Best pickup trucks 2021 - which to buy in the UK?

  • We've driven and rated every pickup on sale in the UK
  • From working pickups to family vehicles and lifestyle pickups
  • All the info you need - including a full comparison test of the best

If you’re looking for a vehicle that can do double-duty as a workhorse and family transport, a pickup truck could be a good way to go – this is our run down of the best pickups on sale in the UK.

Pickups come in a wide variety of types and sizes, though all are presently powered by diesel engines. Some are as luxurious and well-equipped as modern SUVs, others are focused on work, being easy to clean and towing with ease – though with the very best pickups there’s no reason why you can’t have everything all in one machine.

Best pickup truck in the UK

These are the pickup trucks available to buy in the UK in 2021 and what we think of. If you want a more in-depth comparison between these (and some older models) you’ll find a full group comparison test of the most popular double cab pickup models at the bottom of the page.

1. Ford Ranger

Best pickup for all-round capability and car-like comfort

Best pickup trucks UK: Ford Ranger, front, Thunder, grey

The Ranger is twice winner of the Parkers Pickup of the Year award (2020 and 2021). Powered by refined and muscular 2.0-litre engines, it delivers ride comfort that’s nearly on-par with passenger SUVs, has high payload ratings and can tow 3,500kg.

Lots of options, lots of trim levels – from basic working variants to lifestyle models like the Ranger Wildtrak and special editions like the Ranger Thunder – and a choice of all three pickup body types makes this a winner for us. It’s also the UK and Europe bestseller.

>> Read our full Ford Ranger review

>> Find a Ford Ranger for sale near you

2. Ford Ranger Raptor

Best pickup for off-road performance and lifestyle image

Best pickup trucks UK: Ford Ranger Raptor, front, blue

Regular Ranger not quite enough for you? Ford will also sell you a Raptor version, optimised for high-speed off-road driving with completely revised bodywork, suspension and chassis.

It looks sensational, and is very comfortable on-road as well as off-road, thanks to its long-travel suspension and high-tech shock absorbers. But it doesn’t have enough payload to qualify as true commercial vehicle, making it expensive to tax as well as to buy.

>> Read our full Ford Ranger Raptor review

>> Find a Ford Ranger Raptor for sale near you

3. Toyota Hilux

Best pickup for those who want a big engine

Best pickup trucks UK: Toyota Hilux 2.8D, front, grey

The Hilux was updated in 2020, and in one move has gone from being one of the least powerful pickups in the UK to the one with the biggest engine – it’s now available with an excellent 2.8-litre four-cylinder that produces 204hp and up to 500Nm of torque.

What’s more, it’s excellent off-road, now very refined, and should prove every bit as reliable as Toyota’s long-standing reputation would suggest. A really top choice of pickup in 2021, and one that also comes in all three body types.

>> Read our full Toyota Hilux review

>> Find a Toyota Hilux for sale near you

4. Isuzu D-Max

Best pickup for working toughness

Best pickup trucks UK: Isuzu D-Max, front, off-road

Isuzu sells the D-Max in a huge range of trim levels, right up to an Arctic Trucks conversion, though it’s probably best known as a working vehicle – something it excels at brilliantly. Even the interior design seems optimised for this, fiddly touchscreens aside.

Reliability is outstanding, and recent suspension revisions have made it much more comfortable, too. The latest 1.9-litre engine lacks a bit of oomph, but it still tows well and has plenty of payload. However, this model is about to be replaced by an ‘all-new’ version very soon.

>> Read our full Isuzu D-Max review

>> Find an Isuzu D-Max for sale near you

5. SsangYong Musso

Best pickup for combined towing and payload

Best pickup trucks UK: SsangYong Musso, Rebel, wading through river

The regular SsangYong Musso double-cab is based on the firm’s Rexton SUV, giving it car-like rear suspension and plenty of creature comforts. Despite this, it still has high payload and towing capability.

Particularly impressive is the way it can combine the two – it has an enormous gross train weight (the combined totally allowed weight of vehicle and trailer) of 6,450kg, which means it can tow to its 3,500kg maximum and still carrying over 1,000kg in the back.

>> Read our full SsangYong Musso review

>> Find a SsangYong Musso for sale near you

6. SsangYong Musso Rhino LWB

Best pickup for double-cab load space

Best pickup trucks UK: SsangYong Musso Rhino LWB, side, driving

SsangYong also sells the Musso as the long-wheelbase Rhino LWB, which at over 5.4m long has the largest load area of any double-cab pickup in the UK. The 1,610mm-long load bed is also 1,570mm wide and 570mm deep. Massive.

