14 November 2017

Full Fiat Fullback (16 on) Model Review

by CJ Hubbard, Vans Editor

Fiat Fullback Cross review on Parkers Vans
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - load bed area
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - what makes it lifetyle
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - driving experience
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - rear cornering bodyroll
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - interior
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - automatic gearbox
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - load bed area
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - front
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - surfboards
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - rivals
  • Fiat Fullback Cross review - off-road capability
  • Range-topping lifestyle Fiat double cab pickup driven
  • Distinctive looks and lots of standard equipment
  • Lots to like, but limited payload and small load area
Fiat Fullback (16 on) 2.4 (180bhp) Cross Double Cab Pick Up Auto - Road Test
This is the Parkers Vans review of the latest entrant into the lifestyle pickup fray, the Fiat Fullback Cross. Like a number of other recent eye-catching pickups – most notably the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian SVP, Nissan Navara Trek-1° and Ford Ranger Black Edition – the Fullback Cross stands out not just because it’s fitted with loads of standard kit, but because of its unique appearance.

This is the Parkers Vans review of the latest entrant into the lifestyle pickup fray, the Fiat Fullback Cross.

Like a number of other recent eye-catching pickups – most notably the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian SVP, Nissan Navara Trek-1° and Ford Ranger Black Edition – the Fullback Cross stands out not just because it’s fitted with loads of standard kit, but because of its unique appearance.

Fiat Fullback Cross review - load bed area

Tough-looking bodywork cladding, an unusual, load-bearing sports bar at the rear, and a combination of satin metal and matte black detailing all help separate the Cross from its more ordinary Fullback siblings.

And what’s more, to give it a bit more go to match the show, Fiat supplies this model on chunky all-terrain tyres and installs a locking rear differential – this last something that’s not even an option on other Fullbacks sold in the UK.

As with most lifestyle pickups, it comes as a double cab only, meaning four doors and five seats.

Fiat Fullback Cross review - what makes it lifetyle

The idea is to create a pickup that really can be everything you need in a single machine, from well-equipped everyday passenger vehicle to mud-slinging cross-country workhorse, while still looking cool (ugh) enough to handle your surfboards at the beach.

Because if you’re buying one of these, you’ve obviously got surfboards, haven’t you?

Read the full Fiat Fullback review on Parkers Vans

So, the Fullback Cross is a kind of jack of all trades, master of none?

That’s a little harsh, but you should prepare to make some sacrifices.

Compared to today’s sanitised SUVs, pickups still pack an authentic toughness, thanks to their ladder-frame chassis and rugged suspension design. This makes them a little rough around the edges when it comes to the driving experience – so if you’re contemplating one of these instead of a regular car, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Fiat Fullback Cross review - rear cornering bodyroll

For instance, while the steering is light and the turning circle remarkably civilised for a 5.2m-long truck, the Fullback’s ride comfort is abruptly interrupted whenever you encounter the slightest bump, there’s enough bodyroll to ensure you take it easy in the corners, and the engine clears its throat loudly whenever you do lay on the power.

The Cross does its best to make up for this with leather seats and lots of toys in the cabin – including a good amount of safety equipment for a pickup. And to be fair, it’s not only quiet at a cruise, the 2.4-litre turbodiesel under the bonnet feels every bit of its 181hp and 430Nm whenever you want to get a shuffle on.

Fiat Fullback Cross review - driving experience

The big tread blocks on those all-terrain tyres do feel a touch squidgier on tarmac than the more road-biased alternatives fitted to the rest of the Fullback range. But it felt sure-footed enough on the damp Italian mountain hairpins of the test route, and you’re unlikely to find them much of a worry.

The optional five-speed automatic transmission is commendably responsive, both when left to its own devices and under paddleshift manual control.

Fiat Fullback Cross review - automatic gearbox

As many as 70% of Fullback Cross buyers are expected to spec it, and though it lacks the sixth ratio of the manual, reducing fuel economy and increasing noise on the motorway, the auto is certainly nicer to use.

What’s the Fullback Cross like off road?

Fiat’s planned route didn’t feature the most challenging off-road section we’ve ever encountered, but it did allow us to flex the Fullback’s four-wheel drive just a little bit.

As per the rest of the range, the Cross features a four-way switchable system, which starts out rear-wheel drive only, moves into automatic four-wheel drive, then four-wheel drive with locked centre differential to permanently split power 50:50 front and rear, and finally low-range four-wheel drive for the most challenging off-road work.

