The plush pick-up vs the practical pick-up: Should you lease the VW Amarok or the Toyota Hilux?

We love a pick-up.

There’s just something special about them. Both practical and good-looking, the humble pick-up makes for the perfect work vehicle if you’re after something that also works for family life and doesn’t look like it belongs on a building site. 

Useful too, if you fancy more of an adventure. A little off-roading.

Perhaps the most practical of all the van-like vehicles on the road, if you’re not having to cart about massive amounts of cargo or people at the same time.

But which pick-up should you pick up?

We’ve pitted the new VW Amarok against the iconic Toyota Hilux to see which one comes out on top.

Toyota Hilux vs Volkswagen Amarok

  1. Overview
  2. Engines and drive
  3. Interior
  4. Payload
  5. Specifications
  6. Verdict
Volkswagen Amarok

Overview 

The Volkswagen Amarok disappeared in 2020 after being on our roads for a decade, but has since made a comeback.

And what a comeback it is.

Bigger and better than ever before, it’s nailed the brief of being a posh pick-up that drives like a car. With a V6 engine and hardwearing interior that still has a premium feel to the finish, the VW Amarok straddles the line between work and play with consummate ease.

With the deal between Ford and VW having secured the future of the Amarok, it is essentially a Ranger underneath.

But on top, it’s all VW Amarok.

The Toyota Hilux, on the other hand, is a workhorse through and through.

It’s still got that sense of cool about it, and if you’re not after a large van solely for work then it also works more as a lifestyle vehicle, suitable for both the building site and the family holiday.

And it’s currently – if you leave out America (they love a good pick-up) – the best-selling pick-up truck in the rest of the world. 

Toyota Hilux

Engines and drive

The UK Amarok only has the diesel engines – that it shares with the Ford Ranger – on offer.

You can either have your Amarok with the 2l turbodiesel four-cylinder, or a 3L turbodiesel V6 for some extra punch. The slowest engines get 168bhp, while the fastest get 237bhp. 

The drive is reasonably smooth, both unloaded and with cargo in the back, which makes it reasonably easy to live with. That is, of course, as long as you’re not having to traverse narrow country lanes day after day.

While the Amarok is carlike to drive, it’s still longer than wider than your everyday hatchback.

But if you can live with that, it’s an excellent choice.

Toyota have shifted nearly twenty million Hilux’s since its 1968 launch, and they’ve learnt a thing or two about making pick-ups in the years since.

With the more recent trend for high-spec pick-ups with plenty of kit that are good for a long motorway jaunt, Toyota have introduced the 2.8L engine for the top-spec trims, instead of the more everyday workhorse 2.4L. 

The 2.8L engine also improves performance when the pick-up is fully loaded, making the whole experience a much smoother – and quicker – one.

When it comes to the drive, there is no denying that the Hilux is quite the beast on the roads. There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a pick-up, designed to be a pick-up.

But it is also a faithful partner for your workday, getting you where you need to be with minimal fanfare and absolute dependability.

Toyota Hilux interior

Toyota Hilux interior

Interior

The Toyota Hilux is full to the brim with utilitarian styling, hard-wearing materials and up-to-date technology.

Sure, the cabin isn’t the prettiest thing in the world.

If you want a cabin that feels more like it belongs in an upmarket SUV, you’ll want to go for the Amarok over the Hilux. But there is no getting away from the fact that the Hilux is designed to be a tool to help you through the workday, and the interior reflects that.

It’s not dated, but it is full of plastic. 

Much easier to clean though, if you have a penchant for getting mud everywhere after a long day. 

Toyota haven’t scrimped on the tech either. There’s an 8in infotainment touchscreen fitted to all models except the entry-level trim, equipped with Toyota’s Touch 2 system and – thankfully – shortcut hard keys around the screen.

Elsewhere, it’s all about the practicalities: good heater, comfortable seats, clear dials, chunky buttons, plenty of storage space.

If you want a bit more of a luxe edge – or you really enjoy singing through your commute – opt for the top-spec Invincible X with the nine-speaker JBL hi-fi.

The interior of the Amarok is much more high-end SUV than it is workaday pick-up.

