3 reliable Japanese pickups for work, construction and off-road
I have already written quite a lot about SUVs. And about the bad and about the good, let’s now see what you can buy if you need a workhorse for construction or some other work, fishing, hunting and just for the village, in which there are severe off-road roads instead of roads for 9 months a year.
Pickups in this case fit perfectly. They are cheaper than SUVs, hardy, strong. In general, what you need. Here’s what I suggest.
Four-wheel drive, frame, diesel, mechanics, lowering row. This is one of the most utilitarian pickup trucks on the market. It was not uncommon for owners to buy the cheapest versions even without air conditioning. On the secondary market, the average price for the NP300 is now 637,000 conventional units. There are cars on the market from 2008 to 2015. You can watch a ten-year-old car with 500,000 plus.
The most vulnerable places in terms of corrosion: windshield frame, roof and hood edge. It is worth paying attention to the cargo compartment. If there is no plastic insert or protective coating, there will certainly be many deep scratches with rust inside. Of course, you need to pay attention to the frame and welds. If the car is not anticorrosive, corrosion appears there after 6-8 years (the oldest cars on the market are already 12 years old).
The interior of the car, of course, is the simplest with references not even to the 90s, but to the 80s. The plastic is cheap, the rear seat, like all pickups, is low, vertical, there is little legroom – if you buy a car not only for work, but also for your family, keep this in mind.
There is only one engine – a 2.5-liter YD25 diesel engine with a power of 133 hp. It is reliable and calmly nurses at least 350 thousand kilometers, however, it can be killed much faster by overheating if you do not monitor the coolant level. The aluminum cylinder head is almost instantly covered with cracks (30-80 thousand conventional units). The turbocharger can fail only after 150 thousand kilometers, but often runs as much as the motor itself. In the timing – a chain. In short, the motor is good, old Japanese school.
Until 2010, an electronically controlled high-pressure fuel pump was installed, and after the Common Rail system. With the second, everything is clear, he does not like it when they pour any bodyagi into the tank. But the first one is not a gift either, problems can be with both the electronic and mechanical parts. Fortunately, everything is being treated.
The mechanics work without complaints somewhere around 300 thousand. The clutch needs to be replaced after about 150 thousand kilometers, and the synchronizers crunch closer to 200-250 thousand km.
All-wheel drive is hardwired without surprises, you just need to regularly inject the spline connection of the front cardan. At the rear is a self-locking differential.
There is practically nothing to break in the chassis. Front independent suspension with torsion bars, rear continuous bridge on leaf springs. Check the condition of the rubber bands regularly and that’s it.
The ground clearance is approximately 240 mm in the unloaded state, the cross-country ability is good, the geometric cross-country ability is excellent by pickup standards. The car as a whole is very reliable by modern standards, almost everything that can be damaged is hidden inside the frame, the maintenance of the car is inexpensive, spare parts are available.
This car has a twin brother – the Ford Ranger, the cars differ only in nameplates, so when I talk about the Japanese, I will also mean the American.
Mazda sold the BT-50 pickup recently from 2007 to 2011 (Ford a year longer) and has proven itself to be a simple and reliable workhorse. The average price for pickups is 660 thousand conventional units, but you can find good options for just over 500.
Schematic diagram of the car is traditional: frame, leaf spring dependent rear suspension, independent torsion bar front, separate body, cramped interior, diesel engine under the hood, mechanics and part-time with reduction gear. There were no frills in the configuration of the cars, except that Mazda already offered 4 airbags in the base, which is just chic for a pickup truck.
The quality of the interior is good, the plastic is inexpensive, it likes to wear out and scratch, but everything is fitted well, there may not be squeaks at all even in age. However, you can’t call a spacious car. The back is not cramped except for children.
Structurally, the BT-50 is conceived with a large margin of safety, a powerful frame and a body that resists corrosion well, an almost eternal suspension and springs that are almost impossible to break. Mechanical breakdowns of pickups are not peculiar. Those who break the BT-50 and Ranger suspension can be given a medal for perseverance.
As for the engine and gearbox (they have no alternative lately), both are very reliable, though there are a few “buts". 2.5-liter diesel engine with 143 hp likes to drink only selected diesel fuel. From low-quality fuel, you can get to the repair of injectors and high-pressure fuel pumps, however, with a single filling, it is not clear what, you can get by with flushing. Active drivers can fail ahead of time turbine. But overheating, despite the aluminum block head and cast-iron block, is not characteristic of the motor. There is a belt in the timing drive and it needs to be changed every 80,000 km.
The gearbox goes and goes, you only need to change the clutch every 150,000 km. However, sometimes the gear selector spring needs to be replaced. If it is not changed in time, the first and second will stop sticking. Especially when it comes to pre-styling cars, in 2008 it was strengthened. In fact, the steering pendulum is also a consumable. It seems to be worm-driven, like trucks, but its strength is like that of a passenger car.
