30 March 2017 by CJ Hubbard, Vans Editor

  • Pickup truck group test - rear view of D-Max and L200
  • Fiat Fullback best for economy in the Parkers Vans pickup group test
  • Fiat Fullback best for insurance in the Parkers Vans pickup group test
  • Ford Ranger best for load area in the Parkers Vans pickup group test
  • Isuzu D-Max best for towing in the Parkers Vans pickup group test
  • Isuzu D-Max best for warranty in the Parkers Vans pickup group test
  • Mitsubishi L200 best for value in the Parkers Vans pickup group test
  • Nissan NP300 Navara - best for driving in the Parkers Vans pickup group test
  • Toyota Hilux best for interior in the Parkers Vans pickup group test
  • Toyota Hilux best for off-road in the Parkers Vans pickup group test
  • VW Amarok V6 best for comfort in the Parkers Vans pickup group test
  • Best pickup for payload
  • VW Amarok V6 best for performance in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

Back << Strengths and weaknesses of each pickup

Parkers Vans pickup group test: winners by category

With a diverse selection of trim levels, performance and – to say the least – pricing, rather than pick a single individual overall winner, we've chosen to break the results down into the following categories:

Click on any of the above to jump straight to that section, where you'll find which pickup is best for your needs, as well as highly commended alternatives and even the trucks to avoid.

Keep reading to find out more.

 

Best for driving

Nissan NP300 Navara - best for driving in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

Considering their origins as working vehicles, it’s a pleasant surprise to discover that all of these pickups are at least tolerable from behind the wheel. The Mitsubishi L200, for example, impresses with a grippy front end, while the Ford Ranger really comes to life as you start to travel more quickly.

However, in the end the best to drive are the pickups that feel most like a conventional car – namely the Nissan NP300 Navara and the Volkswagen Amarok V6. In the VW it’s the power of the engine and the unexpected suppleness of the suspension that deliver this satisfaction; the consistency of VW’s engineering practices also means it feels remarkably like an over-sized Golf.

But in the end, the Nissan’s genuinely car-like multilink rear suspension – unique in this test – delivers the most satisfactory driving experience, with sharp steering and strong grip, combined with peerless body control for reduced lean in the corners.

The Parkers Vans pick: Nissan NP300 Navara


Best for performance

VW Amarok V6 best for performance in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

If it’s performance you want – by which we mean outright speed rather than towing and carrying prowess, which are dealt with in separate sections below – the answer is most definitely not the Toyota Hilux. Offered with just a single 150hp engine output in the UK, with the six-speed automatic gearbox as tested it’s at least a second slower on paper 0-62mph than any other pickup here.

The practical upshot of taking 12.8sec to do this benchmark sprint is that short slip roads can be a nail-biting affair, as the Hilux takes that bit longer to get up to motorway speeds; even the 161hp Isuzu D-Max Blade with its heal-dragging five-speed automatic feels less fraught. Ditto the ponderous 160hp Ford Ranger.

The Mitsubishi and Fiat twins benefit from low weight and a powerful 181hp / 430Nm engine, so always feel punchy – ditto the 190hp Nissan NP300 Navara. But really there is no contest in this category: with 224hp and a massive 550Nm of torque, the VW Amarok has by far the best performance of any available pickup. 0-62mph takes just 8.0sec.

The Parkers Vans pick: Volkswagen Amarok V6


Best for comfort

VW Amarok V6 best for comfort in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

Many of you will be laughing at this point, for pickups are not traditionally comfortable vehicles – and every truck here exhibits the typical vibrating ride quality we’ve come to expect when driving them to a certain extent. This is generally worse when the pickup is unloaded, since it’s caused by the stiff suspension at the rear, which needs to cope with at least a tonne of payload.

Some are better (and worse) than others, however. The Ford Ranger is particularly bad at low speeds but smooths out as you go faster, while the Toyota Hilux sadly seems to keep on vibrating at a constant rate no matter how fast you go. The Isuzu D-Max tends to bang over bumps quite harshly.

Since comfort is a premium feature you won’t be surprised to learn that the most premium trucks on test once again perform best. Opinions were split on the Nissan NP300 Navara, with some expecting slightly more from the car-like suspension.  The VW Amarok is certainly softer, and definitely the most comfortable overall, but this comes at the cost of some body control over the bumpiest roads.

