► First all-new Hilux in 12 years
► Engine downsizes to 2.4 litres
► Still a go-anywhere workhorse?
The Toyota Hilux has long been seen as the ‘go anywhere, do anything’ pickup, and its toughness and durability has made it a firm favourite in challenging environments.
It can lay claim to being the best-selling one-tonne pickup truck of all time, with over 18 million sales since it became available in 1968. Replacing such an icon is never going to be an easy task but with the seventh generation now into its twelfth year on sale, a successor needed to be appointed.
Looks like the new Hilux has been on the protein shakes?
First impressions are always important and the new Hilux certainly has presence. The previous model’s comparatively slim-line, sleek look has gone; Toyota has followed in the footsteps of Volkswagen and Ford by lengthening and widening the body and opting for a bulkier and meaner appearance.
What’s the cab like?
Much improved. Despite the high bonnet, all-round visibility is surprisingly good and the comfy, electronically adjustable driver seat will easily accommodate drivers of most shapes and sizes.
A simple approach has been taken for the dashboard layout and everything, including the new 7in touchscreen display, is very intuitive and straightforward. That said, this isn’t the most responsive of systems – you’ll have to thump the screen to provoke any kind of reaction.
Any good on the road?
Buyers in Europe will only be offered the 2.4-litre diesel engine, while the rest of the world gets the additional option of a more powerful 2.8-litre unit. This appears a brave decision, bearing in mind over 60% of seventh-gen sales were with the 3.0-litre brute.
However, Toyota points out that the new engine, which puts out 148bhp and 295lb ft, produces more torque than the outgoing 3.0-litre. While it’s smooth and refined, it may fall short of the torque requirements of many owner-operators, who now have VW's new Amarok V6 and Ford’s five-pot 3.2-litre Ranger to choose from. It really does feel slow on the road, especially when running the gauntlet of short sliproads.
The new Hilux, when fitted with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, can achieve up to 41.5mpg on the combined cycle. That may sound impressive, but it’s par for the course these days. All of the more recent pickup models launched over the past two years offer at least 42mpg.
Handling is tidy enough, despite the fact that Toyota has opted for a traditional leaf-spring arrangement at the back of the Hilux, and ride quality is decent too - to a point. There’s been an increase in torsional rigidity of 20% compared with the previous version, which plays a part.
While its leaf-sprung setup may not be as comfortable as the independent coil springs of the Nissan NP300 Navara (itself not the last word in comfort), the leaves have been lengthened by 100mm to cushion the impact of bumps and divots a lot more effectively than any of this type elsewhere in the pickup market.
And off the road?
The Hilux inherits the fantastic off-road ability of its predecessors but benefits from increased approach and departure angles, an electronically controlled 4wd system with selectable modes, and front and rear limited-slip differentials with a locking function at the rear.
Even though the kerb weight has increased, the Hilux feels just as agile off the road. The front differential now also features an oil temperature sensor which automatically deactivates the all-wheel-drive system to prevent overheating in 4wd mode.
Is the Hilux still a practical workhorse?
The big news for heavy-duty operators is that the Hilux’s towing capacity has increased to a class-leading 3.5 tonnes. The load bay also measures 1525mm long by 1645mm wide, meaning it’s one of the largest offered by any double-cab pickup – although the maximum payload is fairly average at 1110kg.
While Toyota may be alienating a lot of its faithful by ruling out the 2.8-litre for the UK market, the Hilux will continue to be a big seller. Yes, it may not be the most efficient, the cheapest or the most comfortable, but the Hilux is a proven product that has built up a huge reputation as a practical and agile performer.
Its build quality and off-road ability is second to none, and combined with a 3.5t towing capacity, the eighth-generation Hilux is still – despite fierce competition – one of the best proper pickups on the market.
Read more Toyota reviews