Driving the Toyota Hilux off-road
Torsional rigidity has increased by 20%, which means the Hilux feels solid when taken off the road. The approach and departure angles have increased to 31 and 26 degrees respectively, and ground clearance ranges from 277mm on the single-cab to 293mm on the double-cab.
The electronically selectable centre differential has three settings that have to be selected when in neutral: 2WD High, 4WD High and 4WD Low. For the most extreme off-road terrains, Toyota still offers front and rear locking differentials on the Hilux, and this is assisted by active traction control, downhill assist control to keep the car stable when making steep descents, and hill-start assist control to prevent rolling when starting off on an incline.
On the inside, the cab is very spacious and the driver’s seat offers good all-round vision. The central cubby and glovebox aren’t the largest on the market, but the dashboard is simple and well-appointed, and comes with a whole host of new driver aids and technology.
Even entry-level Active models get air-conditioning, rain and dusk sensors, ‘follow me home’ headlights and heated and electric mirrors. From the Icon grade up, customers receive the Toyota Touch 2 with Go infotainment system with an intuitive 7.0-inch touchscreen display, although you really have to press down hard to make a selection on it.
Icon grades also get a 4.2-inch multifunction trip computer in the instrument panel along with cruise control, side steps and foglights.
Invincible models come with climate control, keyless entry and ignition and auto-levelling LED headlights. The top-of-the-range Invincible X gets leather heated seats, sat-nav and front and rear parking sensors.
Cost of ownership isn’t a strong point of the Toyota Hilux as the 41.5mpg combined fuel economy is poor compared with the other recent launches like the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200 and Nissan Navara.
Hilux pickups are also very expensive to buy. Single-cab base models start from £19,177 plus VAT, but extend up to £33,765 plus VAT for the Invincible X.
The Toyota Hilux is famed for its reliability and regularly features in the FN100 survey as one of the most reliable light commercials on the road. Operators recognise this, and it’s why the Hilux has one of the highest residual values in its class. It’s also backed by a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty, which has almost become an industry standard now.
Right from its core, the new Hilux has been designed with safety in mind. The longer nose and stronger chassis combine to absorb the energy from impacts 15% better than that of its predecessor.
Toyota Safety Sense is standard from the Invincible grade (an optional extra on the Active and Icon), and consists of a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection function, lane-departure alert and Road Sign Assist (which displays important signs on the screen such as speed limits), although cruise control is installed in place of the latter feature on Active grade models.
The pre-collision system works by observing the distance to vehicles in front and triggering visual and audible alerts to the driver if it determines that a collision is imminent. It also prepares the brakes to deliver extra stopping force and automatically applies them if the driver takes no action.