ON TEST: Toyota Hilux Invincible

On Test, Toyota

Often when a particular vehicle is at the forefront of its class, its name will, by association, transcend the field and become a collective noun for the unwise. A prime example of this often occurs on hit BBC drama Death in Paradise, where the Honorary Police Department drive a Land Rover Defender 110, but everyone calls it a Jeep.

To an extent, this has happened with the Toyota Hilux, too. Not long ago, I heard a man in a pub talking about a pick-up he’d seen on the road, he referred to it as ‘a Hilux, or something’. The fact that, despite many of them having their names stamped across the tailgate, the only truck he could name was the Hilux, is a clue to the sort of reputation the truck has built for itself.

That is somewhat reflected in the top-spec model, the Invincible X. This model is an enhancement of the trim which came about shortly after the truck proved itself indestructible on Top Gear. The Invincible setup was always a high-end version of the tough Toyota workhorse anyway, but the addition of the X only extends that ethos further.

Like many high-spec pick-up trucks, the Invincible X doesn’t stray too far from the rest of the Hilux family with regards to design. Instead, the extra layer of luxury comes from the higher-grade materials – i.e. the leather found on the seats and steering wheel – and through the greater depth of equipment fitted. On this front the Invincible X is much like the Invincible – it offers the same level of equipment but features chromed edging to break up the otherwise black-on-black interior.

As standard you get the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system, which isn’t a bad system but isn’t the quickest to react to inputs. It plays out through a six-speaker sound system with DAB, plus there’s also a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity. The central armrest opens up to reveal a neat storage section, and the lockable glovebox is cooled – gotta keep that service book from getting clammy.

There are a lot of plush fittings and accessories that make the Hilux interior feel akin to that of an SUV rather than a four-wheeled tool. Seating is leather and heated in the front, plus the tinted rear windows add to the feeling that this truck is more comfortable in the high street than the Highlands, but it does come with all of the off-roading and towing assists that less glam Hiluxes do.

Seating in the rear does tip up, so the space can be occupied by cargo should there be a lack of passengers, and the tailgate also locks too – although without a canopy fitted this isn’t quite the security feature that it sounds.

Out on the road, the Hilux rides well and similarly to the cabin it hides the fact that it’s really a commercial haunt. The ride is quite firm, which means over bumps and pot holes you’re shook to an extent, while it also exposes the tensed load-awaiting rear setup. Through corners the body control is impressive for a truck and wallows about much less than some of its rivals. The steering doesn’t offer too much feel, but isn’t reminiscent of old one-tonners thanks to the power steering, whilst it refrains from falling into the trap of being feather light like many competitors. All of this translates into an overall feeling of composure, with a ride that is best described as poised rather than relaxing – although uncomfortable it is not.

Road noise is limited and there is no intrusion from the tyres that’s worthy of note. On the road, the Hilux is best on a cruise. Flick on cruise control, perhaps even your heated seat if it’s chilly, turn the radio up and you could be driving something that has never once been considered as a workhorse.

The 2.4-litre D-4D turbo diesel unit doesn’t offer too much power at 148bhp, but there’s plenty of grunt in there that’s readily available low in the rev range, meaning that it’s potent enough to make progress in and about town and is well-suited to either towing or off-roading. It’s paired with a six-speed auto ‘box which when treated kindly doesn’t put a foot wrong. What does unstick it, however, is pushing the drive selector button and putting the truck into Power mode (which feels like it carries much more gravitas in the Hilux than in a Prius). Whilst you do get revs more freely, the gearbox seems to hesitate before setting them to action. Getting looser with the revs does make the engine feel more powerful, but the result doesn’t tally up to the noise, so you’re better off just sticking in normal mode to make the required progress. Eco mode, however, makes more sense and tailors the performance in line with what you’d expect – more conservative with revs and more sedated progress.

As a high-spec truck, the Invincible X isn’t as suited to a life on the tools as an entry Active model would be. Although, that’s only down to the financial side of things. The Invincible X is the most capable Hilux out of them all. It’ll match any truck for off-road ability and features the highest level of standard kit. Because of this, it’s as adept in the day-to-day situations as it is lugging several thousand kilograms of cargo or traversing ruts and rocks.

Put to use as a commuter the Hilux really is very comfortable. Its seats are plush and supportive, the steering wheel controls are mounted logically and visibility is very good, which in turn adds peace of mind in and around town. It’s still big, but it comes with a reversing camera and Toyota Safety Sense (which the non-X variant doesn’t), meaning that it has Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Warning and Road Sign Assist features. You’re also supported with Emergency Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, plus you’ll appreciate Trailer Sway Control when towing freight.

Then comes the price – which for a top-spec vehicle is a pleasant surprise. On the road, the Hilux Invincible X comes in a touch over £31,000 without any options – even the smart white paint isn’t a charged extra.

As a package, the Hilux is always a solid bet, and the Invincible X is no different. It’s also not extortionate on the current market for what is a premium truck. It’s also one of the better-looking trucks out there which the darkened X treatment enhances.

However, whilst the truck is very competent as an all-rounder it doesn’t have a standout USP, which leaves a slight feeling that it’s trading off its nameplate. But that’s nothing to be scoffed at – as stated at the top, the Hilux name is one of the strongest and longest running in the pick-up world. And it’s safe to say that this truck doesn’t tarnish it.