Pick-up trucks tested: Ford Ranger, Ssanyong Musso and Toyota Hilux

Pick-ups aren’t just workhorses for farmers and tradesmen; they can also serve as family vehicles. Let’s see which of the latest crop gets the job done best...

Ford Ranger 2022 wading through water

Ford Ranger

Ford's huge F-150 is the world’s best-selling pick-up truck. And plenty of the things that make it so popular have filtered down to its little brother, from its clever spring-loaded tailgate (which is by far the easiest of the four to close) to the easy-to-engage four-wheel drive system and the well laid out interior with chunky buttons.

That interior has been updated over the years, so that it now features an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen that runs the same software as most Ford passenger cars. Plus, there are plenty of nice materials to lift the ambience, including contrasting stitching for the leather upholstery.

Ford Ranger interior

The Ford Ranger is the comfiest of our contenders inside, and that starts with its supportive driver’s seat. All of our testers could find a driving position that worked, despite the steering wheel adjusting only for height.

True, your kids might not appreciate the absence of air vents in the back, but they’ll not want for charging options, with both a 12V and 230V three-pin socket fitted.

Perhaps the best thing of all about the Ranger, though, is how it drives. The steering is the quickest to respond and has an accuracy that’s quite car-like. What’s more, the Ranger has the most settled ride of our contenders, laden or unladen. Sure, you’re aware of bumps in the road, but it lessens their impact impressively.

Ford Ranger 2022 rear

Performance is another strength, with the Ranger posting the quickest acceleration times of our quartet, even though its automatic gearbox can be indecisive at times – not ideal when it has 10 ratios to choose from. The gruff engine note is ever-present, even when cruising on the motorway, although the Ranger is relatively good at shutting out wind and road noise.

As for off-road ability, the Ranger acquits itself well. True, its road-biased tyres have a harder time finding traction than the knobbly ones fitted to the Toyota Hilux, but excellent axle articulation meant we never got stuck, even in arduous conditions.

Another area in which the Ranger stands out is servicing costs, helped by Ford’s massive dealer network and competitive rates. Your maintenance bills over three years will be at least half those of the other three, with the Hilux being the priciest.

Ssangyong Musso

Ssangyong Musso 2022 wading through water

If you subscribe to the theory that paying more for something always pays dividends, the Ssangyong Musso – the least expensive of our contenders – isn’t for you. However, if you want value for money, stick with us.

In a number of ways, the Musso is one of the best pick-ups available, especially if you spend a lot of time at the wheel. It’s plusher than any of its rivals, with lots of soft plastic over the top of the dashboard, a generous helping of what looks like leather surrounding the air-con controls, and genuine Nappa leather seat upholstery in Saracen models.

The front seats are not only heated but also cooled – a real bonus when you consider the price. What’s more, the digital displays look quite flash and respond swiftly, including the 9.2in infotainment touchscreen.

Ssangyong Musso interior

Rear passengers are well catered for, too, getting generous head and leg room. Meanwhile, the interior is broad and the central floor hump low, making the Musso the best for seating three people side by side.

Ssangyong hasn’t skimped on sound-deadening material, either; the Musso registered the lowest noise readings of the four. Its engine is refined by pick-up standards, even when you demand a burst of power, plus wind and road noise levels are low.

You could even class the Musso as being nimble, thanks to limited body lean in corners. However, this has been achieved by making the suspension relatively stiff, resulting in an unsettled ride and constant patter at speed. You also feel plenty of shudders over lumpy asphalt, along with kickback through the steering wheel; the latter can be really disconcerting if you hit a mid-corner bump.

Ssangyong Musso 2022 rear

Those shudders also make the Musso feel the least comfortable off road and can lead to you going quite slowly. That’s far from ideal, because you need momentum to make up for its shortage of traction; blame limited suspension articulation and the lack of a locking rear differential. Indeed, the Musso was the only pick-up that managed to get stuck on our off-road test route.

Depreciation also gets the better of the Musso, which will be the costliest to own for private buyers in the long run. Conversely, opting for the most expensive truck – the Toyota Hilux – would be smarter because of how well it holds onto its value, although it’s the Isuzu D-Max that is cheapest to run overall.

Toyota Hilux

Toyota Hilux 2022 wading through water

The Hilux has been around in one form or another since 1968, so it’s safe to say Toyota has plenty of experience at building pick-ups. The Hilux also happens to be the workhorse of choice on the Royal Windsor estate, so if it’s good enough for the Queen, it should be good enough for you and me, right?

Well, inside, maybe not. You can’t knock its construction, but in terms of plushness, the Musso does things better, despite being much cheaper to buy. Even when you compare infotainment systems, the Musso has the edge over the Hilux, despite the latter now featuring full smartphone connectivity.

You’ll also find yourself sitting surprisingly close to your front passenger, because of how narrow the Hilux is on the inside. And things don’t improve in the rear seats, where it has the least head and leg room.

Toyota Hilux interior

On the other hand, the new 2.8-litre engine is hard to fault. It’s got loads of mid-range punch to allow you to build speed effortlessly when required, plus it’s linked to a responsive six-speed automatic gearbox.

The trouble is, the Hilux isn’t particularly nice to drive in other respects. It starts with unnecessarily heavy steering that is also very slow to respond to your inputs.

There isn’t a huge amount of grip on the road, either, and the Hilux leans over disconcertingly in corners. Nor does it ride well, bucking over bumps and suffering an unpleasant twisting motion in corners brought about by its soft front suspension being at odds with its stiff rear end.

Toyota Hilux 2022 rear

When you head off road, though, the Hilux excels. Its lockable rear differential and generous suspension travel keep the knobbly off-road tyres clamped to the ground, and we found that the Hilux had no trouble chewing through mud, finding traction in places where you’d swear there wasn’t any.

If you’re looking at long-term ownership, the Hilux comes with the most generous warranty (10 years or 100,000 miles), provided you stick to franchised Toyota dealers for servicing. The Musso is covered for up to 150,000 miles, whereas the Ranger has the least cover, at three years and a mere 60,000 miles.

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