It also has a maximum payload rating of 1,140kg and a gross train weight of 6,900kg – the highest of any pickup sold here. It’s one all-round heavy hauler. No wonder it ditches the car-like rear suspension for tough, traditional leaf springs.

>> Read our full SsangYong Musso review

>> Find a SsangYong Musso for sale near you

7. Nissan Navara

Best pickup for mpg, conversion friendly

Best pickup trucks UK: Nissan Navara, red king cab, blue double cab

The Nissan Navara is another pickup with car-style rear suspension. It comes in king-cab and double-cab specifications, and both are available as chassis cabs, which is very unusual. The chassis cab models come without a load-bed fitted so they can be converted for other uses.

We’ve always been slightly disappointed by the way these drive, given the suspension. But the 2.3-litre dCi turbodiesel engine is terrific, offering plenty of power and class-leading fuel economy.

>> Read our full Nissan Navara review

>> Find a Nissan Navara for sale near you

8. Mitsubishi L200 Series 6

Best pickup for ease of use

Best pickup trucks UK: Mitsubishi L200 Series 6, orange, front

Having been one of the first pickups to start the lifestyle revolution, the L200 continues to excel at being particularly easy to use. It’s smaller than most, light on its feet, and comes with permanent rather than part-time four-wheel drive.

This means the 4x4 system can be left on all the time, rather than restricted to slippery situations. It’s only available with 150hp now, but certainly isn’t short of eye-catching style. Shame the same can’t be said of the interior. Mitsubishi plans to exit the UK market before the end of 2021.

>> Read our full Mitsubishi L200 Series 6 review

>> Find a Mitsubishi L200 for sale near you

Which type of pickup is best for you?

If you want a multipurpose vehicle, perhaps for carrying the kids as well as the building supplies, then a double-cab pickup probably makes the most sense.

Double-cab pickup - Isuzu D-Max, blue, side

Sometimes also called crew-cab pickups, these have four proper doors and five proper seats – though the middle rear one might be tight for adults, passenger space is otherwise usually very generous. These typically look the most premium, too, but will also have the shortest load beds and the highest price. Four-wheel drive will be fitted as standard and automatic gearboxes are common.

Most pickups sold in the UK are double-cab 4x4 trucks, precisely because they are so versatile. But some brands also offer single-cab pickups and extended-cab pickups.

Single-cab pickup - Toyota Hilux, silver, front

Single-cab pickups, sometimes known as regular-cab pickups, have just two doors and two seats. These are almost always basic working vehicles, with the longest load area and high payload capacity. Interiors are usually finished in easy-to-clean materials but may lose out on standard equipment. Some will also only be rear-wheel drive, so watch out for that if you need some off-road capability.

Extended-cab pickup - Isuzu D-Max, orange, front

Extended-cab pickups – also known as king-cab pickups, super-cab pickups and club-cab pickups – have two proper front doors and two proper front seats plus a set of smaller rear doors and occasional rear seats, splitting the difference between single- and double-cab models. Again, these tend to be more basic than double-cab equivalents, but offer good versatility if you only occasionally need to carry extra passengers. 

What are the best used pickups?

In addition to pre-owned examples of the above, a number of mainstream pickups were recently killed off. So if you’re searching for a used pickup you’ll probably be seeing a few of these on the second hand market.

VW Amarok

Best pickup for comfort and V6 power

Best pickup trucks UK: Volkswagen Amarok V6, green, splashing through deep water

When Volkswagen ditched the original four-cylinder engines from the Amarok and fitted a 3.0-litre V6 instead it transformed this truck into a really premium cruiser. Performance from all V6 versions is very satisfying, and they are amazingly comfortable, too. But towing capacity is slightly restricted.

>> Read our full VW Amarok review

>> Find a VW Amarok for sale near you

Mercedes X-Class

Best pickup for premium image

Best pickup trucks UK: Mercedes-Benz X-Class, grey, front, driving

Sold for just over two years between 2017 and 2020, the X-Class suffered from its well-known association with the Navara, even though Mercedes extensively re-engineering the Nissan platform. The X-Class V6 is mighty fast, but you have to put up with a hard ride in exchange for the impressive handling.

>> Read our full Mercedes X-Class review

>> Find a Mercedes X-Class for sale near you

Mitsubishi L200 Series 5

Best pickup for lightweight performance

Best pickup trucks UK: Mitsubishi L200 Series 5, SVP II, front, silver and orange

The current Series 6 L200 is really just a heavily made-over Series 5 model. There’s barely any change inside, but the Series 5 did get a more powerful 184hp engine and was lighter, too, making it nimble and surprisingly spritely. The L200 Barbarian was particular popular, while the L200 Challenger was the run-out model.

