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Best Pickups to lease in 2021

There might not be quite the following for pickup trucks here that you’ll find in the US, but a combination of impressive tax breaks for company users, an increasingly car-like driving experience, and rugged all-road ability means they win quite a few fans.

As the trucks become more civilised inside, with more refined engines and improved economy, there’s a significant switch from traditional commercial and utilitarian users to a lifestyle market full of regular families looking for something more practical than their SUV.

With a load box you can literally throw your goods into, a pickup truck can offer the practicality and style they need, explaining the sales boom, coronavirus allowing, that we’re going through at the moment - the UK adds around 50,000 trucks a year to the roads, making it the largest market in Europe, but still way behind the 1.1 million sold in the US!

Ford Ranger

Car lease price: from £306.13 per month*

The best selling pickup truck in the UK continues to attract buyers thanks to its ability to appeal to all users.

Those needing to haul loads and cross rugged terrain can make full use of the more utilitarian XL and XLT models, while customers wanting something a little more lifestyle-friendly have the Thunder or even the Raptor - a jacked-up performance model. In the middle, Limited and Wildtrak models strike a balance between both sets of demands.

Each is powered by a 2.0litre engine, providing between 130 and 213hp, and comes with suspension compliant enough to make motoring across the country tolerable, if not quite enjoyable.

Amongst the largest of the trucks on sale, the Ranger has the longest load bed but is midfield in terms of maximum payload capacity. It’ll tow 3.5 tonnes of trailer, though.

The Ranger has been updated many times over its life, and now has a pleasingly car-like interior - unlike earlier models. You’ll find leather seats, glossy materials and an impressive infotainment system in higher-spec models, too.

Ford Ranger need to knows:

  • Car Leasing Category: Pickup
  • Select’s Car Review Score: 4.3 out of 5
  • Max Payload: 1,296kg
  • Engine Options: Diesel
  • NCAP Safety Rating: 5 stars

Toyota Hilux

If you want to survive in the desert, or get home if you’re in the arctic, the Hilux is the model that people rely on. It’s built tough, and a recent facelift hasn’t dented that reputation at all.

What it has done is add an impressive new 2.8-litre diesel engine, but it’s only available on the top-spec Invincible models. Should you opt to splash out, the new power unit provides an impressive 204hp and turns the Hilux from something of a slouch to one of the quickest trucks on sale. That’s not essential, but it does make motorway driving more relaxing, and allows for overtaking moves to be considered.

Toyota has also tuned the suspension to make it more comfortable on the road; because pickups need to carry a tonne of stuff in the back, they’re usually set up stiffly to cope with that, but few ultimately use them to capacity so the Hilux has been toned down a little. It’ll still carry more than a tonne, but it’s more relaxed on tarmac now than ever before.

It’s relaxed off-road, too, thanks to long suspension travel with excellent axle articulation, a strong four-wheel-drive system with a low range option, and a limited-slip differential ensuring you can cross virtually any terrain.

Toyota Hilux need to knows:

  • Car Leasing Category: Pickup
  • Select’s Car Review Score: 3.8
  • Max Payload: 1,060kg
  • Engine Options: Diesel
  • NCAP Safety Rating: TBC

Isuzu D-Max

Car lease price: from £487.40 per month

Seemingly the pickup truck of choice for the Yorkshire farmer, and for good reason. The D-Max has been around for a long time now, receiving some significant updates over the years, but its reputation for bullet-proof reliability remains.

There’s nothing too sophisticated about the D-Max, which is why it’s so beloved by those heading into less forgiving territory. The four-wheel-drive system is mechanical, there’s a proper low-range option and, although there’s no locking differential, the traction control works well to keep you moving.

The interior is showing its age a little now, but it’s comfortable and well equipped. You can even find things like a suede-trimmed steering wheel and leather seats in the rugged XTR model.

However, such is its age that a new model is imminent. Reports (from Professional Pickup & 4x4) suggest it won’t arrive in significant numbers until the Summer, leaving new leases to come from existing dwindling stock levels. However, early drives suggest it might be worth waiting for.

Isuzu D-Max need to knows:

  • Car Leasing Category: Pickup
  • Select’s Car Review Score: 3.2
  • Max Payload: 1,282kg
  • Engine Options: Diesel
  • NCAP Safety Rating: 5 stars

Mitsubishi L200

Car lease price: from £247.97 per month

The latest Mitsubishi L200 has been around for less than two years, but its time is limited - Mitsubishi is stopping selling cars into the UK, but will remain to ensure servicing and parts availability for owners. That means there’s only a relatively short time to pick up this, er, pickup, and it’s one you might not want to miss.

