This test makes one thing clear: if you want a pick-up as an alternative to a large SUV, you’re going to have to compromise. While the latest pick-ups are much better than their predecessors, they still don’t have the refinement of a proper 4x4. So where does that leave our three trucks?
The Toyota Hilux is the first to fall. Although it’s attractively priced and has a strong diesel engine, it lacks its rivals’ modern cabins. Plus, even if all you want is a workhorse, it has the smallest load bed and payload here.
Second place goes to the Ford. It’s well equipped in Limited trim and its cabin has plenty in common with a modern SUV. It also has the biggest load bed, but if it’s going to spend most of its time unladen, the ride is just too hard – even by pick-up standards – and refinement isn’t good enough.
The Amarok isn’t the cheapest choice, but if you want the most able substitute for a regular off-roader, it ticks more boxes than its rivals.
Volkswagen Amarok ★★★★
The Amarok’s cabin quality stands out here, but there’s more to the VW than a car-like interior. A combination of smart looks, reasonable fuel economy and decent road manners makes it the best all-rounder. And its load area is still wide enough to accommodate a forklift pallet.
Ford Ranger ★★★
A solid debut for the latest Ranger. It looks the part and has a comprehensive trim range, so there’s a model for everyone. However, mechanical refinement is only average and it’s less comfortable when used as a family car than the Amarok.
Toyota Hilux ★★★
Still a giant of the pick-up sector; just probably not at its best as a luxurious double-cab. If you want a utilitarian workhorse, the Hilux won’t disappoint, but the Ford and Volkswagen do more effective impressions of a family SUV.