Five minutes with a Toyota Hilux

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What is it?

A Toyota Hilux, one of the most long-lived nameplates in the automotive game.

The Japanese company released its first iteration of this pick-up truck way back in 1968 and since then, it has gone on to become a byword for indestructability. Hence why the model we’re driving has the official name of Hilux Double-Cab Invincible.

Very cool.

Why are you driving it?

Because, while Toyota might have been one of the first to the pick-up game, it is no longer alone in the ‘one-tonne’ load-carrying 4×4 market.

Deeply credible rivals from Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford and even Volkswagen have sprung up, while no less a brand than Mercedes-Benz is soon going to weigh into this same marketplace.

That means the Toyota, now into its eighth generation, has to be right on the ball.

To that end, the company has thoroughly overhauled the preceding model and given us a stronger ladder-frame chassis, sleeker styling, a much-improved interior and a fresh 2.4-litre D-4D turbodiesel engine.

What do you like about it?

Despite its additional layers of sophistication, the Hilux still feels as tough as old nails.

The interior, which is far nicer to behold and use than it was before, is nevertheless hard-wearing and you sit way up above other traffic in a thoroughly commanding driving position.

There’s a good weight and heft to all the major controls, and the new D-4D engine is properly impressive, remaining reasonably refined in regular road usage; it only gets noisy if you thrash it and with the Toyota unladen, there’s no real reason to drive this pick-up hard.

Best of all is the ride, the Hilux being one of the most comfortable cars in the class.

Any issues?

Well, the steering is a little bit lifeless around the dead-ahead, while that 2.4-litre engine is fine but – for the prices Toyota wants for the Hilux – at 150hp/400Nm it is significantly down on power compared to the Nissan NP300 Navara, Mitsubishi L200, Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok rivals, all of which have more like 200hp and 450Nm; such extra grunt is useful when lugging heavy loads in the flat-bed.

While we approve of the restrained styling of the Hilux, it’s the least ‘showy’ of these pick-ups, so if you’re buying one on the strength of its kerb appeal you might be better off with any of the competitors.

What’s it like as a business vehicle – are there any tax benefits?

Yes, because these one-tonne pick-ups class as light commercial vehicles (LCVs), so if you can buy one through your business, you get to deduct VAT from the purchase price, bringing the car we tested down to a ticket less than £25,000.

There are also benefits in road tax (LCVs pay a fixed rate of £230 per annum, regardless of CO2 emissions) and it’s a reasonably inexpensive car for benefit-in-kind.

Where does it rank in class right now?

It’s up there with the very best in the segment, chiefly because of its heavyweight reputation and this model’s excellent ride quality.

We’d have been even happier if Toyota blessed the Hilux with an additional 30hp and 50Nm, which would probably have seen it taking outright class honours, but if all you need is an unpretentious, solid workhorse of a vehicle that can also double as refined family transport when the need arises, there are few better machines in the world than this MkVIII Hilux.

TECH SPEC

Model: Toyota Hilux Double-Cab Invincible
Price: starts from £25,755; Double-Cab Invincible from £27,235; car as tested £31,350 (deduct 20% VAT for commercial versions, so £24,923 for CV Invincible)
Drivetrain: 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, six-speed manual transmission, four-wheel drive
Economy: 40.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 185g/km – £230 VED for commercial vehicles; £3,230 annual benefit in kind
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 13.2 seconds
Power: 150hp at 3,400rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,600- to 2,000rpm