There was a time, not that long ago in fact, when if you wanted a new pickup you’d head to your nearest Toyota dealer and simply order a Hilux.
So default a choice was it that since its launch in 1968, the company has gone on to sell more than 19 million of the things, meaning the chances are you’re never more than a few hundred metres away from a Hilux, even in the depths of a Scottish forest.
Trouble is, other manufacturers have since cottoned on, and with even Mercedes getting in on the act with the X-Class, Toyota has to keep ahead of the curve or risk losing their most utilitarian crown.
Perhaps mindful of that, the Hilux has received a series of updates that include stop/start, improved safety techno-gubbins, and a new look for the range-topping Invincible X.
The basic structure is much as before, and the range continues to be offered with only one engine – a 2.4-litre turbodiesel with 148hp and 400Nm of torque – despite a chunkier 2.8 being available elsewhere in Europe.
The 2.4 suffers from a somewhat narrow power-band, on the road exhibiting both a degree of lag and an abrupt drop-off in power at the top end.
Our test truck was equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission that’s likely to make up the bulk of sales, and although it slurs its way smoothly from one ratio to the next, it seems to lack an understanding of the engine’s narrow torque characteristics that would otherwise help keep it on the boil.
In fact, activating the auto’s kick-down to tackle an overtake usually sees the engine upshift out of its power-band, necessitating a manually-executed downshift to avoid achieving little more than glacial acceleration.
We also noticed the engine needs several revolutions to restart at traffic lights, and that would make pulling out onto busy roundabouts rather tricky if it weren’t for the fact the stop/start system can be easily and usefully defeated with light brake pedal pressure.
Up to speed, however, the Hilux settles into a ready cruise with wind and road noise both admirably absent. The suspension, too, goes about its business without transmitting much fuss into the cabin, although there’s a sense the body never really settles down, the Hilux always jostling about on its springs in a way that neither the Ford Ranger or Mitsubishi L200 suffer from.
Off-road, however, the Hilux continues to exhibit the same level of sure-footedness we’ve grown used to, with a 31 degree approach angle, 21 degree departure, 23 degree ramp-over angle and 700mm wading depth.
Unlike the L200’s full-time set-up, the Hilux uses a strictly part-time four-wheel-drive system that can be engaged on-the-fly below 31mph (the Ranger’s can be activated at up to 75mph) and while all models benefit from an electromagnetic rear diff lock, it can only be activated in low-range.
All but the entry-level Active model have Downhill Assist Control. A 3.5-tonne tow rating covers the whole range, while payload varies from 1,080 – 1,130kg.
Toyota’s new Safety Sense package is standard on all but the entry-level model, and it provides collision alert at speeds of 6-106mph with the ability to slow the vehicle by 25mph to reduce the impact if the driver fails to respond. It can detect pedestrians both day and night and cyclists during the day at up to 50mph, while lane departure warning can provide steering assistance should the truck wander out of its lane. The package now also includes adaptive cruise control to match the speed of the vehicle in front.
Four models are available – Active, Icon, Invincible and Invincible X – with a useful mix of goodies such as LED headlights and a reversing camera, although many of the niceties found on, say, a Ranger aren’t offered. The climate control is single-zone only, there’s no tailgate damper (nor is it centrally locked), the infotainment system is rather slow and unresponsive, there’s no Apple CarPlay, and only the range-topping Invincible X gets satnav as standard.
But while some trucks might have the edge in terms of modernity, the Hilux makes up for it with a quality that only something with a name like Invincible can have – trustworthiness.
|Entry-level Price||£22,756.67 (£27,245 inc VAT)||Price as tested||£38,200 inc VAT|
|Engine||2393cc 4-cyl turbo diesel||Transmission||6-speed auto|
|Power||148hp @ 3,400rpm||Torque||400Nm @ 1,600-2,000rpm|
|0-60||12.7 secs||Top speed||105 mph|
|Economy||28.8-29.7 mpg||CO2||183 g/km|
|Dimensions||5330 x 1855 x 1815 (LxWxH)||Kerb Weight||2155 kg|