In the world of off-road vehicles, reputations are not easily achieved.

But when you have a product that dates back to 1969 it’s fair to say that it must be doing something right.

Now in its sixth generation, the Hilux has been Toyota’s second-best-selling model worldwide, with 12m units – not bad for a pick-up.

And it’s this time-served status that has allowed the company to hone its product into an icon of the off-road world.

It may not provide the refinement of a Discovery, but you can bet your trousers that underneath the bodywork lies engineering that has the durability of a pair of hobnail boots.

Available in double-cab and single-cab versions from launch, with the Extra-cab (occasional rear seats) following in 2006, the new version is powered by an updated version of the company’s familiar D-4D common-rail diesel.

Power comes in at 101hp and torque at 260Nm.

Looks a little low compared with the competition?

Certainly, with Nissan’s recently-introduced Navara belting out 172hp, Isuzu’s standard Rodeo managing 131hp and Mitsubishi’s L200 replacement set to offer 136hp, the Hilux looks (on paper, at least) a bit lacking in the power department.

Toyota’s engineers, for their part, point to the unit’s improved torque characteristics and fuel consumption.

But if that doesn’t convince, there’ll be a 128hp charge-cooled version introduced next year with a possible 3-litre version to follow.

On the practical side, the Hilux now has a redesigned suspension, best-in-class turning circle and a load deck that has grown by 155mm in the single-cab and 165mm in the double-cab.

All this adds up to a package that takes the Hilux forward in terms of overall refinement and ability.

On the road the suspension behaves with surprising control, eschewing the traditional pick-up traits of a fidgety rear.

It’s the same in the corners, where the chassis produces little roll, planting itself squarely at most speeds and with the steering allowing enough feedback to keep you informed of what the wheels are up to.

But it’s off-road where this vehicle shows what it’s made of.

On rough terrain it stays composed and sure-footed, gripping and turning incisively into corners and all the time keeping the occupants cocooned from the action.

Admittedly the engine, while strong in its torque delivery, may lack outright power for those who tow on a regular basis.

But for powering the Hilux across the rough it proves more than adequate.

With the competition hotting up, Toyota has priced the Hilux aggressively.

The single cab 4×2 model costs 11,495, while the top-of-the-range double-cab Invincible 4×4 is 16,595.