The Toyota Hilux has long been regarded as a reliable workhorse. Now Toyota has updated its Hilux pick-up with a choice of diesel engines, more equipment, and revised suspension to make the truck better to drive. Of these changes, it’s the introduction of a second, more powerful diesel engine which will be of most interest to caravaners. The new 2.8-litre engine has a lot more power and torque than the 2.4.
What are we looking for?
The relatively weedy engine has been seen as a weakness of the Hilux for years. Does the new 2.8-litre improve the big Toyota as a towing vehicle?
The Toyota Hilux has a reputation for toughness and reliability, but compared with pick-ups like the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok, it’s been short on muscle. It will go anywhere, but don’t expect to get there in a hurry.
The new Hilux solves that with the addition of a range-topping 2.8-litre engine. It has 204hp and 369lb ft of torque. That drops the claimed 0-62mph time by 2.7 seconds to 10.1 seconds, compared with the 2.4-litre engine.
Now 0-62mph sprint times are neither here nor there when it comes to towing, but it does demonstrate that the 2.8 has a lot more pulling power and should cope better with towing a heavy caravan.
To put that to the test, we borrowed an Adria Isonzo 613 DT with a MiRO of 1691kg, and loaded it with 180kg of ballast.
The Hilux 2.8 comes with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, as tested here. It’s worth noting that the maximum torque figure is only available if you choose the auto.
Even with 369lb ft, a total weight of four tonnes or over takes some pulling up to speed, but the Hilux did the job. Think determined, rather than quick, acceleration. At times, the six-speed ‘box dropped as low as fourth to hold 60mph on a motorway incline.
At the legal limit with no other traffic, the Hilux felt secure, but overtaking an HGV or coach would cause the van to bob from side to side in the mirrors, and pull the back of the Toyota with it. These movements were never so pronounced that the caravan moved out of its lane, but it wasn’t very relaxing.
It’s a common problem with pick-ups, with their tough but crude rear suspension and long rear overhang giving the caravan plenty of leverage on the back of the vehicle.
If you’re looking at a pick-up truck as an alternative to a regular SUV, the likes of the Kia Sorento are more stable in traffic or when the wind starts to blow. But the Hilux holds its own in the company of other pick-ups.
A rear-view camera aids manoeuvring, although the gearbox sometimes clonks in and out of drive and reverse when changing. The turning circle is also huge, which is something to keep in mind when reversing onto a pitch. There’s a full-size spare under the loadbed, and the fixed towball and 13-pin electrics add £719 to the price.
Toyota has tweaked the suspension and steering, but from behind the wheel, this is still very much a commercial vehicle. That’s most notable in terms of ride comfort from the rear suspension. Super-tough leaf-spring suspension should take years of abuse, but makes for a bouncy ride. Things should improve considerably with a load in the back, and in fairness, the Hilux is no worse than most pick-ups in this respect.
In fact, ride comfort aside, the Hilux is reasonably refined and easy to live with. The engine murmurs away at speed, but it’s not intrusive, and road noise is kept in check. There’s some wind noise from around the mirrors, but it’s easy to hold a conversation without raised voices at 70mph. Combine that with a comfortable driving position and we’d happily cover long distances in the Hilux.
Around town, you’re always aware of the Hilux’s size, and in particular, its length. You’ll need a big space to parallel park the Toyota, and judging the vehicle’s extremities would be difficult without the rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors.
We didn’t have a chance to head off-road, but with four-wheel drive and a locking rear differential, the Toyota should be able to handle itself when the going gets rough.
The dashboard is well laid out, and we’re pleased there are shortcut buttons to make the infotainment system easier to use. We found it easy to find a comfortable driving position, although another inch or so of rearward seat travel would have been even better for very tall drivers.
There are no frills in the back of the car, so rear-seat passengers must do without air vents or USBs. But there’s adequate head- and legroom for adults, and the seats flip up to offer more space for luggage.
The loadbed is more than a metre wide, even between the arches. Crucially for how the Hilux is treated by HMRC, the payload is over a tonne, at 1010kg. However, many rivals can carry more. The equivalent Nissan Navara can manage a load of 1115kg.
Buying and owning
VAT can be reclaimed on a Hilux bought by a business, so if that’s your route, it will cost £30,803.33. That’s relatively costly – the equivalent Ssangyong Musso is £28,595.
Pay the extra for the Hiolux, and you get a healthy list of standard kit, including the Toyota Safety Sense package of driver aids. Sat nav is a notable omission – you’ll need to use your smartphone through Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
The Hilux is a refined and safe pick-up, although not the most stable tow car.
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The engine murmurs away at speed, but it's not intrusive, and road noise is kept in check
|Engine Size||2755 cc|
|85% KW||1806 kg|
|Towball Limit||130 kg|
|Maximum Towing Limit||3500 kg|
|Torque||369 lb ft|
|Offical MPG||28.5 mpg|
|Towing MPG||19.4 mpg|