Launched in 2005, Mitsubishi’s fourth iteration of its iconic L200 was a top performer in its field, and with plenty of good examples on the used market, it could still be the top performer you need today.
The Mitsubishi L200 has been one of the vanguard models of the pick-up market for decades – way before it was fashionable to launch a pick-up because everyone else was doing the same thing.
So the L200 has pedigree – and the fourth-generation of Mitsubishi’s staple workhorse was, and still is, a fine machine that can be used for both work and play. When it was introduced in 2005, the Mk4 had big boots to fill, mainly because of the success enjoyed by its predecessor, which showed other manufacturers a clean pair of heels and strengthened the argument for double-cab pick-ups as an alternative to traditional SUVs.
With the introduction of the Mk4, Mitsubishi’s L200 demonstrated that you didn’t need to make huge sacrifices just to be able to run a pick-up. You could have a vehicle that looked edgy, rode well and came with modern creature comforts – yet all the fundamental workhorse boxes remained ticked. No longer did you have to stick to old-school 4x4s in order to get away with having capability and comfort, instead an L200 would give you all the vehicle you – and your family – would need.
We talk about pick-ups becoming easier to live with and more car-like in their approach and you can thank vehicles like the L200 for setting that into motion.
On the outside, this particular L200 had a very distinctive exterior, showing up its competitors for being all too square. It’s a design that has aged well and is still respectable against many of the pick-ups you see in showrooms today. But the L200 wasn’t just about looks and we’re about to run you through exactly why.
Stepping inside a Mk4 L200 didn’t mean returning to the Dark Ages. A whole raft of trim levels could be specified by customers, ranging from the utilitarian 4Life and aptly named 4Work variants, complete with steel wheels and a trade-friendly price tag, whilst the popular Warrior and Barbarian specs delivered more kit and luxury, and were better suited to the double cab form where they could be used as a family vehicle.
There were also the Animal and top-spec Elegance derivatives, the latter of which could give you such royalties as heated leather seats and satellite navigation. If you look on the used market today, you can afford to be picky about which version you would want to buy, because there are, simply put, loads of good examples to scour through.
Should you decide a fully-stocked L200 is for you, be sure to check all of the features are working on the truck when viewing and also make sure they’re present! With some of the more luxurious versions, a 10-disc autochanger was either fitted as standard or an optional extra. Normally these are found behind the rear seats, so if it’s not there then you’re not getting what you’re paying for.
It’s also worth noting that in 2010, the Mk4 L200 was given a refresh to keep it as sharp as its looks. Inside this meant a reworked centre console and new steering wheel, whilst the cabin was generally overhauled with a higher quality of materials.
And now we come to an area where this particular L200 really shone. It’s all too easy to associate pick-ups with having poor on-road credentials because of the criteria they need to meet off the beaten track. However, when the L200 came along, you really could have your cake and eat it.
The Mk4 L200 was able to give drivers the most car-like driving manner on the market, something that was made possible through the use of a double wishbone suspension at the front. The chassis also impressed with its stiffened design and led the L200 to be considered as the top pick-up when it came to ride quality.
This was a very good thing, because if there was one flaw in the L200’s thick armour, it’s the fact that it didn’t quite match some of its rivals when heading away from the tarmac. Part of the issue was down to Mitsubishi’s decision to relieve the L200 of its rear diff lock when it launched the Mk4.
However, to make amends, Mitsubishi adopted its M-ASTC (Mitsubishi Active Stability and Traction Control) system found in some of its other SUVs and fitted it to the L200. The system would brake individual wheels and shift torque accordingly to help aid progress and keep the L200 moving. As a result, this was a machine that could cope with most situations off-road, even if it didn’t boast all of the mechanical firepower some of its competitors could call upon.
And talking of firepower, the L200 (at least here in the UK) could only be specified with one particular engine: the 2.5-litre turbodiesel DI-D motor. Initially, the diesel unit produced 134bhp and a grand wedge of 231lb.ft of torque. This engine also had a claimed average mpg of 32.8, before the 2010 update brought about a revised 175bhp version of the unit and a bump up to 34.9mpg.
From launch, customers could choose between the five-speed manual and a four-speed auto, whilst a five-speed auto came in later on. In typical pick-up fashion, the L200 could haul a payload of up to one tonne and its towing capacity stood at a credible 2,700kg. And pausing on that thought for a moment, most pick-ups make for suitable towing vehicles and that means potentially lugging boats around. It’s always worth checking the rear of any pick-up or tow vehicle for signs of corrosion where saltwater may have taken hold on the vehicle. If there’s a differentiation between the front and rear, there’s a good chance that could be the culprit.
So, the fourth-gen L200 moves well on the road, possesses a comfortable and well-equipped cabin, plus you’ve got a torquey motor on a vehicle that can hold its own off-road – is there a catch? Thankfully, no. This is a practical yet competent all-rounder that should be a dependable companion, regardless of your intended usage for it.
First off, your service intervals fall every 12,500 miles or 12 months – whichever comes along first. Needless to say, if you’re buying used then look for full service history and stacks of receipts to back up any work that has been done on the truck. Incidentally, having work done yourself shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg, though, with prices for parts relatively competitive in comparison to other pick-ups of the day, as well as the Mk3 L200.
It’s worth joining the L200 Owners’ Club, an organisation that not only will provide many a wise word from experienced owners, but it could save you a few quid with discounts from certain parts suppliers and insurance companies. That aside, parts such as the brake pads (front £45, rear £60) and clutch (£250) should be reasonably priced and staying away from main dealers and opting for a specialist will help keep your bills to a minimum.
There are a couple of things to be weary of on the L200, even if it’s a pretty solid truck on the whole. Check for any unusual knocking noises from the diesel engine as this can point to a fuel filter leak or a timing pump failure. Also listen out for any squeaks you may hear from the transmission. Such noises can be the cause of slack transmission linkages or even faulty clutch bolts.
Regular maintenance will keep your L200 in the best condition and one of these jobs is the timing belt, which should be done every 62,500 miles. It’s not a huge job, with a timing belt kit complete with hydraulic tensioner setting you back around £300, but these are the things to check for when looking through documentation.
The Mk4 should be a sound truck underneath, with few suffering any major corrosion issues. It’s always worth checking to see how much off-roading a truck has done, too, as prolonged abuse will only shorten the truck’s lifespan. Generally, however, the L200 is a solid machine and that is backed up by how many used examples there are for sale right now.
As pick-ups go, the fourth-generation L200 was a true trend-setter of the day and as such it can still hold its head up high even over a decade after its launch. On the outside you have a smart and attractive exterior that shuns the boring pick-up stereotype of old, whilst the cabin and driving characteristics deliver a package that is far more civilised than you would expect from a workhorse with a one-tonne payload and over 2,500kg of towing prowess.
Look throughout the used market now and you’ll find plenty of tidy examples, many with full service history and in double cab form with kit to boot, all for as little as £7,000. If you decide the L200 is for you, there are many pros for joining the vast amount of Mk4 owners dotted around and very few concerns in return.
As we said at the top of the show, the Mk4 L200 was a top performer from the moment it launched back in 2005 and if you’re careful to shop about and cherry-pick a used version that best suits your needs, you can experience everything that made this truck one of the best pick-ups to debut this century.