The Toyota Hilux on test for Changing Lanes!
The Toyota Hilux on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 Toyota Hilux.

An unlikely partnership between Changing Lanes and the Toyota Hilux. Every so often a gigantic pick-up arrives in my test schedule and all that is left to do is embrace it in the name of diversity and good motoring journalism.

Who would refuse a week with the Toyota Hilux, the king of pick-ups? Hilux is as tough as it gets, a legend that goes on and on. Since its launch in 1968, the unstoppable Hilux has conquered the North Pole, Icelandic volcanoes, the Antarctic and won in the Dakar Rally in 2019.

But what a different experience for this test driver that lives behind the wheel of suburban hatchbacks and SUVs for most of the year?

What’s new for the 2021 Toyota Hilux?

For this model year, the Hilux has a new 2.8-litre diesel engine with an increase of 54 hp and extra 100 Nm of torque. Smart phone integration is now standard. There have been suspension improvements for better on-road comfort and handling, and improved off-roading with lower engine idle and a new auto limited slip differential.

More basic versions of the Hilux use a 2.4-litre diesel engine with manual transmission (single cab from €29,860, double cab from €36,805).

Priced from €50,570, the top of the range Toyota Hilux Invincible on test for Changing Lanes was indeed the full fat Hilux of your dreams with an almost luxurious spec for a pick-up and bespoke exterior. But not so blinged up to defer in any way from the Hilux tough appeal and frankly brilliant capability.

The top of the range Hilux Invincible is on sale in Ireland from €50,570
The top of the range Hilux Invincible is on sale in Ireland from €50,570

For me, it was a busy week of mixing cement, felling trees, and visiting sites. Okay not really but surely this is the sort of things Hilux drivers do! But tractors with trailers in a busy harvest would pull in to the side of the road to let me by and ‘get to work’. If I had been driving a supermini this would certainly not have happened!

The Hilux of course screams ‘werk, werk, werk’ with a 1 tonne payload, 3.5 tonne towing capacity, four wheel drive and double cab.

Invincible models have 18” black alloy wheels and other bespoke styling elements, LED headlights and fog lights, and side steps. Yes the Hilux Invincible was truly bigger than me.

Driving the Toyota Hilux

The engineering goal for the latest Hilux was to maintain its legendary off-road capabilities while improving the on-road comfort. No easy task considering the ladder-frame chassis – great for durability and off-roading but not so good for dynamic appeal.

The comfort and driveability of the new Hilux has been enhanced through improvements to the suspension, and power steering systems. On the road, the Hilux performs well for what it is. Still not the last word in comfort on rural roads – it’s bumpier than an SUV for example – but things settle down for good motorway cruising. The new 2.8 engine gathers pace well and stays reasonably refined, with the extra power and torque meaning you don’t have to work it as hard to pick up speed quickly. The automatic made the drive so much more enjoyable for this test driver too. My fuel consumption averaged at 8.9 litres per 100 km over my test drive. Still a brute then!

Inside the 2021 Toyota Hilux
Inside the 2021 Toyota Hilux

Did you like it?

The interior of the Hilux is another highlight, well-built and comfortable, with this Invincible model getting leather seats/front heated, parking sensors, automatic air conditioning and 8” touchscreen with smartphone integration. The Invincible model has black metallic and black chrome trim accents, and ‘clear blue’ front and rear door trim illumination. It’s roomy up front but there’s not a huge amount of legroom in the rear of the Double Cab model.

The pick-up segment is steadily growing in Europe. From 154,000 vehicle sales in 2015, an anticipated segment growth of some 35% will see annual pick-up sales rising to 208,000 units by 2023. Much of this growth may be accounted for by the rise of interest in the pick-up as a dual-usage, both professional and leisure market vehicle.

With its good looks and best-of-the-range engine and transmission, the Toyota Hilux Invincible plays the part well, moving into the high-end, lifestyle market for pick-ups.  The Hilux is the world’s favourite pick-up and it’s easy to see why!

The Hilux is the world's favourite pick-up
The Hilux is the world’s favourite pick-up

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Hilux Invincible Double Cab Automatic
€50, 570
2.8-litre turbo diesel
Power: 204 hp
Torque: 500 Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 10 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
250 g/km