Toyota Hilux review

The new Toyota Hilux tested in Ireland

Since the late 1960s, over 18 million Toyota Hilux pick-ups have been sold, making it one of the world’s best-selling pick-up trucks ever. Over half a century later, the Hilux remains ever-popular and it has been updated for 2021 with the option of more powerful engines, improved suspension and new tech for off roading too.

The Hilux goes up against the Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara, and the new 2021 model aims to find a balance between comfortable lifestyle pickup and load-lugging workhorse. Prices for the new Hilux start from around €30,000 in Ireland for the entry DLX Single Cab model with a 2.4-litre diesel engine, right up to €52,000 for this range-topping Double Cab Invincible model with Toyota's new 2.8-litre diesel engine.

Styling:

Toyota has updated the exterior styling for 2021 in various areas but it is still rugged as ever from the outside. As ever it is ready for off-road driving, with 310 millimetres of ground clearance and a wading depth of up to 700 millimetres for negotiating deep puddles of water and mud. The Hilux can take a one tonne payload in the rear and it also has a 3.5-litre towing capacity, so it remains a versatile vehicle for farming, construction and everything else in between.

This one is a range-topping Invincible model so it gets larger 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and fog lights and side steps so it certainly looks the part, and it also has a helpful reversing camera and parking sensors. There are nine colour options to choose from some of which are not available on the single cab version, including this Pearl White option or vibrant Nebula Blue or Orange Spice metallic options if you want to stand out from the crowd.  

Inside:

Stepping inside, the interior of the Hilux has been updated in various areas to make it feel more luxurious than before. As you would expect, it’s no-nonsense up front with comfortable seats, grab handles for stepping in and out and lots of storage spaces with chunky steering wheel controls. Everything feels well put together and sturdy which is important for daily wear and tear, and the plastics are hard, if a bit scratchy in places. The eight-inch touch screen infotainment system is featured on all models bar the entry DLX models and it is good to use although the interface is a bit dated compared to what you get in rival models. 

The good news is that it now has Apple Car Play and Android Auto built-in, which is a good thing as it’s the easiest option for connecting your smartphone. This high-specification Invincible model has some additional creature comforts including leather upholstery, heated front seats and auto air conditioning. The top spec models are well-equipped inside but they carry a premium pricetag as a result. 

The Double Cab model has three rear seats although you will be hard pressed to get tall three adults in the rear as the middle seat is quite small. Because of the rear bulkhead the seats are quite upright which means it is less comfortable in the rear sears on longer journeys, but you do get an armrest and there are two sets of ISOFIX mounts for family buyers. You don’t get any USB charge points for charging devices though.

Load Area: 

Out back the load bed is plastic lined and it is covered by a three year warranty. The tailgate is opened using a small key built-in to the main fob and the tailgate is heavy and opens smoothly. The Hilux can carry a one tonne payload which is impressive although you can carry more weight in a Ford Ranger. Elsewhere the Hilux can two up to three and a half tonne behind with a trailer.

Driving:

The big news is that the Hilux is now available with a more powerful 201 horsepower 2.8-litre diesel engine along with the usual 148 horsepower 2.4-litre diesel engine. Both engines are available with a six speed manual or a six speed automatic gearbox, and we are driving the 2.8-litre diesel with the automatic transmission, the best combination but one of the most expensive. The new 2.8-litre diesel model is much punchier than the less powerful 2.4-litre diesel, with 204 horsepower and 500 Newton Metres of torque, it can get from 0-100km/h in around 10 seconds too, which is respectable. The extra low down power of the 2.8 diesel makes it better-suited to towing regularly too.

In terms of running costs, we managed around 10-litres per 100 kilometres of driving in fuel economy which is the best you could expect from a heavy pickup with an auto gearbox, though this will increase with heavy loads in tow. As the Hilux has a tall ride height, leaf suspension at the rear and wide tyres is drives very much like a pickup, so it’s a bit cumbersome around town and by no means an everyday SUV. Toyota has improved the rear suspension for better comfort and handling and it feels better mannered than before however. As the rear suspension is stiff to cope with heavy loads in the load bay, this causes the back of the Hilux to bounce around a bit on bumpier roads, something that effects the vast majority of pickups.

It is very good off road though, with all models getting selectable four wheel drive and high and low range gearing for climbing up steep hills. There’s also a switchable rear diff-lock and electronic hill descent control to stop the Hilux from sliding down steep hills and lots of other tech to suit muddy and hilly terrain, perfect for Ireland. The Hilux now has a lower engine idle with stability control and electronic limited slip differential controls on the SR5 models and above. You can enable the auto limited slip diff by briefly pressing the VSC off switch on 2 wheel drive mode to allow it to operate, perfect for slippery surfaces. For comparison, the Hilux has 60mm more ground clearance than the Ford Ranger, but it can’t wade in deep puddles quite as deep.  

Models:

In Ireland, Toyota offers the Hilux in Single Cab and Double Cab option and in three different specifications, DLX, SR5 and Invincible. The entry Double Cab DLX is only available with the 2.4-litre diesel engine and it starts from around €37,000 with 17-inch steel wheels, electric heated mirrors, manual air conditioning, a radio with CD player and the off road driving aids that we mentioned earlier.

The mid-specification SR5 is available with either the 2.4-litre and 2.8 litre engines and it gets 17-inch alloy wheels, side steps, the 8-inch touch screen system, LED fog lights, auto air conditioning and lots more. The top-spec Invincible which is the one that we are driving is only available with the 2.8-litre diesel engine, and it has larger 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights, leather seats, heated seats and lots of other extras.

Verdict:

So should you buy the new Toyota Hilux? Well if you are looking for one of the most capable pick-up trucks that you can buy right now, and one that is great to drive with famed reliability, it’s definitely one to shortlist. It offers an ideal mix of rugged off-roading utility vehicle and also comfortable lifestyle pick up truck. The new 2.8-litre diesel engine is a great addition to the range and it is even more accomplished for load lugging and off-road challenges. That said the Hilux isn’t the cheapest pickup on the market right now with competition here from the Ford Ranger,  while it isn’t quite as polished inside as some of its premium rivals. All in, it remains one of the standout pickup truck choices on the market right now, and this new model does justice to the Hilux heritage.

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