Toyota Hilux pickup
"The Toyota Hilux is a pickup renowned for its reliability and tough build quality. The latest version is more family-friendly, too"
- Interior feels well built
- Pretty decent to drive
- Impressively robust
- Higher trim levels are expensive
- Automatic gearbox is uninspiring
- Size makes manoeuvring tricky
One of the original pickup models, the Toyota Hilux has garnered a great reputation for dependability and has evolved over the decades to get better and better. Just like rivals including the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max, Mercedes X-Class, SsangYong Musso and Volkswagen Amarok, the Hilux is predominantly a vehicle for work, but has increasingly become a multi-purpose model used for recreational duties. Still, no pickup is quite as easy or refined to drive as an SUV like the Nissan X-Trail or Hyundai Santa Fe yet, and the Hilux interior is still fairly workmanlike, despite big improvements.
There are three different configurations of Hilux: Single Cab (with two doors, two seats and a long load bed), Extra Cab (with small rear-hinged back doors and a small rear bench) and the most popular Double Cab, which is the only real option for families, with four full-sized doors and seating for five people – although the some flatbed length is sacrificed is shorter. It’s worth noting that above the Active trim level, only the Double Cab bodystyle is offered.
The engine line-up is simplicity itself, with your only choice being whether to have the 148bhp 2.4-litre diesel with a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. The manual should be slightly cheaper to run, managing up to 32.4mpg (versus 30.3mpg for the automatic), while emitting 174-183g/km of CO2. While this is higher than most cars, pickups are taxed as light commercial vehicles at a flat rate of £260 per year, with reduced Benefit-in-Kind company-car tax rates if used for business.
Performance is reasonable, getting the Hilux from 0-62mph in 13.2 or 12.7 seconds with the manual or automatic gearbox but some rivals, including the Navara and Amarok, are faster. 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. 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 and Invincible X and we’d say Icon is the best starting point for most customers, because it gets alloy wheels, a touchscreen infotainment system, reversing camera, cruise control and the Double Cab body as standard. Active is utilitarian and aimed squarely at tradespeople and fleet customers, but the top two Invincible trims up the ante with larger wheels, LED headlights, chrome trim and the Toyota Safety Sense suite of driving assistance safety features.
That last feature had a big effect on the Hilux’s Euro NCAP crash-test rating, which was scored three out of five stars without it fitted, but the full five stars with Toyota Safety Sense. It could be a very worthwhile investment - whether you choose an Invincible trim or spec it as an option on the other models. 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.