Four pick-ups to look out for in 2017

Date: Friday, April 28, 2017

Dacia Duster Commercial

Based on the Dacia Duster SUV, the Commercial is powered by a 107hp 1.5-litre dCi 110 diesel that comes in two trim levels, Ambiance and Laureate, and also as a 4x2 and 4x4.

Both drive formats have a flat, false cargo deck that stretches to 1,400mm and measures 1,000mm between the wheel arches. The load bay is Tardis-like, although there seems to be a good deal of redundant space underneath the floor, and there is room behind the seats to discreetly stow away tools. The load area can only be accessed by the rear tailgate because, unlike in other commercial conversions of cars, the car-style rear doors do not open.

Buyers may have doubts about the slightly flimsy feel to the doors and the durability of the fixtures and fittings over a longer period of time, but once on the road the Dacia quickly endears itself as a civilised and well-mannered model.

The steering is light but precise rather than skittish, and the six manual gears are well-spaced and easy to engage, making for relaxing progress on city streets. The engine tends to rev highly as you work up through the changes on faster stretches, but in top gear the Duster bowls along contentedly enough.

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Ford Ranger

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.

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Mitsubishi L200

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 a Warrior 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, whereas the load area is among the shorter in the class at 1,470mm, and significantly behind key rivals.

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Nissan Navara

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 rivals. However, the steering lacks the 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 a class-leading 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 kit levels are impressive, while the load bed is 67mm longer than before, and at 1,578mm gives the Nissan class-leading status among double-cabs.

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

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