Toyota has improved on all the areas that make a solid pick-up with its latest Hilux, so there’s a new engine, a larger load bed and an increased towing capacity to further its appeal as a working vehicle. But it’s also more luxurious than ever, so here we test the high-spec Invincible Double Cab Auto model, which costs £31,350.
Compared with the previous Hilux, which was a bulbous, bulky-looking pick-up, Toyota’s latest truck sports a sharper design. That’s evident from tip to tail, as the new Hilux’s nose juts out, with its flattened, wide grille and narrow headlights.
The bumper is relatively deep, but the Hilux stands so tall it doesn’t quite have that appearance. This extra height brings a benefit when it comes to approach angles, however, so the Toyota will be able to traverse some steep slopes if you need it to.
There’s lots of chrome on this high-spec trim level, too, with the chrome bars in the grille, bright mirror caps and little extras like the chrome door handles and £617 foot plates adding to the visual appeal.
But the features that give the Hilux real presence are its wheelarches. Along with the pointier nose, the heavily flared bodywork provides the Toyota with the look of a larger, wider, American pick-up compared with the narrow-bodied Mitsubishi.
There’s some subtle sculpting to the bottom of the doors that, along with the sills, have a rippled metal finish for extra protection if you’re likely to be using the car away from the tarmac.
Inside the Hilux Double Cab, the changes are just as wide-reaching as to the exterior. Toyota’s designers have smartened up the interior so it now looks more like an SUV. You climb up into the Hilux, meaning those running boards are functional as well as a design cue, and once you’re in there youll notice some familiar features: the central seven- inch touchscreen is taken from the Prius, while the switchgear is borrowed from other Toyota models.
Invincible spec comes well equipped, with features like DAB radio, keyless go, LED headlights, cruise control and a reversing camera gracing the standard kit list. Youll have to fork out £750 for sat- nav, although there’s a host of safety kit included.
The upshot is that it feels more SUV-lilce inside, even though material quality in places highlights the Toyota’s pick-up roots. Leather is an £1,800 extra if you want to upgrade the cabin to an even higher spec, while heated seats and metallic paint will cost you £750 and £545 respectively. The Mitsubishi gets these as standard, though, and is £1,112 cheaper.
Although the focus here still has to be on usability, the question is whether the Hilux’s smarter interior is matched by an improved driving experience.
There’s no doubt the Toyota pick-up is better than before, but this automatic version still leaves a lot to be desired out on the road. It won’t let you hold a gear on maximum throttle, so our 30-somph and 50-7omph tests were recorded in kickdown.
Even with this allowing the strongest acceleration in theory, the Toyota wasn’t as fast as the Mitsubishi, completing the two tests in 5.2 and 8.7 seconds.
The Hilux delivers 3oNm less torque than its rival, at 400Nm, and the extra 235kg in weight meant it was also 3.5 seconds slower off the line and on to 6omph than the L200, taking 13.5 seconds overall. But its 2,095kg kerbweight impacts more than just its straight-line performance.
Double-wishbone front suspension copes fairly well with bumps, but with less sophisticated leaf springs at the rear, the whole of the body is upset over rough roads. It means the Toyota pitches and rolls, with the rear axle never quite feeling settled.
Combined with its slow steering, it means the truck isn’t that agile, but that’s not exactly what it’s been designed for. The speed of the steering aids stability, which will help if you’ve got a big load on board or are pulling a trailer, plus the electronically controlled four-wheel drive gives it great traction in slippery conditions but reverts back to rear-drive when the extra grip isn’t needed to improve efficiency.
While it’s certainly more car-like in this mode, the new 148bhp 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel is still noisy at anything other than motorway cruising speeds, although vibrations are damped out well.
During nearly half a century on sale, the Hilux has become known as dependable. Add Toyota’s reputation – it ranked fourth out of 32 brands for reliability in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey – and it shouldn’t let you down.
There’s a good level of safety kit as standard, too. Although Euro NCAP hasn’t tested the pick-up, Trailer Sway Control, autonomous braking, hill descent control and hill start assist, lane departure warning and seven airbags all come fitted on Invincible spec.
Running costs 3.6/5
Pick-ups like these have to earn their keep, so potential owners will have a focus on the bottom line. That means fuel efficiency is key, but the Hilux loses out to the L200 here, having returned 30.8mpg on test compared to the L200’s 3i.5mpg result at the pumps. But even over 20,000 miles a year, youll only spend an extra £74 on fuel according to our figures.
Company car tax rules for double-cab pick-ups are different to regular vehicles, with the Benefit in Kind figure fixed at £3,170 if the truck can carry more than a 1,000kg payload – so both these cars fit the criteria.
It means lower-rate taxpayers will have to find £634 a year, and higher-rate earners £1,268. However, the higher 204g/km C02 emissions count against the Hilux compared with the cleaner L200 at i89g/km, so you’ll pay an extra £25 for a year’s tax, at £290. But the Toyota is predicted to resist depreciation better; our experts expect it to retain 54.8 per cent of its value.
The Hilux can carry slightly less weight than the L200, with a maximum payload of 1,045kg. However, its load bed has slightly larger dimensions, plus it offers four tie-down points. A 3,200kg towing limit gives you slightly more scope to pull heavier loads than the Mitsubishi can manage, but only by 100kg.
This mix of utilitarian ability is combined well with space, as there’s lots of room in the rear of the cab. Grab handles help you climb inside, while the Hilux’s large dimensions mean there’s plenty of storage room, with accessible trinket trays and cup-holders dotted around. There’s also an extensive options list with features to customise the look of the car and add extra flexibility.
Toyota Hilux Double Cab Auto Invincible Auto
Engine: 2.4-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 148bhp
0-60mph: 13.5 seconds
Test economy: 30.8mpg/6.8mpl
Annual road tax: £290
HEAD TO HEAD
If you’re in the market for a pick-up, your decision might come down to the cost of ownership. Factoring in the purchase price, depreciation, fuel, road tax, servicing and insurance for three years, the L200 works out the cheaper model to run by £407. Its advantage will be enhanced if plans to tax trucks based on CO2 emissions go ahead.
What the 200L loses in practicality, it definitely makes up for in the way it drives. It’s more settled, the auto box is better abd the more powerful engine is also quiter. This means the Mitsubishi is the easier pick-up to live with if you’re working behind the wheel a lot.
Toyota has adressed the old Hilux’s major flaw by offering 13cm more width across the load bay than before, along with an improved towing limit. The truck is more usable than ever, but is still only a slight step up, and can’t quite compete with rivals.