Test Drive: The New Toyota Hilux – Business

On the road: The new Toyota Hilux

Ian Lamming parts the waters in Toyota’s brand new behemoth pick-up, the Hilux

THERE can’t be many pick-ups that have won the gruelling Dakar Rally, but this one has – how cool is that?

Brand Toyota has always been synonymous with rugged, tough, well-built vehicles, featuring advanced technology, particularly the four wheel drives. Hilux takes that one step further by being renowned as ‘unbreakable’, which it certainly needed to be to traverse the deserts of Africa in the fastest time.

Mere mortals get to drive a more domesticated version but it is still pretty much invincible, which is probably why Toyota chose that description as the model name.

And the good news is that the Japanese manufacturer has just launched a new version with better looks, more tech and even greater capability on the road and off. Happy? Oh, yes!

As I drop the tailgate of this excellent pick-up to throw my poorly bicycle in the back for a trip to the bike hospital it brings joy to my heart. The enormous load bay is lined with a durable plastic which will protect my paintwork and there are well arranged anchor points so I can tie the bike down.

But, bike safely delivered, it’s the spirited ride home that reveals the Dakar DNA as Hilux Invincible comes into its own. This new version is a flying machine.

The engine may have dropped from the previous 3.0 litre to a 2.8 but power jumps to 201PS and a gargantuan 500Nm of silky smooth torque. It’s lovely. There’s a button to switch between power and economy too.

Remember when pick-ups were utilitarian workhorses that were a bit breathless, very noise and harsh? Well you can confine those days to the annals of history because the emphasis is now very much on the ‘lux’ end of the Hilux name.

If you need to carry weight of up to a tonne or pull three and a half times that, this vehicle will do it with consummate ease. But if you live at the leisure end of the pick-up market, it is simply a fine SUV.

Driver and passengers will delight in its swift pick up – this massive machine will hit 60mph in just 10 seconds and top out at 109mph, which makes legal motorway cruising a very relaxed affair.

Also gone forever is the pogoing rear suspension setup. Old pick-ups had unsophisticated suspension that was beefed up to carry loads which made them hard and very bouncy when empty. Hilux rides, handles, steers and grips just like an accomplished SUV so there is no ‘agricultural culture shock’ to spoil the fun.

Fixtures and fittings are also SUV-like with high quality trim, comfortable seats and the latest touchscreen infotainment technology. It’s even got Wi-Fi for goodness sake and a host of other goodies including Bluetooth, rear-view camera and parking sensors to help you manoeuvre the beast, cooled upper glovebox, heated front seats, accessory, sockets and USB ports.

These are the cursory details while the work-orientated will be thrilled to hear that under the skin sits a wealth of the latest safety and handling gizmos, such as all-wheel-drive with low ratio box and locking differentials, auto headlamp levelling, vehicle stability and trailer sway controls, hill-start and downhill assist.

What workmen and leisure market owners will love are the bold new looks. It’s hard and menacing but fresh and modern too. The front end of the new Hilux has been completely redesigned with a bold three-dimensional trapezoidal grille. The new LED lights, front and rear, not only look 21st century but penetrate the darkness so much better.

I love pick-ups for their unassuming manner and the Hilux is a great example. They don’t upset anyone in the countryside as you always look like a local, so they don’t attract unwarranted attention and to that effect are invisible. They will go anywhere and can be parked anywhere, they don’t invoke bitterness, jealousy or resentment and people are happy to get out of their way. Top that with their supreme practicality, performance and dynamics and it’s no wonder they are becoming so popular – or that they can win the Dakar Rally.

Car facts

Model: Toyota Hilux Invincible

Engine: 2.8 litre diesel

Drivetrain: six speed automatic

Power: 201PS

Top speed: 109mph

0-62 mph: 10.7 secs

Insurance group: 42D

Towing max braked: 3,500KG

Miles per gallon (combined): 30

CO2 (g/km): 246

Price: £30,803.33