But don’t worry, it’s as tough as ever.
Many of today’s pick-up customers want an LCV for daily tarmac use, some even now want it to function as their only means of transport. As a result, Toyota knew that the MK8 model Hilux had to become more car-like in its feel on tarmac, yet manage that without compromising the previous model’s core values of tough, go-anywhere capability. Have they managed that? Well the redesigned suspension is still leaf-sprung, so it can’t match the ride quality of Nissan’s rival coil-spring Navara NP300. It is a big improvement though and previous drivers will note the smoother way that the pick-up now handles secondary route tarmac undulations, something aided by a clever ‘Pitch and Bounce Control’ system that automatically adjusts engine torque to suit the road surface. Sharper, more accurate steering helps too, plus improved engine refinement makes highway trips less of a chore.
The engine is a new 148bhp 2. 4-litre D-4D diesel that puts out a prodigious 400Nm of torque, enough to deliver the uprated 3. 5-tonne towing capacity that front runners in this segment offer. The powerplant features all kinds of developments aimed at improving efficiency, but the benefits the enhancements deliver are to a great extent masked by the extra weight the MK8 model must carry around thanks in part to a tougher ladder-frame chassis that’s 20% more rigid than before. The 6-speed manual version of the Double Cab variant manages 40. 4mpg on the combined cycle and 185g/km of CO2. Go for the optional 6-speed auto gearbox and the figures fall to 36. 2mpg and 204g/km.
It’s perhaps, a little more arresting than you might expect a Hilux to be. Especially when it’s dressed up with all the exterior bling that Toyota has to offer. Some pick-ups look a little silly when they’re all chromed up, but we think the Hilux assumes just the right balance of style and solidity, especially in the Double Cab guise, a bodystyle that’ll far out-sell the alternative ‘Single Cab’ and ‘Extra Cab’ variants.
Let’s take a seat at the wheel. There’s something about climbing aboard a Hilux that makes you come over all Crocodile Dundee. As with all the toughest pick-ups, you perch up high, bearing down on ordinary road users with authority and in this model, you sit more comfortably on redesigned seats that are much more supportive than those of the old seventh generation model.
Welcome cabin improvements include this sophisticated ‘Toyota Touch 2’ centre dash infotainment screen, the 4. 2-inch TFT multi-information display on the dash and the fact that the thicker steering wheel now adjusts for reach as well as rake.
Time to take a seat in the back. Here, the rear seat still has a useful 60:40-split tip-up function so that valuable things like tools can be kept away from prying eyes. No Double Cab pick-up offers rear-seated passengers a really luxurious travelling experience, but the Hilux has certainly improved itself in this regard. It helps that the seats have been redesigned to give more thigh and back support, plus the centre transmission tunnel is relatively low and thinner front seat backs free up more space for your knees. If there are only two of you, you can use the fold-down centre armrest with its integrated cupholders.
Time to focus on cargo bay practicality – and the main thing you need to know here is that there’s more of it. The revised design of the eighth generation model makes it easier to get to the loading area, thanks to a revised steel bumper that’s set lower to the ground, allowing for a deeper step to be fitted. As for the bay itself, well it’s now class-leadingly wide, with maximum deck width having been increased from 1,544mm in the previous model to 1,645mm. As for the weight you can carry, well in ‘Active’ guise, the Double Cab can take a payload of up to 1,055kgs.
You can see why pick-up use continues to rise. They’re practical, quite tax efficient and more car-like than ever before. If you’re worried on that score, then the Hilux will suit you perfectly. The eighth generation changes have made it a slightly more practical day-to-day tarmac tool, but never far below the surface is the rugged toughness that has taken this vehicle to the furthest and most inhospitable parts of the Globe.
From Alaska to the Sahara to the Australian Outback, this is the vehicle of choice for people who need to get the job done. Drive one and you’ll see why.