Toyota Hilux review

Category: Pick-up

This is easily the best Toyota Hilux yet, but it still feels more workmanlike than most of the competition

Toyota Hilux front cornering
  • Toyota Hilux front cornering
  • Toyota Hilux rear cornering
  • Toyota Hilux interior dashboard
  • Toyota Hilux interior rear seats
  • Toyota Hilux interior infotainment
  • Toyota Hilux right driving
  • Toyota Hilux left driving
  • Toyota Hilux front cornering
  • Toyota Hilux left driving
  • Toyota Hilux interior detail
  • Toyota Hilux badge detail
  • Toyota Hilux load bay
  • Toyota Hilux front cornering
  • Toyota Hilux rear cornering
  • Toyota Hilux interior dashboard
  • Toyota Hilux interior rear seats
  • Toyota Hilux interior infotainment
  • Toyota Hilux right driving
  • Toyota Hilux left driving
  • Toyota Hilux front cornering
  • Toyota Hilux left driving
  • Toyota Hilux interior detail
  • Toyota Hilux badge detail
  • Toyota Hilux load bay


What Car? says...

The Toyota Hilux used to be a rare sight anywhere except on a building site or farm – and for good reason. While it was very capable off road and had legendary reliability, the pick-up (and its rivals) used to be slow, unrefined and uncomfortable on the road.

Today, though, pick-ups are an increasingly popular alternative to large SUVs. Improvements to how they drive have helped broaden their appeal, but we suspect the tax savings available to company car users are an even more powerful incentive.

That’s because any pick-up with a payload of 1000kg or more is classed as a Light Commercial Vehicle. In finance terms, that means a fixed road tax and a benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax price based on its age, regardless of how big it is, how much it costs to buy or how thirsty the engine is.

That last point has actually been the cause of a "thinning of the herd" when it comes to pick-ups. Emissions have put a lot of brands above the corporate average figures, meaning that many manufacturers have stopped building these trucks to avoid big fines.

None of that bothers Toyota though, because the majority of its cars are low-emission hybrid cars so as a company it can afford to still sell the Hilux – and not just one version, either.

There’s a two-seat Single Cab, an Extra Cab with a couple of occasional rear seats and a full Double Cab. With four doors and usable rear seats, it’s no surprise that the Double Cab is the most popular option. There are also multiple engines – from a 2.4-litre diesel with 148bhp to a more potent 201bhp 2.8-litre diesel. Both can be paired with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox.

So how does the Toyota Hilux compare with its equally rugged pick-up truck rivals, notably the Ford Ranger, the Isuzu D-Max and the Ssangyong Musso? Over the next few pages of this review, we'll rate its performance and handling, interior quality, running costs and more to help you decide whether it's the right one for you.

Once you've decided which pick-up meets your needs, we can help you find the best leasing deals through our free New Car Deals pages.

Read more: How we test vans


The Hilux is a famously dependable beast of burden, and is one of the most capable pick-up trucks available. Fantastic reliability and keen finance deals are also on its side, but the Ford Ranger is a far comfier pick-up to drive on the road, and has a nicer interior, while the Ssangyong Musso represents brilliant value.

  • Punchy 2.8-litre engine
  • Excellent reliability record and warranty
  • Impressive off road
  • Sluggish acceleration with the 2.4-litre diesel
  • Rivals have greater payloads
  • Engines gruff when worked hard

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

We’d recommend opting for the more powerful 2.8-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine in the Toyota Hilux as its 201bhp gives far punchier performance than the significantly slower 2.4-litre. Many buyers decide to go for the six-speed automatic gearbox rather than the manual option. The auto helps haul the 2.8-litre version from 0-62mph in a 10.7sec, while the manual takes 2.1sec longer to cover the same sprint.

Toyota Hilux image
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Both engines give you plenty of low-down shove to make towing pretty painless, but you’ll have fewer irate drivers behind you with the 2.8-litre engine up front. The bigger engine also means you won’t be working it quite so hard in all situations.

That's no bad thing, because both engines sound pretty agricultural when pushed (you’ll find the Ford Ranger or Ssangyong Musso a bit less grumbly). When you settle down to a cruise, the engine is muted to the extent that the wind whistling around the big mirrors will prove more of a distraction. 

