Review: Far from a Hilux rival, there is one thing that the 2023 Peugeot Landtrek can win over
CY Foong · May 12, 2023 04:00 PM
Car brands have a certain tag or association surrounding them so if said brand decides to enter a segment that it had no experience in, it can be difficult to win over potential buyers. Proton tried to enter the pick-up market with the Arena but it turned out to be a slow seller and so did Mercedes-Benz when it introduced the X-Class.
The X-Class itself wasn’t a pure Mercedes-Benz as underneath the three-pointed star grille is a Nissan Navara. There have been multiple rebadges of pick-up trucks all these years so the 2023 Peugeot Landtrek is already an oddball right from the get-go.
Just like the X-Class, the Landtrek isn’t fully developed by the French Lion, nor does it have French DNA. Rather, it is based on the Kaicene F70/Changan Hunter, a truck that originates from China and the sole variant in Malaysia, the Landtrek 1.9D Allure is also fully imported (CBU) from the Middle Kingdom.
Priced from RM 120,072, the Landtrek is not exactly the most affordable truck in Malaysia but it has a few rivals in its price range. In fact, based on the engine size, the Landtrek’s direct rivals would be the Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Premium which starts from RM 129,149 or the Mazda BT-50 1.9 High which starts from RM 124,179.
So, how convincing is the Landtrek among its more established rivals? Well, we spent a week with the Peugeot truck and honestly, the scepticism you normally get from most Chinese trucks begins to wear off very quickly.
Exterior – Roaring to go
Peugeot isn’t known for its pick-up trucks though it has produced a few in its history. Models like the Peugeot 504 Pick Up which once dominated Africa and the 206-based Peugeot Hoggar for the Latin American market were essentially reworked versions of existing passenger cars with a rear bed.
Mind you, the Landtrek isn’t even Peugeot’s first ladder-frame pick-up truck. That honour goes to the Peugeot Pick Up which was also Chinese in origin. It was a rebadged Dongfeng Rich which was itself based on the D22 Nissan Frontier.
Unlike the simple-named Pick Up, the Landtrek at least appears a little bit more Peugeot than just being a literal rebadge. The most prominent is the front with a handsome Peugeot grille where the Kaicene logo would be placed. Combined with the LED DRLs that resemble a lion’s claw and you can see the family resemblance with Peugeot’s other SUVs.
It’s a distinctive and aggressive look so that’s already a plus for a pick-up truck given its wide girth and tall height. The lone variant is also equipped with Peugeot’s signature two-tone 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels to further give off that French Lion premiumness.
Still, those are the only elements of Peugeot on the exterior as everything else is largely carried over unchanged from its Chinese donor. The rear has the Peugeot badge on the tailgate but interestingly, the plastic bed liner still reveals its Chinese origins with “KAICENE” being written loud and proud.
Interior – Clawing in some atas-ness
The last time I was in a Chinese truck, it was the JMC Vigus Pro and I remarked at how similar some of the interior design elements are to a Peugeot model. It has a twin-spoke steering wheel and the gear stick design reminded me of the French carmaker.
Here we are 3 years later and Peugeot’s very own pick-up truck makes its way into Malaysia. The interior retains some of the hallmarks associated with the French Lion including the two-spoke steering wheel and the piano key style toggle switches but everything else doesn’t feel like a usual Peugeot from the switchgear to the fonts being used on the instrument display.
Things are actually much better inside when you view the Landtrek as just a pick-up truck regardless of origin. The leather seats feel plush and with a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, finding a comfortable driving position is easy.
That being said, for a Peugeot, it still feels very utilitarian inside. The hard plastic might be okay for a regular truck used to haul construction equipment or drive around a plantation but this does feel a bit off considering how Malaysians see the French brand.
The fit and finish on the dashboard is decent, probably the best out of all the trucks that come from China but it’s still not as nice as a D-Max or a Hilux. The essential buttons like the air-cond knobs and switches are easy to reach and the 10-inch touchscreen display is quite clear and smooth.
The touchscreen also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so it is accomplished for a modern urban truck. The Landtrek also has a 360-degree camera with a panoramic view which comes in really handy when driving through tight spaces or when parking but this is still a wide pick-up truck so manoeuvrability takes a lot of getting used to if you’re not accustomed to large vehicles.
Though the Landtrek is tall like its contemporary peers, it’s fairly easy to get into the truck as there are seven grab handles all around. Even those with smaller statures can get into the truck with ease.
Rear cabin space is reasonable for a truck. It has decent legroom and headroom and there are a couple of rear air-cond vents and a USB charging port at the bottom so it’s not exactly bare for rear passengers.
