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

Date: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Looking to buy a pick-up or 4x4 van? Then read our handy, quick 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

4Ford _RANGER__90A0007

Ford carried out a facelift for 2019.

Exterior features include a revised front bumper and a new grille, while higher-spec versions get bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights.

As before, the Ranger is available in regular-, super- and double-cab bodystyles. It comes with four-wheel drive as standard.

Power comes from a new 2.0-litre Ecoblue diesel engine, producing 130hp or 170hp with a single-turbo, or 213hp with a bi-turbo set-up – the latter installed in the high-performance Raptor, which is billed as the range’s toughest model. Its chief appeal will be to those who want to off-road quickly and regularly. But that doesn’t mean it’s a nightmare on the tarmac, where the ride is on the firm side but not uncomfortably so, and refinement is good, with no undue intrusion from wind and road noise.

Meanwhile, a six-speed manual gearbox is standard on the Ranger, while the 170hp and 213hp engines are also available with a 10-speed auto. A 3.2-litre diesel engine from the outgoing model remains.

Sample model: Ranger Wildtrak manual 213hp

Engine size    2.0-litre
Payload     1,044kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  36.2mpg
CO2    203g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £30,246

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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 and 2019.

Competitively priced, reasonably economical, and marketed in single-, extended- and double-cab guise, it can tow up to a generous 3.5t. The engine can be married to either a six-speed manual or excellent six-speed auto ’box.

Even the entry-level Utility model comes with aircon. Thereafter you follow a spec walk that takes you through Eiger, Yukon, Utah and Blade, which comes with a 9in touchscreen, plus front and rear parking sensors. You can order the Utility as either a 4x2 or a 4x4. Everything else comes with 4WD as standard. In January 2019 a special-edition double-cab lifestyle model called the Utah V-Cross was launched too.

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

Sample model: Utah V-Cross

Engine size    1.9-litre
Payload      1,101kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  40.4mpg
CO2    183g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £26,199

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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

4Mitsubishi _L200_1

Mitsubishi has made a series of visual changes to its new L200.

Outside, there’s a more muscular aesthetic, while inside looks less like a utility vehicle and more like an SUV – although it does not challenge the Mercedes X-Class in that department. The safety kit is of the type routinely seen on cars, but relatively unusual in the pick-up world. It includes forward- and rear-collision mitigation, blind-spot warning and lane-change assist.

Mitsubishi has replaced its old 2.4-litre four-cylinder diesel that was available at 181hp in the double-cab variants, and was offered with either a six-speed manual or five-speed auto gearbox with a new 2.2-litre unit.

This means a cut in power to 150hp and peak torque, which drops from 430Nm to 400Nm, although Mitsubishi claims driveability as well as fuel economy and C02 emissions have improved.

A six-speed manual is still offered but is now joined in the range by a six-speed automatic.

On the road the engine performs well enough, with decent grunt, but it does get a bit noisy when worked hard.

Sample model: L200 Barbarian X automatic

Engine size    2.2-litre
Payload     1,075kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  36.2mpg
CO2    206g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £32,200

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Mitsubishi Outlander 4Work

Mitsu

The Mitsubishi’s 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 vehicle offers a refined driving experience, and the 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.

Generous kit 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.

Mitsubishi, meanwhile, has launched a new LCV version of its Outlander PHEV 4x4. The latest Commercial variant of the plug-in hybrid is powered by a 135hp 2.4-litre petrol engine and two electric motors, with a max combined output of 230hp. Under official NEDC-correlated figures it achieves a combined fuel economy of 159mpg, a pure-electric range of 33 miles, and CO2 emissions of 40g/km (respective figures under more realistic full WLTP testing are 139mpg, 28 miles and 46g/km).

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)  £22,603

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Nissan Navara

4Nissan _Navara Trek 1_009

When Nissan redesigned the Navara for 2016 it added a multi-link rear suspension on the double-cab, improving the ride.

