Pickup trucks are going through a period of peak popularity on the UK's commercial vehicle market and the common belief is that ALL of them will handle snow like they handle tarmac – but some cope better than others.
Why are pickup trucks good in the snow?
Pickup trucks are good to drive in the snow and cold weather because most of them can be driven in all-wheel drive (4x4), feature excellent weight distribution and the ability to grip a variety of road surfaces. Some full size trucks even have advanced traction control settings specifically designed for driving in deep snow and ice!
In true Vanarama style we actually tested one of the best-selling pickup trucks on the market on an indoor ski slope to truly test if it could handle the snow. Yep… I'll just let that sink in, we did that and you can find out how we did right here:
What tech makes pickup trucks good in snow?
Most pickup trucks have some form of all-wheel drive (4x4) setting that you can use. All-wheel drive powers all four wheels and will help a lot in the snow – especially if you have a locking differential to engage (this locks the wheels on each axle so they turn at the same time) – this combined with a high ground clearance will reduce the likelihood of the front wheels getting stuck in the snow (unlike a passenger car).
However, even 4x4 capability can leave you in a bit of trouble without equal weight distributed over all the wheels. That's why it's recommended to drive with a full load in a pickup truck because the weight will push down on the back wheels meaning it's easier for them to grip the snow and prevents free spinning.
Tyres (even though they're not tech) can make a big difference – proper snow tyres for the front and rear wheels are designed with special materials and sipes (grooves in the rubber) to grip the snow better. If you don't want to shell out on snow tyres, why not buy some snow chains? They're easy to fit and provide maximum grip without meaning having to buy a whole new set of tyres for 3 months of the year.
Finally, manual or automatic transmission doesn't make much of a difference these days, the more modern a truck is the more advanced it's drive settings will be. In fact, the best pickup truck I've ever driven in the snow was an automatic, but more about that later!
Ford Ranger Wildtrak – The Best-Seller
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak's 3.2-litre diesel engine is unbelievably powerful, but you can also get the Wildtrak with an excellent 2.0-litre DuraTorq engine. It features 4x4 drive (transitioning up from front wheel drive), a fully lockable differential and huge grippy tyres – the interior is also a great mix of tough plastics and leather (even on the rear seats).
It's also packed with tech to help you drive in tough conditions – this includes Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist and heated seats (okay, that last one is more about keeping you warm, but the Ford Ranger's heated seats are great).
Nissan Navara Tekna – The Most Affordable
The latest version of the Nissan Navara at the Tekna trim level is not only good in the snow, it's got one of the best cabins on the market. So, even if you do get stuck in the snow at least you'll be comfortable and have a nice infotainment screen to play with.
The driving tech is also top-notch with Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control and Electronic Limited-Slip Differential (eLSD) with cut-off helping you make short work of ice… although you'll have to pay extra if you want the Rear Differential Lock which is why I've put it as the most affordable.
Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X – The Best Out The Box
If you've already watched the video, you'll have seen the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X pickup truck climbing the slopes without breaking a sweat. I was surprised and impressed, but the more I think about it, the more I understand why this one handled the snow like a pro.
It's over 200kg lighter than either the Navara or Wildtrak, the 6th series of the L200 has been totally redesigned and its full-lock low range setting is augmented by a selectable mud/snow traction control setting. It's the only truck of the lot to come as standard with all-terrain tyres.
Lease it tomorrow, that's how the Barbarian X turns up – stacked and ready to go on the snow with its excellent fuel economy and power… it's even got a heated steering wheel?!
If you enjoyed this blog, why not check out this one all about the previous version of the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian so you can see why the new one we took up that ski slope blew us away... or you can always check out all the deals we have on pickup trucks!