Best pick-up trucks in the UK 2023
Pick-up trucks are the ultimate do-it-all vehicles – they can go anywhere, carry pretty much anything, tow, and provide comfortable family transport. Here we name the best and the worst...
Workhorse. That’s perhaps the best way to describe a pick-up truck. They’re ideal for being used and abused in so many settings, be that on the building site, around farms, forests, campsites, and they’re equally handy for all manner of outdoor pursuits. If you ever see a boat or jetski on a trailer, it’s probably being pulled by a pick-up.
Yet many of the UK’s pick-ups perform a dual role as personal transport, too. Comfortable seats, decent technology, a car-like driving experience and smart looks means they’re often used as a family car as well as a work vehicle.
Aside from the obvious dual-role abilities, there are significant tax benefits to running a pick-up. With a reduced, flat-rate of benefit-in-kind (BIK), a pick-up can be far cheaper for businesses to run than a large SUV. If they can carry more than 1000kg, they’re usually considered as a light commercial vehicle, and taxed like a van. But tread carefully, because not all pick-ups are equal in this regard.
As ever on What Car?, our testers consider running costs alongside a raft of other criteria that’s vital when choosing a pick-up truck. The vehicles below have been rated according to their practicality, comfort, payload and towing capabilities as well as mechanical refinement and how well they drive on and off the road. While we’ve summarised the key points for each pick-up here, you can click through to read the full, in-depth review on each model.
But if you just want to know here and now which is our favourite pick-up, it’s the Ford Ranger.
So, which models should you consider? Here we run down the new pick-up truck models we've tested to show you all of the best options – and also tell you about the UK's only electric pick-up. If you decide to buy or lease one, make sure you find the best prices using our New Car Deals and What Car? Leasing pages.
The Ford Ranger has long been the UK’s biggest-selling pick-up, but in its latest incarnation, it’s also the best for British buyers. In fact, our reviewers say it’s the best pick-up they’ve ever tested – despite the fact it shares its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Amarok.
As such, it’s as comfortable as the Amarok, and the 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre V6 are equally as powerful and refined. The Ranger has a nicer dashboard layout, though, and the infotainment system is far more intuitive to use than the VW, with physical controls for the air-conditioning – a boon when you’re jumping in the Ranger wearing gloves in the middle of winter.
Also unlike the Amarok, the Ranger is available in two-seat Single Cab and five-seat/four-door Double Cab configurations. While the latter robs space in the load bay to pay for surprisingly spacious rear seats, the increase in all-round usability means it’s our choice.
How much the Ranger can carry depends on cab type and engine choice. The payload champion is the Single Cab, with its 1200kg rating, but all of the heavier Double Cabs are capable of carrying cargo in the 1037-1098kg range. The exception is the high-performance Raptor model which uses sophisticated suspension that trades capacity for handling. It is only able to carry 631kg, which also means it doesn’t make the cut for appealing tax rates. It is enormous fun, though.
Flies in the ointment? There are a few. Firstly the three-year/60,000 mile warranty is shorter than its rivals. And it’s not cheap, either. But it’s so good in other respects that the Ranger is top of the pick-up truck tree.
- Big cargo bay with a high payload capacity
- Space for four six-footers in Double Cab versions
- Good to drive for a pick-up
- Not the cheapest pick-up
- Warranty could be better
In any other circumstance, we’d be recommending the Ford Ranger and the Volkswagen Amarok equally because there’s virtually nothing between them. Both drive superbly, offer impressive cargo carrying credentials and both feel extremely robust and well-built. You might argue the Volkswagen, with its varied range of options including a bike carrier and tent is aimed as much at leisure pursuits as it is work.
So why is the Amarok in second place? That comes down to tiny percentages such as its infotainment system, which is just a bit more fiddly to use, especially as the air-conditioning controls are located in the screen, rather than as proper physical controls. The other reason is that Volkswagen doesn't offer a Single Cab version – and while it’s not our favourite model in the Ranger line-up, the longer load bed will be missed by some buyers.
The lack of a Single Cab, and more basic Double Cab versions, means the VW’s starting price appears substantially higher than the Ranger. But when you consider the Amarok range is composed solely of plusher models, prices are closer to the Ranger than first impressions suggest.
It’s also worth considering that the Amarok’s interior feels a little more premium than the Ranger, which for some will justify the extra outlay. Also helping to sugar the pill is that Amaroks come with a longer warranty lasting for five years and 124,000 miles, five free services and five years’ breakdown cover.
Despite the amount of shared parts, you’ll be hard pressed to spot visual similarities between the two pick-ups because only the roof, door handles and mirror casings are alike.
