James Dallas bids farewell to our long-term pick-up truck, which was something of a gentle giant about town but really came into its own out on the open road…
After pounding the UK’s highways and byways for a tad more than half a year, during which we racked up 5710 miles, we recently said goodbye to our long-term pick-up truck – the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian.
Our Double Cab Auto LB (long bed) version combined a high standard of in-cab comfort with impressive load-lugging capabilities. A payload of 1045kg and load length of 1505mm proved more than adequate for our needs, although these figures do now fall slightly short of those claimed by the more recently introduced Nissan Navara and Volkswagen Amarok.
For its bulk, the L200 scored highly for about-town usability. The five-speed auto transmission worked smoothly in a variety of terrains, and it is one of the L200’s strengths that it makes driving such a large vehicle in urban environments a lot easier than might be imagined. The transmission includes manual select but worked so well in fully auto mode that we rarely engaged this option. Meanwhile, a reversing camera helped when negotiating the hulking stern into snug parking spaces, although the fish-eye view can distort distances deceptively during tight parallel parking manoeuvres.
Our L200’s arrival was timely, coming as it did when there was still snow and ice on the roads, and the Super Select 4WD with stability and traction control instilled peace of mind with its sure-footed ability to cope with the conditions.
With the weather considerably more clement in the spring, the Barbarian came into its own in helping editor Paul Barker with a house move. The big, square load area coped with an array of boxes and other paraphernalia without bother, and the L200 provided a decent driving experience on route, with that auto gearbox impressing with its refusal to become flustered, putting many cars, let alone CVs, to shame. However, the auto transmission was undoubtedly a key reason why we had difficulty in consistently matching the manufacturer’s claimed combined fuel consumption of 30.1mpg. Our overall average was 25.4mpg, but only on two tankfuls did we average more than 30mpg. On one occasion we managed 30.3mpg over 368 miles and on another we squeezed 31.9mpg out of the 2.5-litre, 178hp drivetrain over the course of 302 miles. The longest distance between fill-ups was 384 miles having poured 63.7 litres of diesel into the Barbarian’s cavernous tank.
Much of the L200’s time was spent journeying in and out of London, which, admittedly, would not have been conducive to improving fuel consumption. Luckily, we also spent a lot of time on the open road. Here, there was more than enough power to gobble up motorway miles, and the spacious cabin with its leather seats ensured a comfortable, relaxing ride. Rear seat passengers get a reasonably generous 810mm of legroom. Long journeys were made less tiring by low interior noise levels and the handy cruise control system, which is operated by controls mounted on the steering wheel.
Ride quality, which can inevitably be bouncy unladen, improved with a weighty cargo on board, as was evident when our Mitsubishi carried about a load of paving slabs for a weekend.
The satnav was simple to set using the touch-screen, and the on-screen instructions are clearly arrowed, meaning you don’t have to keep the computerised voice turned on. The current speed limit is displayed next to your own speed, which goes red if you exceed it – discreet but effective.
One quibble was with the radio/stereo integrated with the Kenwood satnav. It sounded great but was anything but easy to use with buttons that can barely be seen let alone operated. It’s also a shame there are no controls mounted on the steering wheel.
Nevertheless, overall the Barbarian impressed. Competition is hotting up in the pick-up sector but it presents a solid all-round package with a strong track record as both a lifestyle vehicle and workhorse. It has set the bar high and might not be ready to be knocked off its perch just yet.