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