In the pick-up truck sector, it is not only engines that are downsizing, model choices are dwindling too, which means buyers looking for a new truck face increasingly fewer options. Geoff Ashcroft takes a look at some of the sector’s biggest changes.
With low-emission zones and regulations pushing manufacturers to cut their average emissions across model ranges, it is no surprise that there has been a shake-up in the pick-up truck sector.
VW pinned its hopes on an all-V6 line-up for the Amarok, but with the manufacturer embroiled in an emissions scandal for other models, the V6 simply had to go, helping it to cut its cumulative total emissions. VW fans need not worry though, there is a new version planned for 2022, as the German maker is working on a joint project with Ford, which will see the blue oval create a shared platform that will be used for the next generation Amarok and Ranger models.
Demand for Mercedes X-Class - a re-engineered Navara - saw it slip from the price lists last May after just two years, while the Navara itself, is gradually disappearing too. It seems that cost-cutting by the French-Japanese alliance (Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi) to improve efficiencies across their worldwide manufacturing operations is likely to have a brand-specific impact to determine what models are sold in which markets.
Nissan has already stated that its face-lifted model is not going to arrive on European shores, which suggests that once stocks of the existing NP300 have dwindled, the Navara looks set to disappear. Could this pave the way for a rethink by Mitsubishi? The Japanese maker has stated it will withdraw its products from the UK and Europe when current models no longer meet emissions requirements.
All of which leaves the door open for Ford’s Ranger, Isuzu’s pending launch of the all-new D-Max, SsangYong’s Musso and Toyota’s recently rejuvenated Hilux. All pick-up truck powertrain choices though, are now strictly four-cylinder units, ranging in capacity from 1.9 to 2.8-litres.
Toyota’s recently updated Hilux pick-up has now been authorised to get the Artic Trucks treatment, but only for the 2.8-litre, 201hp Invincible X double cab.
Ordered through the Toyota dealer network, the £18,870 conversion brings extensive chassis, styling, handling and suspension upgrades to create the Hilux AT35.
The AT35 retains its commercial vehicle status with no compromise in payload or towing capacity, says the company.
With no announcement of a replacement for the venerable Navara, there is a handful of models still to arrive on dealer forecourts over the coming months.
The latest Tekna version gained LED headlights, plus revised gear ratios and discs brakes all round – the latter to allow easier integration of trailer sway assist through individual wheel braking.
Power comes from a 2.3DCi twin-turbo with 190hp, along with the prospect of 41mpg for the light-footed.
Disappointed with four-pots and downsizing? Then Land Rover could hold the key to some frivolity, but you will have to tolerate the opinion-dividing Defender, which is now available with a 525hp punch from a supercharged, five-litre V8 petrol engine.
This potent new flagship model channels 625Nm of torque through an eight-speed auto-box to propel the Defender 90 from zero to 60mph in 4.9 seconds. Expect the Defender 110 to be a touch slower.
Fuel consumption, for those dealing with range anxiety, could be up to 19.5mpg says the company. Prices for the Defender V8 start at £98,505.
Recognising its key audience, Isuzu continues to push the D-Max through many farm machinery dealerships. And the all-new D-Max being launched this month builds on the success of its predecessor.
Power remains at 164hp with 360Nm of torque from its 1.9-litre twin-turbo engine, with the option of six-speed manual or six-speed auto-transmissions.
A revised exterior is joined by an equally revised interior, while new suspension and improved sound proofing add to the comfort. There is more driver tech too, boasting traffic sign recognition, intelligent speed limiter and lane departure warning.
SsangYong’s Musso Rhino gains a 310mm longer load bed over the standard length Musso pickup. The long bed includes a 12V/120W power socket and rotating hooks to help secure cargo.
Powertrain choices are limited; the Rhino shares the Musso range’s 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel with 181hp and 420Nm of torque, but this version is auto-only.
The increased load space and its 1,140kg carrying capacity also sees the coil spring rear suspension replaced by a sturdier leaf-spring set-up. Musso does come with a seven year, 150,000-mile warranty.
The sixth generation L200 brought bold styling, a revised powertrain, a stiffer chassis with improved ride and handling, plus an increased payload and gross train weight to the market when it arrived in late 2019.
This included a hike in towing capacity, hitting the 3,500kg maximum when used with a tri-axle braked trailer. Those with twin-axle trailers are limited to 3,100kg.
The range has since been broadened with the Trojan model, which sits between the entry-level 4Life and glossier Warrior models. It gets the same 2.3-litre 150hp engine and the option of a six-speed manual or six-speed auto-box.
The UK’s best-selling truck is Ford’s Ranger. Complete with two-litre four-pot power, the Ranger offers 130hp, 170hp and 213hp and the option of a 10-speed auto-box.
This MS-RT model is a motorsport-inspired special edition based on the Ranger Wildtrak, due to go on sale this summer. Sat on 20 inch OZ racing wheels and decked out with faux carbon-fibre trim, the interior features leather trim with orange highlight stitching, ambient lighting, heated front seats and an eight inch touchscreen infotainment system.
The motorsport inspiration does not reach the engine bay – this model retains the 213hp twin-turbo EcoBlue engine and 10-speed auto-box. Though it can carry a 1,098kg payload; or manage a 3,500kg towing capacity.