Mitsubishi L200 long-term test review: report 1

The L200 has a reputation for being a great working vehicle, but can it also be a good alternative to a large SUV for those seeking practicality and off-road prowess? We're living with one to fin...

Mitsubishi L200 front

The car Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X Double Cab Run by Max Edleston, junior photographer

Why it’s here To see if a pick-up truck can be as comfortable and practical for daily life as a large SUV

Needs to Offer all the space that a What Car? photographer might need, be great for long-distance trips and off-road driving, and function as a mobile office

Mileage 489 List price £32,525 Price as tested £41,317 Test economy 32.4mpg Official economy 36.2mpg Options Adventurer III commercial hardtop (£1446), Electric Blue metallic paint (£455), tailgate locking kit (£310), bed liner (£210), bed mat (£134)

3 September 2020 – First impressions

When driving on the roads of Cheshire, near my family home, the chances are you’ll see one of three types of car: an SUV with enough chrome to blind an oncoming driver, a high-end sports car blasting its way round a corner, or a mile-munching saloon with a German badge on its bonnet. A less common sight is a pick-up truck. But among Cheshire’s large farming community, the Mitsubishi L200 is one of the most sought-after models.

It’s a car that has always been present on the fringes of my life, too, because I’ve long had a keen interest in pick-up trucks and my uncle (a farmer) had a bright blue L200 when I was growing up. It amazed me back then to think how large it was inside, and how easily it could fit myself, my brother, my cousin and all of the supplies needed to run a busy farm without batting an eyelid.

Now, as you may have heard before from What Car? photographers, ours is a job where no two days are the same. One morning we could be in a dusty quarry, and the next standing up to our knees in water, all to get the pictures you see in the magazine and on the website. The point is, I need a car that can handle any terrain and that's large enough to swallow all of my gear. 

What’s sitting on my driveway now, then, is a new L200. More specifically, it’s an L200 in Barbarian X trim and with an automatic gearbox. And under the bonnet is a 148bhp 2.3-litre diesel engine, which should have more than enough grunt to haul this pick-up around, even when it’s fully laden with my gear. 

While Barbarian X trim comes with plenty of goodies, not least a heated steering wheel and a 360deg parking camera, I have nonetheless added a few options. The most obvious one is the £1446 hard-top cover for the load bay, which means I can keep my camera kit secure and away from prying eyes when it’s not being used. 

It’s early days, but the reversing camera has already proved itself to be far more than just a luxury, because parking the L200 at my local supermarket can be a challenge to say the least. Unlike the best large SUVs, pick-up trucks don’t do anything to hide their size.

The leather-trimmed seats have shown themselves to be comfortable even on long journeys, too, so I can arrive at shoot locations feeling fresh and ready to work, rather than needing 20 minutes to sort out my back and legs before getting started.

Mitsubishi L200 rear

Another boon is the L200’s infotainment system, which, like many modern setups, comes with Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. It grants access to handy apps like Waze, allowing me to get from A to B with the minimum of fuss thanks to real-time traffic updates. True, the system has frozen up on me a couple of times recently – seemingly always when I’m in a busy town and relying on the maps to direct me. However, this might be down to the cable I'm using, so I’ll change that before blaming the truck.

During my time with the L200, I want to push it both on and off road to see how it handles different conditions and explore the different drive modes it offers. By that, I mean the various off-roading aids, including low-ratio gears and locking differentials, all designed to get me where I need to be. No matter what, I expect to get it muddy.

Above all, though, I want to know whether the L200 can be just as comfortable and refined as a large SUV, while also offering that extra dose of practicality that comes with a pick-up truck, and all without breaking the bank in the process. Am I asking too much? Over the next few months, we’ll find out together. 

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