The 4x4 double-cab truck sector has evolved at an amazing rate in the past 10 years or so.
Look back to 2002 and you’ll see a world of vehicles that were slow (100bhp on average), noisy and quite unrefined.
In that year a momentous event occurred – the Government decided to class 4x4 trucks as commercial vehicles for the first time, allowing fleets to claim back VAT on their purchases as long as they offered a one-tonne payload.
At the time, benefit-in-kind tax on vans was minimal and a whole host of accountants, estate agents and solicitors started opting for these vehicles as company cars to save cash.
In return, the manufacturers obliged them by speccing up their offerings with alloy wheels, leather seats and air-con, as well as increasing horsepower and refining ride and handling capabilities.
In the past year or so, we have seen new vehicles being launched, such as the Volkswagen Amarok and Ford Ranger, which take the sector to ever more dizzying heights in terms of looks, refinement and off-road capabilities.
The latest newcomer is the new Isuzu D-Max which we tested in the June edition of Fleet Van.
However, the 4x4 sector is about to veer off in yet another direction with the arrival of Chinese manufacturer Great Wall. The Steed pick-up debuted at this year’s CV Show and is being pitched head-to-head against the opposition, but with red-hot pricing that no fleet manager
But can this new vehicle cut the mustard against the established contenders? Ever looking for new challenges, Fleet Van presents here its first-ever four-way shootout – between the Amarok, Ranger, Steed and D-Max – to assess which vehicle best suits today’s modern van fleet.
We look at a variety of crucial areas of fleet interest. And. as it turns out, all is not what it at first seems...
Look and feel
When it comes to looks, the Steed is way up there with the others in isolation. It has a chunky, macho look, complete with shiny silver metallic paint and chrome foot rails. But park it alongside the new Ranger and it’s a lower, less-imposing vehicle.
It also doesn’t feel as well built as the other three contenders.
Doors don’t quite snick shut as well as they do on the Amarok and Ranger and the panels don’t feel as thick as with the others.