January 23, 2019

Toyota’s X factor

Toyota doesn’t disappoint when it comes to high end pick-ups, says Dan Gilkes.

The pick-up sector continues to defy market expectations, growing in popularity year on year. Despite new competitors and a host of revised models, manufacturers continue to develop trucks, adding ever more extravagant specifications both under the bonnet and in the cab.

Toyota is certainly not ignoring the high trim market, which dominates sales figures for most manufacturers. Yet the company seems content to stick with the same driveline, no matter what the price.

All UK Hilux models use the same 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine, delivering 148bhp and 400Nm of torque. While competitive, those figures are far from class-leading, with the V6 engines in the Mercedes X-Class and VW’s Amarok pumping out around 100hp more. Yet, to drive, the Hilux provides everything most users will ever need.

There is a six-speed manual gearbox available on lesser Hilux models, but by the time you get to Invincible, or this Invincible X model, it’s a six-speed automatic transmission as standard. It’s a similar tale with cab layouts, with single and extended models lower down the range, making way for a double-cab only line-up at Invincible level.

This is of course still being driven by the savings that companies can make by opting for a pick-up. There is the ability to rapidly write-down the investment, to reclaim VAT on the purchase and to offer reduced benefit-in-kind tax to drivers, making pick-ups popular as everyday transport, particularly with those who need to occasionally venture off-road.

We know from experience that the Hilux remains incredibly capable off-road, with high and low transmission ranges and a rear differential lock as standard, along with a host of electronic driver aids like Active Traction Control, Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control all included at Invincible X level.

There is also plenty of safety kit on board for road use, including Toyota Safety Sense, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert and road sign assist.

However, you also get most of that on the Invincible model, so why invest a further £3,500 on the range-topper? Well, it does get a new front end to differentiate the X from the rest of the Hilux family, being the only model with the chrome grille surround, different front lights and a revised front bumper.

You also get chrome side bars and scuff plates, rear parking sensors, black leather seats, with heating for the driver and front passenger and electric adjustment for the driver. Plus, there is Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment with Go navigation and enhanced multi-media functionality, including voice control and 3D maps, which is optional on lesser models.

The big Toyota is a comfortable truck to drive, with more than enough performance to keep pace with other traffic in all conditions. It may not boast the most powerful engine on the market, indeed it is far from it, but that doesn’t hold the Hilux back in general use.

The automatic transmission is smooth and will kick down eagerly when required, though perhaps a little too eagerly at motorway cruising speeds. There are Eco and Power buttons that alter the performance, though neither does much to improve what is fairly expensive fuel consumption. In fairness our test truck was straight out of the box, so would probably improve with a few more miles on the clock. As it was, we failed to see a claimed 30mpg.

Running costs won’t be helped by a trip to the dealers for a service every 10,000 miles either, though the standard five-year/100,000-mile warranty will at least provide peace of mind for long term owners.

The pick-up is meant to be a working tool. That being the case, the Invincible X carries an impressive 1,120kg in the back and can now pull a full 3.5-tonne trailer, keeping pace with the pack in terms of load hauling ability.

Indeed, the Hilux doesn’t really take a lead in any one area. Yet, climb behind the wheel and there is a real sense of security and capability, you just know that the truck will still be working in many years to come. Whether you opt for an Invincible or pay the extra for the X will depend on your budget. Neither one will disappoint.