The Hilux has gained reputation for exceptional sturdiness and reliability, even during sustained heavy use and/or abuse, and is often referred to as "The Indestructible Car". This was further reinforced on the BBC motoring show Top Gear, when a 1988 Hilux with 190,000 miles (308,000 km) on the odometer was subjected to extraordinary abuse (in series 3, episodes 5 and 6). This consisted of driving it down a flight of steps, scraping buildings, crashing headlong into a tree, being washed out to sea and completely submerged, driving it through a garden shed, dropping a caravan onto it, hitting it with a wrecking ball, setting the cabin and bed area on fire, and, finally, placing it on top of a 240-foot (73 m) block of flats that was subsequently destroyed by a controlled demolition. Although it was now suffering from severe structural damage, the truck was still running after being repaired without spare parts and only with typical tools and equipment that would be found in a car toolbox, such as spanners, motor oil, and a monkey wrench (adjustable spanner), however WD40 was used to get the engine going after it had been recovered from the sea. The Hilux currently resides as one of the background decorations in the Top Gear studio.
In the 2006 series (series 8, episode 3), a Hilux was chosen by Jeremy Clarkson as his platform for creating an amphibious vehicle. With assistance, Clarkson rigged the truck with a massive outboard motor and steering mechanism in the pickup bed. The truck, redubbed the "Toybota" (a portmanteau of "Toyota" and "boat"), was driven by Clarkson over several miles by road and two miles (3 km) across open water, before capsizing during a quick turn. Once recovered, the vehicle was moved back to the Top Gear Studio, where a confident Clarkson stated that he would be the only one capable of driving his car home, since it was the indestructible Hilux. However, Clarkson could not get the Hilux started which led his co-hosts to believe that Clarkson had finally destroyed the "indestructible". In the 2007 series (Series 10, Episode 2), Clarkson opted for a Nissan pickup instead of a Hilux in a second amphibious challenge, successfully crossing the English Channel in the vehicle.
In 2007, Top Gear ran a special program in which Clarkson and James May raced a customized 2005 model Hilux to the magnetic north pole from Northern Canada against Richard Hammond using a dog sled. The race, known as the Hilux Arctic Challenge, allegedly made the truck the first car to make it to the magnetic North Pole.
Outside television, these vehicles have been known to exceed 300,000 miles (~500,000 km) with regular maintenance. It is also infamous for being used as an improvised fighting vehicle - a "technical" - by militias and irregular military forces, especially in Third World conflicts. The Toyota War between Libya and Chad was so named because of the use of Hilux trucks as light cavalry by the Chadian army. These vehicles have also been used in the Iraq war as Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). Militias have been known to outfit this vehicle with stolen, post-Soviet missiles and equipment. The Toyota War saw use of the Hilux as a pulling vehicle, serving as an aircraft tug and tank pull for the T-62 heavy tank. There are currently 37 customized Hilux used by the People Liberation Army in the Southern region of China. The Toyota Hilux has been widely used by Pakistan Army; however, Mitsubishi L200s were acquired instead of sixth generation Hilux recently to replace worn out vehicles.
In October 2007, the Swedish car magazine Teknikens Värld performed an evasive manoeuvre (a moose test) that revealed that the Hilux pickup truck was less than ideal for turning abruptly at speed. The car failed the test and only the driver skill prevented it from overturning. After the test Toyota stopped the sales of Hilux equipped with 16 inch wheels in Europe.
A world record was achieved by the support crew for the participants in the 2008/2009 Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race. The crew travelled in specially adapted Toyota Hiluxs modified by Arctic Trucks, completing a trip of over 5000 km from Novo, a Russian Scientific Station in Antarctica to the Geographic South Pole and back again, making them the first 4x4s to reach the South Pole. The return journey of 2500 km from the South Pole to Novo Station was completed in a record 8 days and 17 hours.