I WAS reminded of the amazing versatility and growing popularity of the versatile pick-up the first day I got my test vehicle when I had to visit the local tip with the rear load area carrying the remains of a massive wardrobe that would not have fitted into even the largest estate car.
And then it started snowing but with six inches of the white stuff covering local roads the four wheel drive system enabled the pick-up to maintain traction up a slippery steep hill past two wheel drive cars that had slithered to a halt.
I was driving the latest improved version of Toyota’s redoubtable Hilux pick-up that is now just like a car with a much more cosy double cab interior that will accommodate five and is arguably the best in class.
It was the Hilux HL3 Double Cab 2.5L with a 2.5-litre diesel engine, five speed manual gearbox with four wheel drive plus high and low ratio gears for negotiating the toughest terrain but which can also be driven in two wheel drive for normal on road driving.
It had a top speed of 105mph, a zero to 62mph time of 13.3 seconds, a combined fuel consumption of 38.7mpg, CO2 emissions of 194g/km and an on the road price of £22,615 with reclaimable VAT of £3,725.
This latest version of the Hilux has a re-styled front end, new interior touchscreen multimedia unit with rear view camera and the addition of a diesel particulate filter ensures lower CO2 emissions and improved fuel economy.
It is the sixth generation of Europe’s best selling pick-up and the test car had an on board computer which performed many functions and also showed how many miles to go to empty plus a heated driving seat which really was car-like comfort.
I have always been a pick-up lover and this latest Hilux has really good handling considering its bulk and the steering is just like a car with user friendly controls and instruments.
The driver has to be careful when reversing because of the large rear load area but there is also a reversing camera which makes this task much easier.
The maximum payload 1,045 - 1,060kg and the towing capacity braked is 2,500kg and unbraked 750kg.
The Hilux has excellent credentials being the first car to be driven across the Arctic ice to the Magnetic North Pole in 2007 by Jeremy Clarkson for a Top Gear TV programme and in 2009 a Hilux reached the South Pole.
Improvements to the Hilux have given it even wider appeal especially to those customers who want a vehicle that is not just a workhorse but is also comfortable and stylish personal transport.
My Verdict: A top dual use vehicle.
Model: Latest Toyota Hilux HL3 2.5L 4x4.
Engine: 2.5-litre diesel.
Output: 142bhp @ 2800rpm.
Transmission: Six speed manual with high and low ratios.
Top speed: 106mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 13.3 seconds.
Fuel consumption: Combined 38.7mpg.
CO2 emissions: 194g/km.
Price: £22,615 on the road.