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Best pickup trucks (2021)

When it comes to versatility, few cars can come close to what a pickup truck can offer. They’re capable of hauling heavy trailer loads and caravans with ease, and many are very capable off-road. Depending on the size of the cab, they can even have spacious interiors.

Despite their commercial vehicle billing, today’s crop of pickups isn’t as utilitarian as their predecessors. While a conventional family car or SUV does have the edge when it comes to refinement and ride quality, the pickup trucks on sale today are comfy enough to be pretty useful for day-to-day driving. This is especially the case if you decide to go for a higher-spec version with all the bells and whistles thrown in.

If you’re seriously considering a pickup truck as your next new daily driver, check out carwow’s guide below on the best pickup trucks that are currently on sale.

  • Ford Ranger
  • Toyota Hilux
  • Mitsubishi L200
  • Nissan Navara
  • SsangYong Musso
  • Isuzu D-Max
  • Ford Ranger Raptor

Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger has been the UK’s best-selling pickup truck for a number of years now, so it’s no surprise the Ford makes a great choice if you’re shopping around for a new pickup.

It’s especially worth considering if you regularly haul heavy loads, as all Ranger variants can carry a payload of at least 1,024kg, and towing capacities range from 2,500kg to 3,500kg depending on the engine you specify.

Better still, the Ford Ranger has more going for it than its hardy workhorse credentials. It’s fairly comfy and fun to drive by pickup truck standards, and equipment levels are decent across the board, too. Some rivals do fare better when it comes to interior build quality, though.

Toyota Hilux

As a rule of thumb, if you want a pickup truck with the best possible towing capacity, you’ll need to go for the most powerful version. However, the Toyota Hilux is an exception to that rule – it can tow up to 3,500kg and haul a 1,000kg payload, regardless of whether it has the 150hp 2.4-litre or 204hp 2.8-litre diesel engine.

As is par for the course for a pickup, the Toyota Hilux has a hardy interior, though it does come with a decent amount of creature comforts (especially if you opt for the mid-range or higher-spec models). Just be aware that, because it has stiff suspension, the ride can be quite bumpy even by pickup truck standards.

Mitsubishi L200

Even though Mitsubishi will stop selling cars and commercial vehicles in the UK in 2021, its L200 is still worth bearing in mind if you’re shopping around for a new pickup.

Thanks to its blend of a decently potent diesel engine, standard-fit all-wheel drive and its maximum towing capacity of 3,500kg, the L200 ticks all the right boxes if you’re after a versatile load-lugger.

A word of warning if you’re after a plush pickup truck: the Mitsubishi L200 doesn’t have the swankiest of cabins, and the base versions don’t come with a huge amount of kit. That said, it does have enough safety equipment to warrant a pretty good four-star safety rating from Euro NCAP.

Best 4x4s revealed

Nissan Navara

Many pickup trucks tick a lot of boxes as rugged and dependable cargo carriers, and the Nissan Navara is no exception. Like many of the trucks on this list, it’s capable of hauling hefty loads of up to 3,500kg, and all versions of the Navara have payload capacities in excess of 1,000kg.

Factor in the standard-fit all-wheel-drive system, and the Nissan makes a lot of sense if you’ll be using it at work on a farm or building site. If you’d be using the Navara for private use, you’ll be pleased to know it’s surprisingly comfy for a pickup truck – though we recommend you avoid the lower spec versions if you crave a few creature comforts.

SsangYong Musso

The previous version of the Isuzu D-Max was already one of the stronger pickup trucks you could buy in the UK, and the latest iteration promises to keep that trend going. While the 164hp 1.9-litre diesel engine isn’t the punchiest or most refined you’ll find in a pickup truck, it does allow the D-Max to tow up to 3,500kg (though this does drop to 2,500kg on rear-wheel drive models).

Being a commercial vehicle, the D-Max doesn’t have the plushest interior out there, though it is admittedly a decent improvement over the old version. One area that’s seen a big improvement, though, is the Isuzu’s safety credentials, as the latest D-Max has been awarded a five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP.

Isuzu D-Max

The Isuzu D-Max absolutely nails the pickup fundamentals, because it can tow 3,500kg and carry up to 1,300kg out back. The interior is spacious enough for a family of two adults and two children, too.

Furthermore, its infotainment is surprisingly good, especially to the top-level trim’s nine-inch touchscreen, which proves bright and intuitive to control.

TheD-Max is far from fun to drive, though, lacking the smoothness and sheer refinement that you would be able to find in something such as the VW Amarok.

Ford Ranger Raptor

Did the previously mentioned Ford Raptor catch your eye, but you’d prefer it to have a bit more power? You’ll be pleased to know Ford has catered to your needs with the Ranger Raptor, which turns this workhorse commercial vehicle into a wannabe Dakar Rally racer.

With trick suspension, chunky tyres and its 213hp turbo-diesel engine, the Ford Ranger Raptor is extremely capable and fun to drive off-road. However, load-lugging concessions have been made to allow that cross-country prowess – towing capacity is a respectable 2,500kg, and the heaviest payload it can carry is a paltry-by-pickup-standards 620kg.

Honourable mentions

Ford F-150

Officially, you can’t buy a Ford F-150 in the UK – the only way to get one on our side of the pond is via third party importers. However, we’re including it here because it’s one of the kings of the pickup truck world. It’s also incredibly popular in its USA homeland – despite all of the pandemic disruption, Ford still managed to produce more than 464,000 F-150 trucks in 2020.

One of the reasons why it’s such a strong seller is because there is a huge array of engine options for the Ford F-150. Options available include a torquey turbo-diesel, a burly 5.0-litre V8 and, in a first for an F-150, a petrol-electric hybrid setup. Depending on what’s under the bonnet, the F-150 is also capable of hauling trailer loads up to an incredible 6,350kg.

Ford F-150 Lightning

It may look like a regular Ford F-150 with a funky nose job, but there’s more to the new Ford F-150 Lightning than its redesigned bodywork. For the first time ever on one of Ford’s F-Series of pickup trucks, it ditches combustion engines entirely in favour of a fully electric setup.

It’s a pretty punchy powertrain, too: in its most potent guise, the F-150 Lightning has a whopping 563hp on tap and has enough oomph to tow more than 4,500kg of trailer loads. Despite being a big and heavy commercial vehicle, Ford claims the F-150 Lightning can be driven up to 300 miles between charges – though that’s according to the USA’s EPA range test procedure, rather than the WLTP system used on our side of the Atlantic.

Tesla Cybertruck

It may have styling and a name that wouldn’t out of place in a sci-fi movie, but Tesla is adamant its Cybertruck isn’t a flight of fantasy. In fact, Tesla claims the first Cybertrucks should start rolling off the production line before 2021 draws to a close.

While those crazy looks are by far the truck’s stand-out feature, the Tesla Cybertruck is also wild in other areas. In its most potent Tri-Motor setup, the Tesla Cybertruck is allegedly able to accelerate from 0-60mph in a supercar-quick 2.9 seconds and has a maximum towing capacity in excess of 6.3 tonnes. Like the Ford F-150, though, it remains to be seen whether the Tesla Cybertruck is destined for the UK.