Top 10 best pick-up trucks 2023

Open gallery Close News by James Disdale 13 mins read 29 March 2023 Share

It wasn’t that long that the pick-up truck was the ‘the next big thing’. Underpinned by attractive low taxation for business users, these utilitarian machines became increasingly glamourous as their makers aimed to woo potential buyers with a raft of new models that combined the hard-working work ethic you’d expect but with added SUV-level comfort, style and family-friendly versatility.

As an indication of how popular the pick-up became, both VW and Mercedes entered the fray, delivering double cabs that were more bling than building site. They joined a class populated by a host of usual suspects from Ford, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota, plus value-for-money alternatives such as the Ssangyong Musso. Wherever you looked there was a roughty toughty truck option that was as comfortable hauling a euro pallet as it was slipping along on the school run.

Yet despite the many benefits and the seemingly strong appetite from buyers, the pick-up’s popularity slumped almost as quickly as it had risen. As with many things the Covid pandemic played its part, with sales freefalling by a third over the course of 2020. However, while other sectors have started to recover, sales in the pick-up class have struggled to, ahem, pick-up. As a result, the closely related Mercedes X-Class and Nissan Navara were dropped from price lists, with neither likely to be replaced any time soon.

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What all this means is that there are essentially only five pick-up models you can buy today – although the Ford Ranger and VW Amarok are all-new models, proving that there’s life in the concept yet. This is further reinforced by the fact that there are a number of new models also in the pipeline, as you can see from our Pick-ups coming soon section, below.

We think that pick-ups still make a certain amount of sense if you’re looking for a cost-effective set of company wheels that you can use on and off the job. For example, if you’re self-employed and use one as a commercial vehicle, you’ll pay just £290 in road tax per year, and have the option to claim back the VAT on its purchase price. If you’re an employee and choose a pick-up as your company car, it’ll fall under the benefit in kind (BIK) rules for commercial vehicles, which means a flat rate of £720 per year for 20% tax payers, which makes it far cheaper than any similarly sized, priced and polluting SUV.

So, here’s our pick of the best pick-up trucks for 2023.

1. Toyota Hilux

The Hilux has been part of Toyota’s commercial vehicle range since the late 1960s, and it has since garnered a reputation for versatility and dependability that meant we didn’t bat an eyelid when the fully loaded ‘Invincible’ trim level was introduced.

Regardless of trim, we think 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.


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Car review

Ford Ranger Raptor

Ford’s European-market performance pick-up has sensational Baja rally-style thrills, and more on-road pace and appeal than its predecessor

Read our review Back to top

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 – features as useful on the school run, building site and everywhere in between. 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. Later again, a racy GR Sport version was added that celebrated the brand’s success in the gruelling Dakar rally. Featuring some sporty visual touches inside and out, it also packs upgraded dampers and stiffer front springs for sharper handling on the road and greater high-speed offroad capability, but we reckon anyone expecting Ford Ranger Raptor levels of driver entertainment will be disappointed.

The Toyota comes with a choice of 148bhp 2.4-litre and 201bhp 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel engines, which don’t make it sound exciting next to some multi-cylinder options, even if the 2.8 has plenty of real-world performance and surprisingly decent refinement for such a big-banger four pot.

Those who do need to transport heavier cargo might also be pleased to find out that its carrying capacity exceeds that of most of its competitors. Most Hiluxes will be double cabs, but a single cab and an extended cab are available on the 2.4 in no-frills trims. If you want all the bells and whistles – and there are many these days, including a potent JBL premium sound system – it’ll only be ‘double cab’ for you. Plus, there’s the fact that few trucks are as tough as the Toyota.

Save money with new Hilux deals from What Car?


2. Ford Ranger

An all-new Ford Ranger has landed in UK showrooms this year, which to all intents and purposes is the third-generation model to the UK. This is Britain’s most popular small truck, so while the rest of this market has shrunk, the Blue Oval has continued to make hay (and no doubt carried it in the Ranger’s generously-sized load bay).

While the late Nineties original was developed in partnership with Mazda, this latest iteration (essentially a development of the old car’s T6 platform) is the fruit of a commercial vehicle collaboration with Volkswagen that allows it to essentially rebadge the Ford as an Amarok.

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