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

Verdict

While we weren’t exactly bowled over by the Hilux and L200 on the road, we can see why they’ve attracted such a strong following over the years. Indeed, if you simply want a solid workhorse that won’t let you down, the Hilux, with its impressive reliability record and off-road prowess, would be a trusty companion, while the L200 – and the closely related Fullback – offer decent performance and a long equipment list. 

However, you can no longer get away with excelling in just a couple of areas – a lesson that the Musso and X-Class, plus the aforementioned trio, found out the hard way. Ten years ago, both of these pick-ups would have finished on the podium – the Musso thanks to its roomy interior and bargain basement pricing and the X-Class for its visually arresting interior and refined engine.

Unfortunately for them, the Navara strikes a better balance between cost, usability and practicality. No, it isn’t as plush as the X-Class inside, but it makes up for that by being far cheaper to own, fractionally more powerful and better equipped. Plus, Nissan, unlike Ssangyong, hasn’t forgotten that a pick-up should be, at its very core, a work vehicle, hence its massive load bay. 

That leaves the Ranger and Amarok fighting it out for the top two podium spaces. Both will make light work of the daily grind, while the Ranger is actually superior in terms of outright handling ability, with the most car-like handling characteristics. However, in the end it was let down by its engine, which lacks grunt and is short on refinement. 

The Amarok, meanwhile, is hard to fault – at least by class standards. Not only is it one of the most comfortable and well-rounded pick-ups to drive, but it’s also an impressive workhorse with a big load bay and a high payload rating. We would still recommend going for the higher-powered 201bhp engine with its fantastic eight-speed automatic gearbox if you’re planning on pulling very heavy loads, but if you want a pick-up that can put in a hard shift during the week while still being able to act as family transport at the weekend, look no further.

1st - Volkswagen Amarok - 5/5

Volkswagen Amarok side

For Comfiest ride; huge interior; gutsy engine; best infotainment; big load capacity

Against Poorest towing capacity; pricey to buy; manual gearbox not great

Recommended options Lined load bed (£675), locking rear diff (£250), front/rear parking sensors and reversing camera (£835), tow bar (£300)


2nd - Ford Ranger - 4/5

Ford Ranger side

For Best handling; accurate and well-weighted steering; best wading depth and breakover angle; decent infotainment 

Against Worst auto gearbox; noisy engine; shortest warranty

Recommended options Off-Road Pack including locking rear diff and underbody protection (£300), tow bar (£250)


3rd - Nissan Navara - 3/5

Nissan Navara side

For Powerful engine; decent standard kit; massive load bay; solid interior; commanding driving position

Against Vague steering and sloppy body control; notchy manual gearbox; choppy ride

Recommended options Lined load bed (£209), tow bar (£287)


4th - Ssangyong Musso - 3/5

Ssangyong Musso side

For Plush and spacious interior; cheapest to buy; quiet engine; accurate steering; can carry max payload while towing at capacity

Against Terrible ride; short load bed; poor off road; not very economical; no locking differential 

Recommended options Metallic paint (£430), tow bar (£431.17)


5th - Mercedes-Benz X-Class - 3/5

Mercedes X-Class side

For Visually arresting interior; impressive refinement; supple low-speed ride; long load bay

Against Expensive to buy; stingy standard equipment; lethargic engine

Recommended options Lined load bed (£250), locking diff (£594), tow bar (£374)


6th - Toyota Hilux - 3/5

Toyota Hilux side

For The most accomplished off road; impressive reliability; practical and well laid out load bay 

Against Least powerful; bouncy ride with empty load bed; poor infotainment

Recommended options Parking Pack (£483), tow bar (£200)


7th - Mitsubishi L200 - 2/5

Mitsubishi L200 side

For Bargain to lease; cheap to insure; torquey engine 

Against Locking rear diff not available; awful driving position; poor refinement

Recommended options Lined load bed (£219), tow bar (£341)


8th - Fiat Fullback Cross - 2/5

Fiat Fullback side

For Decent kit; locking rear diff standard; relatively punchy engine; lots of rear leg room 

Against Atrocious ride; vague steering; poor head room; one of the least practical load bays

Recommended options Tow bar (£262)

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