Toyota Hilux review

Category: Pick-up

Section: Performance & drive

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Toyota Hilux 2021 Off-road rear tracking
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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 former hauls itself from 0-62mph in a decent 10.7sec, with the latter taking an additional 2.1sec to cover the same sprint.

Both have plenty of low-down shove that’ll make towing pretty painless, but you’ll have fewer irate drivers behind you with a 2.8-litre engine up front.

The bigger engine also means you won’t be working the engine quite so hard in all situations, which is no bad thing because both of them 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.

Because the Hilux is designed to deal with huge weights in its bed, the rear suspension is pretty stiff. This causes the back of the truck to feel a little bouncy over speed bumps and rough roads, a trait shared with all other pick-ups.

It’s by no means the worst, 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.

Off the road, the Hilux is virtually unstoppable. All models get selectable four-wheel drive with high and low range gearing for particularly demanding ascents.

If that’s not enough, 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 that muddy, uneven 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 quite wade as deep as the Ford (700mm against 800mm respectively).

Toyota Hilux 2021 Off-road rear tracking

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