First up were multiple runs to the recycling centre to dispose of our, and our neighbours’, Christmas trees along with the bin bags full of wrapping paper and toy boxes associated with a family Christmas. Big Truck (I tried to christen it Conan but 1980s Arnold Schwarzenegger references are apparently wasted on the under-fives) unsurprisingly took this in its stride.
In fact, ever since I took the keys to the truck I’ve been very popular with friends and family with anything slightly bulky to move. Most recently it’s helped lug a decade’s worth of accumulated junk from a relative’s flat and, again, swallowed bag after bag of rubbish, two broken tellies and an assortment of other detritus with ease. The only real problem is that the roller cover eats quite deeply into the load bed, detracting from the L200’s carrying capacity.
Of course, it’s not all been runs to the tip. There have been the usual family demands of the nursery run and getting to and from various children’s groups and, despite its looks, the Barbarian has coped well with its family runaround role. There’s plenty of room for all four of us, space for school bags etc in the footwells and the kids love the view offered by the raised ride height.
There are only two obvious drawbacks to using it for this sort of thing. First off is its size - finding a space on the street big enough for it can be a challenge, although the reversing camera makes it a cinch to get into a space once you’ve found it. Supermarket car parks are a struggle too, with one end or other always hanging out beyond the bay, and parking it at the airport is a fraught affair.
The second issue is economy. The Barbarian is the top-end “lifestyle” model in the L200 range and, as such, is aimed at the sort of people who want it to act as a family vehicle during the week before hauling them and their outdoors gear into the wild countryside at the weekend. On long runs the mpg figures are acceptable but doing the short, mostly urban “school day” trips I’ve been seeing mid-20s mpg. Even with the price of diesel as low as it is, it’s an expensive beast to use in this way.
Our economy figures also haven’t been helped by spending large chunks of time with the truck in four-wheel-drive mode. The seemingly ceaseless rain, floods and occasional bursts of snow might be costing me money but they are allowing the L200 to show its surefootedness on dodgy surfaces. Despite terrible weather and equally terrible roads it has soldiered on and always felt secure on the road.
All in all, the L200 has, so far, served me well both as an easy-to-live-with daily driver and as a utilitarian vehicle. There are a few minor niggles but I’ll expand on them next month along with hopefully getting a bit more “lifestyle” with it.