2014 Toyota Hilux Invincible 3.0 D-4D Review – Resilient & Dependable Pick-Up Still Brilliant

Time-tested über-reliability, tough, roomy & comfortable interior, torquey D-4D engine

Interior design and material quality fallen behind some rivals

Toyota Hilux?

Toyota Hilux Invincible Manual Double-Cab
If you’ve not heard of or seen a Toyota Hilux by now, you must have been living in a cave for your lifetime. Starting its life in 1968, the Hilux pick-up quickly became well-known for its robustness and reliability. The Hilux can be bought in almost every country in the world, and if you’ve not seen one in the flesh, without knowing it you’ll have seen one on the news bouncing over rough terrain in some war-torn country, or in a documentary about Australia or Africa, so some place isolated.

Now on its 6th generation, this pick-up is still massively popular. Why so appealing? We were sent a 2014 Toyota Hilux Invincible 3.0 D-4D to review and find out ourselves…

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

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With a decent amount of pick-up trucks to choose from here in the UK, and most of them doing a similar job, I certainly think that looks go a long way towards a sale. With a facelift fairly recently, the Hilux is a good looking vehicle. The Toyota is available in a few forms; single cab, extra cab and double cab. The Invincible double-cab we were sent is the top of the range version, and the exterior benefits from 17″ alloy wheels, side steps, front fog lamps, chrome side mirrors plus a few other bits ‘n pieces.

Unlike a couple of the other pick-up trucks available here in the UK, the Hilux looks purposeful and tough, with strong stance that plainly states you could chuck a lot at it with little effect. While the Invincible has all the extra trimmings and shiny bits, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a big muscular beast, and should that large, wide grille fill your rearview mirror, you do rather feel like pulling over to let it past. While most Euro-spec pick-up’s are a similar length, the Hilux stands out with a high front end and a wide track width.

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Its frontal area design is very modern, yet sticks to a fairly traditional look of being squared off and burly. Every part of it is substantial too; the headlights, the grille, the fog lamps and an air intake on the bonnet that’ll swallow a small dog, all make it as purposeful as can be. While the chrome side steps on the Invincible look good, personally I’d not have them as once you’re off road you’ll find them a hinderance should you want to crest the top of a sharp slope, or scramble over large boulders.

Most pick-up’s look the same, and the Hilux is no exception really, with the plus point that the rear window is large, and stretches almost to each pillar edge. Some manufacturers give their pick-up’s only a small section of glass at the rear, hampering visibility, but the Hilux’s is very good. All said, the Toyota Hilux is a decent lookin’ truck, which looks properly resilient.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

Toyota Hilux 2014 review front seats and dashboard 1

The Hilux’s interior is a fairly simple affair, and there’s not a huge amount to say about it. Manufacturers must have a bit of a hard time deciding on how to design the cabin of a pick-up. Buyers now demand more luxuries as standard, and they want decent room and a good level comfort too. But it also needs to be work-proof, as the majority of people using these will use them for exactly that.

The Hilux’s cabin isn’t quite as nicely styled or laid-out as the Mitsubishi L200’s, being more bland than bling, and it’s plain to see that Toyota have gone more for the durable and practical side of things. For instance, the dash top is almost a matt black and so there’s zero reflection in the windscreen. Helpful if you’re trying to navigate a narrow, rocky quarry road and the sun is harsh. The plastic of the dashboard is also extremely heavy-duty, which is great as often guys will jump into a cab and chuck all sorts of gear onto it, such as tool belts, flasks, bits of sample materials, and many more very scratchy things.

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Other practical stuff includes an array of big glove-friendly buttons and controls. Whenever I’ve worked on construction sites in the past, and you’ve been out in the freezing cold for hours on end, the last thing you want to do is to jump into your truck and grip an ice-cold steering wheel. So, gloves are usually kept on. Happily, the Hilux’s heating controls are large, chunky affairs, and are well-marked too.

Further to that, to get you toasty warm quicker in winter time, the Hilux features a Power Heat system. Push the button, and the Toyota’s revs rise to around 1,200 rpm, and warm air comes out the vents almost immediately. Apparently heater elements within the system provide warm air quicker than the car, and the higher revs also help heat the engine up quicker too. Brilliant bit of kit, and those of you working outside all day will appreciate this bit of tech. For summer, there’s air conditioning and all-electric windows.

