Bite-Sized LCV Reviews: Every pick-up & 4x4 we've road-tested

Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Looking to buy a pick-up or 4x4 van? Then read our handy, shortened road test reviews of the models in the market before making your next buying decision.

Dacia Duster Commercial

Dacia Du

The 2018 What Van? Awards was the third year on the trot that Dacia’s competitively priced Duster Commercial spirited away the 4x4 Van of the Year accolade.

Price, a high level of equipment, and an ability to keep going whatever the conditions underfoot, are why it is a winner once again.

Based on the Dacia Duster SUV, the Commercial is powered by a 109hp 1.5-litre dCi 110 diesel. It comes in two trim levels, Ambiance and Laureate, and also as a 4x2 and 4x4. All models come with a six-speed manual gearbox.

A rear hatch and a hinged door on each side of the body give access to the 1.6m3 load bay. Payload capacity is 550kg.

The 2017 Frankfurt motor show saw a revised Duster launched with a restyled exterior, redesigned dashboard and upgraded seats. New items included a blind-spot warning system and curtain airbags. Right-hand drive versions should appear in the UK in the 2018 summer.

The Duster Commercial is well-priced, well-equipped and well put together, and any doubts about build quality are more than counter-balanced by its capabilities.

Sample model: Ambiance 1.5 dCi 4x4

Engine size    1.5-litre
Payload     550kg
Load volume    1.6m3
Combined mpg  60.1mpg
CO2    123g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £12,491

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Ford Ranger

Ford r

The 2016 mid-life revision of the Ranger brought a range of enhancements, such as changed headlights and the Sync2 connectivity system, which arrived as standard on Limited and Wildtrak specifications.

Meanwhile, the whole range, including the lower XL and XLT trims, now get DAB radio as standard. Safety extras such as lane-keeping alert are also available as options for the first time.

The model is available in Regular, Super and Double-cab formats. Wildtrak retains its 200hp 3.2-litre powertrain, but with improved efficiency, while the rest of the line-up has a new 2.2 160hp engine to replace the old 125hp and 150hp units. The revised engines come with features such as stop/start, which make an efficiency difference of up to 17% over the old Ranger, says Ford.

We drove the double-cabbed Ranger in Limited trim, and found it an extremely competent 4x4 off-roader, and in 2WD it handles at least as well as any of its rivals on-road.

The steering is true and offers plenty of feedback and the changes with the six-speed manual gearbox are sharp and precise. Body roll when cornering is well controlled too.

Sample model: 2.2TDCi 160hp Double-Cab

Engine size    2.2-litre
Payload     1,064kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  40.4mpg
CO2    184g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £22,371

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Isuzu D-max

Isuzu MY17 Low Front 3QTR Twilight -CMYK

Looking for a no-nonsense workhorse that’s at home on a farm or building site yet is not short of creature comforts?

Isuzu’s rugged D-Max matches that description nicely and was a worthy winner of What Van?’s Pick-up of the Year Award for 2018.

Featuring a downsized, 164hp 1.9-litre four-cylinder diesel engine and marketed in single-, extended-  and double-cab guise, the D-Max can tow up to a generous 3.5t.

The engine can be married to either a six-speed manual or the excellent six-speed automatic gearbox.

Even the entry-level Utility model comes with aircon. Thereafter you follow a specification walk that takes you through Eiger, Yukon, Utah and Blade, which comes with a nine-inch touchscreen, plus front and rear parking sensors. You can order the Utility as either a 4x2 or a 4x4. Everything else comes with four-wheel drive as standard.

The five-year/125,000-mile warranty should be applauded loudly, especially as it is backed by a five-year roadside rescue and recovery scheme that includes Continental cover.

Sample model: Utah Double Cab

Engine size    1.9-litre
Payload     1,096kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  40.4mpg
CO2    183g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £24,854

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Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4

Mercedes _Sprinter 4x4

All many operators require is a light commercial vehicle with some extra traction control, that will keep going if the local B-roads get a bit slippery in winter and will not get stuck if the driver has to take it into a muddy field – which is a role the second-generation 4x4 version of Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter more than fulfils.

The vehicle features the manufacturer’s 4ETS Electronic Traction System, which kicks in when one or more of the wheels start to spin, braking each one individually while increasing drive torque to those that still offer sufficient grip.

