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...

15 December 2017
Fiat Fullback bed
Fiat Fullback bed

Best for towing

As it turns out, six out of the eight pick-ups tested are capable of pulling a 3.5-tonne braked trailer, but there is nuance in the details. For example, the Ranger comes with a choice of two rear axles, depending on whether you want to prioritise towing or fuel economy. The beefier one gives you the full 3500kg towing capacity, but opt for the other and you’re restricted to 2500kg. 

Surprisingly, one of the newest pick-ups here, the Fullback (launched in 2016), can pull ‘just’ 3100kg. The only benefit is that it can carry nearly a tonne of payload in the bed while towing at maximum capacity; the class average is closer to 500kg. 

Ford Ranger bed

The Musso trumps all of its rivals, though. It is the only pick-up that can still carry its full payload (1085kg) while towing a 3500kg trailer. The Amarok, meanwhile, underperforms a tad in this area, with the 161bhp model pulling just 3000kg, while the more powerful (201 and 253bhp) variants can manage 3100kg in eight-speed automatic form. 

There’s no point in being able to pull 3500kg, however, if your pick-up feels unstable when doing so. And this is where the Amarok scores some points back, because we found it to be the most stable of the eight when towing a 1900kg caravan. Every other pick-up had at least one niggle: the Hilux felt underpowered, the L200 and Fullback were somewhat unstable at motorway speeds and the Navara and X-Class wandered around under braking. The Amarok, meanwhile, was rock solid at speed, sported the strongest brakes of the bunch and had fantastic low-down grunt. In short, it inspired confidence. 

Mercedes X-Class bed

None of these pick-ups comes with a tow bar as standard, though; it’s optional in all cases. Each manufacturer offers a range of tow bars, depending on your requirements, but none of them is particularly cheap; expect to pay between £250 and £600.

Best for carrying

Mitsubishi L200 bed

As tested, the Hilux has the highest payload rating in the class (1120kg) and one of the longest and widest load beds. However, it’s challenged hard by the Amarok, which, even in entry-level form, is capable of carrying a hefty 1073kg. And the more expensive 201bhp version, with its eight-speed automatic gearbox, offers the highest payload rating of any pick-up on sale in the UK at 1146kg – 26kg more than the Hilux. 

Third best is the Musso (1085kg), followed closely by the X-Class, Ranger and Navara, all of which can haul more than 1050kg. The L200 and Fullback, meanwhile, just about surpass the 1040kg base limit that covers the weight of a hard-top (legally set at 40kg) while retaining the 1000kg payload rating that enables them to be taxed as commercial vehicles.

Nissan Navara bed

As well as having one of the highest payloads, the Amarok can carry the widest load, but the Navara is king when it comes to bed length. The height of the load bed floor from the ground varies by only 70mm between all eight, with Musso and Amarok being the lowest and the Hilux the highest.

We loaded each pick-up with a payload of 500kg to test how they coped with weight over the rear axle. Unsurprisingly, each pick-up rode significantly better with a load in the bed than without. In fact, both the Hilux and Musso were transformed, no longer pogoing over the various lumps and bumps that populated our test route. However, the most settled of the bunch was the Amarok. Performance in all eight pick-ups was noticeably stunted. 

Ssangyong Musso bed

Best off road

Each pick-up came equipped with an off-road-focused gearbox with both ‘high’ and ‘low’ ratios – lower cogs giving you greater low-down grunt to pull you up steep hills or out of muddy troughs.

However, a low-range ’box will only get you so far. When the going gets really tough, you’ll also need a locking rear differential for maximum traction. Surprisingly, only the Hilux, Navara and Fullback have one as standard; the Ranger, Amarok and X-Class offer them as expensive options.

Toyota Hilux bed

The Musso doesn’t get one at all, and that could be restrictive if you want to tackle demanding terrain. The Musso also has the least ground clearance and the poorest approach, departure and breakover angles here.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Ranger and Hilux feel at home off road. Indeed, the Ranger’s 800mm wading depth is greater than that of a Range Rover. The Ranger also has class-leading departure and breakover angles, while the Hilux hits back with a massive 293mm of ground clearance and the steepest (31deg) approach angle.
 

Volkswagen Amarok bed

Fiat Fullback Cross
Maximum payload - 1045kg
Maximum trailer weight (braked) - 3100kg

Ford Ranger
Maximum payload - 1061kg
Maximum trailer weight (braked) - 3500kg

Mercedes-Benz X-Class
Maximum payload - 1066kg
Maximum trailer weight (braked) - 3500kg 

Mitsubishi L200 
Maximum payload - 1045kg
Maximum trailer weight (braked) - 3500kg

Nissan Navara
Maximum payload - 1059kg
Maximum trailer weight (braked) - 3500kg 

Ssangyong Musso
Maximum payload - 1085kg
Maximum trailer weight (braked) 3500kg 

Toyota Hilux
Maximum payload - 1120kg
Maximum trailer weight (braked) - 3500kg

Volkswagen Amarok
Maximum payload - 1073kg
Maximum trailer weight (braked) - 3000kg

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