2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Double-Cab Review – Still Keeping Up With The Competition?

Competitive price, ride improved over old model, plenty of torque from turbo-diesel engine, roomy & comfortable cab

Weird front end, Kenwood media system ok(ish) but no Bluetooth for music, 4WD selector badly positioned

Mitsubishi L200?

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You may be surprised to learn that the L200 pick-up was first available as far back as 1978 (1987 in the UK), with the first double-cab version ten years later, in 1997. Since then it’s gone from strength-to-strength and – in the UK at least – it’s a hugely popular pick-up truck for workers, and with plenty buzzing about they’re a fairly common site.

Recently though, there’s been a surge in the popularity of pick-up’s and more than ever they’re becoming a popular mode of transport for both people in the trade, and those who just want one as their mode of transport. With all manufacturers now upping their game in terms of ride quality, interior comfort and luxuries, is this fourth-generation – brought out in 2006 with an update in 2010 – still cutting it? We were sent a 2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Double-Cab to review and find out just that…

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

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While the last L200 pick up was starting to get slightly strange-looking, and overly curvaceous, this new version seems to be getting back on track and appears slightly tougher-looking for its last facelift. But only just. Mitsubishi perhaps tried to take the pickup in the wrong direction with the model shape, as the older versions were more square and chunky, and in modernising the design, they went too far the other way. Mitsubishi still are going with the rounded front end though, and while most other pick-ups tend to have big, flat fronts, the L200 sweeps backwards. Personally, I prefer a traditional large ‘n’ looming square-fronted pick-up, but perhaps the Mitsubishi has designed the L200 to be more pedestrian-friendly and have a better drag co-efficient for fuel economy.

Our tester was the L200 Barbarian, which is the top-spec working model, save for the Walkinshaw, which is a full-luxury version with custom leather interior and coil spring rear suspension. Oh, there’s also a Barbarian Black edition too, but there’s little difference between that and the ‘normal’ Barbarian on the exterior, save for black-coloured alloys and a black roof wrap.

It’s not a bad-looking thing, and certainly improved over the older models, but for me personally its looks just don’t cut the mustard. It just doesn’t have a rugged-enough appearance, and is too car-like from the front end, and the rear chrome light surrounds and chrome fuel flap are a tad tacky as well. Positive points I picked out are that the sharp, angular front lights and silver underbelly protector look cool, as do the 17″ alloys.

Aside from the front, pick-up trucks are basically very similar on the sides and rear, but one thing that did bug me – and it was the same on the Isuzu D-Max Eiger we reviewed – was that there was no rear towing eye, just a front one. That’s a pretty poor show, and embarrassing should you need to help another vehicle out of the snow, for example. Worse if you need help, but can only be hitched up from the back of the truck.

Our test L200 had the retractable and lockable Tonneau cover (£1,084 fitted) on the rear bed, and while it’s definitely a good option to go for should you want security for your gear, you do lose a fair amount of storage space due to the slider-sides and retracting section next to the cab. Possibly, it does help with aerodynamics when locked into position, but that’s simply guesswork. Overall, the L200 Barbarian isn’t exactly ugly, but most of its rivals are better looking. and certainly cooler.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

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Open the door to the L200 Barbarian or Warrior, and you’ll find a spacious and airy cabin. While it’s chock-full of knock-hard plastics, this is ultimately a work vehicle and that sort of plastic trim is more functional and practical, and easier wipe down when mud-splattered or covered in a heavy layer of dust. On both the Warrior and Barbarian, there’s leather seating, but the Barbarian’s luxury stitched seats are slightly more comfortable, and look nicer too.

The other differences between the two are that the Warrior gets a standard, and very ugly-looking stereo, plus an ‘RV meter’, which features a digital compass, altimeter, external temperature gauge and more. This, in actually fact, is a very useful thing and I’d like it if Mitsubishi had included one on the Barbarian somehow. In place of the radio and RV meter, the Barbarian has a 6.1″ Kenwood multimedia unit, which includes bluetooth for phone calls, DAB radio, very decent and user-friendly Garmin sat nav, and a reverse camera, the display of which has absolutely superb clarity and definition – the best I’ve come across on any car I’ve tested yet, in fact.