Unstoppable off-road, the L200’s four-wheel-drive system is the best in the market which, when combined with the relatively lightweight of the truck and locking centre differential, ensures you’ll get to where you want to go, wherever that is.

It makes a decent fist of things on the road, too. The leaf springs at the rear have new dampers that smooth the ride, and avoids the shudder that you get with most of its rivals as you cross road joints or surface cracks.

Safety gear is also notable, thanks to a list of acronyms as long as your arm: FCM, BSW, LCA, RCTA, UMS, ESS, LDW, M-ASTC, HSA, TSA and many more are all standard. The upshot is that it gets a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

L200 need to knows:

  • Car Leasing Category: Pickup
  • Select’s Car Review Score: 3.5
  • Max Payload: 1,080kg
  • Engine Options: Diesel
  • NCAP Safety Rating: TBC

Nissan Navara

Car lease price: from £286.13 per month

Sporting SUV-like multi-link rear suspension, Nissan promises that the Navara is closer to a car than an old-fashioned pickup. Well, it might not be quite ready to replace your Range Rover, but there’s no doubt that the Navara rides our roads nicely.

It’s a match for most SUVs on the motorway, and is surprisingly agile around twistier roads, although you’ll never forget that there’s a light load bed behind you that skips and bounces around through corners.

Nissan has taken the X-Trail SUV interior and seemingly lifted that into the Navara too, further impressing upon us the fact that this pickup is to be considered as an alternative to a family SUV.

The engine note might change your mind, as it’s quite vocal. Still, there’s good power and impressive economy available from the 2.3-litre diesel engine. Just make sure you opt for the automatic gearbox option, as the long and imprecise throw of the manual gear lever makes life tiresome.

Nissan Navara need to knows:

  • Car Leasing Category: Pickup
  • Select’s Car Review Score: 3.8
  • Max Payload: 1,180kg
  • Engine Options: Diesel
  • NCAP Safety Rating: 3.4 stars

Ssangyong Musso

Car lease price TBC

The value brand of the pickup market, SsangYong has thrown so much tech into the Musso that you might think you’re driving some top-of-the-range German model, if it wasn’t for the somewhat low-rent plastics inside.

Some of that technology doesn’t seem entirely necessary (does anybody really need to change the indicator tick-tock noise?) but you’ll never drive along feeling like you’re missing out. Heated leather seats, a large infotainment system, smartphone mirroring, reversing cameras and much more make driving the Musso a breeze.

There’s a decent engine under the bonnet that’s fine for cruising the UK’s roads, but the suspension is a little firm leading to it jiggling and bouncing it’s way along.

Load it up with some cargo and it gets a lot more comfortable, but choose carefully - the standard Musso has the shortest load box of any truck, but a long-wheelbase version extends that from 1,4300mm to 1,610mm. The LWB also has a class-leading payload capacity of 1,215kg.

Ssangyong Musso need to knows:

  • Car Leasing Category: Pickup
  • Select’s Car Review Score: N/A
  • Max Payload: 1,095kg
  • Engine Options: Diesel
  • NCAP Safety Rating: TBC

Volkswagen Amarok

Car lease price: from £374.15 per month

While the Amarok can handle the rough stuff, it’s definitely aimed at those sticking to the tarmac. Lower to the ground than any other pickup, its lack of ground clearance makes it less capable of clearing obstacles, but some clever electronics ensure it retains grip longer than you might expect it to.

But leave the off-road shenanigans to the others and enjoy the Amarok’s silky-smooth 3.0-litre V6 engine that produces a hefty 258hp, enough to power the two-tonne behemoth to 62mph in just 7.4 seconds.

An interior that looks to have been lifted from a Volkswagen road car, albeit a last-generation model, leaves you feeling that you're just driving a big car. While it’s not that stylish inside, the material quality is good and the layout obvious, making it easy to transition to from an SUV.

Ride quality is also superb on the motorway, although it can get a little rough on slower roads. It is still a commercial vehicle, after all, and is capable of carrying up 1,110kg of payload or towing 3.1 tonnes of whatever needs towing.

Volkswagen Amarok need to knows:

  • Car Leasing Category: Pickup
  • Select’s Car Review Score: 4.2
  • Max Payload: 1,147kg
  • Engine Options: Diesel
  • NCAP Safety Rating: 5 stars

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*Prices include VAT. Credit is Subject to Status, Ts and Cs and Arrangement Fees apply. Excess mileage may apply. Price correct as of 20/01/2021.

**Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the scores of the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews

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Sunday, 29/05/2022