The humble pick-up truck has evolved from its agricultural roots into an altogether different beast. There was a time when ownership of a pick-up usually went hand in hand with displaying a confederate flag and wearing a lot of denim. When I visited the states a few years ago it appeared as if every other car on the road was an enormous pick-up of some description, a few of which found their way to the UK. The rather incongruous Dodge Ram started to appear on British roads a few years ago (the ones it could actually fit on) but the sharp rise in fuel prices and following credit crisis soon killed them off.
Elsewhere the pick-up is the vehicle of choice in a lot of Middle Eastern and African countries usually transporting about thirty heavily armed blokes in the back. The Japanese manufacturers seem to have the market pretty sewn-up with Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi leading the way. Not all pick-ups have four wheel drive but like their SUV cousin’s, pick-ups have come in for a certain amount of criticism recently especially as manufacturers have discovered that if you stick a cab on the back you end up with a cheap SUV.
As a result there has been a back lash from environmentalists, as what were once used exclusively by farmers to reach their livestock and by builders to transport stuff around in have been transformed into a “lifestyle” vehicle by manufacturers desperate to expand sales. In some respects you can’t begrudge genuine buyers of pick-ups from getting a few creature comforts the same way as modern vans have changed but there is no doubt that a lot of the gargantuan models that are currently available are being purchased as mere status symbols.
You could argue that by giving the Mitsubishi L200 names like Warrior and Animal not forgetting Raging Bull they have pandered somewhat to the lifestyle market as these are certainly the biggest sellers. Having said that the L200 is still primarily a commercial vehicle and this should not be forgotten.
The pick-up first became attractive in the UK a few years ago amongst buyers who would have previously chosen an SUV. This was largely due to a loophole in the company car tax law but this was soon closed by the Chancellor, however those who are self-employed are still able to reclaim the cost of VAT.
Mitsubishi has made the distinction between work and play by categorising the L200 range as 4Work and 4Life. The former offers no frills tough workhorse qualities while the latter is packed with more leather and chrome nudge bars than you can shake a stick at.
The latest L200 has a softer more round edged design that the previous model which appeals to non-commercial buyers and the double-cab version is still fairly practical. It is larger than the old model and should seat five at a push. Underneath the sleek integrated bodywork you will still find coil and leaf springs with a live axle and ladder frame chassis so although very capable off-road you can’t expect sports car handling. The L200 has switchable all wheel drive plus a lockable centre differential if you get really stuck.
The cabin is well constructed although incorporates a lot of plastic but certainly doesn’t feel cheap.
On the road the L200 requires a little more effort to drive than the average modern SUV. The steering can be heavy at times but the turning circle is infinitely better than the old model which could often catch people out especially in supermarket car parks!
The L200 is powered by a 2.5 litre four cylinder turbo diesel with around 136bhp and 314nm of torque which gives a fairly respectable 0-60mph time and top speed although you won’t be setting any land speed records. Fuel consumption is quite impressive unless you drive flat out everywhere.
Although a rugged customer, with some careful handling the L200 can easily be tamed.