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Pick-up truck mega test comparison

Do you think pick-ups are just farm or building site workhorses? Think again. Here, we choose the best of them from the UK’s eight main contenders...

Fiat Fullback rear
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What Car? team
15 Dec 2017 08:00
Ford Fullback rear

Fiat Fullback Cross 2.4 180hp D-CAB

List price inc VAT £34,673

List price ex VAT £29,074

Sharing is caring, and there are a few examples of this in the pick-up world. Mitsubishi, for example, leant its fifth-generation L200 to Fiat, which used it to create the almost identical Fiat Fullback.

Sitting at the top of the Fullback range, here we have the Fullback Cross, which sports some subtle cosmetic changes, including larger, 17in alloy wheels.

The result? Unfortunately for Fiat, it isn’t all good. The interior is decidedly drab, with cheap-looking plastic wherever your gaze falls – apart from the unexpectedly upmarket paddle shifters for the automatic gearbox. The driving position is also the worst here (tied with the L200), with a high-set seating position combining with a surprisingly heavily raked roofline to leave a restricted view forwards; a big chunk of what you see is taken up by the roof lining. 

Rear head room is the equal worst of this group as well (the L200’s is no better), although the flipside is that rear leg room is palatial by class standards. Sadly, the Fullback has the narrowest load bed of all our pick-ups and its towing capacity is among the worst.

Fiat Fullback interior

On the road, things don’t get any better. The Fullback’s steering is vague and imprecise, with the result that if you go down a broken B-road at speed, you’ll find the steering wheel jumping around in your hands, requiring you to make continual inputs to stay on course. The Fullback also has a very bouncy ride, crashing over the slightest hint of a bump, and while the ride calms down slightly when there’s a load in the back, it’s still among the worst here.

The 177bhp 2.4-litre diesel engine has a very agricultural sound to it, but it does at least quieten down at a cruise, and it pulls impressively. The gearbox feels similarly old-hat, being a five-speed automatic while most of the other gearboxes here have more gears and shift more smoothly.

If your pick-up has to have a Fiat badge on it, we’d suggest sticking with the standard Fullback instead of the Cross; it isn’t any better but is at least cheaper to buy.

Specifications

Engine 4cyl, 2442cc, diesel

List price inc VAT £34,673

List price ex VAT £29,074

Power 177bhp @ 3500rpm

Torque 317lb ft @ 2500rpm 

Gearbox 5-spd automatic

0-62mph 9.8sec

Top speed 110mph

Economy 37.7mpg

CO2 emissions 196g/km


Ford Ranger rear

Ford Ranger Black Edition Double Cab 2.2 TDCi 160PS

List price inc VAT £34,495

List price ex VAT £28,796

The idea of a luxury pick-up is nothing new; the Americans have been building and buying them for ages, making use of a tax loophole that allows small business owners to purchase a fully loaded ‘truck’ for far less than an equivalent luxury saloon. It’s one of the reasons why the Ford F-150 isn’t just the best-selling pick-up in the US; it’s the best-selling vehicle in the world.

The tax nuances in the UK are a little different, of course, but the effect is the same: more buyers than ever are buying pick-ups, and the Ford Ranger, following in the footsteps of its American relative, is the best-selling one yet.

It’s easy to see why from behind the wheel. Indeed, by pick-up standards, the interior is relatively upmarket; the plastics feel solid and well screwed together, the switches and knobs are all slick in operation and higher-spec models such as this Black Edition come packed with technology such as Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system.

Ford Ranger interior

But where the Ranger really sets itself apart from the pack is on the road. Turn in to a tight corner and immediately you come to appreciate the steering’s accuracy and response, as well as the Ranger’s resistance to body lean compared with its rivals. And while the ride can be a little choppy around town, it settles down at higher speeds or when you put some weight in the bed.

Our only real complaint relates to the engine and gearbox, because while on paper the Ranger sports respectable payload and towing capacities, in reality its 158bhp 2.2-litre diesel feels asthmatic. It doesn’t pull with the fervour you’d expect from a heavy-duty pick-up, and it sends plenty of vibrations through the steering wheel and pedals. 

We’d also recommend opting for a manual gearbox, because the six-speed automatic fitted to our test car was the most sluggish, dim-witted and power-sapping of the lot. 

Specifications

Engine 4cyl, 2198c, diesel

List price inc VAT £34,496

List price ex VAT £28,796

Power 158bhp @ 3700rpm

Torque 284lb ft @ 1500rpm 

Gearbox 6-spd automatic

0-62mph 12.8sec

Top speed 109mph

Economy 36.2mpg

CO2 emissions 207g/km

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