Who's pick of the pick-ups?

  • Mitsubishi's top-of-the-range pick-up includes sat-nav
  • Starting price of £22,924 plus £4,585 VAT
  • Can it beat the Nissan Navara and Toyota Hilux?

Anyone who drives around in a vehicle that has Barbarian written boldly along the rear of a car is sending out a message to other road users that, in no uncertain terms, they are not to be messed with.

The Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian on test, however, is a top-spec pick-up that eschews the usual brick-like designs of its rivals, instead parading a swoopy, curvy front end before revealing the inevitable practical, square-shaped flatbed at the rear.

The L200 is no soft option, however. Practical and hardwearing, it's a credible alternative to the popular, almost default choices, the Nissan Navara and the Toyota Hilux.

But which is best of the trio? In a bid to shorten extended headscratching here's a quick comparison of the double-cabbed, diesel all-wheel-drive pick-ups.

Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian 2.5-litre DID diesel auto 4WD
Price: £22,924 plus £4,585 VAT (sat-nav and parking sensors included)

Nissan Navara 2.5-litre 190 Tekna diesel auto 4WD
Price: £22,507 plus £4,501 VAT (sat-nav £1,375 extra)

Toyota Hilux Invincible 3.0-litre diesel auto 4WD
Price: £20,070 plus £4,014 VAT (£659 delivery, sat-nav £1,100, £850 parking sensors)

Winner: Toyota Hilux.

Ride and handling:
The Navara just shades things here: it offers the least bouncy ride when unladen but the L200 'Barb' and Hilux are close behind. In terms of handling, the story is still the same - the Nissan feels flatter around the corners and, if you can call a pick-up nimble, it's the best of all, offering decent turn-in and superior grip.

Winner: Nissan Navara.

You'd probably go for the Navara here - the L200 feels a little brutal and fit and finish isn't great. Indeed a letterbox panel on the central dashboard fell out when we pulled away at speed. We weren't that fussed with the fiddly controls on the Mitsubishi either - a volume change on the stereo required a quite a long time with your eyes off the road ahead. The Hilux feels the most robust of all, but the materials are not up to the Navara's standard.

Winner: Nissan Navara.

The Navara may only have a 2.5-litre engine but it delivers 190bhp and a maximum torque of 450Nm at 2,000rpm. That big slug of pull puts it ahead of the 3.0-litre Hilux that delivers 171bhp and a maximum pull of 360Nm between 1,400 and 3,200rpm. The L200 does have a lovely, smooth power delivery but it's fractionally short of grunt, delivering 175bhp and a maximum torque of 350Nm coming in at a creditably low 1,800rpm.

Winner: Nissan Navara.

Economy and emissions (combined unladen mpg and CO2 emissions):
L200 - 30mpg/248g/km
Nissan Navara - 31.4g/km/238g/km
Toyota Hilux- 31.7mpg/236g/km

Winner: Toyota Hilux.

Company car tax (BIK) band:

L200 - 35%
Nissan Navara - 35%
Toyota Hilux - 35%

Winner: None.

Loadbay dimensions (length/width/width between wheelarches in millimetres):
L200 - 1505/1470/1085
Nissan Navara - 1511/1560/1130
Toyota Hilux - 1520/1515/1100

Winner: Nissan Navara and Toyota Hilux.

Braked trailer weight and payload allowance:
L200 - 2700kg/1045kg
Nissan Navara - 2600kg/1069
Toyota Hilux - 2250kg/1045-1150

Winner: L200.

Other considerations:
For cheap servicing the Toyota Hilux is the best: you only have to book it in every two years or 20,000 miles and that comprehensively beats the other two. In terms of warranty the Hilux and the Navara have a standard 60,000/three year cover whereas the L200 is extended to 100,000 miles. We also think that the L200 is a winner if manoeuvrability is a priority because it has the best turning circle and it is the lightest with a kerbweight of 1890kg.

The L200 is an impressive beast and if pulling heavy stuff is your priority then it's the one to go for. Although the Navara is the best all-rounder, you won't go far wrong with the Hilux - it'll be reliable, robust and it's excellent value.

Overall winner: The Nissan Navara