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In-depth reviews

Toyota Hilux pickup review

"The Toyota Hilux is known for its reliability, but it’s a great truck for many other reasons too"

Carbuyer Rating

3.7 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Interior feels well built
  • Pretty decent to drive
  • Impressively robust

Cons

  • Higher trim levels are expensive
  • Automatic gearbox is uninspiring
  • Size makes manoeuvring tricky

The Toyota Hilux is one of the most recognisable pickup truck names around. It’s starred on both TV and the silver screen and is recognised around the world as a dependable workhorse whatever your line of work might be. It certainly doesn’t have the market to itself though, being just one option among a selection of available models from various established car makers that includes the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max, SsangYong Musso and the recently updated Volkswagen Amarok. Previous rivals including the Mitsubishi L200 and Mercedes X-Class are no longer sold new.

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While it’s essential that pickup trucks meet the needs of working customers, that’s not the only role modern pickups need to excel at. Many are perfectly capable of handling daily driving and family life as well as tough off-roading and load-lugging, and the Hilux is no exception.

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It’s not as easy to drive or as comfortable as an SUV like the Nissan X-Trail or Hyundai Santa Fe, and the lower trim levels are very basic and workmanlike inside, but the Hilux is better than ever for carrying out a wide range of duties. The current model was updated in 2020 with a new engine and more equipment.

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As with many other pickups, Toyota offers a selection of body types to best meet customers’ needs. The range kicks off with the Single Cab (two doors, two seats and a longer load bed), offers extra interior space with the Extra Cab (with small rear-hinged back doors and a small rear bench), and tops out with the popular Double Cab. This model has proper rear doors, roomy rear seats and a shorter load bed. It’s so popular, in fact, that only the base trim level is available with the other two styles – everything else is Double Cab-only.

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You can choose from automatic or manual versions, and there are two diesel engines in the range as well. The lineup starts with the 148bhp 2.4-litre diesel, which returns up to 31.7mpg and emits from 232g/km in Double Cab Icon trim.

The larger 2.8-litre engine has 201bhp but it’s actually more economical, claiming nearly 33mpg and CO2 emissions from 225g/km in Invincible trim. Since the Hilux is classed as a dual-purpose commercial vehicle, tax isn’t too bad: you pay a flat rate of £320 per year, and reduced Benefit-in-Kind tax rates if used for business.

Performance is reasonable for a commercial vehicle, with the smaller 2.4-litre engine and manual gearbox capable of hauling the Hilux from 0-62mph in 13.2 seconds, a figure that drops to 12.7 seconds with the optional automatic transmission. The larger 2.8-litre engine boasts significantly better performance, managing 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds with a manual gearbox and 10.7 seconds with an automatic. This places the Hilux in between direct rivals like the Volkswagen Amarok and Nissan Navara for straight-line speed, with the Volkswagen taking between 9.0 and 11.6 seconds depending on the engine and trim line, and the Nissan taking 11.2 seconds

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That’s only half the story, however, as the Hilux is one of the best pickups to drive, with accurate steering and comfortable suspension, even if there’s quite a bit of body lean in corners. Whichever engine you pick, we’d suggest sticking with the manual gearbox, as we found the automatic chose the wrong gear too frequently.

Inside the Double Cab, there’s plenty of room for two adults in the front and back seats and interior quality is impressive for a pickup. Toyota has done a good job of making the dashboard attractive while keeping it tough and robust, so it’s not that far away from Toyota’s road cars.

Trim levels are Active, Icon, Invincible, Invincible X and GR Sport, and we’d say Icon is the best starting point for most customers because it gets 17-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, cruise control and the Double Cab body as standard. Active is utilitarian and aimed squarely at tradespeople and fleet customers. The two Invincible trims up the ante with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, chrome or black trim and a premium stereo system, while the GR Sport takes cues from Toyota’s sportiest models, with unique exterior styling and alloy wheels, GR Sport Alcantara seats, paddle shifters to control the transmission, and dampers specific to the model.

Every facelifted version of the Hilux from the entry-level Active trim upwards gets Toyota Safety Sense as standard, which helped it earn a five-star rating when Euro NCAP tested it in 2016. The Hilux has a reputation for being one of the world's toughest vehicles, and it would be a shock if reliability was anything less than impressive given this pedigree.

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Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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