The Parkers Vans pick: Volkswagen Amarok V6


Best for interior

Toyota Hilux best for interior in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

Areas under consideration here include passenger space, refinement, utility and style. Space isn’t really an issue in any of these double cabs – at 5’ 11” this writer could comfortably sit behind himself in all of them, and back rest comfort in the rear is largely acceptable. Refinement is also unexpectedly good in almost every one, with the Isuzu D-Max and Ford Ranger proving the noisiest.

The D-Max has the best of the most basic, utilitarian cabin layouts, however – although the plastics and seats are quite hard, the controls are all easy to use and there’s lots of useful storage. The Ranger is disappointing; it looks interesting, but buttons are tricky to find and the quality feels low. To be fair, it is also one of the cheapest pickups on test.

The Navara is like a regular Nissan SUV on the inside, with cohesion and quality that puts the Ford to shame; the driving position suffers from a low steering wheel, however. In the Amarok you sit high and survey a high-quality interior, instantly recognisable as a VW. Best and most surprising of all, though, is the Hilux, which has an eye-catching, ultra- modern design while retaining plenty of utility.

The Parkers Vans pick: Toyota Hilux


Best for load area

Ford Ranger best for load area in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

Driving the VW Amarok, for all its fancy trimmings and indulgently large engine, you still get the strong sense that there’s a working truck lurking beneath the glossy veneer. And so it proves with the load area, which at 1,555mm long and 1,620mm wide has the largest dimensions in the test.

There’s even a massive 1,222mm between the wheelarches, and the 508mm side wall height is only beaten by the Ford Ranger’s 511mm walls. The Amarok’s comparatively low ground clearance also makes it one of the easiest pickups on test to load.

However, cost counts against the Amarok here – if you’re using the load area to the max, do you really want to risk messing up a £40k vehicle? The Ranger runs the VW a close second in area terms (just ahead of the Navara) while costing considerably less. Curiously, the smallest load areas belong to the Mitsubishi, Fiat and Isuzu, which have the most utilitarian appearance and reputation.

The Parkers Vans pick: Ford Ranger


Best for payload

Best pickup for payload

Reinforcing the Volkswagen’s hard-working credentials, however, the Amarok also has a massive 1,114kg payload rating – just 1kg shy of the best on test, which is the Toyota Hilux at 1,115kg.

Third best is the Ford Ranger at 1,088kg. All the others barely surpass the 1,040kg nominal value that covers the weight of a hardtop (generalised at 40kg for legal ease) while retaining the one-tonne (1,000kg) payload rating that enables them to be taxed as commercial vehicles.

The Fiat Fullback and Mitsubishi L200 regain some working kudos, however, by offering a 990kg payload while towing to their maximum, a figure that far exceeds the legal capability of any rival (next closest is the Amarok again, at 728kg).

The Parkers Vans pick: Toyota Hilux


Best for towing

Isuzu D-Max best for towing in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

Only one of the pickups on the test was fitted with a tow bar – and it’s probably no coincidence that this pickup was the Isuzu D-Max, which has a well-deserved reputation as a great tow vehicle. And while we weren’t able to do a direct comparison, the legal figures show the 2.5-litre D-Max is the best choice if you need a hauler. The new 1.9-litre engine is aiming for the same accomplishments.

Though the D-Max is one of four pickups with a 3.5-tonne (3,500kg) towing max – the others being the Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger (the 2.2 needs the correct towing axle; otherwise it’s 2,500kg) and Toyota Hilux (some early models were limited to 3,200kg) – it has the highest trailer nose weighting at 225kg and can still carry 525kg in the load bed at the same time, which is more than the others.

The Fiat Fullback, Mitsubishi L200 and the Volkswagen Amarok are all limited to a legal towing weight of 3,100kg. As a result they can legally carry more payload at the same time (see the payload section). Obviously the VW’s massive 550Nm of torque will make short work of anything you’re pulling, regardless.

The Parkers Vans pick: Isuzu D-Max


Best for value

Mitsubishi L200 best for value in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

Obviously, what you think is good value will partially be shaped by your priorities. The Amarok, for example, is expensive – especially in this particular Aventura trim – but we’d argue you’re still getting value for money. Ditto the Nissan NP300 Navara, the second most expensive pickup on test.

