INVINCIBLE by name and invincible by nature - that's the all-new Toyota Hilux which, since 1968, has built a solid reputation as the toughest pick-up truck to wander this planet. And with global sales figures exceeding 18 million, who could argue with that claim?
The latest generation Hilux is longer, wider and lower, has increased towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes for the UK market (3.2 for the double cab) and features an impressive new 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine which has a lot more pulling power.
The vehicle looks awesome from any angle thanks to its 18-inch alloys, chrome side bars with steps, rear privacy glass, fog lamps, headlamp cleaners, chrome grille and door handles, scuff plates and eye-catching Crimson Spark paintwork.
Step, or rather climb, inside the cab and the Hilux is neatly styled with lots of on-board technology to be explored.
In fact, the vehicle is a perfect mix of practical wipe-clean surfaces with chunky grab handles and a refined upmarket model with a tablet-like touchscreen featuring sat nav, Bluetooth and a rear-view camera, automatic air conditioning, a leather steering wheel and carpeted floor mats that can easily be detached and brushed down.
This model featured a double cab which meant it could easily accommodate five adults and there are plenty of cubby holes for storage including a locking cooled glovebox, central console storage with armrest lid, deep door pockets, central drink holders and additional cup holders that pop out from the dashboard.
Priced at £31,350 (£32,645 with options fitted), the Hilux can reach from 0-62 in 12.8 seconds, maxes out at 106mph, has combined fuel economy of 36.2mpg and carbon emissions of 204g/km. The 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine delivers 148bhp and was mated to a very efficient six-speed manual gearbox.
Despite its size and chunky stance, the Hilux is a really nimble vehicle to drive. The high-seated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility and comfort levels are good for all occupants.
Although the Hilux will be used worldwide to handle all kinds of tough terrain, we stuck to the trusty Tarmac for the test drive and it handled beautifully. The highly-efficient insulation meant the cabin remained nicely hushed and the large wheels offer fantastic grip so the Hilux can be thrown around with complete confidence.
The acceleration through the gears is fast and responsive and there are two driving modes to choose from - ECO and Power - which alter the vehicle's sharpness and dynamics slightly.
The Hilux is packed with safety systems, including anti-lock brakes with emergency brakeforce distribution and brake assist, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with road sign assist, vehicle stability control, trailer sway control, downhill assist control, a locking rear differential and numerous airbags.
It is certainly a go-to model when searching for a vehicle that can handle all types of terrain. After all, it has taken on the North Pole, South Pole and even the gruelling Dakar Rally, but there is a softer side to this mighty workhorse too. And when you factor in Toyota's extended five year/100,000-mile warranty, the appeal just keeps on growing.