>> Read our full Mitsubishi L200 Series 5 review

>> Find a Mitsubishi L200 for sale near you

Fiat Fullback

Best pickup for surprising value

Best pickup trucks UK: Fiat Fullback, black, front

The Fiat Fullback is essentially an L200 Series 5 in disguise, giving it all the same capability but with some interesting specification levels, such as the off-road orientated Fullback Cross. These were available with smashing finance deals when new, so expect to find them attractively priced used, too.

>> Read our full Fiat Fullback review

>> Find a Fiat Fullback for sale near you

Pickup pros and cons

Pickups are very versatile machines. Pros include offering plenty of passenger space, off-road capability, toughness, easy-to-clean load areas (no need to work about getting the boot carpet dirty here) and many of them are also far cheaper to tax than similarly sized SUVs – and even most cars – thanks to flat rate commercial vehicle tax.

They aren’t free of cons, however. Being so big they are more difficult to park and less fuel efficient. Ride comfort is usual far worse than in a car (though pickups are getting better), and the load bed may be easy to clean but it’s also more difficult to secure and keep dry – though there are solutions to both problems for working, family and lifestyle use.

Cheap pickup trucks

If you’re after a cheap pickup then you’re best looking for something second hand. Models from Japanese manufacturers – so Isuzu, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi – should offer good long-term reliability, but can suffer particularly badly with rust. Though the nature of their construction and the type of work they do means most used pickups will have had a hard life.

If you want a new cheap pickup, consider monthly leasing and finance deals to suit your budget. The L200, D-Max and Musso have the lowest cash prices, though there are often good deals to be had on the Nissan Navara. On the other hand, Ford sells a hell of a lot of Rangers, so you should be able to find good deals on them, too.


Double-cab pickup comparison test (2020)

By Richard Kilpatrick

Best pickup UK comparison test: group photo

If you're considering a pickup truck as a working vehicle or an alternative to a passenger car, the double-cab 4x4 is the most versatile you can get. Most of them are highly competitive on price, too – higher-specification models often undercut SUVs with similar off-road ability, even before the tax advantages have been considered.

For this pickup group test, we've rounded up high-specification double-cab versions of (almost) every pickup currently on sale, plus a couple soon to be discontinued:

  • > Ford Ranger Wildtrak
  • > Ford Ranger Raptor
  • > Isuzu D-Max XTR
  • > Toyota Hilux Invincible X (2.4-litre model)
  • > Mitsubishi L200 Series 6 Barbarian X
  • > Nissan Navara Tekna
  • > Volkswagen Amarok Aventura Black Edition V6

For this group test, SsangYong was unable to provide a Musso, but since we've covered over 14,000 miles in a Saracen we have plenty of experience with this model to draw on.

Note that the test dates from early 2020, so took place before the Musso Rhino was on sale and ahead of the launch of the Toyota Hilux 2.8D. 

What we've tested for:

You can also check out key technical specifications, dimensions and equipment.

Best pickup for fun

Best pickup UK group test: Ford Ranger Raptor, front, blue

Be honest. If you wanted a pickup for work, you'd choose the single-cab utility models unless you really need space for crew; and even then, there are stripped out, rubber-trimmed models for that. These high-spec pickups are essentially chosen because they look cool, have a lot of bling and signal a life of adventure, excitement and really wild things - not carting minimixers to building sites. That's why it's important that your family and other passengers aren't being subjected to anything too agricultural - you may want to feel like a big kid behind the wheel, but if no-one else is having fun it can get a bit boring!

This year's reduction in power for the L200 means relegation to the 'safe-but-comfortable' side of the equation - and the fun now comes in two flavours. The Isuzu D-Max XTR and the Ford Ranger Raptor. Objectively, the Ranger Raptor is the answer to every single question you might have; it's devastatingly capable off road and deeply impressive on-road too, given the immense weight and width. It's got chiselled, brutish good looks, and it's lavishly equipped and comfortable too. At £49,000 it's also very expensive, but that's actually £41,000 in commercial vehicle terms.

There's the catch, though - the Ranger Raptor can't carry the one-tonne payload that it needs to qualify as a 'van' in the eyes of HMRC, so it doesn't get the tax advantages of rivals. It's great value to buy in cash terms, but in terms of business expenses - the main reason you'd choose a pickup over an old-school 4x4 SUV in the first place we'll wager - it's five times the monthly cost.

Best pickup UK group test: Isuzu D-Max XTR, driving

The Isuzu D-Max is almost a homebrew Raptor, as if the A-Team were locked in a shed to prep a basic D-Max to compete in an off-road race - but they had time for a trip to Halfords' audio department on the way out. At £34,000 in most basic form, and yes, almost £40,000 by the time you've added some shiny stuff to approach the Raptor's sophistication, it's hard to believe they're the same price when sat side-by-side. Not only does the XTR start life as a bare-bones Yukon, meaning no climate control or fancy gadgets; it's got less power and less refinement.

