The Steed is a budget large pickup built by Chinese car company Great Wall. Though it doesn’t attempt to compete with rivals in the sophistication stakes, what Great Wall hopes that its full-size 4×4 pickup can do is win over buyers with its low prices and relatively long list of standard equipment, with a no-nonsense approach to providing the greatest amount of car for the least amount of money.

Rivals include double cab versions of the value-focused Mitsubishi L200 and the Nissan Navara and Ford Ranger trucks. The Mitsubishi is available for similar prices to the Steed, though the Nissan and Ranger wade in at a significantly higher price for equivalent models.

What is it?

The Steed is a basic, four-wheel drive pickup that feels sturdy and built to last, though it is much less high-tech than most rivals. As a model from an unknown manufacturer, Great Wall is selling it on the strength of its low prices – with the Steed range starting at £17,998 including VAT – and standing at £20,398 for the better-equipped model that we drove.

Just these two versions are available. Both models include 16-inch alloy wheels, a full-size spare wheel, electric door mirrors, air conditioning, selectable two and four-wheel drive, electric front and rear windows, and heated leather seats. Buyers also get Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls and an MP3 connection as standard. Meanwhile, SE models add a body colour hardtop for the load cover.

What is it like to drive?

No pickup offers truly car-like handling, but the Steed is further from the mark than most. On the plus side, the ride is mostly very comfortable, with the suspension doing a good job of isolating you from the road surface. Larger bumps do shudder their way through the chassis, however, with the stiff rear suspension seeing the car bounce down the road over undulating roads.

The steering is also very light and vague, which can be disconcerting for something as big and heavy as the Steed, as it fails to give the driver much idea of how much grip the front tyres have. We also found the steering wheel material very slippery, which only adds to the sense of detachment. Taking corners at anything above moderate speeds is also a leap of faith, with the body rolling around and the steering remaining extremely light.

Traction is poor in two-wheel drive mode too, with the rear wheels spinning on wet surfaces very easily, with no traction control to stop the tyres from slipping. Meanwhile, driving with four-wheel drive engaged can prove problematic, as taking turns on full lock – which is often necessary to manoeuvre this oversized machine – causes the car to slow to a crawl, with the four-wheel drive failing to cope with the wheels turning at different speeds.

Refinement levels are also low. The engine is loud and vibrations make their way through to the cabin. Despite a very tardy nought to 62mph acceleration time of 17.0 seconds, however, the Steed feels much faster in reality and seems like it should be able to cope with a heavy load or two. Even on the motorway, the engine offers adequate punch, with noise levels being surprisingly low when cruising.

What is it like inside?

Despite offering a reasonable amount of equipment, the Steed feels cheap and dated inside, though all the materials do feel hardwearing and built to last.

The dials are simple and easy to read on the move, though the sound system is unnecessarily difficult to use, while the parking sensors in our model beeped furiously when parking, making it tricky to gauge exactly how much space you have – meaning that reversing this oversized vehicle is harder than it should be, especially as it barely fits into typical parking spaces. This is particularly problematic as rear visibility is abysmal – entire cars disappear below the windscreen line.

Is it practical?

As a vehicle designed for lugging heavy loads, the Steed is hugely practical. The plastic-lined load space offers a large volume and features a split tailgate. We found the lower half extremely heavy though, requiring two hands to open and close.

Space in the front is also good, and we found the seats very comfortable, giving you a clear view of the road ahead. Room in the rear is adequate with space for three adults, though those over 6ft tall may struggle for headroom, with the low roofline making getting in and out a little tricky.

Should I buy one?

We found the Steed a likeable machine, though it does feature many flaws compared to rivals from more established brands. Despite offering plenty of space and appearing tough, quality is mediocre and the disconcertingly light steering offers very little confidence around corners.

Though roadholding may not be top of most pickup buyers’ wish lists, the Steed is not quite cheap enough compared to rivals such as the Mitsubishi L200 and Ford Ranger to compensate, as these offer much more modern interiors, stronger economy and performance and greater desirability.

The facts

Great Wall Steed SE

List price: £20,398
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Power: 137bhp
Top speed: 87mph
0-62mph: 17.0 seconds
Fuel economy: 29.1mpg (urban), 35.8mpg (extra-urban) 32.8mpg (combined)
Emissions: 222g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Not yet tested

Pictures: Jonathan Fleetwood