It would seem that 2016 is the Year of the Pick-up — or, to be more precise, 2015 through 2016 to 2017.  This pick-up party all kicked off in the second half of last year with the launch of the new Mitsubishi L200, and this was duly followed by first appearances for a similarly new Nissan Navara and upgraded Ford Ranger. All done? Not a bit of it. In the pipeline we’re still to see a new Toyota Hilux along with vehicles from fresh sector entrants Fiat (L200 based), Renault (Navara based) and Mercedes (Navara based). That’s quite a roll call. So, why this renewed interest from the various brands? Well, if the UK market is anything to go by, it’s mainly down to sales. According to Anthony Jones, Nissan’s UK product manager for Navara, the UK pick-up sector has grown year-on-year for the past four, to the extent that the annual market for pick-ups is predicted to hit some 45,000 units in 2016. “There’s clearly still a market for a combined work and leisure vehicle — something that’s tough enough to cope with a hard working life during the week, yet is comfortable enough for use at the weekend,” says Mr Jones, who adds that demand for the new Navara has been so great that Nissan actually sold its target number of vehicles for the first three months of 2016 before the end of January. The common theme running through this current round of updates is that pick-ups are becoming steadily more upmarket 4×4-like in their levels of interior spec and performance. Taking the Navara — or the NP300 Navara as it’s now known — as an example, it now features Qashqai-style front seats, there’s a change to the rake of the rear seats for extra comfort, and, perhaps most significantly, the traditional leaf-sprung rear axle is ditched in favour of a less jiggly five-link set-up. Add in items such as forward emergency braking, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, around-the-vehicle camera systems, 40mpg+ fuel economy from either a 160PS or 190PS four-cyl engine, 3.5t towing capacity, a five-year/100,000mile warranty and 24mth/18,000-mile servicing … Starting to get the picture?     You might reasonably ask whether pick-up buyers want, or are willing to pay, for these levels of spec and tech. Absolutely, says Mr Jones. “Proving the point, we list the Navara doublecab in five grades of spec, with ex-VAT starting prices of £20,043 (Visia), £20,688 (Accenta), £22,084 (Accenta+), £22,793 (N-Connecta) and £24,293 (Tekna), respectively. Of those five spec grades, 90% of UK sales will be of Accenta+ and higher.” Look out for tests of all the new pick-up players in upcoming issues of profi.