The World first discovered the Toyota Hilux in 1968. I was three, Bobby Kennedy & Martin Luther King jr were assassinated, The Beatles released the White Album & West Brom won the Cup at Wembley, in the first FA Cup final to be televised live in colour. In the intervening years, the Toyota Hilux has become renowned for it’s dependability, reliability & durability. Top Gear drove it to the North Pole & also tried to destroy one, failed & strung it up at their studio in Dunsfold, where I have every confidence it would start first time.
Where Toyota succeeded others have followed & in recent years, Ford have launched a new more road friendly Ranger, Mercedes-Benz their X-Class & that’s not forgetting Japan’s finest Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi L200 & Isuzu D-Max, all making the UK pick up market ultra competitive.
To my mind, there’s no doubting that the Hilux is the ‘daddy’ of all pick ups, it’s Europe’s top seller for a start & the seventh generation range topping Invincible, which I tested recently is the cream of these. Delivered to CCV HQ in a fetching Avantgarde Bronze, the latest Invincible get’s distinctive styling; chrome side bar with steps, 18″ alloys, scuff plates, rear privacy glass & full colour Sat Nav. Throw in a reversing camera, electric door mirrors, front fogs, vehicle stability control, trailer stability control, front side & curtain airbags & it’s as well equipped as many tarmac SUV’s.
The latest model still looks like a Hilux. The addition of a chunky chrome grille with LED running lights at the front has perhaps softened the profile, but importantly, it’s bigger in every dimension than before. The load bay is a full 130mm wider than the old Hilux’s. It can also tow up to 3,200kg, an improvement too.
On the inside, Toyota have improved & updated the interior, in line with it’s passenger car models. The dash is a little bland to look at, but it looks & feels durable. On Invincible, the top is finished in leather, making one feel that you aren’t in a vehicle that far away from an urban SUV.
Technology wise, the Sat/Nav touch screen media system is intuitive. I connected my phone to it first time for example. The remainder of the interior including the finishes on the seats, the carpets & the inside of the doors are all first rate. There’s plenty of room for five as well. This seventh generation is markedly nicer than Hilux’s of old, reflecting perhaps Toyota’s realisation that to be competitive in the pick up sector today, your vehicle needs to appeal to a wider audience, especially when the tax benefits of running a commercial vehicle are also considered.
Under the bonnet, of our Invincible was powered by a 2.4 litre D-4D diesel unit delivering 148 bhp, with torque of 400Nm. It reaches 62 mph in 12.8 seconds & goes on to a top speed of 106 mph. Efficiency is such that you can expect to achieve 36.2 mpg on the combined cycle, which thankfully, unlike many cars I could mention, I found to be fairly accurate, as I managed 34.1 mpg in my week & 400 miles driving in it. CO2 emissions for the auto are 204g/km.
Start the engine, then pull away & the Hilux can’t hide it’s utilitarian routes. It’s quite noisy, the ride bouncy – Toyota are still using leaf springs – but the latest 2.4 engine does feels more refined than the old 3.0 litre unit & this is especially noticeable around town & when parking. Drive out of town & off the B roads & onto the motorway & the Hilux cruises with the best of them, There’s a satisfyingly easy to use cruise control system & at a constant 75 mph the latest Invincible feels much more like a car than it’s predecessor, making for quieter more relaxing driving.
Even with the current crop of pick-up competitors, the seventh generation Hilux is still one of the best. It doesn’t quite pull as great a load as the Navara, nor is it as flexible as the smaller L200, but it’s very well put together & will undoubtedly being a Toyota, last you a very long time.
If you’re going pole to pole, fighting insurgents in a far away place or want to cross the Kalahari Desert, the Hilux is for you. Don’t worry though. If you’re just driving around our cities & Shires, it will do just as well navigating the more humble urban & rural locations of the UK. As a bonus if you need to drive up & down the country on our motorways, the more refined 2.4 D4D engine performs admirably as a long distance cruiser.
An Aztec Camera High Land, Hard Rain 4/5.