Pickups are designed to be tough and durable, and the Toyota Hilux has a reputation for being the toughest of the lot. Whether you need to transport materials over a construction site, tow a large trailer or horsebox, or get around in the harshest winter conditions, the Hilux will take all that in its stride.
The Hilux is an iconic vehicle, up there with the likes of the Mini, Porsche 911 and Mazda MX-5 – although obviously for a different reason. The first one launched way back in 1968, and 2022 will mark 50 years of the Hilux being sold in the UK. It’s now in its eighth generation, and is the best yet. Here, we show you what to expect and what to look for if you’re considering buying a used Toyota Hilux.
While there are single cab and extra cab versions available on the cheapest Active specification, the vast majority of Hiluxes sold are double cab models with four doors and space for the family. The bed is longer on single and extra cab versions, so they’re more suited for carrying large items, but only one of the 50 or so Hilux trucks for sale on BuyaCar isn’t a double cab.
Car group tests
The Hilux is the best-selling pick-up across Europe, and nearly 20 million have been built so far. Fitted with four-wheel drive as standard, hugely dependable and usually well equipped, the Toyota deserves the icon tag as much as those higher-profile cars.
For many buyers, an SUV makes more sense than a pick-up. However, if you need a go-anywhere towing vehicle that’ll just keep going this winter no matter what you throw at it, the Hilux could be just the job.
- Toyota Hilux Mk8 (2015-date) – Eighth generation of pick-up legend has loads of room.
Toyota Hilux Mk8
The original Hilux made its debut in 1968. The seventh generation arrived in 2004, with its successor, the current model, reaching showrooms in July 2016. It is offered with a 2.4-litre diesel on most models, with a 2020 facelift adding a 2.8-litre diesel for Invincible and Invincible X trims. Buyers can choose between Active, Icon and the two Invincible trims. The last three come with six-speed manual or auto transmissions; entry-level models are manual only.
Three configurations are offered: single-cab (two doors, two seats, long load bed), extra-cab (small rear-hinged back doors, small rear bench) and double-cab (four doors, five seats, short load bed). The Hilux AT35 double-cab that arrived in April 2018 was focused on the off-road market with its extra ground clearance; it came in six-speed automatic form only.
Which one should I buy?
If you want maximum carrying capacity, you need a single-cab. However, these are rare and come in base trim only; the double-cab is much more family friendly. The manual gearbox is nicer to use than the auto, and it is more economical, too, but the latter offers more relaxed driving and easier off-roading.
The Hilux Active is relatively spartan, but it does come with electric front windows, electrically adjustable and heated mirrors, a CD/tuner with Bluetooth, and air-con. Icon spec adds a rear camera, DAB radio, side steps, privacy glass, 17-inch alloys and improved cloth trim. The Invincible gets climate control and 18-inch wheels, while the Invincible X also has leather and sat-nav.
Alternatives to the Toyota Hilux
If you’re buying almost new, the Mercedes X-Class is easy to recommend for its refinement, build quality and image; prices start at a considerable £30k, though.
One of the toughest adversaries is the Nissan Navara, which is plentiful, looks smart, is well equipped and refined, but has less impressive performance. Isuzu’s D-Max is outclassed in this company, yet its prices are low and there are plenty to choose from. The Mitsubishi L200 offers stronger competition with its frugal, zesty engine, but the low-rent interior is a disappointment. The Ford Ranger is widely available, well-specced and tough-looking, too.
Another impressive contender is the Volkswagen Amarok, with its smart cabin, big bed, strong engine and excellent quality. It’s a big vehicle, though, and prices are high.
What to look for
For added security and usability, a Truckman top is a worthwhile addition. New ones are available to buy for £1,900 or so.
Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) adds useful features such as pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and road-sign assist.
TSS is standard on the Invincible and Invincible X trim levels, but is available only as an extra-cost option on the Active and Icon specs.
All Hiluxes are fitted with four-wheel drive as standard, with a locking rear differential to aid off-roading capabilities.
When you consider that the Hilux is a commercial vehicle, its cabin is surprisingly impressive, with its modern features and creature comforts making it more car-like than you’d expect. The infotainment system (which is not fitted to the Active trim level) works well, but parking sensors are standard only on the range-topping Invincible X and no Hilux gets an alarm as standard.
All Mk8 Hiluxes are still under guarantee, because they come with a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty. In 2021, Toyota made its warranty package even more impressive; 10 years or 100,000 miles for new cars, and a year’s top-up cover if you get your used Toyota serviced at a main dealer. The service intervals are Intermediate, Full and Full+, which are priced at £250, £395 and £500 respectively.
These run in sequence, with Intermediate in effect an oil change and vehicle check. Once a Hilux reaches its fifth birthday, it’s eligible for cut-price maintenance under Toyota’s Essential Care programme; services alternate between Silver and Gold, at £150 and £270. There’s no cambelt to replace, and Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) tax means a fixed VED rate of £250 per year.
The latest Hilux is evidence of Toyota’s good record of not issuing many recalls; so far, the truck has yet to be the subject of any campaigns. There have only ever been seven Hilux recalls, mainly focused on the seventh-generation model. One action that was launched in 2015 also captured some sixth-generation vehicles, because they could suffer from airbag problems.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
The Hilux is a bit too niche to appear in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys but, as a manufacturer, Toyota has a habit of doing very well with its newer models, and as a brand itself. In our 2021 survey, it recorded a top 5 finish in the manufacturer list.