Somehow, the Isuzu XTR delivers far more than the parts suggest. The sports seats are comfortable, the small steering wheel pleasing and remarkably precise, and it really does make the most of that 1.9-litre engine when paired with the six-speed manual. It's extremely capable off-road, and wouldn't be far behind a Raptor on a good A-road - but you'll be working hard when the Raptor driver's just chilling out; as good as the modifications are, it's still unsettled and jittery against the Ford.

The XTR's biggest rival is really 'a secondhand D-Max and some Pedders upgrades'; the green-lane/pay-and-play enjoyment is heightened by not having a shiny, £40K toy to damage.

Against this pair of unashamed 'big boys' toys', grown-ups should move fast and get orders in for the VW Amarok. It offers badge prestige, solid road presence and genuine passenger comfort and refinement, backed up by a four-wheel drive system that's seamless in operation. It'll shame the occasional hot hatchback (let alone obliterating the Raptor and XTR) down a motorway sliproad just as easily as pulling a boat and trailer up a harbour slipway, but it's not particularly nimble or fun to drive down congested urban streets.

For value, competence, versatility and kerb appeal the Raptor wins by a significant margin. In fact, if it weren't for the irritating reality of 'actually being useful for hauling things', the Raptor would be the best pickup offered in the UK.

Winner: Ford Ranger Raptor
Alternatives: Volkswagen Amarok, Isuzu D-Max XTR (or a DIY equivalent)

Best pickup for towing

Best pickup UK group test: SsangYong Musso, towing car on trailer

There's an unchallenged winner for towing - technically, nothing matches the SsangYong Musso automatic. Its 6,750kg maximum allowable mass allows it to tow a full 3.5-tonnes and carry an additional tonne of passengers and cargo. The passengers will be comfortable, too - but the load will need to be dense. At 1,300m x 1,570mm, the loadbed is a little smaller than competitors.

It's not just on-paper that the Musso impresses - hitch up a trailer and its eager 181hp engine makes short work of moving away, particularly with the automatic transmission. Visibility down the sides is unimpeded by flares or bodywork protrusions, and the light steering makes tight manoeuvres stress-free.

If you need more load space, the Mitsubishi L200's combination of permanent all-wheel drive, 1,470mm-long load bed and 3,500kg + 590kg capability makes it a great all-rounder.

For difficult trailers and tow-hitch attachments, the D-Max's impressive 225kg nose weight capacity has the solution.

If you know you don't need the full load and towing capacity, then the larger-engined Ford Ranger and Mercedes X 350 d have the torque to make towing not just legal, but comfortable; and if you only need to tow lighter loads the Amarok's 580Nm and refinement suit long-distance towing perfectly.

Winner: SsangYong Musso
Alternatives: Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi L200

Best pickup for performance

Best pickup UK group test: Ford Ranger Wildtrak, front, orange

Fans of fast pickups, we're sorry: 2020 marks the end of crazy 0-62mph dashes and ludicrous in-gear punch, and separating the trucks on offer on such a simple benchmark now becomes an exercise in splitting hairs. Until it goes off sale, the Volkswagen Amarok is the undisputed champion, hitting 62mph from a standing start in 7.4 seconds and reaching 129mph - but after May, new pickup buyers looking to make a quick getaway will want to look to Ford, Nissan and SsangYong.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Ford Ranger's 213hp and 500Nm, plus 10-speed automatic, makes it the swiftest double-cab pickup of 2020. It can achieve 62mph in 9.0 seconds; the heavier, but differently-geared Raptor is just a second behind. Unless you're on a strict budget, there's no reason to deviate from the choice thousands of British pickup buyers make every year here.

If you do want something other than the Ford, the high-speed refinement of the SsangYong Musso comes in at a much more affordable price, and the Nissan Navara's mid-range, twin-turbo urge is very useful on challenging roads.

If load and towing capacity aren't part of the equation, tax breaks aside the Ford Ranger Raptor is an excellent all-rounder that deserves this title more than any rival.

Winner: Ford Ranger (and Raptor)
Alternatives: SsangYong Musso, Nissan Navara

Best pickup for families

Best pickup UK group test: Ford Ranger Wildtrak, orange, off-road

All of 2020's pickups make a solid case for themselves as family transport - though parents with babies or toddlers and all their associated paraphenalia will need a cover for the load bed, as the cabins are invariably devoted to passengers only.

