Hilux plays catch-up with the competition
Things are about to get tougher for Toyota’s Hilux. Already faced with VW’s Amarok, and threatened by an all-new Ford Ranger and a new contender from IM Group, Toyota has raised the bar for 2012 and launched the sixth generation Hilux.
Externally, it gets sleeker front-end styling with a new grille, headlamps and bumper, but under the bonnet little has changed, with 2.5 and three-litre power units only mildly fettled and given a diesel particle filter.
Single cab, extra cab and double cab versions come in HL2, HL3 and Invincible grades, with manual and auto gearboxes.
The Hilux can now handle a bit more towing weight. It is not a monumental increase and does not threaten its peers, but the towing capacity does at least make it to 2,500kg with a braked trailer.
The greatest changes have been made to the interior, which gets a redesigned dashboard, new instrument cluster and the convenience of a steering wheel with buttons for volume, radio channel, trip computer display and telephone, hinting at Bluetooth connectivity.
While sat-nav is available, it is not included in the Toyota Touch 6.1in (15.5cm) multimedia system that forms part of the HL3’s specification. It does get a reversing camera built into the tailgate, with an image appearing on the multimedia screen each time reverse gear is selected. Heated door mirrors are finally available.
Our HL3 test model came with the 2.5-litre and it is a remarkably smooth four-cylinder, with lower emissions and better fuel efficiency than its predecessor.
Toyota says 38mpg is achievable on the combined cycle.
The truck’s manual gearbox still makes do with just five gears, and there is automatic engagement and disengagement of the front axle when shifting between two and four-wheel drive.
A rear diff lock - activated by a button on the dashboard - is fitted as standard. This truck is not fussy or complex.
Off road, it remains as legendary as ever, even on its weedy looking 15in wheels and tyres. It might not have the stance or the bling of its show-boating contemporaries, but ask the Hilux to get down and dirty, and it does not disappoint.
Rear seat space for passengers is good, and the Hilux still offers one of the best combinations for useable space and overall truck size. The back seat base can be folded up, revealing two lidded storage compartments. They are not what you would term as generous, but are useful nonetheless.
Sadly, it still only provides just four, fixed load lashing points inside the corners of the bed and nothing outside the bodywork.
This revised Hilux is a good step forward, but this year’s arrival of several other new trucks looks destined to shake up the old guard.
Need to know
Toyota Hilux HL3, 2.5
- Price: £22,615 (including £3,725 reclaimable VAT)
- Engine: 2,494cc, four-cylinder turbo diesel,
- 2hp @ 3,400rpm, 343Nm @ 2,800rpm
- Transmissions: Selectable four-wheel drive and five-speed manual gearbox
- Performance: 13.3 sec 0-62mph, 106mph, 38.7mpg combined, 194g/km
- Towing capacity: 2,500kg