Road tests

New Maxus T90 EV electric pick-up truck 2023 review

The T90 EV is the UK's first all-electric pick-up truck, but is it really worth almost £50,000?

Overall Auto Express Rating

2.5 out of 5

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Verdict

If you're looking for a smaller, budget-minded electric pick-up truck that's an alternative to a Ford F-150 Lightning, then the Maxus T90 EV isn't it. It would fit that brief better if it actually had four-wheel drive and enough ground clearance for it to be taken seriously as an off-road machine. But since it lacks those two essentials, what you're left with is a converted diesel pick-up truck that's well equipped, but limited in its capabilities.

The pick-up truck market will probably be the last new-vehicle sector to go fully electric, but the Maxus T90 EV is already here to move the class in that direction. However, while other classes have now embraced the EV switch with dedicated electric car platforms, the Maxus T90 EV goes down the route of installing EV running gear into the chassis of an existing combustion-engined model.

In this instance, that's the Chinese market T90 pick-up, which is also sold in Thailand and Pakistan as the MG Extender. That means you're getting a traditional looking pick-up - it's certainly no Tesla Cybertruck, and even the Ford F-150 Lightning looks more futuristic - featuring a large, imposing grille up front and a traditional three-box, five-seat double cab configuration.

One thing that's noticeable is the location of the T90 EV's running gear. The engine bay features electrical systems in place of a diesel engine, but the only place that the T90 EV's large 88.6kWh battery can fit properly is beneath the bodyshell. As a result, the diesel T90's four-wheel-drive running gear has been eliminated, while the truck's raised ride height means the battery enclosure is clearly visible from the outside. 

Drive comes from a rear axle-mounted electric motor, but this is fitted in line with the rear wheels and hangs lower than the differential. As a result, ground clearance isn't on a par with contemporary diesel pick-ups. Maxus quotes clearance of 187mm, while the approach and departure angles are 27 and 24 degrees respectively. In comparison, a Toyota Hilux has 310mm of ground clearance and angles of 29 and 26 degrees.

Those figures will limit the T90 EV's off-road ability, but the fact that it's only rear-wheel drive means it's never going to get as far off the beaten track as a conventional 4x4 pick-up anyway. The T90 EV's only other concession to off-roading is standard-fit hill descent control, but the reality is that this is a truck that has the show, but not the off-road go.

The 88.6kWh battery is substantial, though, and Maxus quotes a range of 220 miles on a full charge. Connection is via a CCS port where the diesel truck's fuel filler would be, and the battery can be recharged from 20-80 per cent in 45 minutes from a high-voltage DC source. Home charging takes a little longer, at up to 15 hours from a 7kW source.

Inside, the Maxus T90 EV has a contemporary dashboard layout, with a 10.25-inch touchscreen display that controls all of the major functions, although there are separate touch-sensitive climate controls beneath. The major controls are a mixed bag of the conventional and modern. There's an ordinary ignition key and barrel for starting, plus a manual handbrake but then, in contrast, drive is selected via a rotary selector where a gearlever would normally sit. 

Another quirk is that the indicator and windscreen wiper stalks are the opposite way round from almost every other car for sale in the UK today, including Maxus's own Mifa 9 MPV. It's something you get used to, but still an oddity nonetheless. Cabin quality is fine overall, though, and the T90 EV feels well built, while there are plenty of hard plastics and fake leather seat trim that should hold up well to work life.

Cabin space is reasonable. A lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel might mean a compromise for some drivers, but there's good space and decent storage. In the back, the rear seats are upright, plus there are 12-volt and three-pin plug sockets that are wired directly to the drive battery for powering devices and equipment without troubling the 12-volt battery.

On the road, the T90 EV is a mixed bag. It's strange to drive a pick-up truck without any noise from its powertrain, and the T90 EV is quiet at lower speeds, while light steering means it's easy to manoeuvre. That steering is devoid of feedback, and the faster you go, the more disconcerting it becomes. The truck's weight means it's not much fun in corners, although its low position does at least mean it's stable. The suspension is very bouncy, even with the weight of the battery factored in. 

Our test truck appeared to lack a dead zone when pointing straight ahead, so constant correction of the wheel was needed at motorway speeds. At least you get a truck-like clear view of the road ahead, while wind and road noise are no worse than in rivals, but then these also have the added noise of a diesel engine.

In terms of practicality, the Maxus T90 EV has a one-tonne payload, so it qualifies for commercial vehicle rates of taxation. There's also a braked towing capacity of 1,500kg, although diesel rivals can tow far more.

Then there's the price. At almost £50k ex-VAT, it's priced at a level that's similar to top end diesel trucks that are better equipped, higher quality, far more capable off road and come with the added peace of mind of a familiar badge. But if you can take advantage of the T90 EV's zero-emissions benefits, then that could help take the sting out of that initial outlay.

Model:

Maxus T90 EV Elite 2WD

Price:

£49,950 (ex.VAT)

Powertrain:

1x e-motor/88.6kWh battery

Power/torque:201bhp/310Nm
Transmission:

Single-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

Payload:1,000kg
Range:220 miles
Charging:

45 min (20-80% 80kW max)

On sale:Now

Now read our list of the best electric SUVs to buy...

Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

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