Now in its eighth generation, we check out Toyota’s latest Hilux pick-up truck. Geoff Ashcroft reports.
Latest Toyota Hilux is much more capable off-road.
Ask anyone to name a pickup truck and you are most likely to get ‘Hilux’ as your answer.
Such is the popularity of Toyota’s venerable off-road workhorse that the eighth generation has just gone on sale in the UK, with prices starting from £19,177 for the single cab version, and from £21,510 for double cab models.
Hilux will get a towing capacity rated at the maximum 3,500kg later this year once the firm jumps through some homologation hoops. In the short-term, it is pegged at 3,200kgs, so if towing at full weight is your priority, wait until later this year before you buy, as early models will not be uprated retrospectively.
Icon model’s interior is utilitarian, though controls are nicely laid out.
Hilux is all-new from bumper to bumper, and offers single cab, extra cab and double cab models. The latter is expected to be the most popular, and gets four trim grades - Active, Icon, Invincible and Invincible X.
One of the biggest changes can be found under the bonnet. A new 2.4-litre replaces the old model’s 3.0-litre, and with it comes a useful lift in torque from 343Nm to 400Nm. Power though, is a lackluster 148hp.
We tried a Hilux double cab Icon with six-speed manual transmission, and out on the open road it soon stops giving. Power has been and gone by 3,400rpm and peak torque makes a fleeting appearance from 1,600-2,000rpm, so you will be busy changing gears.
There are Eco and Power modes, but these only change throttle sensitivity, and each time you restart the engine, the default mode is ‘normal’ rather than ‘last selected’.
The shortfall in horses is masked to a degree by a lower first gear, but when you have rowed your way into sixth, where top gear is now 23 per cent higher than the previous model’s five-speeder, you will need to be pointing downhill and praying for a tailwind if you want to make keen progress.
While the new engine is smooth and quiet, it is a little underwhelming against the competition and somewhat disappointing considering some overseas markets get Hilux with the Land Cruiser’s 2.8-litre, 174hp engine.
We did not get the chance to try it with a trailer, but we suspect you will need to be patient to make the most of towing capacity.
Off-road though, is where new Hilux shows its hand. Changes in suspension geometry afford better axle articulation and a tighter steering lock too, while the front axle gets a limited slip diff and the rear axle benefits from a manual locking diff.
The 2.4-litre D-4D offers 148hp and 400Nm of torque.
Longer leaf springs boost ride comfort and a thicker anti-roll bar keeps the nose in check. Downhill assist control cleverly maintains your descent speed, even when changing gears, while active traction control and hill-start assist make this one of the easiest pickups to drive off-road like a pro.
Our on- and off-road driving opportunity also gave a chance to try a model with automatic transmission and it certainly proved the better powertrain choice, despite giving away 6mpg to the manual box.
Toyota has made some impressive changes to the Hilux, and managed to disguise its bulk far better than Nissan has with the new Navara. The interior still feels utilitarian and is no better than any of its contemporaries, though Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system has useful shortcuts and is very easy to use.