Vans of the Year

Date: Monday, December 8, 2008


Mitsubishi L200

As stylish as ever, Mitsubishi’s L200 has waltzed off with our Pick-up of the Year award yet again. On sale solely as a 4x4, the 1,000kg-or-thereabouts-payload L200 is marketed with either a two-door Single Cab, a Club Cab — a stretched version of the Single Cab with a pair of occasional rear seats — or with a four-door Double Cab.

A 2.5-litre diesel generating either 136hp or 165hp provides the power. You get a five-speed manual gearbox — an automatic ’box is available on some models — plus selectable Easy Select dual-range four-wheel drive with a low-range set of gears to hand should they be needed. Some L200s are fitted with Super Select instead. It’s made up of a central viscous coupling that automatically adjusts the front/rear torque split and includes a traction control system.

A variety of specification levels are listed starting with the basic 4Work in a line-up that also includes Warrior and Animal trim. Goodie-laden derivatives such as Animal have always done well for the marque and helped boost its image as well as increase sales. More recently we’ve seen the debut of an updated version of the Raging Bull special edition Double Cab.

For your money you get Smartnav satellite navigation with a coloured touch screen, cruise control, Raging Bull leather seats with a colour-stitched logo, 17in alloy wheels, a 420 watt sound system, a Bluetooth hands-free system, privacy glass, Raging Bull decals and chrome on just about everything.

Pick-ups are often used to tow trailers and in this context it’s worth noting that L200 can be equipped with a digital tachograph. That may be of especial interest to operators contemplating the L200 tipper and the more recently introduced dropside. The latter comes with an alloy deck and quick-release alloy sides, a lockable tool box, load tie-down rails and thermoplastic moulded mudguards.

On the highway L200 rides and handles well, build quality is top-notch and there’s sufficient power on tap to meet the majority of requirements. It performs well in the mud too, with enough torque on hand to keep it out of most kinds of trouble. OK, it’s not perfect; the load bed could stand to be longer for example. But in our view its advantages more than outweigh its drawbacks.

Mitsubishi is of course far from being the only player in the pick-up market and Toyota’s Hilux richly deserves our Highly Commended award. After spending a year with a Hilux Double Cab we can testify in favour of its solid construction, roomy, well-designed interior, user-friendly gear change and respectable handling for a big 4x4.

Don’t forget that it’s up for grabs with a 3.0-litre diesel producing 171hp as well as the more prosaic 2.5-litre; and if that’s not enough punch for you then try tracking down the Invincible 200 special edition Double Cab. It features a version of the 3.0-litre with no less than 197hp on tap thanks to some sterling work by Toyota Motor Sport. Sounds good to us; and we’re willing to bet that Toyota could squeeze even more horses out of that engine if it wanted to.


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