- Big cargo bay with a high payload capacity
- Good to drive for a pickup
- Space for four six-footers inside
- Not the cheapest pickup
- Fiddly air-con controls
The Toyota Hilux has been a byword for rugged reliability since it first launched in the UK in 1972 – a date that makes it the most firmly-established model of any in our list. But despite favourable tax incentives encouraging a move to more premium-feeling models, the Hilux still feels resolutely workmanlike. In fact we named it best commercial pick-up at our 2023 Van and Commercial Vehicles Awards.
Interior plastics are hard and scratchy and trade tactility for longevity, but all models are well equipped. The entry-level Active is better suited to the building site than the school run, so consider the Icon, plush Invincible or Invincible X or racy-feeling GR Sport if you’re looking for a vehicle to use during the week as well as the weekend.
The Hilux can feel rather bouncy on the road, especially when there’s no cargo in the back, but it’s better than the Isuzu D-Max and Ssangyong Musso in this regard. It doesn’t corner nearly as well as the Ford Ranger, either, although it’s exceptional off-road, with selectable four-wheel drive, and a switchable differential lock. It has more ground clearance than a Ranger, too.
While Toyota is famed for its hybrid engines, the pair offered in the Hilux are rather old-school-feeling 2.4 and 2.8-litre turbodiesels. If you can stretch to it, we recommend the 2.8-litre; its extra power means you don’t have to work it so hard, meaning its official fuel economy is actually better than the 2.4’s. In fact, in our scientific testing, it achieved an impressive 35.0mpg.
The Hilux is available in two-door, two seat Single Cab and four-door, five-seat Double Cab configurations. Unlike other models, there’s also an Extra Cab with ‘occasional’ seats in the back accessed through rear-hinged doors.
- Punchy 2.8-litre engine
- Excellent reliability record and warranty
- Impressive off road
- Sluggish acceleration with the 2.4-litre diesel
- Rivals have greater payloads
- Engines gruff when worked hard
The Ssangyong Musso is, by some distance, the cheapest new pick-up you can buy in the UK. Even so, there’s no half measures when it comes to its abilities. In fact, it’s impressively comfortable, refined, corners well and the interior is surprisingly pleasant, too. It also comes with an impressive five year/100,000-mile warranty, and some attractively-priced monthly service plans.
Unlike most rivals here, the Musso is only available in one bodystyle, a four-door, five-seat Double Cab, and with one engine. But the 2.2-litre diesel feels strong and smooth even when pulling hard. There’s a choice of gearboxes, though, and while the six-speed manual is pleasant, we prefer the six-speed automatic gearbox because it boosts the 3200kg towing capacity to 3500kg.
Yet in many ways, the Musso is rather agricultural: the steering is vague enough to feel resolutely utility (rather than sports utility), and the suspension is stiff leading to a lumpy ride. Yet after filling it with 700kg of bricks, our testers said it felt far smoother over bumps. Depending on the gearbox and trim, the Musso can carry between 1095 and 1205kg.
It’s the top-spec Saracen+ that’s the champion in this regard. It has a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) than other Mussos and its load bed is 310mm longer, at 1310mm. Ssangyong says this makes it the longest Double Cab pick-up on the market.
- Surprisingly smart interior
- Refined engine
- Great towing ability
- Bouncy, uncontrolled ride
- Rivals have bigger load bays
- Shortage of modern safety kit
If safety is paramount, then the Isuzu D-Max is the pick-up to choose. Not only does it enjoy a full five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, but it comes with a wide range of autonomous tech, with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assistance and traffic sign recognition standard across the range. Double cab models feature blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic models see standard cruise control swapped for an adaptive version that will keep you a set distance from the car in front.
The interior looks smart and is plush for a pick-up, and it mostly feels robust. Visibility is good, and wide seat adjustment makes it easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. It’s good off road, too, with lots of suspension articulation and a lockable rear differential on higher-spec models to aid traction. Although if that’s your priority then take a look at the Arctic Trucks AT35 variant, which has been designed to be virtually unstoppable.
However, in most other regards, it gives best to the models higher up this list. The noisy 1.9-litre diesel engine runs out of puff quickly, not helped by a short first manual gear and a hesitant six-speed automatic gearbox. And while improved over previous models, the D-Max has a tendency to bounce over bumps – both the Hilux and Ranger are better in this regard.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind the D-Max price: in entry-level Single Cab guise it undercuts the Ssangyong Musso, and more or less matches it as you walk up the range. But the near-£50,000 Arctic Trucks AT35 is harder to justify.
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- Appealing interior
- Good payload ratings
- Safety tech available across the range
- Weak, noisy engine
- Firm ride
- Poor quality interior
- Dimwitted automatic gearbox
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