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However, aside from a DVD/CD player, you can only put your own music through the system if you own an iPod or iPhone, due to the connector housed in the glovebox, and it does not work well at all. It takes forever to change between tracks, and as well as being slow the system got so confused with me trying to click forward a couple of tracks that it crashed the entire system, taking down everything including the satellite navigation, and it took a good 20 minutes to reboot itself as none of the controls were responding. I’m not a big fan of these type of ‘double-din’ systems and it’s really strange, outdated and a let-down that this one won’t let you connect your smartphone/iPhone’s music via bluetooth.

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Aside from those points, the centre console is ergonomic, driver-friendly and good enough considering it’s a pick-up truck. The driver’s dials are simplistic and readable, but rather dull and showing their age now. The steering wheel has controls for the stereo, volume and cruise control, and again they’re laid out well and easy to use. Another plus is that the cabin houses loads of handy storage areas for your smaller, loose gear, something I’d find handy if using it for work. Something that is annoying is the lack of front heated seats, and there’s not even an option for them either. I know from experience that after working all day outside in harsh winter weather, heated seats would be very welcome. Come on Mitsubishi, get them on the L200!

Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian pickup 4x4 review front driver seats

Going back to the seating, the fronts are comfortable even for long journeys and the elbow room is very good too, while the rear seats were also surprisingly pleasant too considering this is a pick-up and they’re normally bolt-upright and short, and my passengers had no complaints overall. The L200 is unique in that the rear window behind the seats opens and closes electrically. However, while it looks cool and lets in air, I cannot see any real point to it other than that. Mitsubishi say it’s so you can get stuff out the bed section, but that’s rubbish as it’s too high up and narrow to lean through, and you’d have to lean half your body through before you could get whatever you wanted from the rear.

Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Double-Cab Review rear seats

One thing I must point out, and that is the badly-placed Super Select 4WD lever. When in 2WD (the normal position), it sits tight up to your thigh, and constantly vibrates annoyingly, the only respite being when you’ve pushed it into four-wheel-drive and it’s then away from your leg. It only needs to be relocated literally an inch or two to the left, and it’ll be sorted, so that’s another job for Mitsubishi’s engineers.

At motorway speeds, the cabin is fairly well insulated from road and wind noise, and on this front both myself and passengers were happy enough on long journeys. All in all, the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian (and Warrior) have decent cabins, and while there’s a few things I don’t like, for the majority it’s as good – if not better – than offerings from the competition.

Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Double-Cab Review pickup load bed

Engine & gearbox

Power and torque are highly important on pick-up trucks. If you’re towing or carrying something heavy, you need a load of each. Throughout the range, there’s one engine serving all models; a 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder DOHC, common-rail turbo-intercooled diesel. Though there’s one engine, there are three power outputs, depending on which model you buy.

The L200 comes with either a ‘medium power’ engine with 134 bhp and 231 lbs ft (314 Nm) of torque, and the higher-spec versions (Trojan, Warrior, Barbarian, Walkinshaw) get the high-output version. However, the torque figure is higher on the 6-speed manual than the 5-speed automatic. The auto produces 258 lb ft (350 Nm) at 1,800 rpm, while the manual puts out a much bigger 295 lb ft (400 Nm) at 2,000 rpm. Power remains the same for both, with 175 bhp @ 3,750 rpm.

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That torque figure difference is huge, and should you regularly be towing heavy gear, you’d be best going for the manual gearbox. The manual is a heck of lot cheaper too, saving you almost £1,700 (on the Barbarian Double-Cab). For all those extra torques though, the speed difference is little, with the manual making 0 – 62 mph in 12.1 seconds and the auto just one second more over that. There’s nothing in it at the top end either, with the automatic being just two miles-per-hour slower than the manual’s 111 mph max. speed.

Official fuel economy stats for the auto we were sent read as (UK mpg); Urban: 26.6, Extra urban: 35.8, Combined: 32.1, while the manual ‘box version gets approximately 4 mpg more than the auto overall. Tax is the same for both, even though the emissions differ, as the L200 is classed as a LGV (light Goods Vehicle) and you’ll currently be paying £220 per year (figure: March. ’14).

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

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The L200 rides pretty well considering it’s a work vehicle. Mitsubishi state that it’s got a ‘dynamic front suspension system… based on the Shogun’s set-up of coil springs and independent double wishbones‘. I’ve driven the old pre-2006 L200, and this 2014 version’s ride is much-improved over that one. Instead of banging and clattering your way down the road like you were sitting in a horse-drawn carriage, the new L200 is surprisingly calm and composed without a load in the back.