For drivers who expect car-like safety tech, this is a great year to buy a pickup. The Ford Ranger comes with autonomous emergency braking, cruise control, lane-keeping, pedestrian protection and pedestrian protection from the XL model upwards, with optional adaptive cruise control and parking assistance on Limited and Wildtrak.

Refinement still lags behind cars, with a couple of exceptions - the Ford Ranger Raptor rides and handles like a giant tall car; it's smooth, responsive and benefits from most of the Wildtrak's safety kit (not all of it); it has a load cover with rails as standard for secure storage plus accessories like bike carriers (it's also equipped with a towbar as standard, ideal for caravans). It's expensive, though, and if you're looking at staying below the cost of a comparable SUV the SsangYong Musso is the best bet. It's spacious and car-like inside, and very refined on the motorway thanks to class-leading body sealing and insulation - though the ride's still a bit agricultural at times and it lacks the latest safety tech.

We can't decide what's most important to you, be it a car-like, comfortable environment with loads of space, or safety technology to match typical family SUVs. The Musso's body and cabin is so different to rivals that it's the only clear alternative in an otherwise very closely-matched pack, but the Ford Ranger offers the most complete package of pickup and car qualities combined. If SsangYong included all the technology it has available on Korean and Australian Mussos, it would lead this category

Winner: Ford Ranger
Alternatives: SsangYong Musso, Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X

Best pickup for luxury

Best pickup UK group test: VW Amarok V6, front, blue, Aventura Edition

It is very easy to be distracted by low BiK and claimable expenses - but the truth is, these pickups cost as much as some very luxurious cars when you include the VAT you'll be paying on top of the lease or cash prices. Consider them comparable to a £40,000 SUV - then look at the spec. Can they match it?

Some can get surprisingly close. The most luxurious of all is the Volkswagen Amarok Aventura Black Edition; it includes such luxuries as 14-way adjustable seats that provide unmatched comfort - in many cases you're still perching on seats that don't even tilt in its rivals. Yes, it should be comparable with a £40K SUV because it costs £40K before VAT, but it will save you a lot in tax compared to a Touareg, and may depreciate less too.

The Amarok's days are numbered, so the crown falls to the next in line in May - and yes, you've guessed it, it's the Ford Ranger. This isn't just a case of well-padded, fancy-trimmed seats - the Ranger's civilised specification includes lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control, heated windscreen and steering wheel - you will find it hard to identify a serious gap in the kit, or quality, of a Wildtrak.

For the value-conscious, the highest-spec SsangYong Musso Saracen goes the extra mile for gadgets and refinement under £30,000. Excellent body insulation around the engine and doors, heated and cooled nappa leather seats and decent equipment levels are included without spending more than a top-spec family car; rather than being a crude agricultural vehicle wrapped in cotton-wool, the Musso's foundations are ideal for making a civilised 4x4 - any shortcomings are down to a lack of high-end technology and keeping the luxury trim consistent throughout the cabin.

For many, the lack of badge prestige is also a factor, one we feel is worth overcoming if it means you're going to sit on climate-controlled leather instead of unheated fabric for £28,000.

Winner: VW Amarok
Alternatives: Ford Ranger, SsangYong Musso (under £30,000)

Best pickup for carrying loads

Best pickup UK group test: Toyota Hilux Invincible X, front, grey

Space and capacity are everything here. You've guessed it already, the Volkswagen Amarok is a strong contender lugging loads, as the massive load bay not only measures 1,622mm wide by 1,555mm long, it can carry 1,114kg. It's relatively low, too, meaning easier loading, and even the narrowest point between the arches is an impressive 1,222mm.

Toyota has squeezed an extra kilo of capacity out of the 2.4-litre Hilux though, and it's still got a decent size of load bed at 1,525 x 1,540mm. Given how much less you have to spend to get the Hilux – and the lower running costs – that's the one we'd go for.

If the relatively spartan Toyota doesn't appeal and you want more attitude from your truck, Ford has given the Ranger an ample 1,549mm x 1,560mm, with deep 511mm sides, and it costs considerably less than the VW too. Despite the flared arches and wider track, the Raptor's cargo box is the same size internally.

Winner: Toyota Hilux
Alternatives: Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger

Best pickup for off-road

Best pickup UK group test: Ford Ranger Raptor, rear, blue, off-road

Every one of these pickups has a degree of off-road capability that puts most modern SUVs to shame, thanks to strong axles and a separate chassis (though sometimes limited ground clearance). For more regular off-road adventures, you've got three off-the-shelf options that give different advantages.

For fast, poorly surfaced roads, beaches or fields, the Ranger Raptor is engineered to travel as quickly off-road as most pickups will go on-road. It's the ultimate plaything, but that means it's really competent for work too - with the caveat that it carries and tows less than rivals. If you need to get to the top of the mountain, and back down, in comfort and confidence but without taking much gear - this is the one to have.

