Isuzu D-Max road test review – With sharper looks, more kit and competitive pricing, DAVID HOOPER says the new Isuzu D-Max pick-up is a strong proposition
THE Isuzu D-Max Pick-Up is a familiar workhorse in the pick-up market and a common sight on our roads and building sites. This latest model features updated, sharper looks, but underneath it is still a tough and reliable workmate which can double as a family car.
The interior is a bit of a throwback – not many new cars today come with a CD player and a push button radio as the D-Max does, but with a nod to modernity, it does include a DAB radio and Bluetooth so you can connect your phone to the car, but if you’re wanting a swanky touchscreen, you need to go to the top of the range V-Cross model.
This is no bad thing though, the D-Max doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t, it is what it always has been, a reliable, practical, tough truck which can take five people and all their gear to the job, wherever that may be, and thanks to its proper four-wheel-drive system with high and low range gearbox, get them back again, over just about any terrain. There is a choice of six-speed manual or auto gearboxes, and it can tow up to 3,500kg.
There’s a huge load area at the back with a drop-down tailgate which can accommodate lots of weighty gear, building materials or soil in the back, and in the case of our test car, it was lined with a hard-wearing black plastic to protect the metal skin underneath.
The D-Max is easy to drive, once you’ve clambered into the high driving seat, shorter people may need a step ladder, or a leg up, to make it onto the seats! The engine is as reliable as they come, although a little agricultural when compared to the best modern diesels, but there is something endearing about the D-Max – it has a character all of its own.
First gear is so low it just about gets the car moving before you need a quick change to second, but once on the move, the remaining four gears propel it along at a decent pace when required, and it will cruise happily at motorway speeds.
The steering is also low geared, but that means it can be turned easily, and for such a long vehicle, the turning circle is good, so tight spots are not a problem for manoeuvring.
The ride can be quite bouncy, especially without any weight in the back, but you have to remember this truck is designed to carry stuff, so you can forgive it that.
There are plenty of modern safety systems on the car too, with things like lane keeping assist, automatic braking if the car thinks you’re about to crash complete with flashing red lights which made me jump once or twice when it went off in a traffic jam when I was paying full attention to what I was doing! It also has reverse parking sensors, even though you can clearly see the rear corners of the loading area, and big mirrors.
The four-wheel-drive system is controlled by a series of buttons and dials on the centre console, giving you a choice of high and low range gears and “switch on the fly” ability, diff locks and hill descent systems, so venturing off road is a synch.
Inside, there are large door pockets for carrying flasks, a compartment on top of the dash for holding your phones, and two gloveboxes in front of the passenger for your order books and delivery slips.
If you’re looking for a reliable workmate, the Isuzu D-Max comes with proven credentials. Prices for the range start from around £25,000,
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Isuzu D-Max Pick-Up
ENGINE: 1.9-litre, 164bhp four-cylinder diesel engine, driving four wheels through 6-speed gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 112 mph. 0-62mph in 12.7 secs.
ECONOMY: Combined: 33.6mpg.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 241g/km.
PRICE: £24,863 to £38,963
WARRANTY: Five year/125,000 miles
• All data correct at time of publication.