The Toyota Hilux has always been seen as a practical, no-frills work vehicle and should be on the shortlist of every premium pick-up truck due to the latest updates. The new engine has it all without sacrificing running costs too much, while the Invincible X model has the looks and fittings to appeal to buyers who need an upscale work vehicle that can also comfortably transport a family – and all of that with more off-road mobility than most buyers could need.
Of all the pick-up trucks sold in the UK, the Toyota Hilux is the one with a reputation that precedes it. It has become a beacon of Toyota’s reputation for reliability and durability and can be found in every part of the world. However, when it comes to the “lifestyle” angle of the British 1-ton pick-up class, it has never quite hit the mark.
One thing holding the Hilux back is a relative lack of performance. Unlike its competitors, Toyota never offered the Hilux with a high-performance engine in the UK, but that is changing for the 2021 model year with the introduction of a new 2.8-liter 201 hp diesel. This means that the Hilux is now second only to the Ford Ranger in the four-cylinder pick-up package for performance. It is available with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, while the selectable all-wheel drive and reduction gears make the most of that power and the 500Nm of torque it offers. An automatic limited slip differential in 2WD mode also helps with traction in the most efficient setting of the Hilux.
Other under-the-skin redesigns include suspension that has been tuned to provide a smoother ride when unloaded and help reduce the impact that 1-ton pick-ups often suffer when there aren’t any in the back Payload is located. In addition, the power steering now offers variable support depending on the selected driving mode, with additional support in low-range mode for off-road driving.
On the road, the Hilux has definitely been improved. The engine can still get noisy when accelerating – especially if you’re using the full rev range – but the extra power means you don’t spend as much time accelerating as before. This automatic LSD function also helps in 2WD mode to get the power on the road with minimal effort. When you drive back, the cabin is quiet and refined, with almost no wind or tire noise. It’s a real step up for the Hilux, and it means this truck now offers the kind of subdued cruising you would get from an SUV.
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However, while the revised suspension is meant to help prevent “bouncing,” the Hilux isn’t automatically a quieter ride than a Ford Ranger. When driving over bumps, you can feel a distinct crackling noise, with the front and rear wheels transmitting a similar movement back into the cabin. In comparison, a Ranger’s front suspension smooths out a bump, but the rear has a little more jerk. Overall, this means that the Ranger offers a better compromise than the Hilux when unloaded. Still, the Toyota performs better than the Mitsubishi L200, while the leaf spring setup is more compact than the Nissan Navara’s multilink system.
What is really impressed is that Toyota has managed to improve the Hilux on asphalt without sacrificing its off-road talents. Even on standard road tires, the Hilux offers a level off-road that meets the demands of almost all drivers. Just switch to the 4WD low range setting and a range of electronic aids will help you fight your way through the rough stuff. The hill descent aid, a newly programmed stability control system, an improved throttle response and a lower engine idling speed make the Hilux better than ever for off-road driving.
Opt for the top of the line Invincible X, and the 201 hp diesel is standard (the 2.8 is optional in the Invincible trim, while lower spec models come with the existing 148 hp 2.4 liter diesel) and there is also a long list of extras. The X has a unique exterior with minimal chrome parts, black panels for the radiator grille, wheel arches and tailgate as well as exclusive 18-inch wheels and black chrome housings for the standard LED headlights.
Inside, a JBL audio system ensures excellent sound quality – although the speakers on the dashboard are slightly reflected in the windshield – and a navigation device is included in the infotainment, although the new 8-inch touchscreen also introduces Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the Hilux if that is your preference. There are heated leather seats in the front, ambient lighting throughout the cabin and everything feels well made. Maybe it’s not quite as plush as an SUV, but you don’t miss out.
Competitive financing rates also help. Thanks to strong residuals, the Hilux is available at competitive financing rates. Add Toyota’s five year / 100,000 mile warranty if the unexpected happens and this is a pickup truck that makes a strong case for itself.
|Model:||Toyota Hilux Invincible X 2.8 car|
|Price:||£ 33,783 (excluding VAT)|
|Engine:||2.8 liter 4 cylinder diesel|
|Power / torque:||201 hp / 500 Nm|
|Transmission:||Six-speed automatic, selectable all-wheel drive|
|0-100 km / h:||10.7 seconds|
|CO2:||248g / km|