The only thing breaking when it comes to Toyota’s legendry Hilux pick up is the news!
A mind-boggling 18 million Toyota Hilux units have been built in the past 50 years, easily making it one of the world’s best-selling trucks. That’s extremely good news for the Japanese manufacturing giant, of course, but perhaps it says even more about what a dangerous and troubled world we currently live in, because this is a vehicle which has achieved its iconic status largely as a result of appearing almost nightly on the 10 o’clock news.
A go to, go anywhere, seemingly indestructible passenger carrier and work horse, it has created a special niche for itself in just about every war ravaged and inhospitable terrain on the planet. It stands to reason that, if you find yourself being shot at or crossing barren deserts and polar wildernesses, you want a vehicle that isn’t going to let you down – over seven incarnations, the Hilux has coped with just about everything man and nature can throw it. For goodness sake, even Jeremey Clarkson had to admit defeat on a particularly memorable edition of Top Gear when a Hilux was subjected to drowning, dropping, torching, crashing and pummelling – and still managed to live to tell the tale.
“Toyota has made a conscious effort to broaden its appeal by making it equally suited to those whose daily pursuits involve a lot more tarmac than dirt or sand.”
The pressure to keep delivering then, with what is now the eighth generation Hilux, is enormous and, with unprecedented competition in this market, Toyota has made a conscious effort to broaden its appeal by making it equally suited to those whose daily pursuits involve a lot more tarmac than dirt or sand. A plusher and higher quality interior is an obvious difference – gone is the dated switchgear and flimsy dials – although there is still enough functional hard plastic to reassure the old school pick up enthusiast. The other important change, and one which is in keeping with modern trends, is the introduction of a smaller yet more economical engine, switching from the old 3.0litre to a one option 4 cylinder in line 2.4litre diesel power unit, which actually increases torque to 400Nm and gives improved mpg at 41. Six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes are available, as well as the ability to switch between two and four wheel drive depending on conditions. A locking rear differential will further improve traction in especially tricky conditions.
There are also some noticeable signs of middle age spread in the body work, but for once this is a good thing. In addition to a chunky new chrome grille, every important dimension is bigger than before – benefiting that crucial load bay in particular, which is a full 130mm wider. Payload is competitive at 1,055kg as well as the 3,200kg braked towing weights accompanied by Trailer Sway Control. And anyone who questioned whether the new vehicle had gone a bit “soft” will be reassured by a new robust ladder chassis, which is claimed to be 20 per cent stiffer than the previous model. There are also more spot welds in the body to ensure it is as rigid as possible and to improve control and the steering. The suspension has also been overhauled for greater wheel travel, which is said to improve ride comfort and boost off road performance.
Toyota will be offering the Hilux in three body styles – two-seat Single Cab, four seat Extra Cab and five seat Double Cab, which takes almost all UK sales. Here, this model will be offered in all four trim levels, including the plush Invincible and Invincible X trims for those who are looking to use a pick up for both business and family life.
We have to confess that, given a top of the range Invincible to test, and aware of its massive reputation for extreme toughness, we felt something of a fraud by simply cruising around the leafy lanes of rural Hertfordshire and then heading up the motorways to a project in Shropshire (which constituted our total off road experience). In the circumstances, however, it would surely have been somewhat crass to make our own limited observations on its performance given that a fully laden Hilux has not only taken on both poles and succeeded but has finished third in the punishing Dakar rally!
Suffice to say that such is the confidence in the overall build standard that the new Hilux comes with a 100,000 mile five-year warranty, and a cost of ownership which Toyota claims is lower than its rivals. Prices start at around £24,000 for a basic spec, rising to £32,000 OTR price for a top of the range Invincible complete with seven inch touchscreen with DAB and Bluetooth, cruise control, climate control and keyless start. Not the cheapest pick up on the market by some distance but, then again, there are times in this increasingly volatile old world of ours when it’s good to know your ‘Lux’ in whatever the circumstances.