2017 Toyota Hilux Review

Toyota Hilux front side II

By Ben Harrington

(Editor's note: Ben Harrington is from the U.K. and reviews those pickup trucks we don't yet have in the U.S.)

When the world's biggest car television show, "Top Gear," does its darnedest to destroy one of your vehicles, and fails, what's a manufacturer to do?

The seemingly indestructible car is, in fact, a pickup truck: the Toyota Hilux. So Toyota has made the most of this and labeled the top of the Hilux range the Invincible.

Although we've only been officially able to buy the Hilux in the U.K. since the fourth-generation model was launched in the mid-1980s, its history actually stretches back eight generations to 1968. More than 18 million worldwide sales later, the Hilux (short for "high luxury") is undoubtedly an important vehicle for Toyota globally; with each version, they have to get it right.

How It Looks

From a styling perspective, it's taken a huge leap forward over its predecessor. Where many modern mid-size pickups are adopting a brash, flat-fronted appearance, the 2017 Hilux is altogether more dynamic and sleek.

The bonnet slopes downward while the front bumper projects upward, both directing focus toward that curved, slatted grille -- which in turn melds into some large wraparound headlights.

The wheel arches are smoothly contoured, as opposed to being either stuck-on plastic cladding or sharply creased metal. Some real effort has been put into making the Hilux about not only function but form, too.

Toyota Hilux engine II

The same can be said of the cabin. It's ergonomically designed toward the driver, common in many "normal" cars but less so in pickups. The plastics used are of a good quality, and the large Touch 2 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes as standard on all double-cab Hiluxes is easy to use and navigate.

A rearview camera is also standard fitment on the Hilux Invincible, but front and rear parking sensors are part of the optional $590 (plus value-added tax) Parking Pack. The seats are large and comfortable, as you might expect, and a two-way adjustable steering wheel makes finding the optimal driving position simple.

The biggest change this latest Hilux has seen is its new Economy With Superior Thermal Efficient Combustion 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder diesel engine. This replaces the somewhat antiquated 3.0-liter KD series engine that previous Hiluxes were powered by. All U.K. Hiluxes are powered by this new engine; you just choose to mate it to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, which also includes a somewhat unnecessary Sport mode.

How It Performs

Despite losing almost 37 cubic inches of displacement, the ESTEC engine still produces 150 horsepower and, perhaps more importantly, torque is up to almost 300 pounds-feet, plateauing between 1,600 and 2,000 rpm.

It's also a lot cleaner, which will have been the driving force behind its development. Although engine stop/start technology hasn't been incorporated, the manual Hilux is reported to return as much as 40 mpg combined; the automatic 36 mpg. CO2 emissions are 185 and 204 grams per kilometer, respectively. We should note that it's no quieter, though; there's still a fair amount of diesel clatter.

There is a very tempting button in the cab labelled Power Mode. The factory Hilux owner's manual reads, "Use when high levels of response and feeling are desirable, such as when driving in mountainous regions or when overtaking." In truth, it adds precisely no more power -- it just makes acceleration a little more responsive.

The good news is that, although the Hilux isn't much of a performer in a drag race (we got zero-to-62 mph in a little more than 12 seconds), its towing capacity is now an impressive 3.5 tons and it can carry around 2,300 pounds in its bed. That keeps it right up there with the best of the competition and ahead of both the popular Mitsubishi L200 and Volkswagen Amarok.

Toyota Hilux flat bed II

How It Solves Problems

Anyone living in a colder climate will also be grateful for the Hilux's Power Heater button. This essentially allows the engine coolant to get to operating temperature more rapidly, thereby passing lovely hot air into the cabin. It sounds like a simple solution to the notoriously slow rate at which diesel engines warm up.

With a locking rear differential, an all-wheel-drive auto disconnecting differential and hill descent assist as standard -- as well as approach and departure angles of 31 degrees and 26 degrees respectively -- the Hilux is seriously good when it comes to its off-road capabilities.

What's possibly more satisfying, though, is how comfortable the Hilux is on the road. The double wishbone front suspension and leaf-sprung rear soaks up bumps and scars, leaving even unkempt roads feeling much smoother. It manages to do this without being too soft and wallowy, though, even with an unladen rear end that can often tend to bounce around.

Outside of the U.S., at least, the Toyota Hilux has been king of the pickups pretty much forever, with starting prices for new a new Hilux around $25,000 for the Active single-cab models. Every manufacturer seems to be launching a pickup these days, however, so this latest Hilux had to be good -- and it is.

