Toyota Hilux review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Toyota Hilux is a durable and great-value alternative to the Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara

For: 
Durable, punchy 3.0-litre diesel, qualifies for VAT exemption
Against: 
Tricky to reverse, not as refined as a regular SUV, commercial image

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The first Toyota Hilux pick-up arrived back in 1968, and today it’s renowned for its dependability and near-unbreakable durability. Toyota offers three models: a two-seater Single Cab, a four-seater Extra Cab (with two of the seats only really suitable for occasional use) and a four-door, five-seater Double Cab, with the latter sacrificing some of its load space for extra seats. Many owners fit a rear load cover for added security and Toyota dealers offer a huge array of options. There are two diesel engines to choose from: a 120bhp 2.5-litre D-4D engine and a punchier 171bhp 3.0-litre D-4D. Three trim levels include HL2, HL3 and the lavish Invincible, with the latter version getting distinctive exterior styling, privacy glass and even a full-colour sat-nav. Rivals include the Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi L200.

Our choice: Hilux 3.0 D-4D Invincible

Styling

2.2

The latest Hilux has a hint of Toyota Land Cruiser about its nose, with a large chrome grille and big headlights. Beyond that, the Hilux is all about function, with a standard two or four-door body and a large pick-up bed behind it. On the inside, the dash is constructed from hard, durable plastics, but quality and assembly are first-class. It feels much less utilitarian than you’d expect, though.

Driving

2.2

Drivers of the Hilux shouldn’t expect its road manners to be comparable with a regular SUV, and it falls some way behind more car-like rivals such as the Hyundai Santa Fe or Kia Sorento. The more utilitarian underpinnings are designed above all to be tough, durable and unbreakable. A four-wheel-drive system is fitted as standard, which means it's accomplished off road, too, but it’s nowhere near as comfortable as rivals like the Ranger and Amarok. The 2.5-litre engine is durable, but we prefer the beefier 3.0-litre engine from the Land Cruiser. Acceleration is impressive for such a large machine, and it’s more refined at a cruise, too. However, the lack of weight over the rear wheels means that the rear can break free under cornering.

Reliability

4.2

The Hilux's has workmanlike roots, but standard safety kit is as good as a regular SUV. Electronic stability control, traction control, ABS with brake force distribution and six airbags are all fitted a standard. And you can rest easy knowing that if anything goes wrong - which is highly unlikely, considering the Hilux's virtually indestructible nature - Toyota dealers are among the best in the country for customer service. And owners clearly agree, as they voted Toyota a very impressive fifth overall in the 2012 Driver Power reliability survey.

Practicality

3.4

The latest Hilux was described by Toyota as being “one step up” from the old model, and a much roomier cabin reflects this. Of the three models offered, the four-door, five-seater Double Cab model is the most suitable for use as a passenger vehicle. Although it sacrifices some of its load space for extra seats, the rear bench flips up to reveal some useful cubby holes, however the centre passenger only gets a lap-belt rather than a full three-point seatbelt. The Double Cab model’s load deck is 1,520mm long and 1,515 wide, while the Single Cab version has a huge 2,315mm by 1,520mm deck. The Hilux offers a driving position that’s almost comparable with an SUV, while light controls and good forward visibility help in town. One of the biggest problems you’ll face day-to-day, though, will be that its dimensions make it incredibly tricky to reverse without parking sensors. That said, a rear-view camera is standard on HL3 and Invincible models, while front and rear sensors are available as an option. They really should be standard on a car like this, as the rear deck is long and almost impossible to see from the driver’s seat.

Running Costs

3

The best engine for lower running costs is the 2.5-litre diesel, which boasts average fuel consumption of 38.7mpg. But the 3.0-litre diesel offers better performance and isn't far behind in terms of economy, with a figure of 36.7mpg. Add the automatic transmission, though, and that drops to 32.8mpg. Insurance costs should be reasonable, though, as the Double Cab model with the 2.5-litre engine falls into group 9A, while the 3.0-litre version falls intro group 10A. In terms of list price, the Hilux is cheaper than all of its rivals bar the Mitsubishi L200, and the top-spec Hilux Invincible comes with plenty of standard kit. Service intervals are frequent at each 10,000 miles, but as the Hilux is classed as a commercial vehicle, those entitled to claim back VAT can do so. This means that you can buy the range-topping Invincible model for less than £20,000.

Last updated: 20 Dec, 2012
AEX 1,339
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