IF you’re in the market for a pick-up truck there are plenty to choose from - but there’s one that’s head and shoulders above the rest.
Toyota’s Hilux has become an immoveable icon, the go-to choice for anyone who needs a rock-solid, rugged vehicle that’s happy on every surface. Yes, they’ve always been a tad utilitarian inside and hardly brimming with quality, but the Hilux is what it is: a tough, no-nonsense machine that’s been ever-popular for decades.
It came to my attention - like most 30-something males - on Top Gear when Jeremy Clarkson showed off its seemingly indestructible strength, but the newest version is now a plausible commuter and more well-rounded than ever.
Key to its brilliance is that it’s retained all its Hilux essentials - space, height, practicality and loading space - but Toyota’s engineers have given it much-needed usability from a driving point of view. Hiluxes will never set a road alight with pace, poise and have bags of steering feel, but the fact a degree of driving prowess has been dialled into its make-up can be immediately noted.
Its interior, too, is a much-improved one and the 201bhp 2.8-litre diesel engine - particularly when mated to the automatic gearbox - is the pick of the bunch because it outguns the 2.4 and why anyone would want a manual in a car as big as the Hilux baffles me.
If you’re after a single or double cab model, the only trim Toyota offers is Active - this rough-and-ready version still gets some luxuries including auto headlights and heated electric mirrors.
The next step up is Icon spec, which gains alloy wheels, a chrome grille, front fog lights and much-needed side steps which beefs up its stance. Invincible and Invincible X models - the priciest at about £33,000 but the picks of the bunch - get bigger wheels, keyless entry and climate control.
So, what about how it stacks up to its rivals? Well, there are plenty of them and established players like the Ford Ranger is an obvious alternative, but it doesn’t quite grab you like the Hilux does. There’s a reason why its reputation is as good as it is and in 2022 guise, it’s better than ever.