Toyota Hilux pickup review
"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, getting 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 in lower spec trim levels, despite big improvements.
A late 2020 facelift introduced a number of minor cosmetic changes to the Hilux, along with additional safety features across all models and a new range-topping 201bhp diesel engine.
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 lineup is simple, with a choice of two diesel engines mated to a six-speed manual or an automatic gearbox. The entry-level 148bhp 2.4-litre diesel manages around 30mpg with emissions starting at 246g/km. The larger 2.8-litre engine, which produces 201bhp, is more capable and offers a more refined driving experience. It also offers slightly improved fuel economy of around 33mpg and CO2 emissions starting at 236g/km. While the Hilux’s CO2 emissions figures are 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, with the smaller 2.4-litre engine capable of getting the Hilux from 0-62mph in 13.2 seconds with a manual gearbox, falling to 12.7 seconds with an automatic. 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 most powerful version of the VW managing 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds and the Nissan taking 11.2 seconds.
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 and Invincible X 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, but the top two Invincible trims up the ante with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, chrome or black trim and a premium stereo system.
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.