Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Before we dive into the L200’s driving characteristics, it’s important to establish its utilitarian calling in life. This pickup can carry just over a tonne of cargo in its load bed with no reduction in capacity as you go up the trim levels, unlike the Ford Ranger. Depending on spec, its maximum payload can reach 1080kg, and it can tow a braked trailer of up to a very impressive 3.5 tonnes. However, every kilo of payload will detract from that towing limit – chuck 500kg into the load bed and the towing limit will to 3.0 tonnes. The Ssangyong Musso faces no such restriction (its 1095kg payload is unaffected no matter how much you tow), plus the Musso Rhino model offers a longer bed that can carry more weight than any L200.
Your only engine choice is a 148bhp 2.3-litre diesel. It pulls strongly enough from low revs and has enough in reserve to maintain an easy cruise on motorways, but ultimate acceleration is pretty sluggish. Although it’s punchier than the Isuzu D-Max, rivals such as the Ranger and Toyota Hilux offer much more powerful diesel engines for those who need a bit more muscle.
The L200 can scramble over challenging off-road terrain, thanks to four-wheel drive being standard across the range. Its ground clearance is good in isolation, however the Hilux, Musso and Ranger all have more. Models in Trojan trim and above come with selectable off-road driving modes that alter how the gearbox, throttle response and stability control behave. Using these, you get the traction to suit the prevailing conditions without having to think about it – the system just sorts everything out for you. However, while that system has a lockable centre differential to boost traction in slippery conditions, only the rugged 4Life gets an even more useful locking rear diff.
The L200’s relatively primitive yet sturdy chassis construction is well suited to hard work, but brings compromises when travelling without a payload. Catch a bump, ridge or pothole and the L200 jolts, twitches and shudders; you wouldn’t encounter the same disturbances in a large SUV. If you’re looking for a smoother-riding pickup truck, the Ranger is a better choice, with the added bonus of far less wind and engine noise.
Turn onto twistier roads and the L200 isn't great to drive compared with a Musso or especially a Ranger. The steering is vague and doesn't offer much in the way of feedback and, if you press on, you'll quickly find that there isn't much grip. The L200 gets upset by mid-corner bumps, too.
The brakes feel more than capable of stopping the L200, even at its maximum allowed weight, while the standard-fit, six-speed manual gearbox isn't overly notchy. The six-speed auto 'box changes reasonably smoothly on the move, although it can dither a bit when you're pulling away.
The Navara is relatively comfortable and comes with a reasonab...
There are better pickups, but not for this sort of money. The...
This is easily the best Toyota Hilux yet, but it still feels m...
The best pickup you can buy, even if it is quite pricey