Loaded to the limit

Loaded to the limit – Buyer’s guide: pick-ups

Ian Shaw

The pick-up market in the UK is bullish at the moment, writes Ian Shaw. An increase of interest from the outdoor image conscious car buyer means that this market sector is as about as strong as it has ever been.

As the traditional 4×4 station wagon becomes increasingly expensive and far too pretty to take off-road, the 4×4 pick-up has attracted a great deal of attention. A niche market it may be, but the fallout has been of great benefit to fleet LCV operators–and more particularly their drivers–as makers improve comfort and equipment levels.

The double cab market has been boosted by the allowance of VAT reclamation on those models with a 1000kg or greater payload.

Vauxhall has pulled out of the market in a surprise move, leaving an obvious hole in its LCV line-up. And since the Brava was really a re-badged Isuzu, the way is open for IM Group to bring in the Isuzu TF pick-up for sale alongside the Trooper Commercial and Daihatsu Hi jet.

The other big force has been makers realising the potential of the dropside at lower weight levels, with Toyota and Nissan’s latest offerings looking particularly good for this sector.

With so much choice available we’ve decided to give you a guide to the best pick-ups available on the market today …

Dihatsu Hijet

As the lightweight pick-up market continues to decline, the Hijet’s cramped cab and its lack of a diesel option mean that its last stand within the sector is being seen as a particularly brave one.

Mainly finding favour with estate maintenance operators, the load bay is sufficient for such a short overall vehicle but ride comfort is rather bouncy and the Hijet understeers a fair bit on its tiny 155 R12 tyres. Tight turning circle and ease of driving are positive features for the Hijet, and a three-year warranty on the LPG models within the range should inspire further confidence.


LIST PRICE: 5995 [pounds sterling] to 7995 [pounds sterling]


PAYLOAD: 775kg



Ford Ranger

The Ranger is produced in a joint effort with Mazda and forms the latest in a long line of B-Series models. Overall, the high-spec 4×4 double cab turbo diesel offers the best performance within the range and is finding particular favour in the construction and forestry sectors.

Well built and with decent off-road performance, the Ranger offers a good payload and, due to the typically aggressive marketing programme embarked upon by Ford, has already taken a chunk out of everyone else’s sector share.


LIST PRICE: 10,350 [pounds sterling] to 15,350 [pounds sterling]

ENGINES: 2.5 D, 2.5 TD

PAYLOAD: 993-1120kq

LOAD LENGTH: 1.53-2.28m


Land Rover Defender

Although it is owned by Ford, the Land Rover Defender retains its own identity–at least until its soon-to-be-announced replacement appears on the market. It has suffered at the hands of the Japanese 4×4 pick-ups, though, due to its reputation for patchy quality.

The Defender 110 double cab, pictured, offers a payload of 1080kg and can carry up to six passengers. In addition a full-width high-capacity body guise is available. However, levels of cab comfort and reliability still cannot compare to those offered by the Japanese models.


LIST PRICE: 14,720 [pounds sterling] to 16,295 [pounds sterling]


PAYLOAD: 705-1130kq

LOAD LENGTH: 1.9-2.1m


Mazda B-Series

A Ford Ranger by another name, this is a huge improvement on its forebears of the same nomenclature. However, the Thai-built device is unfortunately only offered in single or double cab in the UK–there is no intermediate super cab option.

Mazda has gone for a slightly lower specification than Ford–the double cab Ranger has air-conditioning as standard — with proportionally lower prices too.

The payload is generous and the road manners are a far cry from previous incarnations. Although it is set to play a supporting role to Ford’s market share, it is still a fine pick-up.


LIST PRICE: 9570 [pounds sterling] to 14,700 [pounds sterling]

ENGINES: 2.5 D, 2.5 TD

PAYLOAD: 993-1120kg

LOAD LENGTH: 1.53-2.28m


Mitsubishi L200

The L200 is excellent off-road, due mainly to the rear differential lock more than compensating for inferior wheel travel compared to Solihull’s finest.

The 2.5-litre diesel turbo is one of the smoothest in the class and the build quality is something Land Rover can only dream of. Just tops the other Japanese designs here, although the Hilux has better fuel efficiency due to its common-rail engine.

Well respected by lifestyle buyers thanks to Animal versions, so residuals should be no problem.


LIST PRICE: 9995 [pounds sterling] to 18,300 [pounds sterling]

ENGINES: 2.5 D, 2.5 TD

PAYLOAD: 1025-1205kq

LOAD LENGTH: 1.5-2.24m


Nissan Pickup

In a similar vein to the Mazda B-Series, the Nissan Pickup shows much improvement over previous versions.

The 2.5-litre diesel engine is offered in turbo form across the range, providing a broader spread of towing performance than the Ranger, and lacks none of the basic qualities for life in the rough.

A generous payload and excellent ground clearance are included while the Navara lifestyle version will keep residuals on the boil. The Nissan offers good value for money.


LIST PRICE: 12,600 [pounds sterling] to 14,500 [pounds sterling]


PAYLOAD: 940-1120kg

LOAD LENGTH: 1.39-2.23m


Toyota Hilux

Since 1967 6.5 million Hiluxes have been produced. Used in civilian, commercial, military and humanitarian operations in the most inhospitable places, the vehicle has earned its tough reputation.

Even by Japanese standards, build is excellent. D4-D common-rail engines make it one of the most fuel efficient here, but the units are noisy. The 4×4 transmission is not as sophisticated as Land Rover’s but build quality excels. Good residuals are led by private and commercial buyer demands.


LIST PRICE: 10,570 [pounds sterling] to 17,500 [pounds sterling]


PAYLOAD: 900-1090kg

LOAD LENGTH: 1.35-2.16m


Tata Loadbeta Pick-up

Tata started from a low base in the UK. The Indian company makes a variety of commercials for its home market but early examples here had poor build and hearts-topping handling dynamics.

UK requirements led to a second generation, including 4×4 and double cab derivatives, that offers an entirely different proposition. However, the fit and finish of the interior still leaves a bit to be desired.

Cheap, tough and with VAT now reclaimable on the double cab due to its payload, it makes commercial sense.


LIST PRICE: 7495 [pounds sterling] to 11,395 [pounds sterling]


PAYLOAD: 1010-1140kg

LOAD LENGTH: 52-1.88m


And for all those jobs where a pick-up just won’t do …

Toyota Dyna

In various generations the Dyna has been on sate in Europe for some time. Toyota has been watching the UK market carefully but has only committed to 3.5t GVW so far, rather than locking horns with Mitsubishi and Isuzu higher up the weight scale.

A dropside truck rather than a pick-u p, the Dyna is the Nissan Cabstar’s main rival. The common-rail diesel promises good fuel economy but is rather noisy as is the smaller D4-D in its cars. However Toyota’s cast-iron build quality shines through.


LIST PRICE: 10,250 [pounds sterling] to 15,750 [pounds sterling]


PAYLOAD: 1350kq



Nissan Cabstar E

The darling of builder’s merchants and the plant hire industry, the rough and ready Cabstar received a makeover to arrive on the UK market as the Cabstar E last year.

The 3.2t, 2.7-litre diesel engine although having the benefit of a turbo, is indirectly injected, which is not all that good for fuel costs. A thumping 3-litre Di supplements it in the 3.5t version,

This dropside truck has served Nissan well in its previous forms and this latest version offers a very good payload to price ratio.


LIST PRICE: 12,325 [pounds sterling] to 17,495 [pounds sterling]

ENGINES: 2.7 TD, 3.0 TD

PAYLOAD: 1450-1900kg



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