George Barrows take a trip in a 2.8-litre engine revised Toyota Hilux pickup
So, I thought my farmer friend would love to know all about the new bigger 2.8-litre engine revised Toyota Hilux pickup that’s come to market. The massive increase in power and its huge amounts of torque, would impress surely. Oh boy was I wrong!
As with most farmers, my friend is a pretty shrewd operator and he knows that his current Hilux is going to be good for a while longer, so why upgrade? And that is the problem with the Toyota Hilux – it’s great at being reliable.
Of course, the measurement of greatness is relative. Was Alexander the Great better than Genghis Khan at conquering the world? That depends on who you
ask. But, with 18 million global sales, taking on more countries than both these historical figures, the Hilux can rightly claim leadership quality.
It can motor across scorching deserts and climb snowy peaks but like Genghis and Alexander it’s also become something of a relic. A single turbo engine with just 148hp is well below average in a world where modern conquerors want at least 200hp.
I persevered with my friend, explaining that the new 2.8-litre Hilux was one of the most powerful pick-ups on sale with its 201hp and 420Nm of torque. It offers a huge improvement over the noisy 2.4-litre engine in his current truck, I said. On start-up it does sound quite agricultural, but as the revs climb it settles down to a moo (he is a diary farmer so I hoped he’d appreciate that!). It is far more at home at 60mph than any Hilux he’ll have driven. He still wasn’t impressed, but maybe you are?
The 2.4-litre engine is still available in the range, if you’re on a budget, but the new bigger engine is a no-brainer with just 1mpg more claimed in its fuel consumption. I’ll skate over the fact that 31.3mpg isn’t a great return in economy, but few working vehicles ever dazzle in this area. The Hilux is, though, one of the toughest workers out there and this new version is tougher still with improved suspension, different shock absorbers, adjusted leaf springs and new bushes that have firmed up the ride and improved its handling over particularly poor road surface.
Six speed manual gearbox
Tested here is the Toyota Hilux Invincible with a six-speed manual gearbox. It’s the second highest trim level and the more “cost effective” approach to getting in a nicely appointed Hilux at a shade under £29,000. Full luxury – the Invicible X – will set you back about another £2,000, while a six-speed automatic gearbox comes in at about £1,200 more. This model, however, I think is the sweet spot in the range and with a manual gearbox you have that versatility and connection to the road that can be lost with an automatic. The downside of the manual is that it does have a relatively long throw, which makes the changes seem like you’re mixing up a vat of something by your knee as you waggle the lever around. However, the driveline has been deftly tuned to cope with the significant uplift in power and torque.
The new engine hasn’t altered the Hilux’s brilliant off-road abilities, in fact it’s improved it with a wider torque band from 1,400rpm to 3,400rpm. The interior has also come in for something of an upgrade and while the range has got a little more confusing, as Invincible is only available with the 2.8-litre engine but Active and Icon trims are now exclusively available on the 2.4-litre model, it is a far smarter place to be.
Updates include an eight inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (that is actually also applied to Icon trim upwards) as well as front and rear parking sensors on both Invincible and Invincible X models. The touchscreen fits in more neatly with the centre console than the media units of previous generations. The uplift in equipment in the new Hilux better reflects the changing (more SUV-like) demands of the audience who expect gadgets and luxuries even on a working vehicle.
Regardless of whether you want the Hilux purely as a workhorse or as a dual purpose work/family wagon, the new 2.8-litre engine is an upgrade worth having. With power and comfort to match a Ford Ranger and off- roading abilities that might even impress a farmer, the new engine is reason enough to modernise. Whether or not you want to might just depend on how great your need is, after all there’s always plenty of life left in an old Hilux.