The L200 versus Isuzu KB pickup
Posted Thursday, February 14 2013 at 13:00
The Mitsubishi L200 pickup and the Isuzu KB, also called Colt and Faster respectively in other markets, have been significant players in the industry over the years. Globally, and especially in Africa, the pickup truck sector has hot competition.
Isuzu and Mitsubishi are Japanese manufacturers who have an age-old rivalry for the global market share of cars. Each company sets foot where the other has left tread marks. This competition for car market share ranges from saloon vehicles, station wagons, buses to small and big trucks. The small trucks or pickup segment has been one of the fiercest battle grounds between the two.
Isuzu and Mitsubishi pickups were first manufactured in Japan in the 1970s. Both released the same pickups with different names for different key markets they targeted. This has seen three or four generations of pickups. For instance, the Isuzu pick-up was called TF and Vauxhall in the United Kingdom, Holden Rodeo in Asia, or Chevrolet LUV in the North and South America, Dragon in Thailand and KB in South Africa. Mitsubishi also saw sense in appealing to the locals of a particular country by choosing a pickup name, which identified with the locals.
While the Mitsubishi pickup was called Forte in Japan, it was called Dodge Ram, Plymouth Arrow or Mighty Max in the North America and Hombre in South America. It was also called Storm, Magnum, L200 Strada and Colt in Japan, Australia, and South Africa. It is evident that the global market was important to the two arch rivals. In this edition, we look at the 1995 Isuzu KB 2.8L diesel pitted against the Mitsubishi L200 2.8L diesel, from the third and second generation, respectively, and available on the used car market.
The L200’s 2.8litre diesel engine has more acceleration and pulling power compared to the KB’s 2.8litre diesel engine. Although they are both four cylinder naturally aspirated diesel engines (have no turbo chargers) the L200 engine has 64 cc more than the KB.
This difference in engine cubic capacity (cc) accounts for the L200’s greater pulling power and torque at higher revolutions. L200 gets a performance advantage over the more sluggish KB when it comes to towing or carrying heavy loads on hilly upcountry places like Bundibugyo or Kabale.
However, the KB’s low-end engine revolutions make it more economical on fuel consumption, which will appeal to the buyers who usually transport their farm produce over long distances. However, the primary need for a good pickup is the ability to haul a sizeable amount of cargo in the fastest possible time over multiple or varying terrain. This is where the L200 has the cutting edge.
Handling and loading
Both have similar suspension systems, which make them robust and fit for handling in-field or off road conditions. The L200 and KB have independent front suspension systems. This kind of suspension isolates each wheel from the impact and stress undertaken by the opposite wheel when it hits a bump or falls in a ditch. This allows the driver and passengers to enjoy better ride comfort, traction, safety and stability compared to the solid axle front suspension systems in earlier models.
The rear axles on both have leaf spring suspension where a series of arc shaped plates with different lengths are fastened together and calibrated to carry the intended cargo or load weight. The leaf-sprung rear suspension is ideal for carrying heavy loads. It also acts as an anti roll bar system, hence enhancing stability and safety of the occupants in extreme off road conditions .
This makes both attractive to farmers, engineers or construction firms, which operate in remote field conditions with poor access roads where two-wheel drive pickups can dare to reach. However, for the extreme off-road tracks and bad slippery roads, such as Kibaale or Kumi during rainy seasons, the four-wheel drive option is required. Thanks to Isuzu and Mitsubishi that feature is available on both pickups. The L200 and KB have a clear tie in this segment.
Comfort, reliability, maintenance and resale value
The primary purpose of both is utility service therefore the comfort features are limited. You will be lucky to find a used model on the market with fabric seats, power windows or air conditioning.
However, you will get power steering in all four wheel drive models, both single or double cab. They are generally robust vehicles that will bring you back home whatever the weather condition due to their resilient engines mounted on a ladder frame chassis system. There is a ‘catch’ to it though, you have to maintain them well.
Maintenance is relatively easier for the Mitsubishi engine and suspension parts that have several private dealers in town.
Isuzu has a fewer private parts dealers, apart from the main dealer.
The authorised dealers may stock some of the fast moving items as these are models they sold a long time ago and rarely return to them for service, body and suspension parts are harder to find.
But given the reputation of these work horses, it is worth the effort. The L200 has a better resale value because of the parts situation. Here the L200 has an edge over the KB.
Both score two star points each for very good handling on-and off-road as well as reliability due to their robust construction and durability. Mitsubishi gets three more star points for a better engine performance, easier maintenance in Uganda, and better resale value.