Best for tow­ing

What Car? - - Comparison -

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.

Pick-ups mega-test

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

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