On the older model, the load-light rear would skip about merrily as you rounded corners should the road be even slightly bumpy, but now it’s much better and a more placid experience all-round. The rear still does have a tendency to break away though – after all the L200 is a driven through the rear wheels normally, and with no weight in the rear it’s only natural that it’d want to oversteer. Don’t fret though, as the L200 has M-ASTC. No, this isn’t some weird disease but in fact stands for Mitsubishi Active Stability and Traction Control. There’s also ABS and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) too.

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M-ASTC monitors for both normal and lateral wheel slip, and controls the brakes and engine power should things go pear-shaped. Actually though, I really didn’t like the system. If the rear wheels even broke away slightly on a bend, or accelerating away from a junction, the M-ASTC would viciously restrain the engine power, taking away any acceleration under your right foot almost completely for a good few seconds.

Okay, it’s doing its job, but it is also completely over-nannying. A couple of times I needed to take advantage of a gap in the traffic from a T-junction, accelerating out hard, but the traction control slowed the L200 right down because of a tiny amount of slip. This is dangerous when there’s a car bearing down on you at 40 mph. You can turn off the system, but then it goes the other way and becomes tail-happy. Mitsubishi, you need to sort the M-ASTC out, and make it way less ruthless please.

Of course, the other alternative is to simply select four-wheel-drive when you’re out and about, and their Super-Select 4WD is a really good time-tested system, being included on their 4×4’s for decades now. I’ll talk about that in the next section. On road, the Mitsubishi drives pleasantly enough, and the 5-speed automatic is fairly smooth too. It has the same clever INVECS II system as the Shogun, and learns and adapts to your driving style.

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With the cruise control switched on and the open road ahead, the L200 Barbarian shows itself to be a good long-distance cruiser, and you can munch the miles happy in the knowledge that the L200 is an extremely reliable vehicle (ever seen one broken down? I haven’t), and more so as it’s got an impressive 5-year/125,000 mile warranty. One notable thing that runs through all the big Mitsubishi 4×4’s (Outlander, Shogun, L200), is that they’ve got a really good turning circle – much better than you’d think.

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Doing what it was built to do, the L200’s payload capacity is 1,060 kilograms (2,337 lbs) and it’ll tow up to 2,700 kg’s (5,952 lbs). In comparison, the Great Wall Steed will tow up to 2,500 kg’s, the Toyota Hilux and Volkswagen Amarok 2,800 kg’s, the Nissan Navara (V6) 3,000 kg’s, but the Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max beats them all hands-down with a massive 3,500 kg towing capacity.

AWD and off-road. Stuck or superb?

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The L200 is a highly capable 4×4 when you do need to go off-road. For the majority, off the main roads it will probably be used on construction sites, quarries and farms. The Super Select 4WD system is very good, and it’s been proven to work well since the MKII Shogun (Pajero/Montero) was released in 1991.

Now though, the Super Select has been updated from an almost purely mechanical 4WD system to one that utilises the aforementioned M-ASTC traction and stability system. The M-ASTC ensures power is sent to the wheel with most grip. Old 4WD system were pretty rubbishy without this unless they had locking differentials, and you find that should a wheel be off the ground or spinning on some slippery surface, there was only power going to the wheel with no grip, making it a fairly useless system. The M-ASTC mated to the Super Select 4WD eliminates that issue, and now makes the L200 highly potent in the snow, or over rough terrain.

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Using the Super Select 4WD is simple and easy. It’s much, much lighter and painless in comparison to something like the Land Rover Defender’s ‘manual’ four-wheel-drive selector, which is heavy and cumbersome. At up to 62 mph, you can push the lever into 4H (high ratio) and you’ll feel the L200 instantly become more planted and assured as all four wheels are now driving. Should you need more grip for sand or snow, it’s simply a case of stopping, selecting 4HLc (4WD High Ratio & Locked Centre Differential), and for even more extreme circumstances such as going up or down steep sections or through deep mud, push the lever to the right and forward again into 4LLc (Low Ratio & Locked Centre Diff).

