Toyota Hilux review
The Toyota Hilux is a simple, back-to-basics pickup truck that covers all the important load-lugging bases but doesn’t have the same visual appeal as more expensive alternatives.
What's not so good
Toyota Hilux: what would you like to read next?
In the world of pickup trucks, the Toyota Hilux is more like a solid, reliable workhorse than a dolled-up show pony. Its utilitarian approach to load-lugging might not be quite as attention-grabbing as the likes of the posher VW Amarok and flashy Ford Ranger, but it’s one of the most practical and affordable pickups you can buy.
Unfortunately, the Toyota Hilux’s underlying back-to-basics approach also applies to how it looks. Just try to recall what it looks like from the photo above without swiping up. Tricky, eh?
Top-spec Invincible X trucks get some more aggressive-looking bumpers with metal-effect skid plates and a sportier black grille, but even these can’t hold a candle to the lairy looking Ford Ranger Raptor.
Thankfully, the Toyota Hilux has a few tricks up its sleeve – or rather in its cabin. It looks significantly more car-like than most pickup trucks thanks to its sweeping dashboard, recessed dials and – in all but entry-level models – 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It’s just a shame that this display is a bit of a paint to use on the move.
Equally awkward are the cramped back seats you get in Extra Cab models. You’ll be better off saving some cash and ditching them completely or paying extra for a Double Cab Hilux that comes with a proper set of back seats.
Entry-level versions of the Toyota Hilux are about as utilitarian as a pickup can get – just the thing for carrying loads of stuff without breaking the bank.
Space in the load bed depends on which of these models you choose, so Single Cabs are the roomiest, followed by Extra Cab and Double Cab models. You’ll be able to carry more than a tonne in the load bed, whichever truck you pick.
There’s less choice when it comes to picking an engine for your Toyota Hilux because all versions come with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder diesel. This 150hp unit makes the Toyota Hilux far from the most powerful pickup on sale, but it has enough poke to haul you, some passengers and a decent load around without too much fuss. It’s even rated to tow a braked trailer weighing between 3200kg and 3500kg – depending on which model you choose.
Less impressive than the Toyota Hilux’s towing abilities is how it deals with bumps and tight turns. Sure, its light steering and decent forward visibility make it fairly stress-free to manoeuvre in town, but on a country road, it bounces and leans its way through corners that wouldn’t faze some more sure-footed trucks.
You don’t get cruise control as standard in entry-level models either, and it’s a shame that automatic emergency braking is reserved for mid-range models and above.
That said, pay a little extra for one of these Icon or Invincible trucks and you’ll have a well-equipped, reliable pickup that puts practicality ahead of posh looks. For more information, read on for our in-depth Toyota Hilux interior, practicality and driving review sections.
Pick a Double Cab model, and the Toyota Hilux’s cabin is roomy enough for tall adults in the back. It’s a shame that entry-level cars don’t get a great deal of driver’s seat adjustment, though.
You can forget about carrying passengers in the back of the Toyota Hilux in SIngle and Extra Cab guise. Thankfully, all but entry-level models come in Double Cab trim as standard.
There’s plenty of space in the Toyota Hilux’s front seats, but smaller drivers might struggle to climb onboard gracefully in entry-level cars because they don’t come with running boards. These more affordable models do without a height-adjustable driver’s seat, too, so if you’re rather smaller or taller than average you’ll want to upgrade to an Icon model instead.
Thankfully, all Toyota Hilux models come with a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach to help you get a good view of the instruments, but only top-spec Invincible X models get electric seat adjustment.
Single Cab trucks come with just two doors and no back seats but Extra Cab trucks – which have a set of smaller rear-opening doors – have just enough space in the back for two kids to sit reasonably comfortably.
If you ever plan to carry adults in the back, you should pick a Double Cab model. These four-door trucks have plenty of headroom in the back for tall passengers to sit without slouching, but the Toyota Hilux’s raised floor leaves little room for everyone’s feet. The back seats don’t offer a great deal of under-leg support, either.
