5. Nissan Navara
Japanese car-manufacturers such as Nissan can rightly claim to have been present at the very start of the life of the compact pick-up truck. When the company that later became Nissan helped to awaken Asian, American and Australasian markets to the potential of these super-versatile utility vehicles even as far back as in pre-war times, of course, it did so with cars with Datsun badges attached rather than Nissan ones. And yet it set a template and established a lineage that led to the modern-day Nissan Navara.
The Navara comes with a choice of 2.3-litre turbodiesel engines available with either 161- or 187bhp; rear-wheel- or full-time four-wheel drive; manual or automatic gearboxes; and four-seater ‘king-cab’ or double-cab bodies. It got a significant mid-life facelift in 2019, with key suspension, braking, gearbox and interior equipment upgrades being added.
With the aforementioned recent update, Nissan addressed the biggest dynamic shortcoming of cheaper, cart-sprung versions of the Navara by fitting a multi-link, coil-sprung rear axle to all trim levels. The Navara has competitive (though not outstanding) ride and handling as a result, and a pretty ordinary-feeling but functional interior of respectable ambient pleasantness. Towing, carrying and 4×4 ability are all good.
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6. Isuzu D-Max
Isuzu is the self-proclaimed pick-up-only specialist of this segment, and the D-Max might be the antidote for anyone turned off by the commodification of the modern utility flatbed.
It has a cabin only sparsely populated by the necessary secondary controls, with oversized knobs, switches and levers that are easy to grab if you’re wearing work gloves, and a roomy footwell. It’s not a cabin designed or configured with any thought to perceived quality, but if you like the idea of no-nonsense, hard-wearing option, that ought to appeal.
That the D-Max can be bought for less than £17,000-plus-VAT in bottom-rung, single-cab, commercial-derivative form, however, must also help endear it to those who like to look after the pennies while they’re looking after their particular flock of Welsh mountain sheep or many hectares of Cumbrian hill forest.
A slightly weedy-feeling 1.9-litre diesel engine insists on being worked hard to move the D-Max along with any gusto, and it’s one of several factors that make this option one of the least refined and habitable in the pick-up class. But if you really do want a workhorse that you needn’t feel remotely guilty about using and abusing, you need look no further.