Cars.com photos by Ben Harrington

 

Toyota Hilux down hill II

Toyota Hilux cabin II

DSC_0001 II

Toyota Hilux drive selector II

Toyota Hilux sunglasses holder II

DSC_0002 II

Toyota Hilux rear seats II

Toyota Hilux Rear axle II

Toyota Hilux side high II

Toyota Hilux up hill II

 

Comments

On this site it would still loose to the Colorado. Globally Toyota is is known for building super reliable trucks. It's why you see them all over the world in the most difficult terrain. But on PUTC it would score poorly going over a speed bump and the Colorado would win on a head to head comparison.

I'm curious as to where the diesel emissions for the Hilux stand in reference to those for the USA.

Not surprising, Toyota has always been known for it's quality and durability.

@PUTC: It would be interesting to see a comparison between the Tacoma and Hilux in terms of performance, dimensions, and cost. And mileage metrics would be using the USA gallon, not imperial.

Just plain ugly! That's a camry with a bed.

That's just plain ugly it looks like a Camry with a bed attached.

Jhawk

Of course in USA, the domestic has to win if you want to continue to keep getting trucks to review...

Wow, this Toyota diesel simply outperforms the Colorado diesel built by Isuzu!

@oxi: Didn't it occur to you that the Hilux is not required to adhere to the J2807 towing standard and that the author did not state if the imperial gallon was used? Finally, what kind of math did you use to determine that 150 HP is greater than 181 HP and 300 FT LBs torque is greater than 379 FT LBs of torque?


Same discussion as before.

This modern interpretation of "compact" truck ends up weighing north of 4000 lbs and loaded with gobs stuff that was expendable in earlier and more utilitarian versions of the Hilux and its brethren in the compact and mid size space.

It costs more to buy, uses more fuel, fails to deliver a economical value proposition that can compete with a spartan full sized pickup.

Hilux is sold side by side with Tacoma in North America in Mexico dealerships.

@iOxi, the Colorado diesel is not Isuzu, it is VM Motori in origin. Same basic engine as found in the Jeep Liberty. It has a GM emissions package on it, and probably a little GM tuning/tweaking.

"Wow, this Toyota diesel simply outperforms the Colorado diesel built by Isuzu!


Posted by: oxi | Aug 21, 2017 9:42:01 AM"

Lol.... I owned/drove a Hilux with the 3.0l D4D (the high output intercooled version) for the better part of two years when I used to live in central America. Mine was a 5MT but I got a chance to drive the automatic version as well. In low RPM situations they are ok, not setting the world on fire, but ok. However, at any speed above 30MPH it just becomes noisy and gutless. I havent driven the 2.8l Colorado but there is no hiding 30 more HP, 80 ftlbs and more gears in the transmission.

so they are comparing a 1988 toyota with a diesel to this new piece of crap on reliability. Am I the only one that sees something wrong with that?

Boring.
I find VW's announcement of a new EV mini bus more exciting.
Especially since they might eventually bring back the VW truck too and redefine the "compact" truck industry single handedly. Can't happen soon enough.

Agree with devilsadvocate; this English reviewer was either paid off by toy makers or...; all other comparisons in Aust, NZ, South Africa has this new Hilux at 3-4th place behind Nissan (a more recent platform) & ancient platforms from VW & Ford Ranger.
I also owned a '14 Hilux (gave it to ex-wife) & agree; besides the noisy TD, seating was weird position/uncomfortable (same issue with Taco) & today many other mid-size trucks have surpassed Hilux in all around comparisons....

Once again Toy makers living on past glories & reputation; maybe only the Taliban/ISIS wackos luv them as plentiful around & more spare parts if not wiped out by a drone....

Am i missing something here ? Is that center screen part of the truck.? It looks like someone just put a tablet there, out of place and crooked.

Toyota has great quality, but their steel isn't the best in rust belt states.

Papa's got a whole new truck. Enjoy your new Hilux papa jim.

@papa jim--Where are your imported pickups?

Ford Ranger and Hilux are neck and neck in Australia.Hilux has been pulling away lately. Hilux Corolla and Hilux are the top selling " cars"
@devilsadvocate Global Colorado does not sell well.
Surprises are the Toyota Landcruiser at 10th,Mitsubishi Triton at 8th,
@LionelNissan Navara is not selling well. Triton much better seller.

still waiting for the Ford Ranger

(I will be camping out at the Ford Dealer to be the first in line to buy one)

Damn that's one ugly turd of a truck, but sadly the Fords are even uglier!

