New Toyota Hilux pick-up 2016 review
Verdict on the latest version of the Toyota Hilux - one of the world’s best-selling pick-ups
The Hilux’s real test will come when it faces up to the class-leading Mitsubishi L200, but first impressions are pretty good. We’d avoid the auto unless you’re only driving around town, plus Invincible-spec models don’t come cheap. However, the interior is much more pleasant then before, it’s more civilised to drive and the load space is more practical.
This is shaping up to be a busy year for the pick-up market. Nissan and Ford have recently launched their all-new workhorses, while Fiat, Renault, Jeep and even Mercedes will be getting in on the action soon. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that the new Toyota Hilux will be the most important arrival.
Over 18 million Toyota Hiluxes have been built since 1968, making it one of the world’s best-selling trucks. It’s an icon of the pick-up world, with some of the most inhospitable places on earth relying on its durability.
The new model still has that recognisable silhouette, although a chunky chrome grille and LED running lights give it a bit of SUV sophistication. It’s bigger in every dimension than before, benefiting that all-important load bay, which is a full 130mm wider than the old Hilux’s. It can also tow up to 3,200kg - a strong figure, but behind that of the Nissan Navara.
Inside, it’s a huge improvement over the last model. Gone are the flimsy plastics and dated switchgear, replaced by a dashboard which looks and feels like it’s from one of Toyota’s passenger cars.
There’s plenty of hard plastics to remind you you’re in a pick-up, but it’s now on par with the car-like Nissan NP300 Navara for fit and finish. Our Invincible-spec model had a decent kit tally, too, with a seven-inch touchscreen with DAB and Bluetooth, cruise control, climate control and keyless start.
The upright driving position and high floor are reminders that you’re in a working vehicle, although there’s reasonable space for four adults in the double cab. The Hilux will be available with 2.4 and 2.8-litre diesels abroad, but the UK only gets the smaller motor for now. A healthy torque figure of 400Nm is 60Nm more than the old 3.0-litre unit delivered, but behind both the L200 and Navara, so it isn’t as punchy as its rivals.
This isn’t helped by the six-speed auto box our Hilux was lumbered with. It’s smooth enough around town, but kickdown is lethargic as it struggles to make its mind up which gear it should be in, often leaving you stuck in the breathless and noisy top end of the rev range. The automatic emits 17g/km more CO2 than the manual, too.
Still, despite the rear leaf-spring layout, the Hilux is surprisingly good to drive. There’s lots of tyre squeal but the ride is comfortable, the steering is accurate and body control isn’t too bad considering the elevated stance. As with any pick-up, if the load bay is empty, the ride can be a little bouncy and there's flex detectable in the chassis.