However, Mazda is very reliable. Especially if you handle it carefully. The only drawback is very expensive original spare parts, since there are many substitutes that are two or even three times cheaper. However, the high cost pays off reliability.
As for Mazda’s off-road performance, they’re not God knows what. Ground clearance is only slightly more than 200 mm. In general, you can see a Mazda converted to Off-road much less often than the same Nissan or Mitsubishi, which we’ll just talk about now.
Another Japanese pickup. There are more L200s on the market than others. For a long time it was the best-selling pickup truck in our country, plus its conveyor life was long – almost 10 years (from 2006 to 2015). The restyling was in 2013 and the cars of the last years of production are more spacious, because their sides are 6 cm higher, and the length of the loading platform is 18 cm longer.
The average price for L200 is 800,000 conditional units. 11-lenie can be bought for about 650 thousand. But you need to be careful when buying, because the L200 was willingly bought by resellers from companies, they received a clean TCP, twisted mileage and sold it as if from under themselves.
It is worth paying attention to the configuration, because the database did not even have ABS, and the top was not a classic part-time, but the SuperSelect system, like Pajero and Pajero Sport. With such a transmission, you can drive all-wheel drive even in dry conditions. It has an interaxle lock and a low gear. However, the classic Part-time off-road is no worse in terms of cross-country ability.
The VIN is stamped in the right rear wheel arch, so check from there. If the number is unreadable, then be prepared for the fact that the car will be sent for examination upon registration. In addition to the frame, the edge of the lid and hood, the windshield frame, the loading platform (if it is not protected) and the fuel tank (about 35,000 conventional units) most often suffer from corrosion. And also the bottom. If there was no anticorrosive, then it can all be covered with mushrooms.
Salon L200 is cheap and not very durable. The electrician is also not the main trump card of the pickup, fortunately, there are no complex electronic systems in the car and often problems come from poor contact in the fuse box.
Officially, only diesel cars have been sold lately, but gasoline cars were also brought in according to gray schemes – you should not be afraid of them, with good service they nurse half a million kilometers.
The 2.5-liter turbodiesel (136 hp) traces its lineage back to the first generation Pajero, so there is nothing special to break. With mechanics, this power is enough, but with a 4-speed automatic, it barely rides. After restyling, a boosted up to 178 hp appeared. and the fifth stage was added to the machine.
Both motors do not like overheating, which threatens with cracks in the head and cylinder block. In addition, they are quite picky about fuel. Expensive common rail injectors usually run 150 thousand km, and the USR valve clogs twice as soon, if you don’t let the car burn on the highway and vomit all the time in traffic jams.
Automatic L200 is a joint development of Mitsubishi and Hyundai-Kia. They are not too quick, but they are extremely tenacious and travel 500-600 thousand kilometers until they are completely worn out, even with hard use. The mechanics are no less reliable, but we must not forget to change the oil in the box quite often – once every 45,000 km.
There are no complaints about Part-time all-wheel drive, it is connected rigidly without a center differential, like on a UAZ, but the survivability of the SuperSelect system depends on the year of manufacture of the car. Until 2010, it was quite gentle, breakdowns begin even before 100 thousand km, after 2010 things became much better with reliability, and the system itself is simpler. Regardless of the type of transmission, one must not forget to inject the cardan cross.
In general, the suspension is very reliable, you will have to buy mainly rubber bands, but they are inexpensive. And if you do not go off-road, then the suspension can be called eternal in modern times. However, one must take into account the fact that for the city the car can be very tough, since it was designed for large loads and off-road. I would ride before buying to assess the degree of discomfort for rear passengers.
In the hands of a careful owner, the L200 will serve for a long time and with virtually no breakdowns. The only question is whether the previous owner was such or not. The machine itself is reliable, but, of course, you can kill him. Moreover, the L200 has an off-road image and the car can be very tired, so the choice must be attributed to the mind and professionalism.
I would not advise buying pickups prepared for off-road with evil tires, lifted suspension and so on – they can bring surprises from where they did not expect. However, this applies to all pickups and SUVs.
Of course, these are not all options. There is also the Chinese Great Wall Wingle, domestic UAZ Pickup, Ford Ranger (double Mazda BT-50), SsangYong Actyon Sports, Toyota Hilux. The only thing you need to learn when buying a pickup truck is that you don’t need to buy it instead of an SUV – pickup trucks don’t have a spacious interior, a trunk on the street, comfort is at the level of a Gazelle, it’s crowded in the back, there are at least options, and even off-road they don’t have the best cross-country ability due to long base, large rear overhang and the almost complete absence of electronic assistants. In addition, the rear axle is not loaded, the articulation of the bridge with thick short springs is small. Still, pickups are machines as simple as possible for working needs.