The eighth generation version of Toyota's indestructible Hilux pick-up effectively builds on a strong heritage. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at the revised range.
Although the Toyota Hilux has forged a reputation as something that cannot be killed, a little sophistication still plays well with buyers and the latest eighth generation model serves up extra safety and efficiency options, yet prices have remained reasonable.
The Toyota Hilux found instant fame when Top Gear decided to crash one, have it washed out to sea, burnt and finally set atop a dynamited tower block. Yet still it started and drove. This cemented a reputation for rugged durability that had built up over many years. Sheer cockroach-like indestructibility is an undoubted asset but the British pick-up buyer is looking for something more. With an increasingly sophisticated set of rivals, the Hilux needed to become a bit easier to live with. Toyota has rolled out its package of camera-driven 'Safety Sense' features across more models, there are useful specification tweaks to the spec of the range-topping 'Invincible X' variant and a start-stop engine system's now fitted to most models in the range. None of the Hilux's essential toughness has been compromised of course, but you might now value your pick-up too much to subject it to the worst excesses.
Nothing fundemental has changed with the 2.4-litre D-4D Global Diesel (GD) engine fitted to this Hilux. With 400Nm of torque, pulling power is strong (far better than was developed by the previous generation 2.5 and 3.0-litre diesel units), plus there's reasonable efficiency too. All variants feature all-wheel drive, while the Invincible and Invincible X models at the top of the range offer the option of a six-speed automatic gearbox. Both transmissions have been extensively revised to improve durability and low-speed driving performance, with quieter, smoother gear changes. Both manual and automatic Hilux have a top speed of 106mph; acceleration from nought to 62mph is 12.8 seconds for the auto and 13.2 seconds for the manual. Under the skin, there's a new ladder-frame chassis that gives the vehicle a 20% increase in torsional rigidity, improving improved handling, ride comfort and refinement. The robust leaf spring and twin shock absorber rear suspension system has been extensively revised to provide off-road articulation capabilities and SUV-like ride comfort and handling stability. The Hilux is equipped with a switchable all-wheel drive system featuring a high and low-ratio transfer case, and both front and rear locking limited-slip differentials. The low and medium speed torque delivery of the 2.4-litre diesel engine and the strength of the ladder-frame chassis together enable a tough towing capacity rated at either 3.2 or 3.5 tonnes, depending on variant.
The eighth generation Hilux has become a larger, more aggressive-looking thing, despite adopting a sleeker frontal design which features a unified arrangement of the upper grille and headlamps and a deep bumper housing a large lower grille. The bonnet wraps over the front wheel arches to reinforce the vehicle's solid, road presence while the line of the second horizontal bar in the upper grille extends into the headlamp units to form a distinctive daytime running light arrangement, featuring 12 white LEDs. Inside, the cabin's centre console is dominated on most models by the Toyota Touch 2 integrated, seven-inch multimedia touchscreen. The smart driver's instrument binnacle features large, analogue speedometer and tachometer dials either side of a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display. And the more premium appearance of the cabin is reinforced by metallic-effect details on the dashboard, door trim, instrument binnacle, steering wheel and gear lever bezel. A consistent blue tone has been introduced for the instrument backlighting.
Prices range from around £20,500, excluding VAT and there's a choice of 'Active', 'Icon', 'Invincible' and 'Invincible X' trim levels. As before, the Hilux is being offered in Single, Extra and Double Cab body styles. In keeping with their working vehicle profile, The Single and Extra Cab versions are offered only in the entry-level Active specification. Double Cab models are available in all grades. The latest generation 'Toyota Safety Sense' package is being made available across the range - standard on 'Icon', 'Invincible' and 'Invincible X' and an option on 'Active' grade. This newly equips Hilux with Adaptive Cruise Control and a Pre-Collision System that can recognise pedestrians in the road ahead by day and night, and cyclists during daylight driving, in addition to Lane Departure Warning and Road Sign Assist. For the Hilux 'Invincible X' at the top of the range, the focus is on a commanding presence, with new smoked chrome detailing on the upper front grille surround, fog light bezels, door and tailgate handles, door mirror casings, front and rear under-runs and rear bumper corners. The side bars are finished in black and the exterior look is complete by a set of 18-inch alloys with a two-tone machined finish. In the cab there are new piano black inserts on the dashboard, door panels, steering wheel and gear shift.
There's plenty of space in the loadbay, one cubic metre in the Double Cab model, a figure that rises to 1.2m3 in the Extra Cab version and 1.5m3 in the Single Cab variant. In the Double Cab, there's 1545mm of loadspace length and 1515mm of loadspace width, narrowing to 1100mm between the wheel arches. There's 450mm of loading height and a total payload capacity of up to 1,060kg, depending upon the version you choose.
The Toyota Hilux has always scored well with those who need a tough pick-up that drives better than the class norm. Rival manufacturers have copied this formula and added a more refined feel to their wares and the Hilux felt as if it was falling off the pace a little. The eighth generation version's round of revisions give the big pick-up the sort of classy feel that you'd expect from Toyota, building in a plusher interior and a front end that borrows from the Land Cruiser. That it can do this while retaining the appeal to lifestyle drivers who need a vehicle with good hauling capabilities and easy access speaks volumes about the essential rightness of the car's engineering. The torquey 2.4-litre diesel engine certainly has a lot to be said for it. With three different body styles and four trim levels to choose from, there should be enough variation in the range to suit most on and off-road requirements. The Hilux offers high levels of comfort and equipment, bomb-proof engineering and remains relatively cheap to run. Expect this one to run and run.
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