For crawling through forests, moors and post-apocalyptic wastelands full of cyberpunks, the D-Max XTR's got the strength and slow-speed articulation to take anything on - and the looks to scare potential attackers and the occasional territorial badger into submission. Chances are, an experienced gamekeeper in a regular Yukon on decent tyres won't be far behind you, but the XTR's modifications mean that ridge, stump or rock that would stop most 4x4s can be scrambled over in confidence.

For slippery grass, mud and towing on loose surfaces, the full-time 4x4 of the Mitsubishi L200 is a technical advantage no other pickup offers in the UK (once the Amarok is no longer available). Combined with the right tyres for the job, it's user-friendly and secure, it's also useful on-road as well.

Those with really extreme off-road needs might also consider the Arctic Trucks conversions that are officially available in the UK for the Nissan Navara (AT32), Isuzu D-Max (AT35) and Toyota Hilux (AT35) - of those the Nissan has the most powerful engine but comes in a slightly lower specification than the other two.

Winner: Ford Ranger Raptor
Alternatives: Isuzu D-Max XTR, Mitsubishi L200

Best pickup for builders

Best pickup UK group test: Ford Ranger load bed with pallet

From building sites to showhomes, a quick extension to a multi-million pound contract, there's one pickup that shines for looking good on the building site or financial institution alike - the Ford Ranger.

Not only does it have the option of adaptive cruise control, giving it a real advantage on long journeys, it's got a tailgate that can support 220kg, too, making loading plant and materials easier despite the rear bumper, and 500Nm torque fed through a 10-speed gearbox makes towing heavy plant trailers less stressful.

It's also possible to optimise the transmission for towing or economy when ordering, an unusual degree of customisation that reflects Ford's understanding of the commercial vehicle market.

Of course, the Volkswagen Amarok covers all the bases if you're happy to spend the extra - but it has lower ground clearance.

Winner: Ford Ranger
Alternatives: Volkswagen Amarok, Nissan Navara

Best pickup for farmers

Best pickup UK group test: Isuzu D-Max, best for farmers

Land Rover's Defender surrended its place as king of the particularly-slippery hill farm years ago - though the new Defender is poised to make a high-tech, high-capability comeback. In the meantime, the strength and versatility of pickups paired with low cost is a winning combination - and if you strip away the veneer of civility on the lifestyle models, two utility models stand above rivals for peace of mind, strength and even likability.

The Isuzu D-Max is a global success story, and unashamedly built for hard work. Its no-nonsense utility leaves you in no doubt as to where its strengths are.

A 245kg nose weight for the factory towing option is enough to handle most agricultural trailers, and it can pull 3,500kg - albeit slowly since it switched to the 1.9-litre engine in 2017. Anecdotally, we gather farmers were regularly towing 7.0-tonne loads with the old 2.5 twin-turbo. It's also got a slightly roomier cabin, and feels less claustrophobic when wearing big boots and protective gear as a result.

Helping the farmer stay on - or off - the road without downtime, Isuzu's dealer network tends to focus on remote rural locations and family-run garages that get to know you and your needs well. Isuzu also offers packages with aluminium hardtops and cages rather than aerodynamic fibreglass covers, so turnkey farming solutions are available without shopping around for bits. Isuzu are also very willing to discuss bespoke options - so if you do want a posh pickup, there's a chance you can get everything from electrically deployed side-steps to family-crest embossed leather trim.

It's hard to ignore the Hilux though - Toyota earned a reputation for unbreakable, faithful trucks the world over with this pickup. Rubber-matted and manual-gearboxed, the single-cab four-wheel drive wide body Hilux has a 2.3-metre long load bed and in Power mode, provides an impressive push through the rear wheels in all gears.

All the controls are weighted perfectly, with just the right amount of feedback from brakes and steering to feel confident off-road. Vocal when working hard, the 2.4-litre engine feels to have far more grunt than it does in the well-padded, luxurious Invicible X - without feeling like it's been stripped back to the point of cheapness.

Overall, though, the D-Max is the better blend and impressive value.

Winner: Isuzu D-Max
Alternatives: Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200

Best pickup 2021: Ford Ranger

Best pickup UK group test: Ford Ranger is the overall winner

Perhaps the easiest decision we've ever made with a group test of this scale, the clear winner is the Ford Ranger.

Massive improvements in refinement compared with the old 2.2-litre and 3.2-litre models, some welcome technology and driver assistance that's still relatively rare in this class of vehicle, and ultimately, the most powerful engine available now the V6 pickups have gone, the Ford's versatility and quality means it either wins, or puts up a tough fight, at every level of the market from single-cab workhorses to full-on luxury and performance models.