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Our Hilux Invincible tester also featured the multimedia system with sat nav, which has bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and music (the speakers are decent too), plus user-friendly sat nav that features up to date graphics, and there’s a good revering camera as well. Handy when you can’t see the end of the truck bed. The system also shows your fuel economy stats in a nicely readable format. Storage space is always important in a work vehicle, and the Hilux doesn’t disappoint, with a deep section under the armrest, plus a big glovebox and a tray under the rear seats.

The driver’s instruments are all analogue and very traditional. Nothing special about these, but they’re easily readable and that’s all you need from a pick-up. The Invincible has fabric seats as standard, and in all honesty these are fine. The fabric pattern is nothing garish or outdated, and the material itself is hard-wearing. You can spec leather upholstery, but at £1,600 (April ’14) that’s a huge amount for seats that get freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer. Actually, I noticed there’s no heated seats in the Hilux, or even an option for them weirdly. Personally, I’d save myself the sixteen hundred pounds and stick with the fabric seats.

Toyota Hilux Invincible 3.0 D-4D Manual Double-Cab Review interior front rear seats

Comfort-wise, I had no problem with them. They’re decently supportive and comfortable in the front, and even the rears are at a good enough angle for passengers to enjoy even a longer journey. Leg space is also fine in the back as well, as is elbow and head room. Out of all the Hiluxs, the Invincible is the only one that – aside from the standard driver/front passenger airbags – also features front side and curtain airbags as well.

While there are other pick-up’s out there that have nicer-looking and more modern interiors, I believe the Toyota sticks firmly to its roots as a no-nonsense work vehicle. Sure, it’s comfortable and roomy enough to take mates or the family out if needed, but each time I climbed into the Hilux, I always got the sense that it’s been designed tough, for what it was built for – work.

Engine & gearbox

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Two diesel engines are available with the Hilux; a 3.0 litre D-4D, or a 2.5 litre D-4D. Both are four-cylinder with a variable nozzle turbocharger bolted on. However, only the top of the range Invincible comes with the bigger three litre version. The 2.5 produces 142bhp and 253 lb ft (343 Nm) of torque, while the 3.0 puts out 169 bhp at 3,600 rpm, but the same torque as the two-point-five.

0 – 62 mph (0 – 100 km/h) is 12 seconds for the 3.0 D-4D, and 13.3 for the 2.5 D-4D, while the top speed remains the same at 106 mph (171 km/h), aside from the auto which is very slightly higher.

As well as a 5-speed manual gearbox, there’s a 5-speed automatic transmission too, but again, that’s only available on the Invincible. Our tester had the manual and it’s actually a rather good one. With each gear ratio being long – especially 5th – it’s got an excellent cruising capability with low rpm at motorway speeds, meaning a good fuel return figure.

Official UK miles-per-gallon consumption stats for the 3.0 D-4D are; urban: 29.7, extra urban: 42.2, combined: 36.7. The 2.5 D-4D gets approximately 2 – 3 mpg more. On a motorway run, I managed 29.5 miles-per-gallon, which is decent for a big, square pick-up truck. CO2 emissions read as 194 g/km for the 2.5 litre and 203 g/km for the 3.0 litre (227 g/km for the auto).

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

Toyota Hilux Invincible 3.0 D-4D Manual Double-Cab Review driving multi

Climb aboard the Toyota Hilux, and you’ll find a high, commanding seating position. Good for when you pull up next to normal cars and they’re having to strain their necks to look up at you. Firing up the 3.0 D-4D, I was immediately struck by how smooth and quiet an engine it is. In comparison with the diesel unit in the Mitsubishi L200 I tested not long before the Hilux, it’s positively hushed! The 3.0 D-4D pulls nicely in first to forth gear, while fifth is more for cruising. The nice thing about the 3.0 D-4d is that never really feels and sounds strained in any way, even at higher rpm. It makes for a relaxed drive, actually.

As I drive a city route, the 5-speed manual gearbox has noticably-long ratios. With a lot of modern manual transmissions on cars, you’re able to get into 5th at 30 mph with no trouble. Try that in the Hilux and you’ll find it’d buck and jump before stalling the engine. Third gear at 30 is right, as any higher and it’ll bog down. Onto a motorway and I assumed the 5-speed ‘box would mean high-revving noisiness, but it’s the opposite. The (very) long 5th means the Hilux is settled and the engine decently quiet. Actually, on that note, even at higher speeds I noticed the Toyota gives pleasant cruising capability as the cabin is well insulated from sound from the tyres, wind and engine.

