In the current issue of Free Car Mag we managed to overlook the Toyota Hi Lux in our roundup of motors for Santa to use at this most important time of the year. When it comes to reliability and practicality the Hi Lux would be the very best present delivery option. We sincerely apologise.

Here is a little something we wrote a long while back about quite old Toyota Hi Luxes, which are all still in circulation. Merry Christmas.

What is it?
Arguably the Hi Lux is the utility which has made the pick up really hip. It has been around in one form or another for donkey’s years and was actually launched in the UK way back in the early ‘70s. According to Toyota’s own figures some 50,000 have been sold so far. Conceived and used purely as a workhorse it was probably the flexible double cab in 1995, which transformed the high riding Hi-Lux. It has the strongest image of all 4 x 4 pick-ups and a great reputation for toughness, reliability and sheer on and off road ability. The Hi-Lux is not just a pose it has some real working class credibility too, the perfect combination.

What is it like to drive?
Early models are not that refined, but what can you expect. As a workhorse the Hi-Lux is hard to beat. It feels very well built because it is. Interiors not that well thought out (umbrella handbrake and nasty switchgear), or nice to look at. The ride is surprisingly composed for a 4 x 4 with quite direct steering, secure cornering and good all round visibility. Leaf Spring rear and torsion bar front suspension works very well off road. It’s a great all-rounder and seems to ‘like’ towing.

What goes wrong?
It’s a Toyota, so actually not much really goes wrong. It is important to remember that clocking doesn’t just affect cars and fancy 4 x 4s the popularity of the Hi-Lux means that it is prime candidate for mileage adjustment. A string of MOTs and a full service history are the best defences. Tired diesels will have lots of oil leaks, but what you are really looking for is off road abuse. Get underneath and look at the chassis and floor for damage. Interior is pretty tough, but being very popular in rural areas and on building sites the seats, door trim and floor take a battering.

Where to buy
The classified online adverts probably have a higher proportion of Hi-Luxes than any other pick-up, especially as they can be found in the 4 x 4 and Commercial sections of the press. Obviously there is the Toyota main dealer route which is going to be safe, but costly and the majority of models will only be a few years old. They often turn up at auctions, but it is a good idea to steer clear of those with multiple previous owners going into the general sales. Ex-fleet and company Hi-Luxes with history are the ones to go for expect there to be strong bidding though and try not to pay close to retail money.

So Santa buy a Hi Lux, or at the very least a Land Cruiser. You know it makes sense.