The changes were enough to ensure the Ford Ranger was the Parkers Pickup of the Year 2020, and it retained the title in 2021. Getting all of these pickups together in one test has done nothing to sway that conclusion; if anything, it's underlined just how thoroughly competent and polished the Ranger has become after eight years of sustained improvement and evolution.

Did you really test all the pickups on sale in the UK right now?

Almost. We couldn't get a SsangYong Musso this time, having just sent our long-term Musso Saracen back. Our conclusions are based on comparisons made during the year and it hasn't been marked down for non-attendance in any way. It's also worth noting that the D-Max XTR is very, very different to a conventional D-Max in ride and handling, so impressions of the D-Max are also based on Yukon, V-Cross and Utility models extensively tested at other times.

How do the numbers stack up? Pickup specifications

Pickup cost and performance comparison table (all prices and data correct at time of original publication):

  Ford
Ranger
Ford
Ranger
Isuzu
D-Max
Mitsubishi
L200
Nissan
Navara
SsangYong
Musso
Toyota
Hilux
Volkswagen
Amarok
Trim Raptor Wildtrak XTR Barbarian X Tekna Saracen Invincible X Aventura
Black Edition
Cost (CVOTR) £41,256.37* £29,645 £33,999 £32,630 £29,025 £28,245 £30,181 £41,950
 
Engine 2.0 2.0 1.9 2.3 2.3 2.2 2.4 3.0 V6
Manual gearbox n/a 6-speed 6-speed n/a 6-speed** 6-speed 6-speed n/a
Automatic
Gearbox
10-speed 10-speed** 6-speed** 6-speed** 6-speed 6-speed** 6-speed** 8 speed
Power 213hp 213hp 164hp 150hp 190hp 181hp 150hp 258/272hp
Torque 500Nm 500Nm 360Nm 400Nm 450Nm 400Nm 400Nm 580Nm
Top speed 106mph 109mph 112mph 106mph 114mph 115mph 105mph 129mph
0-62mph 10sec 9sec 13sec 13.6sec 11.2sec TBC 12.3sec 7.4sec
Fuel economy 31.7mpg 32.1mpg 36.2mpg 38.7mpg 40.4mpg 32.8mpg 36.2mpg 25.9mpg
CO2 233g/km 231g/km 205g/km 206g/km 184g/km 226g/km 183g/km 232g/km
AdBlue Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes Yes
* Price excludes VAT for comparison, but the Raptor does not qualify for reclaimable VAT or fixed-rate BIK as it's not a commercial vehicle under HMRC rules

** 0-62mph time is for this transmission

Pickup weights and capacities comparison table (all data correct at the time of original publication):

  Ford
Ranger
Ford
Ranger
Isuzu
D-Max
Mitsubishi
L200
Nissan
Navara
SsangYong
Musso
Toyota
Hilux
Volkswagen
Amarok
Trim Raptor Wildtrak XTR Barbarian X Tekna Saracen Invincible X Aventura Black Edition
 
Kerbweight 2,510kg 2,246kg 1,975kg 2,035kg 2,012kg 2,165kg 2,155kg 2,260kg
GVW* 3,130kg 3,270kg 3,100kg 3,110kg 3,035kg 3,200kg 3,210kg 3,290kg
GTW** 5,350kg 6,000kg 6,000kg 6,000kg 6,000kg 6750kg** 5,860kg 6,000kg
Towing capacity 2,500kg 3,500kg 3,500kg 3,500kg 3,500kg 3,500kg 3,200kg 3,100kg
Payload*** 620kg 1,024kg 1,125kg 1,055kg 1,034kg 1,085kg 1,115kg 1,030kg
Payload
Max towing
240kg 389kg 561kg 590kg 488kg 1,085kg 225kg 774kg
Load length 1,549mm 1,549mm 1,485mm 1,520mm 1,578mm 1,300mm 1,525mm 1,555mm
Load width 1,560mm 1,560mm 1,530mm 1,470mm 1,560mm 1,570mm 1,540mm 1,620mm
Between arches 1,139mm 1,139mm 1,115mm 1,085mm 1,130mm 1,100mm
1,100mm 1,222mm
Sidewall height**** 511mm 511mm 465mm 475mm 474mm 600mm 480mm 508mm
* Pickup plus all that fits inside or on the pickup, excluding trailer

** Maximum legal, allowable total of pickup, passengers, load and towed weights. Musso rating applies to automatic model only

