The pick-up market has been turned upside down with some big names pulling out rather than face stiff cash penalties for not meeting new Government emissions regulations.
Before the goal posts were shifted some unlikely companies were clamouring to join the low tax benefits for business and company car people who saw the pick-up as a juicy alternative to an SUV.
Mercedes-Benz teamed up with Nissan, Fiat with Mitsubishi but all four have departed, along with Volkswagen Amorak, leaving Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Ssangyong Musso and Isuzu D-Max to meet the demand.
Toyota Hilux is an off road giant – it won the Dakar rally in 2019 – but has gone out of its way to tempt families out of their comfort zone. And here it is, the new Hilux Invincible X, a rugged 4×4 with all the luxury frills of an upmarket SUV. Well nearly all.
Why would a family with three grown up kids choose a pick-up over an SUV? It comes down to space because the four door double cab comfortably fits five and there is a pick up deck which will take a mountain of luggage and can be covered to the roofline. And it will tow the largest twin axle caravan or even a fifth wheeler.
Hilux has had a facelift with a new grille and lights design while suspension tweaks have made it more compliant on tarmac. It has worked to an extent but not quite to the level of the Ranger Raptor with its multilink rear suspension. Toyota favours rear leaf springing which is better suited for harsher off road challenges which is what Hilux is really all about.
It is not that Hilux is uncomfortable over poor road surfaces but the ride can be a tad choppy although we found it more settled with the caravan in tow.
For a family the cabin is a pleasant space with nearly all the creature comforts of a large SUV so settle into leather seats, quality carpet, dual zone air conditioning, all round one touch electric windows, Smartphone connectivity through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, while up front the seats are heated, powered for the driver who will also like the 360 degree view camera which is useful for parking a long vehicle like Hilux.
My only gripe concerns definition on the 8in touchscreen which is not the best, and at times barely readable because of sun glare.
Performance from the new 2.8 litre turbo diesel with its 500Nm or torque is stronger than the 2.4 litre and once passed the inevitable diesel engine rattle settles into a comfortable rhythm. Selecting economy puts a small dent in performance but should reward you with around 30mpg. We didn’t need the full power setting for towing and came away with just under 25mpg which is a good return and no worse than the last three petrol and diesel SUVs I have driven with caravan in tow.
On the other side of the coin Hilux is the Mr Dependable off roader, capable of going anywhere and doing anything. It is packed with everything needed for the sternest of tasks whether it is traversing rocky slopes, wading through streams or using its hill descent technology to get down the steepest and most slippery drops.
If it came in bright green it would no doubt be nicknamed the Incredible Hulk.
The Jack of all trades Hilux comes with multiple variations – single cab, extra with occasional rear seats, or a four door double which is the most popular.
Switching from SUV to a double cab pick-up is a bit of a stretch for everyday use because you are paying for a heap of off road technology which will never be used, and you loose out on economy not to mention the initial £2,015 road tax charge.
That said if you have a hefty twin axle caravan this is the bees knees for towing.
A big plus for the tradesman or farmer is a 10 year warranty provided you use a Toyota dealer for servicing and repairs.
Hilux Invincible X Double cab
£45,985 (starts £27,628)
2.8 litre TD 6sp auto; 201bhp
0-62mph 10.7secs; 109mph
248g/km. 1st tax £2,015
Towing capacity 3500kg
Insurance group 45