Fiat Fullback Cross review - off-road capability

The Cross adds a locking rear differential for when the going really gets sticky. You don’t get any fancy electronic aids such as hill descent control, but we’ve driven members of the Fullback family on tougher courses without any issues.

The class-leading turning circle is a boon in twisty sections, but as with all pickups, suspension articulation isn’t particularly great. Moderate lumps and bumps won’t be an issue, however, and the all-terrain tyres achieve plenty of traction. Consider that box ticked.

How does the Fiat Fullback Cross compare to its rivals?

The Fullback is based on the Mitsubishi L200, so the Cross is similar in execution to the L200 Barbarian SVP – albeit offered in a wider range of colours and with the smart Fiat styling.

Like the Mitsubishi, the Fullback is one of the more compact pickups available, which makes it easy to manage around town. It’s relatively light, too, helping performance, and as discussed the engine is eager – a distinct advantage over the rather sloth-like current-generation Toyota Hilux.

Fiat Fullback Cross review - rivals

So, bumpiness from the suspension aside, it’s a neat and tidy thing to drive. But the Nissan Navara is leagues ahead in terms of grip and precision, and the Ford Ranger is pretty handy in the turns as well. Both of these trucks also tow 3.5 tonnes, while the Fullback tops out at 3.1 tonnes.

The Fullback is more civilised than the Isuzu D-Max, but doesn’t quite compare to the VW Amarok or the Mercedes X-Class. That said, at £27,895 (excluding VAT) this range-topping Fullback Cross automatic is almost exactly equivalent to the entry-level price of the Mercedes

Fiat Fullback Cross value and standard equipment

The Cross costs around £2,500 more than the next-best Fullback LX – which seems a reasonable exchange for all the unique styling features and extra off-road hardware.

Fiat Fullback Cross review - interior

But the standard equipment list doesn’t exactly build on that of the LX. For example, you don’t get keyless go on the Cross, but you do on the LX, so clearly Fiat has done some maths to balance its own costs.

Here are the Fiat Fullback Cross standard equipment highlights:

That is a lot of stuff. The cabin design is simple, and there are hard plastics – but we’d expect nothing less from a pickup. The generous cab dimensions mean there is plenty of room for front and back-seat passengers. Visibility is excellent, too.

Official fuel economy for the automatic version is 37.7mpg, service intervals are every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever is sooner, and the Fullback comes with a three-year, 100,000-mile warranty. Figures that are all average at best for a pickup in 2017.

Like all pickups that exceed the 1.0-tonne payload threshold, the Fullback is taxed as a commercial vehicle, which means a fixed rate for company car tax that’s considerably lower than the vast majority of conventional SUV choices.

Van and pickup taxation – everything you need to know

Fiat Fullback Cross load area dimensions and payload

As a pickup, lifestyle or not the Cross is engineered to carry a proper payload – it’s one of the reasons makers stick with the ladder frame chassis and leaf-spring suspension.

Fiat Fullback Cross review - load bed area

These are the major details of the Fullback Cross’s load bed:

  • Maximum load length: 1,510mm
  • Maximum load width: 1,470mm
  • Width between the wheelarches: 1,085mm
  • Sidewall height: 475mm
  • Payload: 1,050kg

This is one of the smaller load areas in the double cab pickup sector, and also one of the lightest payload ratings – check our full list to find out which pickups carry more.

Best pickups for payload – on Parkers Vans

That funky looking sport bar surrounding the load area of the Fullback Cross? That’s more than just a styling exercise; it can support up to 30kg. It’s also designed to be aerodynamic, reducing wind noise and fuel economy losses.

Verdict

The Fiat Fullback Cross is a very likeable lifestyle pickup. Its smaller-than-average dimensions and nimble handling mean it should suit urban buyers better than some of its behemoth rivals, while the sharply executed visual upgrade works well to even our jaded eyes.

Light off-roading shouldn’t be a problem either. Just be wary of the occasionally uncomfortable ride comfort if you do lots of long journeys, and keep in mind that other pickups are more capable from a load and towing perspective. It’s strong value, either way.

Rivals to consider:

Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian SVP review

Nissan Navara Trek-1° review

Ford Ranger VR46 review

Also read:

Best pickups for payload

Pickups coming soon and recent launch round-up

Ford Ranger Black Edition launching at 2017 Frankfurt motor show

Fiat Fullback Cross review - verdict