What is the best pickup truck?
Pickup trucks have always been useful, hardworking vehicles. In the past (in the UK, at least), they have been reserved as workhorses for farmers or local tradespeople.
Times are changing however, and more and more people are starting to turn to pickups as a regular mode of transport, thanks to their SUV styling, off-road capabilities and all-round versatility.
Manufacturers have woken up to the fact that not everyone wants a rough-and-tumble, bare-bones vehicle to carry their family around in, and now you'll find an array of top-spec pickups with luxuries like full leather seats, automatic climate control, touchscreen infotainment, and lots of safety tech.
The best used pickup trucks are:
- Ford Ranger
- Nissan Navara
- Toyota Hilux
- Mitsubishi L200
- Volkswagen Amarok
- Isuzu D-Max
- Fiat Fullback
- Mercedes-Benz X-Class
Ford dominates the commercial vehicle market in the UK, and the Ranger is the market leader when it comes to new pickup truck sales in Britain. That means there are a lot of great used examples to choose from.
Originally launched in 2011, the current generation of the Ranger was updated in 2016 and then heavily revised in 2019, so that's why you'll see ones that all have the same basic shape but look very different, particularly from the front.
Throughout the years, you've always been able to choose from 2.2-litre and 3.2-litre diesel engines. The smaller of the two provides ample pulling power and performance without the heavier running costs of the 3.2, which is still very popular with those looking for a bit more shove when they hit the accelerator.
Don't forget about the Ranger Raptor, either. Though it can't carry as much in its bed, it certainly looks the part and has trick suspension that makes it an ace both on and off-road.
Nissan became one of the main players in the UK pickup market before they withdrew the Navara completely in 2021. It was a shame to see it go, as the Navara is an excellent load-lugger with a reputation for durability.
You'll find plenty of second-generation Navaras, which was sold right up until 2015, on the second-hand pickup market. It's a very capable vehicle and was one of the very first pickups to be part workhorse, part lifestyle vehicle; able to compete with more mainstream SUVs in terms of comfort and technology.
The third generation, on sale from 2016 to 2021, provided a further step up in terms of interior quality and in particular technology, with the driving experience becoming more car-like than ever before.
The Toyota Hilux is one of the more famous names in the global landscape of pickup trucks, known worldwide for its reliability, durability and overall toughness.
It has always been a bit agricultural though, and the seventh generation, on sale in the UK until 2016, was only really plush enough for family transport if you went for higher spec Invincible or Invincible X models. These versions turned out to be the most popular anyway, so there are plenty of used Hilux trucks around.
Like the Navara, the latest generation Hilux, on sale from 2016 (and facelifted in 2021), offered a huge step up in terms of interior quality and driver technology. The cabin is very SUV-like, but it retains the toughness (both inside and out) you would expect from a Hilux.
Mitsubishi's L200 is a very worthy contender in the used pickup truck market, thanks to a great value package that combines off-road ability, toughness and distinctive styling.
Unfortunately, like the Navara, it is no longer sold new in the UK and so a used L200 is your best and only bet. Because they were so popular in the UK (almost half of L200s sold in Europe were registered in the UK), however, there are plenty of used examples to choose from.
The last-gen L200 - introduced in 2019 - was bang up to date in terms of styling and technology, and fuel efficiency was higher than ever before thanks to a new generation 2.3-litre diesel engine, capable of up to 37.7mpg. Earlier models had a 2.4-litre engine that was more powerful but also more expensive to run.
Volkswagen were slightly late to the pickup party, with the critically-acclaimed Amarok launching in the UK in 2011. It seems that VW were sitting back, taking note of what UK pickup buyers wanted, and then delivering exactly what was needed when the time was right.
It was such a successful launch that in 2012 it was awarded 2012 What Van? Pickup of the Year, certifying its credentials as a more than credible rival to the established competition.
The Amarok's engineers had a big advantage from the outset, with access to some of the finest engines on the market, including the 2.0-litre TDI and BiTDI BlueMotion diesels. These were in addition to the now hugely desirable 3.0-litre V6 TDI models producing an impressive 201bhp of power and 368lbs/ft of torque.
Isuzu proudly proclaim that they are 'the pickup professionals', and it's fairly easy to see why. Nowadays they only have one model available in the UK: the D-Max pickup.
It's great value for a full-size pick-up truck and good used examples aren't that hard to find. The D-Max is suitable for those looking for a bit more of an old-school, hardworking and durable pickup with great off-road ability. Top spec models are well kitted out, so go for one of the 'Blade' versions (pictured) if you want extra features and tech.
Older examples make use of a 2.5-litre diesel engine, which was phased out during 2019 for a much smaller and more economical 1.9-litre diesel, which despite its lower capacity still enables the D-Max to tow an impressive 3,500kg.
If you're thinking that the Fullback looks familiar, that's because it does. Essentially a re-badged Mitsubishi L200, the Fullback was Fiat's attempt to capitalise on the growing UK pickup truck market.
Sold only between 2016-2019, it's a shame that the Fullback didn't last. The L200 is a multi-award-winning truck, and having another flavour sold under a different brand only increased the supply and choice of good quality used examples available.
Look out for the Fullback Cross model, which were kitted out with a rear differential lock, bi-xenon headlights, dual zone automatic climate control and plenty more besides.
Fullback models were powered by a 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine, offering a 1-tonne payload and a towing capacity of up to 3,100kg depending on the spec. Both manual and automatic versions were available.
Another now-discontinued effort, Mercedes-Benz had a crack at the UK pickup truck scene between 2017 and 2020 with the lesser-known X-Class.
It struggled in the UK - and the rest of the world, in fact - to attract significant numbers of buyers as a new commercial vehicle because of its high pricing. Buyers were all too conscious that the X-Class was using the Nissan Navara ladder-frame chassis and ultimately rarely wanted to fork out the extra just to have a 3-pointed star on the front.
In reality however, the X-Class underwent significant re-engineering by the German manufacturer. This included chassis reinforcements, a wider track and disc brakes all-round.
The cherry on the cake, however, was the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine in the X 350 d versions. Putting out 254bhp, it's still one of the most powerful used pickup trucks you can buy in Europe.
Find your perfect used pickup truck at Evans Halshaw
Pickups have come a long way in recent years, with lots of great models launched between 2015 and 2017 that now make excellent used vehicle purchases. They're more stylish, comfortable and have more technology than ever before.
Japanese models such as the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara and Isuzu D-Max have built up great reputations for durability and reliability, while the Ford Ranger remains the market leader.
The Volkswagen Amarok and Mercedes-Benz X-Class offer increased power thanks to the availability of V6 engines.
At Evans Halshaw, we stock all of the above pickup trucks at our dealerships across the UK. Start your search for a used pickup truck.