Where commercial load-lugging meets five-seat practicality – these are the best pick-ups available to buy in the UK this year.
A few years ago, it looked like pick-up trucks might explode in popularity and turn into a real SUV alternative. Far from being the utilitarian workhorses of old, modern pick-up trucks can be specced extremely luxuriously and the driving experience gets closer to that of a regular SUV than ever.
Since they can be classified as a commercial vehicle, you also pay just £275 in road tax per year, and it’s possible to claim the VAT back if it is only used for business. What’s more, when they are registered to a company, but also used privately by an employee, pick-up trucks fall under the benefit in kind (BIK) rules for vans rather than cars, which means a flat rate of £700 per year for 20% tax payers – cheaper than most cars. Double cab pick-ups are a grey area for BIK, as they are often not actually used for carrying goods and HMRC has cottoned on to this. A rule of a 1,000kg minimum payload capacity used to apply, but HMRC is increasingly overturning that.
Despite the tax benefits and the improvements in the liveability of pick-ups, in 2020, the UK pick-up market shrank by 32.7%. Covid was the main driver of that, but the market for light commercial vehicles in general shrank only 20%. In the past year, several pick-up truck models like the VW Amarok, Mercedes-Benz X-Class and Nissan Navara were also taken off sale with no replacement in sight.
Your options for a pick-up truck might have reduced, but there are still some outstandingly capable options out there. Pick-up trucks will carry all the big, dirty, heavy loads that you don’t want to put in the back of today’s increasingly plush SUVs, and they won’t get stuck on a muddy building site where most vans will just spin their wheels. If you want to find out how to drive a vehicle off-road, we made this guide last year, or if you want to find out what pick-up trucks are like when you take them to a disused quarry, we’ve got you covered too.
The Hilux has been part of Toyota’s commercial vehicle range since the late ‘60s, and it has since garnered a reputation for versatility and dependability that means nobody bats an eyelid when they find that the fully-loaded trim level is dubbed ‘Invincible’.
The Hilux is comfortable and decently finished inside, and also more refined and more pleasant to use than some of its rivals. Creditable ride and handling sophistication distinguish it also, as do dimensions that allow it to narrowly escape feeling elephantine on tighter roads.
As part of a mid-life update in 2019, the car got new bumpers and some cabin and equipment revisions, one of which made for better provision of active safety systems. A year later, Toyota refined the car’s chassis, styling and interior again, improving ride and handling by another step and adding equipment and visual appeal for range-topping ‘Invincible X’ versions.