In terms of the sheer amount of kit you get for your cash, however, it is very tough to beat the offering from Mitsubishi. Whatever level you look at across the L200 range, the standard equipment is either more generous than rivals or the pickup costs considerably less.

And we’d argue the Warrior is the absolute pick of the bunch in price/value terms, as it’s absolutely loaded with toys. It even makes its Fiat Fullback non-identical twin seem expensive when you consider what each model includes.

The Parkers Vans pick: Mitsubishi L200


Best for warranty

Isuzu D-Max best for warranty in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

Warranty provision in the pickup class varies considerably. Least generous is Ford, which covers the Ranger for a maximum of 60,000 miles or three years, whichever is sooner. The VW Amarok is covered  for three years or 100,000 miles – which is matched by the Fiat Fullback.

Confusingly, the Mitsubishi L200 comes with a five-year warranty, limited to 62,500 miles – despite being essentially the same vehicle as the Fiat. You can top this up to 125,000 miles for a small fee, though, at which point it matches the best in the sector, the Isuzu D-Max, which comes with five years or 125,000 miles coverage as standard.

The Nissan NP300 Navara and the Toyota Hilux are both covered for five years or 100,000 miles.

The Parkers Vans pick: Isuzu D-Max


Best for fuel economy

Fiat Fullback best for economy in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

Tricky to make a direct comparison on test, given the diverse selection of gearboxes. But it matters not, because by the most efficient engine is the 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel fitted in the 190hp Nissan NP300 Navara, which claims 41.0mpg when combined with the optional seven-speed automatic gearbox.

The Fiat Fullback runs it incredibly close, however, returning a claimed 40.9mpg with its six-speed manual gearbox. This is probably the one to go for if running costs are a concern, in fact, given its considerably cheaper purchase price; a Mitsubishi L200 without our test example’s five-speed automatic claims similar economy (as tested it’s 37.7mpg).

It also worth noting that Ford offers an economy rear axle ratio for the Ranger, which brings the 2.2-litre Ranger up from 39.8mpg to 40.4mpg. Nothing else on test cracks 40mpg, with the least economical being the D-Max Blade with its five-speed auto.

The Parkers Vans pick: Fiat Fullback


Best for off-road

Toyota Hilux best for off-road in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

We weren’t able to complete a full off-road comparison on this occasion, but again we can turn to the data to see which of our pickups has the greatest cross-county potential – and we have driven them all off-road individually on previous occasions. And frankly you’ll have pretty hard to get any of them stuck.

Every model tested was fitted with sophisticated, multi-mode four-wheel drive, with only the Amarok not offering you a choice of settings. The Amarok also has the lowest ground clearance and the poorest approach, departure and breakover angles; we doubt many will risk such a pricy truck in the rough stuff, anyway (ahem).

The Ford Ranger offers the utility of matched 28-degree approach and departure angles – the latter being the highest of all in the test. But it’s the Toyota Hilux that’s most all-round capable on paper, with 31-degree approach, 26-degree breakover and 23-degree departure angles, plus the highest ground clearance at 293mm.

The Parkers Vans pick: Toyota Hilux


Best for insurance

 

Fiat Fullback best for insurance in the Parkers Vans pickup group test

Insurance costs will obviously vary depending on your circumstances, but for the sake of comparison we’ve had mustard.co.uk run the numbers based on an identical owner profile to see which of the pickups on test is the least expensive when it comes to the annual premium.

Cheapest to insure on this basis is the Fiat Fullback, which comes in at £523.23 for 12 months – considerably less than the Mitsubishi L200, which is joint second most expensive at £633.79 (with the Ford Ranger). The most expensive is the Nissan Navara at £651.17. Surprisingly, given it has by far the most powerful engine on test, the VW Amarok is the second least expensive at £579.81, just ahead of the Isuzu D-Max at £588.42. The Toyota Hilux is £613.95.

Important note: insurance quotes are from mustard.co.uk and are based on a 46-year-old self-employed married male living in Hertfordshire with nine years No Claims Discount (NCD) and no claims or convictions. Insurance quotes will vary depending on individual circumstances.

The Parkers Vans pick: Fiat Fullback


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