*** Payload can vary according to specification and transmission – this applies to the listed specification. Where the payload is below 1,045kg the specification includes a removable sports bar or cover as standard (or the pickup doesn't qualify as a commercial vehicle for VAT & BIK in the case of the Raptor)

**** This also dictates how much tailgate you'll have to reach past, as high-specification pickups usually feature rear steps or bumpers that prevent a full 180-degree dropped tailgate

Pickup technology and trim comparsion table (all data correct at the time of original publication):

  Ford
Ranger
Ford
Ranger
Isuzu
D-Max
Mitsubishi
L200
Nissan
Navara
SsangYong
Musso
Toyota
Hilux
Volkswagen
Amarok
Trim Raptor Wildtrak XTR Barbarian X Tekna Saracen Invincible X Aventura Black Edition
 
Heated seats Front Front Front Front Front All* Front Front**
Leather trim Full Full Seats Seats Seats Full Seats Full
Adaptive cruise control No Opt No No No No No No
* Musso Rebel and Saracen also include cooling and ventilation on the front seats, and a heated steering wheel.

** Most pickups have seat height, reach, backrest angle and tilt or lumbar support; all on test have electric driver's seat adjustment. The Amarok has the most adjustable seats, with 12 electric movements out of 14 total.
In-car entertainment system
Apple CarPlay* Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Yes No Yes
Screen size in inches 8.0 8.0 7.0 - 9.2 7.0 8.0 9.2 7.0 6.33
DAB radio Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of speakers 6 6 8 6 6 6 4 6
Navigation Yes Yes Opt* Opt** Yes Yes Opt Yes
HiFi rating*** 4/5 4/5 4/5 3/5 2.5/5 3/5 3/5 4.5/5
* Android Auto is also supported on all models with Apple CarPlay support

** Navigation is available on-screen using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

*** Based on ease of use, sound quality, volume and features. Your ears may vary
Extra technology and features
Permanent 4x4* No No No Selectable No No No Auto
Lockable rear differential** Yes Yes Opt No Opt No No LSD
Hill descent control Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes
Parking assistance Cam
Sensors
Cam
Sensors
Cam 360 Cam 360 Cam Cam Cam
Sensors
Cam
Sensors
Sunroof No No No No Yes No No No
Load-bed tie downs Yes Opt Opt Opt Yes Yes Opt Opt
Dual-zone Climate control Yes Yes No Yes Yes
No Yes Yes
* Permanent, or full-time all-wheel drive can be used in rain, light snow or when moving from slippery to dry surfaces without problems. Selectable systems can be manually switched between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive for economy. Automatic systems like 4Matic or 4Motion do the same thing electronically, without driver intervention. Non-permanent four-wheel drive systems are not suitable for use on road.

** A lockable rear differential can help when towing from loose to solid surfaces, allowing the front wheels to steer but minimising wheelspin. It can also be used for more extreme off-road situations. Electronic limited slip differentials also help maintain traction in wet conditions, for safety; most pickups include traction control too

Pickup exterior dimensions comparison table (all data correct at the time of original publication):

  Ford
Ranger
Ford
Ranger
Isuzu
D-Max
Mitsubishi
L200
Nissan
Navara
SsangYong
Musso
Toyota
Hilux
Volkswagen
Amarok
Trim Raptor Wildtrak XTR* Barbarian X** Tekna Saracen** Invincible X Aventura Black Edition
 
Length 5,363mm 5,359mm 5,395mm 5,305mm 5,330mm 5,095mm 5,330mm 5,321mm
Width (body) 2,028mm 1977mm 1,925mm
(1,860mm)
1,815mm 1,895mm 1,950mm 1,855mm 1,954mm
Height 1,873mm 1,848mm 1,845mm
(1,795mm)
1,780mm 1,840mm 1,840mm 1,815mm 1,834mm
Wheelbase 3,220mm 3,220mm 3,095mm 3,000mm 3,150mm 3,100mm 3,085mm 3,097mm
Ground clearance 283mm 237mm 250mm
(235mm)
205mm 223mm 215mm 293mm 192mm
Off-road suitability
Wading depth 850mm 800mm 600mm 600mm 600mm  350mm 700mm 500mm
Approach angle 32.5 deg 29 deg 32 deg
(30 deg)
31 deg 31 deg 23 deg 31 deg 29 deg
Departure angle 27 deg
27 deg 24 deg
(22 deg)
25 deg 27 deg 23 deg 26 deg 18 deg
Breakover angle 24 deg 25 deg 25 deg
(22 deg)
25 deg 23 deg 20 deg 24 deg 16 deg
* The Isuzu D-Max XTR has modifications - standard and XTR spec given for comparison
** Tested specification includes side steps and rear corner guards that may reduce clearance; manufacturer published spec given