The 2.3-litre diesel unit also replaced a 2.5-litre and is available in 160hp single-turbo form on Visia and Acenta trims, and 190hp twin-turbo on higher-specced trims. 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. The steering, however, lacks the Ford Ranger’s feel and feedback, although it does lighten up at higher speeds.

Interior quality was much improved too and kit levels are impressive, while the load bed is longer. The model also holds up well as a workhorse, although max payload limits are lower than before.

In 2017 Nissan added exterior styling touches to create a special edition double-cab called the Trek-1, while in 2018 it added the special edition N-Guard. Finally, the range is to get a makeover, with new engines and five-spring suspension, already featured in double-cabs, added to the king cab.

Sample model: N-Guard Double Cab 190hp

Engine size    2.3-litre
Payload     1,054kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  41.0mpg
CO2    183g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £29,525

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Ssangyong Musso

4Ssangyong _Musso EX (1)

The double-cab-only Musso is based on the same platform as Ssangyong’s Rexton 4x4 SUV.

Power comes from a 2.2-litre diesel engine, which is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Spec levels are high with DAB, Bluetooth and manual aircon on all models. The cabin is well laid out with a decent amount of storage, and back-seat passengers appreciate the comfort and roominess on long journeys.

A selectable four-wheel drive system is simply operated via a central dial positioned near the transmission selector.

Our Rebel spec model coped competently with light cross-country track off-roading. On-road the Musso is impressive. The engine is keen and responsive, and double-wishbone front suspension combined with rear-mounted coils provides a pleasantly smooth ride.

The six-speed auto transmission is occasionally slow to react when accelerating but is generally slick enough. The steering, though, is a little light with too much play when cornering.

A class-leading seven-year 150,000-mile warranty is a definite plus.

Sample model: Muso Rebel 181hp automatic

Engine size    2.2-litre
Payload     1.085kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  32.9mpg
CO2    226g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £24,745

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Toyota Hilux 

4Toyota Hilux -Invincible -X-2019-51

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

We have previously tested an Invincible with a six-speed auto transmission. The vehicle felt light about town, and the auto gearbox certainly takes the strain out of urban driving. But the steering can feel vague, with too much play when cornering, and while the auto ’box is decent there is some delay between shifts. Off-road, the extreme competence remains intact.

The 150hp 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 some rivals.

However, to keep its truck in the spotlight Toyota unveiled a new Invincible X flagship in Q3 2018. It features a new front end plus some fancy kit. It is powered by the 150hp 2.4-litre diesel mated to a six-speed auto – a mix that delivers power smoothly and is welcome in tight, congested urban streets, although it also provides impressive performance on motorways.

Sample model: Hilux Invincible X Auto

Engine size    2.4-litre
Payload     1,115kg
Load volume    n/a
Combined mpg  36.2mpg
CO2    204g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £29,756

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Toyota Land Cruiser Utility Commercial

Toyota4

There are a small number of 4WD vans that may feel more like a car to drive than most pick-ups.

Toyota’s van version of the 4x4 Land Cruiser is one. Produced in both short- and long-wheelbase guise, with three and five doors respectively, the Utility Commercial launched at 2018’s CV Show and is a potential alternative to the Hilux. It has one engine and one spec. The 175hp 2.8-litre engine is married to a six-speed manual gearbox, and 4WD is engaged permanently.

The vehicle offers stronger acceleration and sharper handling than you might expect from a 4x4, plus it feels solidly planted on the road. It rides acceptably too, coping on all sorts of surfaces, on- and off-road. But slightly tighter steering, a crisper gear change and a bit more sound-deadening would be appreciated. Access to the load area is via a single, rear door.

There’s plenty of storage in a cabin that boasts aircon and switches for LED front fog lights, cruise controls and electric windows. Finally, the service intervals are too short, but the warranty is lengthy.

Sample model: 2.8 D-4D Utility 3dr Commercial

Engine size    2.8-litre
Payload     593kg
Load volume    1.57m3
Combined mpg  39.2mpg
CO2    190g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £26,636

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VW Amarok

VW_8594

VW’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 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.
The 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)  £32,055



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