New Fiat Fullback Cross 2017 review
The upmarket Fiat Fullback Cross pick-up adds rugged styling and extra kit, but is it worth the extra cash?
The Fullback Cross is targeted at a more style-conscious buyer than the normal pick-up customer, but Fiat reckons this is where the market is heading. The rugged tweaks do mean that it stands out against the regular Fullback, and there’s a decent amount of kit thrown in for the money. The tougher looks are backed up, too, thanks to the locking rear differential fitted as standard to the selectable all-wheel drive system.
Once the reserve of farm workers and builders, the pick-up truck is fast becoming popular as a tough, go-anywhere lifestyle vehicle. The market is growing, with the latest figures revealing a ten per cent bump in sales in 2017 so far, and some manufacturers are beginning to take note of the changing trends.
Fiat is one of them. The Italian carmaker has been making vans for decades, but the Fullback is its first proper entry in the European pick-up segment. Under the skin it’s a Mitsubishi L200, but in a bid to inject a little extra differentiation into its latest light commercial vehicle, Fiat has introduced a more upmarket Cross version. It goes heavy on equipment, rugged styling and luxuries, and is priced similarly to entry-level versions of the new Mercedes X-Class.
The cabin is given a lift with the addition of a leather steering wheel and leather seats, with heating for the front chairs included. This is standard fit on cheaper LX models too, though, and elsewhere in the cabin it’s indistinguishable from the regular car. That means a blend of old school switchgear, plastics that are durable rather than plush and the odd exposed screwhead.
From the outside though, the Cross boasts enough in the way of design tweaks to mark it out against its standard siblings. Black wing mirrors, door handles and a black textured sports bar in the bed are paired off with chunky looking black wheel arches, and matte black alloy wheels on chunky tyres. Bi-xenon headlights with daytime running lights also feature, alongside a new grille and more pronounced silver skid plates. Styling is subjective, but with a more Tonka Truck look about the Fullback Cross, it should appeal to the more style conscious pick-up truck buyers it’s squarely aimed at.
Equipment levels are pretty generous, though again most of the toys and assists featured on the Cross are standard fit on the cheaper, less rugged-looking LX model. A slightly outdated seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, Bluetooth and DAB is embedded in the centre of the dashboard, while elsewhere the Cross is kitted out with dual-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. A trailer stability assist system, lane departure warning and hill start assist round off the driver aids you’ll find included.
Just one powertrain is available under the bonnet of the Cross; the more potent version of the Fullback’s 2.4-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder unit, with 177bhp and 430Nm of torque on tap. Equipped here with the five-speed automatic gearbox Fiat expects up to 70 per cent of European customers to opt for, it makes the most of the torque on offer and enables a three tonne plus max braked towing weight. It’s not quite gutsy enough to match the 2.3-litre Nissan Navara’s 3,500kg limit, however.
Refinement for a pick-up truck is acceptable – at motorway speeds the unit remains fairly quiet, though on roads where you’ll be doing plenty of accelerating and braking it’s more than keen to pipe up with a trademark diesel rattle reverberating around the cabin. Fitted with the automatic gearbox its economy figures indicate that this is no SUV, with an acceptable rather than outstanding 37.7mpg combined claimed.
Given that the Cross’ brief is to inject a bit of flamboyance into the Fullback range, it feels the same as any other Fullback to drive, meaning par for the course dynamics for the pick-up class and a ride that can become unsettled on less than perfect roads. However, the steering is fairly well weighted, and the selectable four-wheel-drive system boasts a little additional capability compared to other Fullbacks too, with the fitment of a locking rear differential. It means that this is the most complete Fullback off-road, but hill descent control is still absent from the package.
Regardless, the Fullback Cross is about as well specced as things get in the pick-up class for this kind of money – the entry level Mercedes X-Class it occupies similar territory with on price misses out on kit you’ll find with the range-topping Fiat. Affordable business contract offers from £289 a month make it seem enticing, but for those more interested in substance than style the LX model offers similar kit levels for less.