By Mike Torpey on 2019-04-07 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Fiat Fullback 2.4
IT'S interesting how tastes and trends sway from one type of vehicle to another.
What was once a swing towards people carriers or 'smart' micro models has been replaced by a burning desire for compact crossovers, SUVs and lifestyle pick-ups.
The latter category, and particularly the more plush and extensively kitted out offerings, make plenty of sense because being classed as light commercial vehicles subjects them to the same tax rates as vans.
And that's driven more drivers to choose them as all-purpose business and family conveyances rather than a regular company car or SUV.
Most of the pick-ups out there are first class, could pull a prefab out of a mudbath and are available with as much hi-tech gear as you could wish for - then it comes down to style, spec, seating and price.
Among the best is the Fiat Fullback, and not just because the Italian brand keeps things simple by only offering double cab variants.
The Fullback is actually based on the popular and talented Mitsubishi L200, and is built at the same plant in Thailand.
It comes powered by a 2.4-litre diesel engine producing either 150 or 180bhp depending on which of the three trim grades - SX, LX and Cross - you pick, and all have four-wheel drive.
That go-anywhere ability is pretty hardcore too, with a four-stage all-wheel drive system with which you can switch between rear only and four-wheel high range modes at up to 62mph.
There's also a locking rear differential to maximise low grip traction, the upshot being a vehicle that can cope with far more than just rutted tracks or icy industrial yards.
Out on the road, the engine sounds a far cry from the agricultural type of unit you might expect, is well refined and quiet as well.
It won't break any records for acceleration but is lively enough on faster roads and reasonable for fuel consumption, although the auto transmission doesn't help.
Inside, five can travel in comfort - including a centre rear passenger - and visibility is good too. As for carrying capacity the load bed is 1,400mm square and 475mm deep and there are plenty of tie points in there.
And like the Mitsubishi, the Fullback can cart a braked trailer weighing up to 3,100kg.
Go for the mid-range LX and you not only get the higher powered engine but also a raft of goodies like leather seats, climate control, reversing camera, sat-nav, keyless ignition, bi-xenon headlights and privacy glass.
Fiat Fullback 2.4 4WD LX
Mechanical: 180bhp, 2,442cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via five-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 110mph
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 37.7
Insurance Group: 196g/km
C02 emissions: 37%
Warranty: 3yrs/120,000 miles
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