Best for towing
AS IT TURNS out, six out of the eight pick-ups tested are capable of pulling a 3.5-tonne braked trailer, but there is nuance in the details. For example, the Ranger comes with a choice of two rear axles, depending on whether you want to prioritise towing or fuel economy. The beefier one gives you the full 3500kg towing capacity, but opt for the other and you’re restricted to 2500kg.
Surprisingly, one of the newest pick-ups here, the Fullback (launched in 2016), can pull ‘just’ 3100kg. The only benefit is that it can carry nearly a tonne of payload in the bed while towing at maximum capacity; the class average is closer to 500kg.
The Musso trumps all of its rivals, though. It is the only pick-up that can still carry its full payload (1085kg) while towing a 3500kg trailer. The Amarok, meanwhile, underperforms a tad in this area, with the 161bhp model pulling just 3000kg, while the more powerful (201 and 253bhp) variants can manage 3100kg in eight-speed automatic form.
There’s no point in being able to pull 3500kg, however, if your pick-up feels unstable when doing so. And this is where the Amarok scores some points back, because we found it to be the most stable of the eight when towing a 1900kg caravan. Every other pick-up had at least one niggle: the Hilux felt underpowered, the L200 and Fullback were somewhat unstable at motorway speeds and the Navara and X-class wandered around under braking. The Amarok, meanwhile, was rock solid at speed, sported the strongest brakes of the bunch and had fantastic low-down grunt. In short, it inspired confidence.
None of these pick-ups comes with a tow bar as standard, though; it’s optional in all cases. Each manufacturer offers a range of tow bars, depending on your requirements, but none of them is particularly cheap; expect to pay between £250 and £600.
the highest payload rating of any pick-up on sale in the UK at 1146kg – 26kg more than the Hilux.
Third best is the Musso (1085kg), followed closely by the X-class, Ranger and Navara, all of which can haul more than 1050kg. The L200 and Fullback, meanwhile, just about surpass the 1040kg base limit that covers the weight of a hard-top (legally set at 40kg) while retaining the 1000kg payload rating that enables them to be taxed as commercial vehicles.
As well as having one of the highest payloads, the Amarok can carry the widest load, but the Navara is king when it comes to bed length. The height of the load bed floor from the ground varies by only 70mm between all eight, with Musso and Amarok being the lowest and the Hilux the highest.
We loaded each pick-up with a payload of 500kg to test how they coped with weight over the rear axle. Unsurprisingly, each pick-up rode significantly better with a load in the bed than without. In fact, both the Hilux and Musso were transformed, no longer pogoing over the various lumps and bumps that populated our test route. However, the most settled of the bunch was the Amarok. Performance in all eight pick-ups was noticeably stunted.
1420mm 1340mm 510mm 1100-1360mm One of the shortest load beds here, so its maximum payload is the equal lowest
1460mm 1280mm 510mm 1120-1420mm There’s nothing outstanding about the Ranger’s load bed; it’s just a good all-rounder
1495mm 1340mm 465mm 1180-1480mm Shallow sides are bad for carrying tall loads but make it easier to reach into the bed
1430mm 1335mm 510mm 1055-1430mm Down towards the bottom of the class for maximum payload and load bed size
1590mm 1360mm 485mm 1110-1550mm the longest load bed, the Navara is ideal for transporting timber or motorbikes
1325mm 1370mm 575mm 1105-1565mm Impressively wide and fairly deep, but considerably shorter than all of the others here
1510mm 1320mm 475mm 1080-1560mm With an exceptionally practical layout, the Hilux is able to haul the heaviest load here
1545mm 1355mm 525mm 1220-1590mm Long, wide and tall, with one of the highest payload ratings, this is a proper workhorse