If you need to carry much younger passengers, all Toyota Hilux Double Cab models come with Isofix anchor points for the rear seats. These are easy to access and the truck’s raised ride height makes it a doddle to lift in and secure a seat.
There are a few decent-sized cubby holes dotted around the Toyota Hilux’s cabin to help you keep it looking tidy. The front door bins are big enough for large water bottles, there’s space for two large cups of coffee in front of the gear lever and there’s a slim tray beyond this that’s just large enough to hold a phone.
You’ll find a decent amount of space under the front armrest to squirrel away a few extra bits and bobs and the Toyota Hilux’s dashboard splits into two decent-sized gloveboxes.
As with many pickup trucks, how much you can fit in the Toyota Hilux’s bed depends on which cab style you choose. Icon, Invincible and Invincible X models come in double-cab form as standard, while Active versions can be had in Single, Extra or Double Cab sizes.
Single Cab trucks are the roomiest with beds 1.58m wide and 2.32m long – that’s just as long as a Single Cab Ford Ranger but slightly wider.
Go for an Extra Cab Toyota Hilux and the bed width drops to 1.54m while length shrinks to 1.81m. Double Cab models are no narrower, but they’re limited to carrying items 1.53m long. That’s big enough to carry a standard industrial pallet but slightly smaller than comparable Super Cab and Double Cab Ford Ranger models respectively.
How much weight each Hilux model can carry depends on which cab style and which trim level you pick. Single Cab Active trucks can carry 1105kg while Extra Cab versions can manage 1095kg. Double Cab trucks in Active guise can be loaded with 1130kg while Double Cab trucks in Icon, Invincible and Invincible X trim can manage 1120kg.
The Toyota Hilux isn’t the most comfortable pickup truck to drive and it only comes with one engine, but at least it’s punchy enough to haul a trailer weighing up to 3,500kg.
The Toyota Hilux isn’t quite as comfortable as some more passenger-focused pickup trucks, but it does come with four-wheel drive as standard.
The Toyota Hilux comes with just one engine – a 2.4-litre four-cylinder diesel engine – and all models come with four-wheel drive. Your only choices are whether you want a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox and whether you want your engine with stop-start tech to save a bit of fuel in heavy traffic.
The engine produces 150hp – someway behind the likes of the Ford Rangers and VW Amaroks that have more than 200hp, but just about perky enough to deal with a cab full of passengers or a fully laden bed. It can also pull a braked trailer weighing 3.5 tonnes – that’s more than the VW Amarok can manage and right up there with the best pickups on sale.
It’s far from the smoothest diesel engine around – it’ll grumble rather loudly when you accelerate hard – but Toyota claims it’ll return close to 39mpg.
Like most pickup trucks, it’s easy to see out over the Toyota Hilux’s bonnet through its large windscreen and past its slim pillars, but the view rearwards is obstructed by the thick rear pillars and large load bed.
Thankfully, you get a reversing camera as standard in all but entry-level Active models and top-spec Invincible trucks get rear parking sensors to help you avoid low-speed bumps and scrapes.
Once you’ve extricated your pickup from the car park, you’ll find the Toyota Hilux is relatively easy to drive in town. The controls are pretty light and the six-speed manual gearbox is fairly smooth and easy to use. The optional automatic gearbox feels very lethargic, but it goes about its business smoothly in traffic and when cruising.
Unfortunately, it’s not all plain sailing. The Toyota Hilux’s suspension causes it to bounce and jolt over potholes and ruts at slow speed, and lean noticeably in tight corners. Things improve with a heavy load in the back, but the Hilux is never particularly comfortable to travel in.
The Toyota Hilux doesn’t come with quite as much active safety kit as the likes of the Ford Ranger, either. Sure, you get cruise control in all but entry-level Active models, but you’ll have to pay extra for an Invincible or Invincible X model if you want automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection or lane-departure warning and traffic sign recognition as standard.
Besides entry-level trucks, the Toyota Hilux comes with a well-equipped cabin. It doesn’t feel particularly plush though, and the infotainment can be a real pain to use.