The L200 has 205 mm (8.07″) of ground clearance, and in all honesty, I thought it would have more though, as even most of the Subaru AWD cars have upwards 215 mm+, so considering the L200’s actual gripping ability, it’s somewhat let down by the clearance underneath. Still, it will be enough for most situations you’ll comes across on something like a construction site.

Price

The Mitsubishi L200 double-cab in luxury guise (Warrior, Trojan, Barbarian, Walkinshaw) starts at (all figures include VAT) just over £20,000 and goes up to almost £28,500 for the top of the range Walkinshaw model. Our test Barbarian is priced at around £26,000.

In comparison (all these are prices for ‘luxury’ double-cab pick-up’s with alloy wheels etc) the Toyota Hilux is between £22k – £27,700, the Ford Ranger £22.4k – £30,300, the Volkswagen Amarok £24.8 – £32,500, the Isuzu D-Max £23k – £27,000, and the Great Wall Steed £16,700 – £19,000. So, the L200 is certainly well-priced against stiff competition, although should you want to pull really heavy gear about, consider buying the Isuzu or Ford.

2013 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian double-cab verdict & score

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We’re reviewing the L200 for what it is – a pick-up truck. We’re not going to give it scores based on its comparison to say, an average saloon car, but on how it performs within its market as a pick-up truck. On-road it might feel rubbishy compared with say, a Ford Focus, but in the world of trucks, it’s decent in its category. You get the idea.

The L200 is a workhorse, and a hugely popular one at that. Firstly though, the things I don’t like include its comparatively wimpy front-end design, the daft position of the 4WD selector, the low(ish) ground clearance, and the weird fact that the auto has much less torque than the manual. The engine is also a bit of an ‘old-school’ diesel in its sound, being noisy and slightly agricultural in that department.

While that’s the case however, the top models are comfortable and roomy, with a decent cabin and a ride quality that’s much-improved over older models. The engine has proven bullet-proof too, with a decent amount of torque and power, and that Super-Select 4WD is great, and above all it’s currently one of the cheapest pick-up trucks on the market.

Do you own an L200? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  6
Interior  6
Engine  7.5
Gearbox (auto)  7
Price  8
AWD & off-road ability  8
Drive  6.5
Overall Score  7.0 / 10

  Specs

Model (as tested)  2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Double-Cab Automatic
Spec includes  ‘Barbarian’ leather seats, air conditioning, all-electric windows, rear electric centre window, 6.1″ Kenwood multimedia unit with bluetooth & sat nav, reverse camera, M-ASTC traction & stability control, ABS with EBD, driver/passenger airbags, 17″ alloy wheels See website for more info
Options you should spec  Rear parking sensors (£205 + fitting & VAT)
The Competition  Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Volkswagen Amarok, Isuzu D-MaxGreat Wall Steed, Nissan Navara
Price  (Mar. ’14) £20,000 – £28,500. This model: £26,000
Engine  2.5 litre, 4-cylinder DOHC, common-rail turbo-intercooled diesel
Power, Torque, CO2  Automatic; Power: 175 bhp @ 3,750 rpm | Torque: 258 lb ft (350 Nm) @ 1,800 rpm | Manual; Power: 175 bhp @ 3,750 rpm | Torque: 295 lb ft (400 Nm) | CO2: 213 g/km
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Rear-wheel drive with Super-Select 4WD | 5-speed automatic
Ground clearance & Towing Capacity  Clearance: 205 mm  (8.07″) | 2,700 kg’s (5,952 lbs)
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 109 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 13 seconds | Euro NCAP rating( pre 2009): 4 stars (Adult occupants)
Fuel economy (UK mpg)  Urban: 26.6, Extra urban: 35.8, Combined: 32.1
Weight (kerb)  1,745 kg’s (3,847 lbs)
Websites  Mitsubishi UK, Mitsubishi Australia, Mitsubishi global 

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Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Jake Thomas, Matthew Davies

One response to “2014 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Double-Cab Review – Still Keeping Up With The Competition?”

  1. Steven Winter

    Hiya, I’ve been looking for a truck with a opening bulkhead window. The reason is so I can put my surfboard through. Yeah it could go on the roof, but traveling from say London to Cornwall would slow you down. And then from a carpenters angle if you have longish timber it could slide through. Hopefully now you can see at least one advantage.
    Cheers Steven.

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