The handling and ride isn’t as focussed, let’s say, as something like the aforementioned L200, but where it lacks in ‘car-like’ handling capability, it makes up for with a smooth ride over bad road surfaces, speed bumps and pot holes. The back end isn’t too skittish without a load, and the VSC (vehicle stability control) is nicely done, allowing a small amount of slip before cutting in gently.

I can’t stand it when traction and stability control systems are heavy-handed and overbearing, taking away almost all of your power and control. It makes it dangerous when accelerating out of a junction. Thankfully, the Toyota system is a great one and kerbs just the right amount of power when slippage occurs, and it’ll bring you back into line with a nice level of correction should the rear end kick out.

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Braking is positive enough to be happy with for a pick-up truck, and the Hilux Invincible even features both EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) and Brake Assist. It also has an impressive braked towing capacity of 2,800 kilograms (6,170 lbs), plus it’ll also carry up to 1,060 kg’s (2,337 lbs) in the load bed area. That’s easily enough to trailer a small digger and have something like a standard one tonne bag of sand or a pallet of bricks in the rear without issue. Note though, that the 2.5 D-4D engined versions don’t have the above electronics on – only the Invincible does.

It’s good to know for peace of mind that even if you’ve not physically engaged 4WD and are driving in 2WD, the Hilux has a ‘part-time’ four-wheel-drive system that kicks in if it detects slippage on-road, and which disconnects automatically once you’re rolling again, for better fuel economy. If you’re towing, or simply want more a more confidence-inspiring and assured drive when the bad weather closes in, you can change from two to four wheel drive at up to 50 mph. This isn’t as good as some, which can do the same at up to around 60 mph, but it’s still way better than having to stop to do it, of course.

Overall, I found the Toyota Hilux to be a pleasant beast to either drive or ride in. Around town, the suspension soaks up the bumps well, and on long journeys the engine takes distance and higher speeds in its stride. It’s also much quieter than you’d think, and noise into the cabin is suppressed very well considering this is basically a work vehicle. Whether you’re doing the daily grind and driving the Hilux for work purposes, or going away for the weekend with friends, I believe that you’ll actually driving the Toyota – whatever the capacity it’s being used in.

AWD and off-road. Stuck or superb?

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Taking the Hilux onto some barren wasteland, the ground looked set and solid, but the surface was thin, and simply driving over it pulled away a crust of dried mud to reveal sludgy, slippery ground underneath. As we slowed to avoid rocks and obstacles, in 2WD (driven through the rears) the Hilux became stuck, the rear wheels spinning uselessly. However, from the moment I pushed the transfer lever into H4 (high ratio, 4 wheel drive) mode, the Toyota Hilux changed character. Physically, should you use this on-road due to bad weather, you’ll notice the drive feels more planted and certain of itself as all four wheels grip the tarmac. Should you forget to take it out of 4WD and are rolling down the road at higher speeds, the system automatically and mechanically decouples the front drive shafts, effectively making it 2WD and so preventing wind-up and understeer, and also saving fuel in the process. 

Off-road, as the 4WD system connects we’re able to drive away with zero slippage, and even on standard tyres the Hilux is sure-footed. Floor the accelerator, and the traction control system kicks into use almost straight away, sending power to whichever wheel it’s needed at. On the 2.5 D-4D, instead of the traction control system they get a rear-locking differential, which will still be very capable over the rough stuff. How much capability difference between the electronic system over the traditional locking diff setup? We’d have to test the two together. But that’s for another day, for now we’re going to see what the 3.0 D-4D Invincible is like up a steeply-angled, slippery slope.

Toyota Hilux Invincible 3.0 D-4D Manual Double-Cab Review off road driving multi-4

Toyota reckon that because their transmission is tuned for off-road and descents, it’s almost impossible to stall the Hilux. So, of course we put that to the test. Approaching the slope, I stop, select neutral, and push the transfer lever up into L4 (low ratio, 4WD) to give the best traction. Then it’s into 1st gear and let the clutch out slowly. The Hilux sets off at tickover, and starts to tackle to the slope. The engine rpm slow a little as the full weight of the two-tonne Hilux, and for a second I think it’s going to stall, but it simply carries on up the gradient, and over the crest with zero problems, the chrome side steps just clearing it.