Although the six-speed manual gearbox has quite a long throw, it’s surprisingly satisfying in a precise, mechanical kind of way, making it one of the most agreeable gearboxes in the class. Unusually, the automatic ’box actually improves performance on the 2.4-litre, if not the 2.8. It feels very old school, slurring heavily between gear changes and taking a while to change up gears, so we’d save the money and stick to the manual.

The Hilux is designed to deal with huge weights in its bed, so Toyota has fitted pretty stiff rear suspension. This causes the back of the truck to feel a little bouncy over speed bumps and rough roads, although that's a trait shared with all other pick-ups. It’s by no means the worst in that respect, with the Musso and Isuzu D-Max proving even more jittery, although the Ranger provides a smoother ride, especially if you opt for a Ranger Raptor.

While stiff suspension usually improves handling, the Hilux quickly feels out of its depth if you pitch it into a corner hard. Its soft front suspension leads to lots of body lean and you don’t have to be going fast for the tyres to start squealing then run out of grip. If good cornering is one of your priorities, you probably shouldn’t be looking at a pick-up at all, although the Musso and especially the Ranger are more accomplished. 

Head off road, meanwhile, and the Hilux is virtually unstoppable. All models get selectable four-wheel drive with high and low range gearing for particularly demanding ascents, and a switchable rear diff-lock is standard to get you out of really sticky situations. There’s also hill descent control – an electronic system that helps to prevent the car from sliding down a steep hill – and plenty of other tech, so uneven muddy hills shouldn’t be too tricky.

With 60mm more ground clearance and a larger obstacle-approach angle than the Ranger, the Hilux can take on rocky surfaces with ease, although it can’t wade quite as deep as that rival (700mm against 800mm-850mm).

Toyota Hilux rear cornering


The interior layout, fit and finish

At first glance, the Toyota Hilux interior appears modern, thanks in part to an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system that’s standard on all but Active trim. Start to poke around, though, and you’ll soon realise that the materials used are all hard and scratchy, save for some rather coarse leather on the wheel if you opt for Icon trim and above.

Most pick-ups are similarly workmanlike, although the Ford Ranger (especially in Wildtrack and Raptor trims) and the Ssangyong Musso both feel plusher. All Hilux trims include a height-adjustable driver’s seat, with full electric adjustment if you go for the Invincible X or GR Sport trims. The steering wheel on all models moves in and out as well as up and down.

Everything feels well screwed together too, and the switches and controls operate with precision, but the infotainment screen is less impressive – it’s rather sluggish to respond to prods and the small icons are fiddly to hit on the move.

What’s more, you’ll need Invincible X trim or above if you want built-in sat-nav. All but Active models get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay though, so on lesser trims you can use your phone’s navigation and bypass the Toyota system for music and other functions. Active trim gets a basic radio with CD player, USB connectivity and Bluetooth instead.

As the name suggests, you do sit high up in the Hilux – it’s one of the few cars on which the side steps and grab handles are positively useful for clambering in. Forward visibility is good because the windscreen pillars are slim and it’s easy to judge the end of the bonnet.

The view out of the back is trickier because of the small rear window and high bed, making a reversing camera essential. Thankfully you get one as standard on all but base Active models, with Invincible trim adding front and rear parking sensors plus bright LED headlights.

Toyota Hilux interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

There’s enough room in the front of the Toyota Hilux for tall adults to sit comfortably, although those over six feet will have less head room than in the equivalent Ford Ranger or Ssangyong Musso. Thanks to the Hilux’s width, even a pair of broad shouldered rugby players won’t be rubbing shoulders while sitting upfront. 

You’ll also find lots of storage spaces in the front and the door bins are a decent size. You get a big cubbyhole under the centre armrest and not one, but two gloveboxes. On top of all that, Toyota gives you a handy tray for your mobile with a nearby USB port, a pair of sizeable cupholders between that and the gearstick and another pair of pop-out cupholders at the far corners of the dashboard.

Move to the rear, though, and there isn’t a copious amount of leg room, especially as the high floor forces your knees up uncomfortably, even in the most spacious Double Cab models. There’s precious little leg room in the back of the Extra Cab – the seats really are just for kids or the shortest of journeys. Head room is not too bad, thanks to the boxy body, but again, both the Ranger and Musso offer significantly more.

