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.
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…
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.
VW’s four-door five-seater double-cab 4x4 pick-up is equipped with a 3.0-litre TDI Euro6 V6 diesel engine. It delivers up to 224hp, although 204hp and 163hp versions will become available.
The two beefiest variants come with an eight-speed auto transmission; the least powerful is sold with a six-speed manual gearbox, which is also on offer as an alternative to the auto ’box in the 204hp model. 4WD is always on tap in auto derivatives, but is selectable on the manual. An electronic differential lock is fitted in both cases.
Inside features a conservatively styled dashboard with a touch-screen infotainment package. Bluetooth and a DAB radio are standard, as is the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.
Our vehicle did not lack performance and dual-carriageway cruising was a doddle. With a gross weight of almost 3.3 tonnes, 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 without walloping the trees on either side despite its 2.2m-plus overall width.