Driving performance – Growls responsively
Overseas, the Landtrek is offered with a 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine, a 2.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit, or a 2.5-litre turbodiesel. Malaysia only gets the 1.9-litre turbodiesel that makes 150 PS and 350 Nm which is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Interestingly enough, the 1.9-litre unit in the Peugeot shares the same power output as the unit on its closest Japanese rival though the unit in the Chinese-French truck has a slightly larger capacity at 1,910 cc (the Japanese unit is 1,898 cc).
Though the engine is not as large as some of its rivals, it does feel responsive. We did a 0-100 km/h run and the Landtrek completed the sprint in around 14 seconds but don’t let those numbers fool you into thinking this isn’t quick.
For daily driving especially when accelerating between 60-90 km/h, the truck responds well. On highways, the Landtrek can cruise at ease though issues about the engine’s size in comparison to the truck’s overall weight can be felt especially in crawling traffic or when going uphill.
Meanwhile, the 6-speed automatic tends to hang on to the lower gears longer than it’s supposed to. The transmission would sometimes refuse to upshift when needed but switching to Eco mode helps with proper gear distribution, especially in crawling traffic.
Ride and handling – Not quite the modern lion
Despite the premium feeling interior, the Landtrek’s ride feels a generation behind compared to the competition. The ride is wallowy which is normal on a pick-up truck given its ladder-frame chassis and leaf spring suspension set-up but then it doesn’t soak up the bumps as well as modern trucks.
“Modern” is the key word here as the Landtrek, like many of its Chinese peers still rides like the previous generation D-Max with its agricultural feel. The ride feels a tad too jumpy and bouncy, a less pronounced trait in most modern trucks.
Then there’s also the scuttles which are felt throughout the cabin. In many modern pick-ups, you can still feel these scuttles – again, unavoidable given what it’s built on – but for most of them, the scuttles are usually felt towards the rear giving the cabin minimum vibrations. The vibrations in the Landtrek however, are more pronounced throughout the cabin which can be a bit uncomfortable for Peugeot's local clientale.
The steering is light which makes turning the truck easy though it has a high steering ratio. In simple terms, you would need to make a lot more effort to turn the steering wheel when making a U-turn for example.
Besides, the steering wheel also has a more apparent jittery feel compared to most modern pick-up trucks. The vibrations are very pronounced when going over bumps which is something that is not so apparent in modern trucks.
Peugeot Landtrek sound test
Noise level (dB)
0 km/h (Idle)
We took out our trusty decibel reader and it recorded 69 dB when cruising at 110 km/h. That might sound like a reasonable noise level but when getting the Landtrek up to speed, the engine noise enters the cabin but again this is not exactly too intrusive to ruin a conversation or when playing music.
As for fuel consumption, we drove the Landtrek for around 115 km on a mix of highways (60%) and city (40%) driving and the truck returned 12.84 L/100 km. That is a much higher figure than the BT-50 1.9 which we recorded 8.3 L/100 km in our review and in regular driving mode, the transmission tends to hold lower gears longer than necessary.
Practicality and features – Mane-ly good but also lacking
As a pick-up truck proper, the Landtrek is as practical as a lot of its rivals. The bed itself can haul tonnes of gear and there is even a couple of rear spotlights to help when loading things at night. But the rear tailgate is heavy to open like an old-school pick-up as there are no struts for an easy one-handed operation.
The rear seats can be folded down or up to free up some room for more gear in the back if you’re not taking any passengers. There are also a few storage spaces located below the seats but don’t expect to put your valuables underneath as it is surrounded by bare metal. It is a handy place to store your tools though. Adding more to the practicality is a couple of shopping bag/teh tarik hooks behind the front seats.
The Landtrek comes with an easy-to-use knob that switches between 4WD modes but we haven’t tested its off-road capabilities. Suffice it to say, as a pick-up truck, the French Lion is ready and raring to go off-road without a doubt.
The safety features offered are mainly passive like 6 airbags, stability control, hill start assist, and lane departure warning. There is no ADAS or a blind-spot monitor but the left and right cameras are sometimes activated when indicating at low speeds just like a rudimentary Honda LaneWatch camera.
The Peugeot Landtrek isn’t going to be a major threat to the Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi Triton, or the Ford Ranger as these are established players in the Malaysian pick-up market. But cast aside all your doubts for a moment and the Landtrek isn't all that bad.
It is a capable pick-up truck overall even if certain aspects feel a generation behind. As a proper pick-up, the Landtrek works very well and can handle rough terrain but as a truck with a Peugeot badge, it could’ve been much better.
In the end, the Peugeot Landtrek is a left-field choice of a pick-up truck even against the lesser-known competitors. For something from a brand not that known for its trucks, the Landtrek is already quite accomplished and it might be suited for a small niche group of buyers who want a pick-up that’s completely different from the rest.
Plus, unlike the Hilux, no car thief would want to steal a Landtrek so that's a win in security.