Four-wheel drive is selectable with a 35:65 split between the front and the rear axle, and the ground clearance is slightly higher than what is on offer from the mainstream rear-wheel drive model.

However, the second-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is now reaching the end of the road, and if you’d prefer the latest, third-generation model – in all its forms, including both pick-up and 4x4 panel van bodystyles – it can now be seen in UK showrooms.

Sample model: 314CDI Extra Long 4x4 Hi-Lo

Engine size    2.1-litre
Payload     896kg
Load volume    15.5m3
Combined mpg  31.4mpg
CO2    237g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £38,845

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Mercedes-Benz X-Class

4mb _X-Class -jpg

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is seriously car- or at least SUV-like on-road and thoroughly convincing off-road.

The exterior design is smart and striking too, while working within the limited palette of its Nissan Navara underpinnings and proportions (the X-Class is lower, wider and a bit longer, but shares the exact same wheelbase).

The interior is pretty good at first glance too, with lots of Mercedes’ car design cues imported. Six-footers can sit one behind the other happily, and a higher ‘stepped’ ceiling ensures decent rear headroom. Behind the rear passenger’s head the sliding rear centre window can be operated electrically from the driver’s seat and through it you can look out onto a 1,587x1,560mm load bed, which will take a Euro pallet.

But some areas – e.g. the lower dash and auto gear selector – suffer from poorer-quality finishes. Despite this, we can see Mercedes UK succeeding in its aim of selling more plusher Progressive- and Power-trimmed models than the basic Pure, and with top-end versions of the Ranger and Amarok in its sights Ford and VW might have cause for concern.

Sample model: X250 Power D4Matic Auto

Engine size    2.3-litre
Payload     1,066kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  35.8mpg
CO2    207g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £34,100

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Mitsubishi L200

Mitsu L200 Barbarian SVP1.jpg

Mitsubishi says it was the first manufacturer to use an aluminium, rather than a steel, engine block, when the L200 Series 5 arrived in 2015, and the reduced weight facilitated an improvement in economy to a claimed low of 44.1mpg.

The engine – a 2.4-litre with outputs of 151hp in the entry-level 4Life and 178hp in the Titan, Warrior and Barbarian derivatives – comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. However, a five-speed auto is also on offer with paddle shifters on the steering column – also a first in the pick-up sector, according to Mitsubishi.

We drove an L200 with a manual gearbox and the handling is impressively composed for a pick-up, with barely any body roll. The steering is precise and fairly light, and plenty of power comes from the drivetrain, which worked smoothly with the snappy transmission.

Standard kit levels across the line-up are impressive, and the cab offers more head and shoulder room in the front and more legroom in the rear than before, although the load area is among the shorter in the class at 1,470mm, and significantly behind key rivals.

Sample model: 2.4DI-D Barbarian Double-cab

Engine size    2.4-litre
Payload     1,045kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  40.9mpg
CO2    180g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £24,299

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Mitsubishi Outlander 4Work

Mitsu

Mitsubishi’s diesel Outlander 4Work has tended to be overshadowed by its petrol-electric hybrid stablemate, the PHEV.

That’s a shame because its 150hp 2.2-litre common-rail engine delivers decent on-road performance, while the vehicle handles well, with precise and steady steering coupled with slick changes from a six-speed manual gearbox.

The Mitsubishi offers a refined driving experience, and though the diesel is obviously not as smooth and quiet as the hybrid, road and engine noise is not intrusive. Off-road, the 4x4 system makes sure there is no drama in tackling slippery farm tracks and icy rural lanes.

A payload of 695kg beats not only the PHEV but also the Ssangyong Korando CSX Commercial and the Dacia Duster Commercial, while the 1.6m3 load volume is more than what the Duster or Korando can muster. It all comes at a price, though, with the Mitsubishi costing considerably more than either rival.

Generous equipment levels include cruise control, stop/start and hill-start assist, while the load area is reached through a rear tailgate plus two side doors that aren’t ideal loading apertures.

Sample model: GX14Work 2.2 DI-D Commercial

Engine size    2.2-litre
Payload     695kg
Load volume    1.6m3
Combined mpg  53.3mpg
CO2    148g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £22,228

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Nissan NP300 Navara

4Nissan _Navara Trek 1_009

When Nissan redesigned the NP300 Navara for 2016 it added a multi-link rear suspension on the double-cab, giving the vehicle a ride better than most of its rivals.

