We’ve had the 2017 Toyota Hilux Double Cab pickup in Invincible trim in for a week for review. Is Toyota’s Hilux still the workhorse it always was?
The Toyota Hilux Pickup truck has been with us for almost 50 years, in which time it has garnered a reputation for ruggedness and go-anywhere ability that’s the envy of the industry.
But it’s not just been rugged and reliable as a Bob the Builder pickup in Japan, the US and Europe, but anywhere a vehicle is needed which can reliably transport people and stuff in the harshest of conditions – from Africa to Asia, from the Urals to the Andes – the Toyota Hilux has been the default choice.
That indestructibility and reputation reached a whole new audience when Clarkson’s Top Gear took a 1987 Hilux and did all it could – from dumping it at sea to dropping it off a high rise block – to destroy it – and failed.
But that was a Hilux made more 30 years ago, since when Toyota has made their pickup more comfortable, more user friendly and more car-like, which probably doesn’t auger well for this latest Hilux – the 2017 Toyota Hilux Invincible D/C.
We’ve got a week to find out if the Hilux still deserves its remarkable reputation.
Toyota Hilux Invincible D/C Inside and Out
The Toyota Hilux is a lump of a thing, even if you’re used to thumping great SUVs. It’s not that it’s XC90 wide, but that it’s longer than a LWB S-Class. And it’s a long way up in to the cab too, so it’s a good job it comes with steps.
But all that doesn’t detract from the appeal of the Hilux, but adds to it. Because you want the Hilux to look like a grown-up Tonka toy, even one that’s had Toyota’s designers iron out the wrinkles and make it look like a modern SUV with a flatbed.
That means a sleek, slatted chrome grill, big impressive headlights, chunky alloy wheels, bulging wings and big bits of chrome sitting at the back of the flatbed and as steps to haul yourself in.
There’s also a lump of a flatbed for stuff – 1525mm x 1645mm – which can manage over a tonne, and if that’s not enough you can tow up to 3.5 tonnes.
Inside won’t look unfamiliar to anyone who’s been in a Toyota Auris on recent years, and Toyota has done a pretty good job of making the interior feel car-like.
That means decent seats, a car-like dash, central infotainment screen and enough room in the back seats to get two adults, and even three abreast isn’t much hardship.
The whole ‘I’m a Car, not a Commercial’ is helped by the spec this Invincible model offers, which includes stuff you should only really expect in a car like auto lights and wipers, Cruise, Toyota’s Touch 2 Multimedia, Bluetooth, rear view camera, auto Air Con, privacy glass and much more.
It’s clear Toyota are keen to attract not just those who will really want the inherent abilities of the Hilux, but those opting for a pickup to game the BIK system and who are still looking for a car-like feel.
Toyota Hilux Invincible D/C Performance on (& off) the Road
Toyota has decided that this time round the UK will only get the option of a 2.4 litre diesel engine in the Hilux, whereas most of the rest of the world gets a more powerful 2.8 litre option too.
Fortunately, this 2.4 litre diesel comes with more torque than the old 3.0 litre had – and really, torque is king on a vehicle like this – with 295lb/ft of it to go with its modest 148bhp.
It’s not enough to make the Hilux dart about in traffic like a modern SUV, but it’s enough not to be embarrassed either, and it does mean a 3500kg towing capacity and a flatbed load of over a tonne.
The automatic gearbox on this car does its job too, even if it sometimes has strange ideas about the most suitable gear, and if this is a workhorse buy it just makes life a bit simpler, and if it’s not it’s just easier.
Surprisingly, despite the back end of the Hilux still sitting on leaf springs, the ride’s quite decent and doesn’t feel too flabby and shaky, and although you can bounce around a bit on some road surfaces it’s not an unpleasant ride.
For many buyers, the on road abilities are what will matter, especially if you’re trying to make the BIK system work in your favour and you’re swapping a normal SUV for this double cab pickup.
But if you need your Hilux to work for its living, and especially if you need to use it off road, you’ll be pleased to know the Hiulx is very much at home, and better than ever.
Not only does the Hilux now come with increased approach and departure angles so you can scale almost anything, it also gets front and rear limited slip diffs and a locking function for the rear diff too.
We didn’t do anything too extreme off road, but we did do a bit of green laning and the Hilux shrugged it off as if we were doing nothing more than crossing a muddy car park.
And if it matter to you, the Hilux also comes with Sway Control which adjusts the brakes and throttle to suppress trailer sway when the winds pick up or you just get a bit out of sorts.
Frankly, the new Tonka Toy looks are backed up by a supremely confident fit for purpose vehicle that does exactly what the tin promises.
Toyota Hilux Invincible D/C (2017) Verdict
The problem with choosing a vehicle like the Hilux, unless you’re used to pickups and want it as a workhorse, is managing buyers’ expectations.
If you come at the Hilux as a BIK-saving alternative to your soft SUV, you’re going to be a bit disappointed because, despite its sophisticated veneer, the Hilux is still a proper commercial vehicle underneath.
Yes, it’s in another league in terms of comfort, refinement and performance compared to pickups of just a few years ago, but it’s still a bit sluggish, a bit bouncy and a bit agricultural.
But get past that, learn to love its indomitability, get used to just floating along watching the world from a lofty position, and the mere £50 a month it’s costing you in BIK will make you smile.
However, if you’re buying the Hilux to work for its living, you won’t be disappointed.
It’s more refined in every area than it ever was, it’s more comfortable, better equipped and nicer to drive, and it looks like a proper bit of kit.
If you need to tow stuff you can’t fit on the bigger than ever flatbed, it’ll now pull up to 3.5 tonnes. It’ll go places very little with four wheels should ever try to go, and it’ll hose down and clean up well enough to turn up almost anywhere, and look like it belongs. And it won’t break.
Because this isn’t just a pickup. It’s a Toyota Hilux Pickup
Toyota Hilux Invincible D/C Review Photos
Toyota Hilux Invincible D/C Review Tech Specs (2017)
- Engine: 2393cc, 148bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 12.8 seconds / Top Speed 106mph
- Economy: 36.2mpg – Official / 28.5mpg – Test
- Emissions: 204g/km
- Price: £31,350 / Price as tested £32,645 (inc VAT)
- Test car supplied by Toyota UK