Toyota’s new Hilux will face stiff competition to retain pole position in the UK’s burgeoning pick-up sector having gone on sale in July.
Last year, the Hilux finished top of the segment with 8642 sales – a 3.9% rise over 2014, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Volume was heavily weighted towards the fleet sector, with 8126 units compared with just 517 retail sales.
In the UK, the Hilux saw off the challenge of the Mitsubishi L200, a new model of which was launched in September, and the Ford Ranger, whose manufacturer introduced a facelifted version early this year.
Alongside these two rivals, Nissan has introduced a new and well-received NP300 Navara, VW is bringing in an awesomely powerful facelifted Amarok, and debut trucks are either on sale already or on their way from Fiat Professional (its Fullback is based on the L200), Renault, with its Navara-based Alaskan, and Mercedes, which will launch its debut pick-up truck, also built on the Navara platform, in 2018.
What’s more, Isuzu will reinforce its strong challenge in the segment with a new D-max in the second quarter of 2017.
In the first-half of 2016 with the old model on run-out, the Hilux had dropped to fifth place with sales of 3043, according to the SMMT, behind the Ranger (6232), the Navara (4377), the L200 (4048) and the D-max (3106).
The new Hilux will get a 148hp 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine with stop/start to replace the 2.5 and 3.0-litre units in the current model. The engine generates maximum torque of 400Nm between 1600rpm and 2000 rpm, compared with the 343Nm of the previous 3.0-litre, despite the smaller capacity.
The manufacturer claims the newly developed 2.4-litre D-4D engine returns a range-best average fuel consumption of 40.4mpg plus CO2 emissions of 185g/km – an improvement in fuel efficiency of 9% over the outgoing model. This still falls short of the most economical models on the market, however, with Nissan’s official consumption for the most frugal NP300 Navara being 44.1mpg with CO2 of 169g/km, Ford claiming 43.5mpg and 171g/km of CO2 for the Ranger, and the Mitsubishi L200 clocking in with 42.8mpg and CO2 of 169g/km (figures now shared with the Fiat professional Fullback).
The eighth-generation truck will be available with a six-speed manual gearbox in the 4x2 version or a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions in 4x4 derivatives.
Toyota will continue to offer the truck in Single, Extra and Double-cab bodystyles and the manufacturer has confirmed that for the UK market it will increase towing capacity from 2.8t to 3.5t to match the class leaders, the Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-max and Nissan Navara.
Payload capacities rise from the current maximum 1060kg to a top limit of 1115kg in double-cab auto versions. This increase makes the Hilux highly competitive when compared with the competition. The most weight the Navara double-cab can carry is 1062kg, and the L200 and Fullback can only manage up to 1050kg. The Isuzu D-max peaks at 1072kg in double-cab mode, the Ranger goes to 1073kg, and the Amarok goes up to 1077kg.
Toyota now offers the Hilux line-up with the five-year/100,000-mile warranty that it provides for its passenger car range. This is only exceeded by the five-year/125,000-mile package Isuzu provides for its D-max.
The new Hilux is available in four trim levels: Active, Icon, Invincible and Invincible X, with prices, excluding VAT, ranging from £19,177 to £29,435.
In keeping with their workhorse profiles, the single and extra-cab derivatives are only available in the entry-level Active specification whereas double-cabs are up for grabs in all grades.
Toyota says new features on the Active include steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth, a cooled front storage box, reach and rake steering column adjustment, front passenger airbag, driver’s knee and curtain-shield airbags, hill-start assist, Isofix child seat anchors on the double-cab models, a follow-me-home headlight function, and turning indicators integrated into the electrically adjustable, heated door mirrors (extra- and double-cab only).
Icon specification adds a 4.2-inch information display on the dash, cruise control, DAB radio and retracting door mirrors.
Retained features at this level include 17-inch alloys, front fog lights, headlamp cleaners, side steps, chrome front grille, rear privacy glass, and leather trimmings on the steering wheel, handbrake and gearshift.
Step up to the Invincible and you get Toyota Safety Sense, a pre-collision system that comprises pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and road sign assist. A spokesman explains that the system adds £438 to the price of an Active model but must be requested at point-of-purchase as it cannot be specified as an option afterwards.
The Invincible now also comes with 18-inch alloys, Smart (keyless) entry and start, LED headlamps, automatic headlamp beam levelling, and electric steering wheel adjustment. It continues to get automatic air-conditioning, dusk-sensing headlights and chrome side bars with steps.
The new Hilux Invincible X brings on board a host of cosmetic upgrades including a substantial amount of chrome included on fog lamp and headlight surrounds, bumper trims, scuff plates, and rear light cluster trims. It rides on 18-inch alloys exclusive to the flagship specification. A Hilux decal adorns the width of the tailgate. The interior gets heated leather seats and, more usefully, satnav and parking sensors, to the front and rear, are included.
The navigation system is bundled into the multimedia Touch2 with Go pack, which also includes onboard connectivity functions with three-year map updates. As an option the pack costs £625 on lower trim levels while the Parking Pack costs an extra £437.50.
We tested a Hilux Invincible with the six-speed automatic transmission. It comes with a price tag of £26,173, which is close to the upper reaches of the sector and a touch more than the £25,445 Ford asks for its 3.2-litre 200hp Ranger automatic in Limited trim.
The new model is, at 5355mm, 75mm longer than its predecessor, and a new frontal design has given the truck a more intimidating, shark-like appearance with the large bumper housing a prominent lower grille. The bonnet wraps over the front wheel arches to give the vehicle a wide-looking solid stance that is not dissimilar to the even more butch-looking NP300 Navara, although we found the view of the road from the Hilux cockpit to be less obscured by the bulging bonnet.
The Hilux feels lighter and easier to handle about town than other chunky pick-ups despite its 12.4m turning circle being the same as those of the Ranger and Navara, although automatic transmission certainly takes the strain out of urban driving.
On the inside, getting in and out is facilitated by a grab handle on the driver’s side which, surprisingly, is not always a given, and the front passenger gets one too.
The cab has quite a lot of tacky-feeling black plastic and is no match in styling or quality terms for the Ranger or Amarok, but the touchscreen controls are excellent.
On the road, the steering can feel vague with too much play to make the driver feel completely confident when cornering, and while the six-speed auto ’box is decent enough, there is some delay between shifts and it is no match for the outstanding eight-speed auto system on the latest Amarok.
Off-road, the Hilux’s extreme competence remains intact. It comes with a switchable all-wheel drive system – simply operated via a dial on the dash – that encompasses high and low drivetrains for particularly harsh conditions. It is also equipped with front and locking rear slip differentials and Downhill Assist Control for the most severe terrain. This works in forward and reverse gears to help the driver regulate speed on steep and slippery gradients.
The system automatically controls brake fluid pressure to hold a constant low speed of descent without the driver touching the brake or accelerator pedals.
In addition, Toyota’s Active Traction Control automatically distributes torque to whichever wheels have the best grip while braking the others to improve performance over wet or rocky ground.
|Toyota Hilux Invincible 2.4-litre 148hp automatic|
|Price (ex VAT) £26,173|
|Price range (ex VAT) £19,177-£29,435|
|Insurance group 12 (est)|
|Service intervals 10,000mls|
|Load length 1525mm|
|Load width (min/max) 1230mm/1645mm|
|Gross payload 1115kg|
|Engine size/power 2393cc/148hp|
|On sale July 2016|
|Combined fuel economy 36.2mpg|
The new Hilux is a capable and competent pick-up but lacks the refinement of some rivals on-road and may struggle to regain top spot in the sector.