Toyota Hilux HL3 2.5L Manual (2012) road test review

Toyota Hilux HL3 2.5L Manual (2012) road test review

The TotallyMotor Verdict


We’ve got a soft spot for a big pick-up here at TotallyMotor, and you can read our reviews of the new Ford Ranger, the new VW Amarok and the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian, if you too like to keep on truckin’.

And if you are a fan of these rugged 4×4 mud-pluggers, you’ll no doubt have heard of the Toyota Hilux; arguably the most famous pick-up ever to shred the dirt.

Here we have the latest, 2012 model-year, sixth generation of the Hilux, presented in bright white paint – it’s not a van, you know! – and in the mid-trim HL3, with HL2 below it and Invincible above.

This big truck packs a 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder D-4D turbodiesel engine that makes 142bhp and 343Nm of torque. It’s good for 106mph and 62mph in 13.3secs, and gets a claimed combined economy figure of 38.7mpg, while CO2 sits at 194g/km. Of course, there’s a pukka high and low ratio four-wheel drive system.


Toyota Hilux HL3 2.5L Manual (2012) road test review

First impressions:
You’ve got a couple of options when truck shopping; those for utilitarian work and those with more ‘lifestyle’ styling for adventurers and cool dudes in general. The lifestyle trucks are generally bigger of wheel, brighter of chrome and more liberal of sticker, and the workhorses small-wheeled and Plain Jane. This HL3 spec Hilux kind of sits between the two.

We’ve got a double cab; pallet-size load bed; 15-inch alloy wheels; flared wheel arch trims; the latest Toyota-style front-end – dominated by big and modern headlights and a large chrome-trimmed grille – and a good-size 4-seater interior that enjoys quite a few toys but no leather, subwoofers or blingy lifestyle jazz. I guess it’s kind of a worker but with shiny boots and a new Dickies uniform.


Into the interior:
This HL3 trim interior is verging on the basic in some areas, and that’s a result of Toyota keeping this truck’s pricing as keen as possible, after all, it’s more of a well-dressed worker than a full-styled lifestyle pick up.

The seats are a little bland and flat of base but do the job to a reasonable comfort standard, while the steering wheel offers more to impress with leather wrap, facia controls for a few gadgets, and silver highlights. It would be nice if the steering wheel adjusted for slide, though.

The dash is modern, and chunky as we’d expect, and again some silver highlights lift the mood here. And if you look around the big and deep dashboard, there are actually quite a few gadgets to make truck-life easier.

We’ve got a decent-sounding, colour touchscreen CD/radio stereo with sat-nav capability (though the full mapping is an option) and MP3 player input; air-con; heat and electric door mirrors; a dials dimmer (great for long night drives to dim the dials and ease the eyestrain), and an mpg-metre to keep an eye on the diesel. Not a bad haul for the money.

In the back there’s plenty of space for the boys and a good sprinkling of cup holders dotted around the airy cabin.


The drive:
Regular truckers out there will understand what I mean when I refer to the payoff between on-road smoother driving and the off-road and carrying capabilities that are essential for all pick-ups.

The Toyota rides about as well as the already-listed truck competition I’ve also tried, in that the front coil springs and shocks, are expectedly more rolling than a car’s set up, while the rear leaf springs always found in pick-ups can feel a little jarring and unforgiving over potholes and bumps. But this is because they still need to function under heavy loads carried in the rear bed, so there’s always inherent stiffness.

So, as such, any pick-up will buck and weave more noticeably than a car will, but you soon get used to it, and with the tough Hilux, bouncing over potholes and speedbumps without a care in the world is a lot of fun.

With its torquey engine and respectable squirt of acceleration (when load-free), the Hilux is fun to drive and laughs in the face of the deepest of the drenching puddles we’ve had recently.

The clutch and gearshift are chunky and solid-feeling affairs, and it’s not long before I started feeling like a bit of a tough guy in my tough truck. But hey, that’s just me, and if it’s a female reading this review; I’m not sure how you’ll feel when you drive a Hilux!

All in all, this Hilux HL3 felt just right for a truck, and with the latest generation of Toyota D-4D turbodiesel engine under the scooped hood, I saw around the mid-30s for fuel economy – over about 300 miles – on the in-dash readout (unladen) which is very close to Toyota’s claims (38.7mpg), and very respectable for a 2,000kg truck.


Ten second sum up:
The 2012 Toyota Hilux HL3 2.5L Manual pick-up truck is a solid and well-rounded performer that only really lacks in a couple of small detail interior touches and some overly conservative styling in places. But, it feels tough-truck to the core and returned impressive fuel economy during our test.


Prices and availability:
The Toyota Hilux pick-up truck range starts at £18,290 (double cab) for the HL2 and rises to £21,169.17 (double cab) for the Invincible. Price as tested, £19,419.17, for the Hilux HL3 (double cab). All prices are not inclusive of VAT.

By Daniel Anslow

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