As for cargo space, there’s lots of it but you’ll almost certainly need an optional load cover or hardtop to protect your belongings. There are at least eyelets to tie loads down and the rear seats can fold up to give some internal space, too.

Regardless of the cab style, all models can carry more than 1000kg in the bed and tow 3500kg, although not at the same time (you’ll need a Musso for that). It’s worth remembering that the more spacious the cab, the shorter the bed is. In all cases, the Hilux has the shallowest load bed out of the Musso, Ranger and Isuzu D-Max.

Toyota Hilux interior rear seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

While the Toyota Hilux isn’t the cheapest of pick-ups to buy outright, similar resale values to the Ford Ranger and slower predicted depreciation than the Ssangyong Musso means that it should be competitive to buy on finance. 

Along with all of its competitors, it benefits from a flat-rate company car tax cost that makes it more tempting, if not even cheaper, than a company car. Better still, fuel economy is decent both on paper and in practice, with the 2.8-litre diesel equipped Hilux Invincible X averaging 35.0mpg in our scientific True MPG test

If you’re after a Single or Extra Cab model, the only trim Toyota offers is entry-level Active. It’s pretty rough and ready but still gets some luxuries, including auto headlights, adaptive cruise control, heated electric mirrors, air con and even a front cool box in the glove compartment. 

The next step up is Icon, which gains alloy wheels, a chrome grille, front fog lights, side steps and a leather steering wheel. The infotainment system with DAB radio and a reversing camera is also added, and you get fabric rather than wipe-down PVC seats.

Invincible models get bigger 18in wheels, a handy wiper de-icer, keyless entry, heated front seats, LED headlights and climate control. Importantly, there’s also the option of the gutsier 2.8-litre engine, making it our pick. Upgrading to Invincible X, meanwhile, brings additional plastic cladding, blue ambient lighting and sat-nav, and automatically gets the 2.8-litre engine.

As with most of Toyota’s models, the fanciest trim level is GR Sport. It gets smaller wheels than the Invincible trim levels – which isn’t a bad thing – and gets unique exterior styling. Equipment wise, the top-tier trim adds an upgraded JBL stereo system, heated rear seats and paddle shifters behind the wheel for changing gear. It also adds front and rear monotube shock absorbers but, while they help off-road, they don’t really improve the on-road ride or handling over the standard suspension. 

Toyota’s Safety Sense package, featuring automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-departure warning, comes as standard, giving the Hilux a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. However, the rating was awarded back in 2016 and, since the testing has become far more stringent in the years since, it has now expired.

Both the Ranger and Isuzu D-Max have been given the full five-star rating under the latest and more rigorous routine, so, while it’s very difficult to compare the results directly, they’d potentially keep you safer in an accident. The D-Max also has more advanced safety tech, including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as standard on double-cab models, both of which the Hilux does without.

Toyota has a fantastic reputation for dependability, with the brand claiming second place out of the 32 manufacturers in our 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey (below only Lexus). For comparison, Ford sat way down in 27th place. For even more peace of mind, Toyota’s warranty of up to 10 years or 100,000 miles (provided you regularly service it at a Toyota franchised dealer) is far better than the Ranger’s three-year/60,000 mile offering and also beats the Musso’s five-year or 100,000 mile warranty.

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Toyota Hilux interior infotainment


  • The Ford Ranger is a bit better when it comes to on-road handling and interior quality, but the Hilux is far superior off road and significantly more reliable. What’s more, the Hilux was named best commercial pick-up in our 2023 Van and Commercial Vehicle Awards.

  • We don’t have data for the Hilux as a model, but Toyota as a brand claimed a very impressive second place out of 32 manufacturers in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey.

  • When we put the Hilux Invincible X with the 2.8-litre diesel engine through our scientific True MPG test it managed an impressive average of 35.0mpg combined.

  • We think the Hilux’s sweet spot is the Invincible trim, because it gives you plenty of luxuries and is the entry point for our favourite engine – the more powerful 2.8-litre diesel.

  • Every version can tow up to 3,500kg, which matches the Ford Ranger, the Isuzu D-Max and the Ssangyong Musso – although the Musso is the only pick-up that can also carry 1,000kg in its bed at the same time.