Pickup trucks really are the Swiss army knives of the motoring world. That’s because they can carry heavy loads or tow large trailers and caravans, and they offer large business tax benefits.
Better still, the best of them manage to do so while offering the sort of luxury kit you might expect in an executive car, on top of which they can shrug off the rough-and-tumble lifestyle associated with working vehicles.
If they can do so without showing too much of a liking for a drink of fuel, so much the better.
One pickup can be very different from another, however, so carwow has come up with the definitive list of the best pickup trucks you can buy.
- Volkswagen Amarok
- Ford Ranger
- Toyota Hilux
- Mitsubishi L200
- Fiat Fullback
- Nissan Navara
- SsangYong Musso
- Isuzu D-Max
- Ford Ranger Raptor
- Ford F-150
- Tesla CyberTruck
Of all the 4×4 pickup trucks that you can buy, the Volkswagen Amarok sits at the top of the tree. It does all the pickup essentials, with a maximum payload of up to 1,154kg and a towing capacity of up to 3,100kg.
However, the Amarok has many more strings to its bow. For starters, it can return a decent 35mpg. The interior is spacious enough for two adults and two children, while providing such features as leather upholstery and climate control from the base-level trim up.
The 200hp, 3.0-litre V6 is the best engine available for the Amarok, thanks to its suitable blend of guts and smoothness.
The Ford Ranger may only be a small pickup truck, but nevertheless it offers a wide array of diesel engines and the choice of a two- or four-seat cabin. You won’t go far wrong with a four-seater with a 2.0-litre, 213hp engine up front. It has a ton of pulling power, is able to tow well over three tonnes, while returning fuel economy of up to 36mpg. The Ranger can handle payloads of up to 1,200kg, depending on trim.
It feels relatively smooth-riding, but you’ll be disappointed by the amount of engine noise when you work it harder.
The Toyota Hilux takes the unique advantages of a double-cab pickup truck and emphasises them to the nth degree. Not only is it famously reliable; every version of the car, from the entry-level trim up, can carry payloads over 1,000kg and is able to tow over 3,200kg.
Unlike some alternatives, it’s also able to fare well off road thanks to its high ground clearance, making mincemeat of uneven terrain.
Sadly, the trade-off for the Hilux’s strength is that, to accommodate big loads, it has been given very stiff suspension. This means you should expect a bit of a bumpy ride.
If you want a pickup that will last you for the long run, the Mitsubishi L200 is a good call. It’s a safe option, having scored a respectable four stars in Euro NCAP tests, but, more impressively, it has a five-year/62,500-mile warranty.
The L200 is able to tow up to 3,000kg and, in the back, you can carry up to 1,060kg of kit. Get a model with a 180hp, 2.4-litre diesel engine and you’ll be served up enough power to easily lug those big loads, too.
The Fiat Fullback is actually a Mitsubishi L200 underneath, and is even built on the same production line. Still, that’s no bad thing, given the L200’s reputation. The Fullback features a DAB radio as standard, as well as air-conditioning, cruise control and LED daytime running lights.
Higher-spec models also have electrically adjustable seats, xenon headlights, lane-departure warning and sat-nav. Its load bay will easily cope with a Euro pallet and it can tow up to 3,100kg. It also qualifies for commercial vehicle tax rates.
Pickups are usually known for their hard-working, rugged abilities, but the Nissan Navara is more welcoming and car-like than most. Inside, it can easily accommodate four adults in its cabin, while the upholstery and infotainment are comfy and intuitive, respectively.
The Navara has a 1,050kg truckbed, plus the ability to pull along up to 3,500kg. The 3.3-litre, 170hp engine is both punchy and refined, but unfortunately your Navara will also suffer from wind noise and wobble.
Starting at less than £22,000, the SsangYong Musso is cheaper than many rivals. Don’t go thinking ‘cheaper’ means ‘less able’, though, because you’d be wrong. The Musso can tow up to 3,500kg, while its truckbed can take 1,050kg. The rear end even has a 12v socket.
In the Musso’s cabin, you’ll find ample space for two adults and two children, as well as some pleasant, soft-touch materials and Bluetooth-compatible infotainment.
Upgrading to the car’s Rebel trim upgrades the tech to include an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility.
The Isuzu D-Max absolutely nails the pickup fundamentals, because it can tow 3,500kg and carry up to 1,300kg in its truckbed. The cabin can accommodate 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.
Sadly, the D-Max is far from fun to drive, lacking the smoothness and sheer refinement that you would be able to find in something such as the VW Amarok.
Ford Ranger Raptor
The Ford Raptor is the angry big brother of the brand’s Ranger, and is an off-road-ready behemoth powered by a 2.0-litre engine with a ten-speed automatic gearbox.
The Raptor is fun, both on and off road, gripping tightly and navigating uneven terrain with ease.
However, as a pickup it isn’t so good, most notably in the areas of towing and truckbed capacity. While every other pickup on this list can carry more than a tonne, the Raptor tops out at 620kg. Furthermore, compared with the Ranger, the Raptor can tow a tonne less, with anything heavier than 2,500kg set to get the better of it.
The Ford F-150 is not available in the UK. However, it deserves a wildcard slot on this list purely because it is the granddaddy of modern pickup trucks. Its popularity – especially in the United States – has made it one of the best-selling road vehicles ever, with Business Insider reporting that nearly 900,000 F-Series trucks were sold in 2017 alone.
Bigger is better in America and the F-150 is no exception. The car has a 3.5-litre V6 engine with a 136-litre fuel tank. It can also tow a ridiculous 5,171kg.
The Tesla Cybertruck looks like something Judge Dredd might use to get back from defeating the Terminator. Someone clearly pinched all the protractors in the design office and replaced them with set squares. According to Tesla boss Elon Musk, the Cybertruck will have a range of up to 500 miles and will be able to dash from rest to 60mph in just three seconds.
Off-roading ability will be enhanced by the presence of air suspension with huge travel.
The Cybertruck is scheduled to go on sale in 2022, and there will be three models to choose from. A single-motor, two-wheel-drive model will cost from $40,000, while the top-end, three-motor truck will cost around $70,000.