Impressive, and back down the slope doing the same, the Hilux goes down gently and completely controlled. Over ruts and rocks, the Invincible is decent thanks to its (minimum) 217mm (8.5″) ground clearance, and if you’re thinking of fording some water, the Hilux has a substantial 700mm (27.5″) wading depth too. Like anything, if you need to be off-road regularly for whatever reason, its best to get the Hilux kitted out by stripping off those side steps, getting some decent off-road tyres and fitting a snorkel. Besides, it’ll look even more of a beast that way.

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Price

The Toyota Hilux starts at just over £20,600 for the single cab ‘Active’, and goes up to a shade above £27,200 for the double-cab Invincible. In comparison, the Mitsubishi L200 starts at just over £20,000 and goes up to almost £28,500, the Ford Ranger £22.4k – £30,300, the Volkswagen Amarok £24.8 – £32,500, theIsuzu D-Max £23k – £27,000, and the Great Wall Steed £16,700 – £19,000. 

2014 Toyota Hilux Invincible 3.0 D-4D verdict & score

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The Toyota Hilux is pick-up truck with an incredible reputation for reliability and toughness – the world around, in fact. That’s something no manufacturer can buy, only earn. I liked my time with the Hilux. It’s a big, imposing thing with true pick-up looks that may have been updated over time, but still err on the side of sturdy. The interior has fallen behind some rivals in terms of design and material quality, but it’s still comfortable and decently roomy, and above all, it’s going to last well.

The 3.0 litre D-4D engine is smooth and torquey, and it both cruises well at higher speeds and copes brilliantly off-road too. All said, with the Hilux now on its 6th generation, it continues to grow its legacy as a no-nonsense, resilient work-horse that’ll still be here in decades to come.

Do you own a Toyota Hilux? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  8
Interior  7
Engine  8
Gearbox (man.)  7
Price  7.5
AWD & off-road ability  8
Drive  7
Overall Score  7.5 / 10

Specs

Model (as tested)  2014 Toyota Hilux Invincible 3.0 D-4D Double-Cab
Spec includes  17″ alloy wheels, front fog lamps, chrome side steps, headlight cleaners, all-power windows, cruise control, electric adjustable & heated wing mirrors, front, front side & curtain airbags, VSC, EBD, ABS, traction control, touchscreen entertainment system with sat nav, bluetooth, rear-view camera etc See website for more info
Options you should spec  Chrome Hi-over (rollover) bar: £772. Because it looks cool.
The Competition  Mitsubishi L200, Ford Ranger, Volkswagen Amarok, Isuzu D-MaxGreat Wall Steed, Nissan Navara
Price  (April ’14) £20,600 – £27,200
Engine  3.0 litre D-4D, 4-cylinder diesel with Variable Nozzle Turbo
Power, Torque, CO2  Power: 169 bhp @ 3,600 rpm | Torque: 253 lb ft (343 Nm) @ 1,400 – 3,400rpm | CO2: 203 g/km
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Rear-wheel drive with 4WD & Automatic Disconnecting Differential (ADD) | 5-speed manual
Ground clearance, Wading depth,  Towing Capacity  Clearance: Minimum 217mm (8.5″) | Wading: 700mm (27.5″) | Braked towing: 2,800 kg’s (6,170 lbs)
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 106 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 12 seconds | Euro NCAP rating( pre 2009): 4 stars (Adult occupants)
Fuel economy (UK mpg)  Urban: 29.7, Extra urban: 42.2, Combined: 36.7
Weight (kerb)  Approx. 2,000 kg’s (4,400 lbs)
Websites  Toyota UK, Toyota Australia, Toyota global

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Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

3 responses to “2014 Toyota Hilux Invincible 3.0 D-4D Review – Resilient & Dependable Pick-Up Still Brilliant”

  1. Dave

    Excellent review

  2. Alan

    I own a 62 plate hilux and though it is all the things you said in your review, I have found that the engine power very poor, also the fuel economy is very poor and no where close to the 36mpg that Toyota say that it will do, 27mpg is about all that mine will do.
    I wonder if any other owners have experienced the same problems.
    I had a Navara before the Hilux and it beat the Hilux hands down on both these issues.

  3. Terry Mcgill

    My Invincible 3ltr is simply the best 4×4 I have ever owned.
    Bought new in 2014,the only niggle I have with it is for the second time it is going into the Toyota workshop for the same problem ie soaking wet under the front mats and the rear near side.Apperently caused by a blocked pipe on the air condition unit!
    Other than that it tows my exhibition trailer at a a steady 60mph with hardly any effort.
    Well Done Toyota.

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