However, the steering lacks the Ford Ranger’s feel and feedback, although it does lighten up at higher speeds.

The 2.3-litre diesel unit replaced a 2.5-litre engine and is available in 160hp single-turbo form on Visia and Acenta trims, and 190hp twin-turbo on higher-specced (Acenta+, N-Connecta and Tekna). It’s not massively refined under acceleration, but offers impressive performance and 44.1mpg. A seven-speed auto gearbox is available on the 190hp, but the manual six-speed shifts nicely enough.

Interior quality is much improved and equipment levels are impressive, while the load bed is 67mm longer than before, at 1,578mm.

Meanwhile, the model holds up well as a workhorse, despite max payload limits being lower than before.

Finally, in autumn 2017 Nissan added exterior styling touches to a few hundred special edition double-cab Navaras and is selling them as the Navara Trek-1.

Sample model: Tekna Double Cab

Engine size    2.3-litre
Payload     1,047kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  44.1mpg
CO2    159g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £26,112

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Ssangyong Musso

Muss

The 1.0t-capacity four-door, five-seat double-cab Musso comes with selectable 4WD. Customers can pick either the SE or the more upmarket EX.

Both have a 178hp 2.2-litre Euro6 diesel engine (that doesn’t need AdBlue) and a six-speed manual ’box, although the EX also comes with a six-speed auto that can be switched to manual mode, which is the model we drove…

For a large pick-up the Musso handles well and is easy to manoeuvre into tight parking spaces. Nor is the truck short on performance despite a 3.0t-plus gross weight. The auto gearbox delivers power smoothly, and switching to manual is easy – tap the gearshift to the left and use the button on the side to change gear – but on paved roads, why would you want to?

In-cab noise levels are well suppressed, but the Musso’s unladen ride is not its strong suit. Access to the cargo bed is by means of a lockable drop-down tailgate. There’s a lot of kit on offer, plus a comprehensive five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty. However, the quality of the materials in the cabin and the general standard of finish does not match the VW Amarok (see below) – but then again, you’re not paying VW prices…

Sample model: EX 2.2e XDi

Engine size    2.2-litre
Payload     1,050kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  40.0mpg
CO2    186g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £17,710

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Toyota Hilux 

Hilux

The Hilux is available in four trim levels: Active, Icon, Invincible and Invincible X.

We tested an Invincible with the six-speed automatic transmission. It felt lighter and easier to handle about town than other chunky pick-ups despite the 12.4m turning circle being the same as the Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara, although the auto transmission certainly takes the strain out of urban driving.

On the road, the steering can feel vague, with too much play when cornering, and while the auto ’box is decent enough, there is some delay between shifts. Off-road, the Hilux’s extreme competence remains intact.

The 148hp 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine comes with stop/start but falls short of the most economical models on the market. The cab has quite a lot of tacky-feeling black plastic, too, and is no match in styling or quality terms for the Ranger or VW Amarok (right), but the touch-screen controls are excellent.

Payload capacities are highly competitive, and Toyota offers the five-year/100,000-mile warranty that it provides for its passenger cars.

Sample model: Invincible X 2.4D-4D Auto Double Cab

Engine size    2.4-litre
Payload     1,115kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  36.2mpg
CO2    2014g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £29,130

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VW Amarok

VW_8594

Vokswagen’s four-door five-seater double-cab 4x4 pick-up is equipped with a 3.0-litre TDI Euro6 V6 diesel engine with power outputs ranging from 161hp to, as of September 2018, 258hp.

The beefiest engines come with an eight-speed auto transmission, while the least powerful get a six-speed manual. Four-wheel drive is always on tap in the auto derivatives, but is selectable on the manual.

Inside features a conservatively styled dashboard with a touchscreen infotainment package.

Bluetooth and a DAB radio are standard, as is the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.

Our 224hp 3.0-litre V6 Amarok did not lack performance, and motorway or dual-carriageway cruising was a doddle. Power is translated smoothly into acceleration, particularly when wedded to the consummately slick eight-speed auto transmission. With a gross weight of almost 3.3t, the VW appears to steamroller bumps flat, while the steering tightens up nicely at speed and delivers plenty of feedback.

Off-road, the Amarok tackled narrow, muddy tracks with ease.

Sample model: Highline 4Motion Auto

Engine size    3.0-litre
Payload     1,112kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  36.2mpg
CO2    204g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £30,580



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