Best pick-up trucks

Carry vast loads on- or off-road, with plenty of creature comforts: these are the best pick-up trucks

Leon Poultney
May 10, 2017

The pick-up truck was once the reserve of farmers or building site managers, who required a tough utility vehicle to cover some seriously challenging terrain, as well as a flat load area to haul bales of hay or cement mixers.

But now - like the Land Rover Defender and Barbour jacket - the rugged worhorse has become a lifestyle statement, with owners turning to pick-ups in order to lug jet-skis to the beach, transport motocross bikes to the dirt track or simply to throw prams and shopping in the back with carefree abandon.

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As a result, popular pick-up manufacturers have started to introduce lifestyle elements to their vehicles, such as gargantuan alloy wheels, pointless - but impressive - front facing spot lamps and interiors that boast every conceivable gizmo a buyer could want. A double-cab model offers fopur doors and a second row of seats for extra practicality.

Despite this, the big pick-up remains an excellent and reliable off-road tool, as well as a nifty tax break for business users. That's because company car tax for cars is based on a proportion of a vehicle's value, as well as CO2 emissions.

But tax is set at a fixed rate for double-cab, four-wheel drive pick-up trucks, no matter how much they cost. As a result, a 20 per cent taxpayer would hand over £634 to HMRC for using their company pickup as personal transport, while a 40 per cent taxpayer will have to cough up £1,268. This is less than half the taxation for a 2.0-litre diesel Audi A6 Avant, for example.


Best pick-up trucks

1. VW Amarok

Manufacturer price from £27,125 
Length 5,254mm  Max. payload 1,154kg  Load length 1,555mm

Volkswagen's Amarok is big and tough, And to reinforce that message, it's got a big and powerful engine, which means progress is surprisingly swift given that it weighs over 3-tonnes.

The styling has been suitably beefed up to suit, so it comes decked out in an array of stylish alloy wheel options, flared wheel arches and an imposing grille that's sure to fill a few rear-view mirrors.

It's also a rather nice place to climb into. There are plush optional leather seats, powerful seat warmers and a touch-screen system like many others found in VW products, meaning it includes DAB radio and slick satellite navigation.

Only available in a double cab version, it offers plenty of room inside for five adults, while the driving experience has been made to feel as close to VW's passenger vehicles as possible. This means the steering is light and manageable, the suspension modernised so it's fairly smooth and stable on the road. Driver assistance features, like parking sensors and a reversing camera, are available too.

It's absolutely packed with technology, should you actually want to go off-road. Hill Descent Assist and Off-Road ABS see it happily take on some seriously slippery situations and the impressive approach angles and wading depths mean trips to the building site or quarry are tackled with ease.

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2. Ford Ranger

Manufacturer price from £18,326
Length Up to 5,362mm  Max. payload 1,296kg  Load length Up to 2,317mm

With its imposing looks and 'built tough' slogan, the Ford Ranger is another pick-up that has been vastly improved with the recent addition of various lifestyle flourishes.

There's the new Ford SYNC 3 dashboard software inside, which features an 8-inch colour display that packs AppLink, Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto for the ultimate in smartphone connectivity.

Plus, Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert, a Lane Keeping System, Traffic Sign Recognition and Driver Alert provide the most advanced safety and security.

Despite its creature comforts, the Ford Ranger remains and absolute workhorse, with the ability to carry up to 1,240kg, tow up to 3,500kg and wade through water up to 800mm deep.

Unlike the VW Amarok, it comes in a variety of cab styles, from the typical and very reasonable two-door 'Regular Cab', to a 'Super Cab', which grants easy access to occasional back seats, and the largest Double Cab option with seating for five.

There's also a good range of engines, including an efficient 2.2-litre TDCi diesel with 158bhp or a 3.2-litre five-cylinder TDCi unit delivering 197bhp. The larger engine is only available in Double Cab models and only these models can be matched with the six-speed automatic gearbox. 

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3. Toyota Hilux

Manufacturer price from £19,177 
Length Up to 5,330mm  Max. payload 1,025kg  Load length Up to 2,315mm

One of the most famous names in the pick-up game, the Toyota Hilux has been in production for nearly 50-years and over 18 million models have been sold globally in that time.

This is down to its unrivalled resilience and ability to withstand immense punishment in the harshest environment without breaking down.

Now in its eighth generation, it has undergone an impressive technical overhaul inside, while the tried-and-tested suspension system and built-in hardiness haven't been touched.

As a result, the Hilux is a more appealing proposition inside but it isn't the best drive on this list - it tends to be quite bouncy, lean a lot through corners and can feel a bit agricultural on the road.

Prices are competitive, starting at £22,955 for the entry level Active models, which come fitted with steel wheels and Bluetooth connectivity inside, but those wishing to use their truck as a passenger vehicle should look towards Icon models and above. These come with smart 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7in touchscreen with Toyota Touch 2 media system, 6 speakers, DAB radio, CD Player and Bluetooth.

Just one engine is available across the range and that's a 2.4-litre diesel with 148bhp. It's not as frugal as others on this list, while a six-speed automatic gearbox (only available on Icon trim models and above) brings the combined mpg figure down to 36.2mpg.

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 4. Nissan Navara

Manufacturer price From £23,920 
Length Up to 5,300mm  Max payload Up to 1,074kg  Load length Up to 1,758mm

Nissan has attempted to combine off-road toughness with on-road comfort and an interior that's as easy to use as its popular Qashqai car-based family crossover.

As a result, it feels very much like a car from the driver's seat, with a familiar dashboard screen, comfortable seats and stylish materials.

Underneath, Nissan has introduced some sophisticated suspension, which means that you get a much more comfortable ride on the road, with less bouncing and crashing when the truck picks up speed.

But it still retains its ability to tackle muddy surfaces with aplomb. The new Navara uses a 2.3-litre diesel engine across the range. It comes in entry-level 158bhp guise or 187bhp in more powerful variants.

A six-speed manual is the standard gearbox, but you can get a seven-speed automatic on the range-topping 187bhp Double Cab.

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5. Mitsubishi L200

Manufacturer price from £19,177 
Length Up to 5,285mm  Max payload 1,050kg  Load length up to 2,265mm

The Mitsubishi L200 isn't a vehicle for the shy or retiring type and with the most appealing five-seater double cab variants offered in trim levels with names like Titan, Barbarian and Warrior, it's clear who the target audience is here.

Now in its fifth generation, the latest L200 boasts a hi-tech 2.4-litre diesel engine, which has an official fuel economy figure of 40.9mpg in the smaller entry-level models.

Improvements to the interior include a large touch screen display and more premium fabrics used throughout the cockpit. However, some buttons and fittings still look and feel a bit industrial, while there seems to be a lack of storage for big bottles and other items in the door bins and dashboard, which is surprising for a work vehicle like this.

Look beneath the overtly masculine exterior styling and trim titles and there's a comfortable pick-up truck underneath. It rides well, with little crashing or bouncing on the road, while the steering has a good weight to it, which aids more precise cornering.

Plus, new L200 also receives an impressive suite of driver assist systems, such as Hill Start Assist, lane departure warning and powerful Bi-Xenon headlamps on higher spec models. 

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