There aren’t so many real buttons in this one, however. Everything is controlled through the central touchscreen (10in in Life, 12in in all other trims), which is responsive with good graphics, and built in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The cabin has a generous amount of storage, and the seats are lovely and comfortable. It’s also filled with leather, and in the higher spec versions you get contrast stitching and a Harmon Kardon stereo. Unnecessary in a pick-up, perhaps, but very nice to have if this is your main vehicle both in and out of work. 

And in the back and the front there is plenty of head, knee, and elbow room. 

Volkswagen Amarok interior

Payload

Good news – the all-new Amarok is bigger than the old model.

96mm longer to be precise, with a wheelbase that stretches an extra 173mm. In useful terms, this means that the overhangs are slightly shorter (better for off-roading) and the bed is wide enough for a Euro pallet.

You can only get the Amarok in Double Cab guise, which makes it perfect as a family vehicle as well as a work one.

And it doesn’t fall down for work purposes either, despite the luxe styling and plush interior. The VW Amarok can tow up to 3,500kg and has a max payload of 1,113kg. Fancy a bit more of an off-roading adventure?

With a wading depth of 800mm, you’ll be good to get through most streams. 

Or get through a flood on the way home during a storm. 

The stats for the Toyota Hilux are much the same.

With a towing capacity of 3,500kg, payload of just over a tonne, and a load bay that measures 1,525mm long by 1,645 wide, there’s really no differentiating the two on their usefulness.

However, the Toyota Hilux is available in a few more configurations.

On the lower-spec models, you can choose between the two-door Single Cab, or the Extra Cab which comes with small rear suicide doors. There’s a Double Cab on offer too, of course, which is the one you’ll want if this is going to be your day-to-day car, not just your work van.

The Hilux also gets a three-year warranty on the plastic-lined load bed, which could come in very handy if you’re often loading and unloading heavy or unwieldy cargo that might damage the lining.

Volkswagen Amarok

Specifications 

Specs for both the Amarok and the Hilux are nice and easy, though the Hilux has a little more to pick through thanks to the Single/Extra/Double Cab options.

The most basic of the Toyota Hilux line-up is the Single Cab Active 2.4, and then the specs rise through Icon, Invincible, and Invincible X, with the most expensive the Invincible X 2.8 Double Cab model.

All models but the entry-level Active get the 8in touchscreen, while standard across the board is automatic service reminders, e-call and remote diagnostic functionality, as well as the usual air con and heating.

Step up a bit, and you’ll benefit from a panoramic view monitor, auto-dimming rearview mirror and dual-zone air con, while the most expensive Hilux’s also get heated leather seats, an automatic gearbox, JBL hi-fi and LED lights.

The VW Amarok also has four trim levels to pick from.

Life is the most basic Amarok on offer, with 17in alloy wheels, LED lights, rear-view camera. adaptive cruise control, and a 10in infotainment screen. Step up to Style, and you’ll get the larger 12in screen, plus 360-degree camera and additional active safety systems.

PanAmericana is the next trim level, and it’s designed to be more suited to off-roading. It gets chunkier styling features and a premium leather interior, while the top-of-the-range Aventura gets lots of chrome accents, massive tyres and extra tech.

There is also a whole range of accessories on offer to complement your pickup lifestyle, including a bike holder, a hardtop for the cargo bed, and even snorkels. 

Both pickups get a five-year warranty and five years of roadside assistance, while VW will cover five services for the Amarok, and Toyota will knock 50% off the servicing labour bill if it takes more than seven days.

Which, being a Toyota, it probably won’t.

The Hilux will likely survive the apocalypse, if and when it comes. Stick a years’ worth of tins in the back and you’ll be good to ride out the first wave.

Toyota Hilux

Verdict

Both the VW Amarok and the Toyota Hilux pose very good options for your next pick-up lease, if you’re looking outside of the go-to Ranger.

Ultimately, the choice is fairly easy. 

Looking for a more family-friendly vehicle that’s comfy and plush and comes with all the tech you could need – as well as being practical and versatile enough for work? The Volkswagen Amarok is for you.

But for a proper workhorse, an addition – a big addition – to your toolbox, a faithful and dependable partner to get through the day with? The Toyota Hilux is your utilitarian friend.

Ready for your next pick-up adventure?

Beth Twigg

Beth Twigg

Beth is our Content and Paid Media Specialist, tasked with creating great articles to keep you both entertained and informed. She has two years previous experience, but has been writing and scribbling for much longer.