Chromed alloy wheels? Leather seats with electric adjustment? Pickup drivers have never had it so good. Peter Hill looks at what’s available.
Looking more like a North American pickup than previous models thanks to its big, bluff front-end, the latest Ranger is proving a bit of a hit. Most versions go out with the 2.2-litre diesel engine, which delivers a decent 150hp, but a 3.2-litre four-cylinder with 200hp is available in higher-spec models.
If you don’t need to tackle winter tracks, 2wd versions with single or extended cabs are pretty cheap. The regular cab version, for instance, gets a modest 125hp but keeps the list price under £16,000 despite being equipped to a decent XL equipment level.
Super and Double Cab models get extra kit with the XL designation.
A facelifted version of the Steed is set to come to the UK shortly, with sleeker looks, higher quality interior and nicer seat trim materials. Rear disc brakes instead of drums are also expected.
In the meantime, a 143hp 2-litre engine and six-speed manual gearbox are the mainstays of the model.
The Chinese-designed, Bulgarian-built doublecab aims at functionality rather than high style – for many users that will be fine.
Isuzu made a big push into the market two years ago with its Rodeo-replacing D-Max. The base 2wd is only £30 short of being the lowest-priced vehicle here, yet it still gets the 163hp, 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission.
The Yukon makes an interesting spec-for-price special while the Huntsman pack, for £6,000 on top of the regular D-Max Yukon or Utah price, creates a “gamekeeper special” with lockable drawer and storage compartments, Truckman canopy and rubber floor mat for the load bay, optional dog boxes and divider.
It’s easy to clean but less easy to live with than modern pickup vehicles yet the Land Rover Defender retains an unmatched feeling of durability and go-anywhere ability.
Defender production ends next year and what everyone wants to know, of course, is whether Land Rover, hell-bent on chasing the money in the high-end SUV market, will produce a worthy replacement.
Although Mitsubishi has latched on to the “leisure and pleasure” appeal of a stylish, well-equipped pickup, it has not forgotten its practical roots nor the users who simply want a vehicle that does the job and doesn’t cause too many tears when it gets scratched or bumped.
The 4Work models take the L200 back to basics, with a 2.5-litre, 134hp engine providing the muscle and modest exterior and interior trim keeping things practical. The single cab version gets the prize for lowest list price here.
With the most power and torque of all but the big-engine specials – 190hp and 450Nm – from its 2.5-litre diesel, the Navara has good low-rev performance off-road and easy driving characteristics on tarmac.
A pleasant ride and decent interior also score well, as does the track system that positions load deck lashing points wherever they are needed.
One extended (King) cab model is available among the Double Cabs and the range-topping 3-litre V6 Outlaw should be fun but expensive to run. A new-generation Navara claiming all-round improvements was unveiled outside Europe in June.
Unusually for a practical pickup, the Korando Sports has coil-spring rear suspension, which gives decent ride quality on the road with little, if any, detriment to off-road performance.
But it’s not a big load lugger. The 2.7t towing capacity is fine but, as the shortest vehicle here other than the Defender, load space and payload (600kg) are both limited.
Single, extra and double cab versions of the HiLux are the main choices here, as the only alternative spec to Active is the double cab Icon before upgrading to the thirstier 3-litre V6 Invincible with 171hp on tap and auto option.
A five-speed manual is standard fare throughout when most competitors have six-speeders and if carrying capacity is an important factor, then the HiLux offers less than most.
As a relative newcomer to the pickup scene, the Amarok has made quite an impression with its refined and powerful 2-litre engine delivering 180hp and at least 400Nm of torque in twin-turbo guise.
It’s a wide vehicle thanks to that blunt front-end yet there are several longer pickups. Towing capacity is 3.2t. Road performance is good but it’s not as nimble as some.
|How the figures stack up|
|Most powerful||Highest engine torque||Heaviest payload||Heaviest tow||Longest loadbed||Highest on-the-road price||Lowest on-the-road price|
231hp Nissan Navara 3-litre Outlaw V6
550Nm Nissan Navara 3-litre Outlaw V6
1,250kg Nissan Navara Double Cab
3,500kg Isuzu D-Max
2,340mm Toyota HiLux Single Cab
£30,997 Nissan Navara Double Cab 3-litre Outlaw V6
£14,499 Mitsubishi L200 Single Cab 4Work
|200hp Ford Ranger 3.2-litre||470Nm Ford Ranger 4×4 3.2-litre Limited/Wildtrak||1,231kg Ford Ranger 4×2 Super Cab||3,500kg Ford Ranger 4×4||2,317mm Ford Ranger Single Cab||£29,258 Mitsubishi L200 4×4 Double Cab 2.5-litre Walkinshaw Auto||£14,749 Isuzu D-Max 4×2 Single Cab|
|190hp Nissan Navara 2.5-litre Acenta / Tekna||450Nm Nissan Navara 2.5-litre Acenta/Tekna||1,227kg Land Rover Defender 130 HCPU Double Cab||3,500kg Land Rover Defender 90, 110 + 130||2,305mm Isuzu D-Max Single Cab||£28,744 Isuzu D-Max 4×4 Double Cab Utah Auto Huntsman||£14,998 Great Wall Steed S Double Cab|
|180hp Volkswagen Amarok 4Motion S/P Auto||
420Nm Volkswagen Amarok 2.0-litre 4Motion P Auto
|1,215kg Nissan Navara King Cab Acenta||3,200kg Volkswagen Amarok Double Cab||
2,220mm Mitsubishi L200 Single Cab
|£27,858 Mitsubishi L200 4×4 Double Cab 2.5-litre Walkinshaw||£15,042 SsangYong Korando Sports Double Cab|