PICK-UP trucks have gone all ‘lifestyle' on us. Sure they still deliver when it comes to the hard graft workhorse side of things, but they are now much plusher along the way.
That's because it's a sector that's on the up and buyers looking for something a little different from a full-sized SUV are paying close attention to the pick-up scene.
Toyota has been building its Hilux model since 1968 and it's been a resounding global success.
But designers of the very latest model had to take a softer approach when creating the cabin environment. It's no longer enough to develop an interior with rough, tough wipe-down surfaces and little else - these days customers want posh leather, heated seats and all the clever infotainment systems found in modern cars.
And the Hilux has it all. Yes, it can cope with day-to-day demands with a one-tonne payload and a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes.
It has all the high and low gear ratios so can tackle any 4x4 duties with ease and those chunky 18-inch wheels will plough a path through any boggy field or snow storm. So, it has all the heavy-duty side of things covered.
But what has changed is the level of quality within the four-door double cab Hilux. It now has a leather steering wheel and gear shifter.
There is the impressive Toyota Touch 2 system with an eight-inch colour touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, a six speaker sound system and full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
A rearview camera helps when reversing and the 4.2-inch display screen offers plenty of practical driving data. It's all very comfy in there.
There are front and rear grab handles to help climb into the vehicle along with rear privacy glass, side steps, scuff plates, daytime running lights, fog lamps and LED headlights.
Powering this giant of a model is a 2.8-litre, 201bhp diesel engine with a six-speed automatic gearbox.
The Hilux, priced at £30,803 (excluding VAT) can reach from 0-62mph in just 10.7 seconds and tops out at 109mph while delivering a combined 28.5-30.0mpg with carbon emissions of 246-259g/km.
This powerful new engine replaces the outgoing 2.4-litre unit and the acceleration and handling are all the better for its introduction.
There is a constant stream of power on tap and you can flick from Eco to Power mode when you want to pick up the pace and dynamics. By moving the gear lever across to Sport you can also change gears manually using the transmission stick.
The road holding is ultra-grippy and the steering is nicely weighted and offers ample driver feedback. Most bumps and dips are ironed out by the Hilux's efficient suspension system and the engine noise only really becomes noticeable when the vehicle is being driven quite hard.
As well as lashing hooks to tie down items in the back, there are lots of handy storage compartments within the Hilux. These include a cooled upper glovebox, lockable lower glovebox, deep door pockets, front and rear cup holders, a sunglasses compartment, a tray for a phone, central cubby box and seat back pockets.
Safety kit is impressive too and includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, road sign assist, emergency brakeforce distribution, hill-start assist, active traction control, trailer sway control, vehicle stability control, downhill assist control and plenty more besides.
All in all, the Toyota Hilux is a superb pick-up and offers a very decent alternative to a large SUV. And come the bad weather, this model is definitely Invincible by name and invincible by nature.
£30,803 (excluding VAT)
201bhp, 2755cc, 4-cylinder, diesel engine driving all foru wheels via 6-speed automatic transmission