The pick-up and 4×4 sectors provided the bright spots in an overall light commercial vehicle market that last year laboured under the strain of the economic uncertainty caused by the interminable Brexit wrangling and a fall in fleet purchases, and actually showed resilience to record a year-on-year decline of just 1.3% to 357,325 registrations.

Pick-up sales rose 4.3% in 2018 to 53,613 units, with the Ford Ranger making it into the top 10 at number seven on 16,440 sales, while the niche 4×4 sector rocketed 303% to a still comparatively tiny total of 1,795.

The market did catch a cold in December, however, with 3,745 pick-up trucks leaving showrooms – a fall of 8% year-on-year – leaving just the plucky 4×4 segment to buck the trend with a leap of 124% to 92 sales.

It was a busy year in the 4×4 sector with notable models arriving from Mitsubishi, in the shape of a Shogun Sport Commercial, and Toyota, with its Land Cruiser Utility Commercial.

Both are serious off-roaders, unlike the less rugged Dacia Duster Commercial, which has now departed the scene.


Mb Sprinter class=
Merc Sprinter AWD

Turning to panel vans, Mercedes revealed details of its Sprinter AWD, which will arrive in showrooms in March, priced from £37,540 excluding VAT. The Sprinter AWD’s four-wheel drive system is engaged hydraulically, allowing the driver to switch between four-wheel drive and two-wheel drive via a dashboard-mounted rocker switch at speeds of up to 6mph if conditions demand. In four-wheel drive mode, 35% of the power is sent to the front axle and 65% to the rear axle.

A development set to have a major impact on the pick-up market is the announcement from Ford and Volkswagen that they are to make LCVs together within four years, with Ford reported to be taking the lead on building pick-up trucks. Where this leaves the VW Amarok is not clear, with the brands stating they intend to build upon the strong position they already hold with several models, including the Amarok.

Meanwhile, Ford’s beefed-up, high-performance Ranger Raptor is set to go on sale in the UK before the end of the year. It features a reinforced chassis, using high-strength, low-alloy steels to cope with extreme off-roading, along with race-inspired suspension designed to tackle rough terrain at high speeds.

The brakes have also been upgraded, and the pick-up sits on specially-developed BF Goodrich 285/70 R17 all-terrain tyres, measuring 838mm in diameter and 285mm wide. There’s also underbody protection in the form of a bash plate made from 2.3mm-thick steel, in addition to the Ranger’s standard engine and transfer case under-shields.

Power comes from a bi-turbo version of Ford’s 2.0-litre Ecoblue diesel engine, which produces 213hp and 500Nm of torque, and is paired with a 10-speed automatic gearbox.

Elsewhere, Toyota introduced a new flagship for its Hilux range in August with the Invincible X and at around the same time Ssangyong brought its new Musso pick-up to market. It is based on the manufacturer’s Rexton SUV and is backed up by a class-leading, seven-year/150,000-mile warranty.

Isuzu supplemented its D-Max line-up in January 2019 with the special edition Utah V-Cross in a limited run of 100 units, following on from Nissan’s launch of its special edition Navara N-Guard in September last year.


Ssangyong Musso          August 2018
Toyota Hilux Invincible X      
August 2018
Nissan Navara N-Guard      
September 2018
Isuzu D-Max Utah V-Cross      
January 2019
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter AWD     
March 2019
Ford/Volkswagen alliance pick-up