Toyota Hilux pickup review
"The Toyota Hilux is known for its reliability, but it’s a great truck for many other reasons too"
- Interior feels well built
- Pretty decent to drive
- Impressively robust
- Higher trim levels are expensive
- Automatic gearbox is uninspiring
- Size makes manoeuvring tricky
The Toyota Hilux has been a household name in the world of pickup trucks for decades, and it’s now part of a selection of available models from various established car makers that includes the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max, SsangYong Musso and Volkswagen Amarok. Previous rivals including the Mitsubishi L200 and Mercedes X-Class are no longer sold new.
In modern times, the pickup truck is no longer just a work vehicle. 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.
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.
As with many other pickups, there are several different body types to choose from. There’s Single Cab (two doors, two seats and a longer load bed), Extra Cab (with small rear-hinged back doors and a small rear bench), and the most 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.
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 around 30mpg and emits 241g/km in Icon trim.
The larger 2.8-litre engine has 201bhp but it’s actually more economical, claiming 33mpg and CO2 emissions from 224g/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 £260 per year, and reduced Benefit-in-Kind 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.