Don't mess with a truck with attitude

Elizabeth Skerritt tests a vehicle that helps you steer clear of the tax man
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Luxury pick-ups, epecially those with double cabs and four seats, have been selling well in recent years.

Luxury pick-ups, epecially those with double cabs and four seats, have been selling well in recent years.

The reason behind the boom can be put down, in large part, to the favourable tax regime afforded this off-road vehicle. If you are a company car driver, instead of paying tax on the value of the car and its CO 2 rating, choosing a "commercial vehicle" means you pay tax each year only on a fixed assumed benefit of just £500. According to the taxman these big pick-ups are indeed commercial vehicles.

If you are lucky enough to have a company fuel card as well, you have free fuel, a family vehicle and you only pay tax of up to 40 per cent (depending on your tax bracket) on that £500. What's more, it doesn't cost you any more in tax to have the most exclusive, fully loaded, luxury specification model than it does the most basic pick-up.

Hence the top-of-the-range Isuzu Rodeo Denver 3.0 litre turbo diesel. Not only has it all the muscle of a working 4x4 pick-up, but its comfortable twin cab means it works well for five people as family transport.

There are drawbacks, however. The topic of SUVs in London seems to get more people hot under the collar than the debate on fox hunting. Forget Ken Livingstone and his dogmatic hatred of four-wheel drive vehicles; what I want to know is how people actually negotiate these things around supermarket car parks, bollards and double-parked cars.

One way suddenly becomes abundantly and unexpectedly clear; when faced with a pick-up most other drivers back down. So I can see there is satisfaction to be had in knowing that anyone attempting to mess with you is going to be worse off, and a feeling of comfort in your own safety.

I have to admit I was a little sceptical about the automatic model I was testing. Driving around town, the engine seemed to rev slightly too much, although the gearing must take account of it's massive towing capabilities. The noise of the engine, a 3.0 litre turbo diesel, was rather fearsome, although the addition of luxuries including CD player and air-conditioning meant I could keep the windows closed and play loud music to drown out the thrumming.

So with a chorus of "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay" I spun off to the countryside for the weekend, to try to get a little mud on the wheels with some off-road driving in the environment the Rodeo was designed for. What had seemed too cumbersome and unwieldy in London was surprisingly sturdy and responsive at motorway speeds. Oddly, the same was not true on country tracks; the suspension was rather stiff and anyone sitting in the back seats was in danger of hitting their head when negotiating large bumps. I regret I didn't manage to find any loads to tow, but plenty of off-road tracks and even a quarry were no problem for the Rodeo; and changing in and out of four-wheel drive could not have been easier.

At £21,489 the Isuzu Rodeo Denver is an expensive piece of kit for a private buyer not able to take advantage of the generous tax breaks on this type of car, although there are very good deals to be had on the more basic models. Isuzu is offering up to £2,562 off three models including the Rodeo 2.5DT 4x2 single cab and double cab and the Rodeo 3.0DT 4x4 single cab.

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