Review and road test of the Mitsubishi L200 (2010 - 2015)
PICK-UP WHERE YOU LEFT OFF
By Jonathan Crouch
Mitsubishi's L200 pick-up has long been a favourite amongst British buyers and the smarter and more spacious version that sold between 2010 and 2015 matches its competitors in all key areas.
Single, Club and Double Cab pick-up [2.5 diesel (4Work, 4Life, Warrior, Animal, Raging Bull. Barbarian, Trojan)]
If you're buying a used pick-up in the UK, then it's highly likely that you'll be seriously considering one of these, Mitsubishi's L200. Its market leadership has much to do with the fact that this Japanese brand got its act together faster than other contenders in this sector, being the first back in the Nineties to recognise that pick-up ownership could be extended beyond farmers and jobbing builders into the SUV lifestyle segment. As a result, this model's predecessor was allowed to take almost half the British market in this sector before its rivals caught up.
The modern generation version we're looking at here was first introduced in 2006 and had a much tougher job on its hands with the arrival at about the same time of improved versions of rivals like Toyota's Hilux, Nissan's Navara and Ford's Ranger. Curvier styling set the vehicle apart from competitors but it was mainly repeat business that kept Mitsubishi's market leadership in the face of rivals offering more power and larger load capacities.
In order to keep pace, Mitsubishi introduced a revised model for the 2010 model year that offered a smarter look and bit more practicality. It sold until the arrival of the further revised 'Series 5' version in mid-2015 and is the L200 model we're going to look at here as a used market prospect. Is it number one for a reason?
What You Get
Before this generation L200 arrived in 2006, you wouldn't have thought it possible to create curvy looks on something as boxy and utilitarian as a pick-up, but Mitsubishi's designers have somehow managed it. In early 2010, the range was lightly re-styled to create the vehicle we're looking at here, with a revised front grille and projector-style headlamps, a look featured across the range, whichever of the various bodystyles you choose. The single cab version is reserved very much for businesses that need a proper old school working pick-up with a traditional two-seat layout and an extensive 2,220mm load length, with the option of Tipper mechanicals or 'Dropside' quick-release side panels for easy loading. Customers of this kind who might occasionally need to transport more than one passenger can also consider the Club Cab version. It offers a 1,805mm load length, with additional capacity behind the cabin's front seats for secure storage or small passengers.
Behind the multi-function steering wheel in this revised model, there's clearer instrumentation and a smarter centre console and armrest. For a really plush feel though, you'll need the four-door Double Cab body that almost all buyers tend to want, not least because it's the only bodystyle offered with the more powerful 175bhp engine. Competitors offer Double Cab models of course but the usual upright rear seating and lack of a centre rear 3-point seatbelt might make you think twice about transporting a family of five in them over a long journey. The L200 Double Cab, in contrast, has 3-point belts for all three rear seat passengers and rear seat backs angled at a more car-like 25-degrees. Plus best-in-class rear legroom of 810mm. All of which is great for passengers: not so good for load length in the cargo bay behind - which is why by 2010, Mitsubishi had extended the L200 Double Cab's previously rather modest load length by 180mm, producing a total load length of 1505mm than now can virtually match that of its arch-rival, Nissan's Navara.
Access to the cargo bay is by means of a rear tailgate that can be locked horizontally or dropped down almost completely if you unhook the folding support arms on each side. As with most pick-ups, you've to lift your load quite high (850mm) to get it in to the loadbay, which might require a forklift if you're using all of the total 1050kg payload capacity. Once there however, plenty of tie-down hooks are provided to keep things from sliding about and there's 1085mm of width between the wheelarches, easily enough for a standard EU pallet. One little touch we really liked on L200 models of this era was the option of being able to lower the heated back window electrically, enabling items that are a bit too long for the cargo bed to be poked through into the cab.
What to Look For
There are a number of things to check over with any pickup and the L200 is no exception. Check that overloading hasn't damaged the suspension. Despite the one-tonne payload, many buyers who visit garden centres at the weekend don't realise quite how quickly a few bags of pea gravel or scoops of topsoil for the back garden can exceed a tonne in weight. Also make sure that the load bay hasn't been damaged by objects sliding round and denting the bodywork skin. The engines are rugged but check for damage to the interior trim which doesn't feel as durable as in some of the L200's rivals.
(approx based on a 2010 L200 Double Cab - ex Vat) Expect to pay around £250 for a clutch assembly and £400 for an exhaust system. Front brake pads start at around £40 with rears weighing in at £65.
On the Road
As usual with vehicles of this kind, your impressions of the roadgoing experience will depend largely upon how realistic your expectations are. Compared to the truck-like models of yesteryear, pick-ups like this L200 are a revelation and will be quite satisfactory for those used to larger, clunkier SUVs. There's the expected commanding view from a perch on the height-adjustable driver's seat and there's certainly no shortage of power, with either 134 or 175bhp 2.5-litre turbocharged common rail diesel engine options. The fastest of these is capable of a 111mph top speed before you apply the anti-lock brakes with their electronic brakeforce distribution. A hefty 400Nm of torque in this version allows for a substantial 2700kg braked towing capability. Original buyers could also specify a 5-speed auto transmission with a sports mode (though this dropped torque to 350Nm). Plus there's a best-in-class turning circle radius of 5.9m.
The drive can never really be totally car-like though: that would mean fitting rear suspension that would compromise the hefty 1045kg maximum payload capacity. It's something you adjust to though: this isn't the kind of vehicle you want to throw around anyway. Should you mistakenly try and do so, a M-ASTC (Mitsubishi Active Stability & Traction Control) traction and stability control system will generally be able to rein things in before danger strikes, monitoring lateral G-forces from suspension movements, then telling the engine how much power it can safely offer. You get this wizardry with all of the Super Select L200 models - these being the ones that most original customers chose and it's soon clear why. 'Super Select' denotes the more user-friendly 4WD system introduced with the post-2006 generation L200.
Previous to that, the L200 used a cruder 'Easy Select' system and you might still find that more basic set-up found on entry-level versions of the 2010 to 2015-era L200 that we're looking at here. Ask your seller specifically what system the vehicle runs. If they say they don't know, walk away. To be clear on the difference between 'Easy Select' and 'Super Select', the 'Easy Select' set-up forces you into 2WD most of the time unless you're off road and either (a) select 4WD in high range with locked transfer or (b) select 4WD in low range with the heavy duty rear differential lock activated.
'Super Select', in contrast, is much cleverer. You can still use the vehicle in 2WD on tarmac if you want to, but with this set-up, there's also the option to drive at speed on-road in permanent 4WD, without the excessive wear and tear that would normally load onto a part-time system as a result of transmission wind-up. As a result, there's real SUV-like peace of mind when conditions are a bit icy. And of course off road, it's just as capable as ever with high and low range locked transfer options that enable full delivery of torque to every wheel regardless of obstacles. For really tough conditions, you simply press the rear differential lock button on the dashboard to lock the differential so that both rear wheels turn together, easing you out of wherever you've stuck yourself.
You can see why so many UK pick-up buyers choose L200s, whether their need is to transport quadbikes and surfboards or hardcore and shovels. It's tough, good looking and offers a wide range of choice.
If we were buying the post-2006 modern era model, we'd want to seek out this 2010 to 2015-era version with its longer loadbay and smarter look. These things kept this pick-up at the forefront of its segment and, for the same reason, a used version from this time will remain high on most buyers' shopping lists.
Mitsubishi L200 (2010 - 2015) review by Jonathan Crouch