Ford Ranger and Hilux are neck and neck in Australia.Hilux has been pulling away lately. Hilux Corolla and Hilux are the top selling " cars"
@devilsadvocate Global Colorado does not sell well.
Surprises are the Toyota Landcruiser at 10th,Mitsubishi Triton at 8th,
@LionelNissan Navara is not selling well. Triton much better seller.

Posted by: Robert Ryan | Aug 22, 2017 1:29:55 AM

@ Robert Ryan; for Ford Ranger to catch up to the king of the hill that has held the crown for so many years is a feat itself & just proves how fantastic this truck is - I know I own one & constantly compare it to buddies with similar Asian built trucks. As for Triton beating Navara - we all know the Navara is a better truck but it does well being the cheapest "best bang for the buck" - a bit like RAM in the US, the oldest platform of the bunch & hanging on in there, almost took 2nd place from shaky GOVT motors cheby...

Damn that's one ugly turd of a truck, but sadly the Fords are even uglier!

Posted by: johnny doe | Aug 22, 2017 4:59:10 PM

@ johnny dum dum; you wouldn't know a good looking truck if it smacked you in the face knowing your taste is a square boxy truck with square wheel wells & skiiny tires...HAHAHAHAHA!!!! I actually believe Toy makers came up with good balanced modern good looking truck, just too bad they didn't fix the awkward seating issue carried on from older models, disappointing noisy under powered power plant & rear seats are still too tight compared to the others...

Toyota could use some newer designers. This might be a good truck but it lacks any styling but compared to the new Prius and some other Toyotas it is not that bad.

Toyota could use some newer designers. Posted by: Jeff S | Aug 23, 2017

@Jeff S.

newer designers? It would not matter Jeff.

You'd still be driving a pair of old midsizers from the 1990s, the S10 and the I-3700. With any luck someday your family will get a new CRV to haul your Honda lawnmower around in.

Hey Oxi.... The Duramax in the Canyon is not Isuzu, it is a GM massaged VM and it does outperform the 2.4L Toyota. You see it is better to know what you are taliking about before posting. I wish this Hilux was available here with the diesel. As we have witnessed the diesel will outperform a gaspot and get 10mpg better fuel economy doing it.

@Lionel,
The Navara rates below well below the Triton. Maybe Mercdes can debug the Navara's load carrying problems...who knows

@ Sean G
They have dropped all gas options for the Hilux except for Egypt and Morocco

I'd prefer to see the newest generation Land Cruisers with
a tdi. The hilux belongs on the Serengeti. There, it can mingle
with lions and tigers and spears oh my !!!

And as many have noted, it will never win a beauty contest.
We already have a glut of trucks to choose from. From the
butt ugly, useless Honda Ridgeline to 80k F450 dually crews
and everything in between, the hilux would get lost in it's own
ego....no thanks. I'd take a Titan Pro 4X any day.

@richardNY66
F450's would struggle in Australia,but they are part of the NA mix.
Hilux actually does not look bad, one reason it has very good sales

40 MPG combined!
Boy, wouldn't that be nice.
It's too bad we aren't allowed to get that sort of MPG here.
The same truck here in NorthAm would get the pathetic 16/20 mpg.
Diesels could do it but the oil and gas cartels paid good money for strict emissions laws brought that great fuel economy back to parity with cheaper gas models. Too bad for the UK too soon they'll probably follow france and sunset diesels altogether.

Robert Ryan-beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It would
struggle in Australia? How? Too big? Too thirsty? Too
expensive? All 3?

MaXx. It may get 40 mpg but as other have mentioned,
it can't get out of it's own way. American drivers would never tolerate it's pokiness, especially when out on the interstates.

Offroad, smallish, low powered diesels are fine but when a
Kenworth is breathing down your neck on I-80 in the Rocky's. I'd like to know I can hit the pedal and actually move. Back in 1970, I bought a brand new VW bug. With
56 hp under my right foot, acceleration was always an
adventure. I learned my lesson with under-powered
vehicles. Thanks but no thanks....

the oil and gas cartels paid good money for strict emissions laws brought that great fuel economy back to parity with cheaper gas models.

@MaXx

Smoke some more of that wacky conspiratorial weed, dude.

Cartels?

The wholesale and retail side of the gas/diesel business is fully exposed to market forces. Energy companies run on thin margins because of it.

the bumpers look much stronger than the Tacoma's thin plastic decoration bumpers.



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