Isuzu D-Max Review
By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist
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If you’re after a bullet-proof workhorse with a bit of bling then the Isuzu D-Max could be your answer.
The 4×4 pick-up is available with a car-like four-up cab, meaning you can actually use the vehicle as a tool as well as a family motor.
I had the Utah Double Cab Vision automatic – the flagship model with more than respectable standard equipment. This includes air conditioning, daytime running lights, electric windows, a sat-nav and front, side and curtain airbags.
The diesel-powered D-Max is propelled by a somewhat agricultural sounding 2.5-litre twin-turbo lump, and comes with a five-speed automatic transmission. I suspect changing gears manually would be akin to stirring cement, so the auto box is a necessity in my opinion.
You sit up high behind the steering wheel, so visibility is good, and the seats are comfortable. The vehicle is bouncy over rough surfaces, and it can run wide out of corners, but the Isuzu never causes you to lack confidence in its road-holding abilities.
The steering and brakes are excellent; nevertheless you are always aware of the size of the D-Max. It’s long, so parallel parking can be an issue in town. But, let’s face it, this isn’t exactly a city car – the Isuzu’s main talent is to help tough guys carry out tough jobs in more open environments. Yes, it’ll double up as people transport when it’s off-duty, but tackling muck, grass, sand, snow and everything in between is what the D-Max is best at.
Indeed, the highly-acclaimed Isuzu D-Max has collected many awards for its abilities. The latest accolade came from Trade Van Driver magazine, where it was crowned ‘Best 4×4 Trade Pick-Up’ at the publication’s third annual awards. This is the second accolade that the pick-up has collected in as many months, following the VansA2Z.com ‘Pick-Up of the Year’ title that the D-Max collected for a second consecutive year.
The expert judging panel concluded that the D-Max is unmatched in meeting the needs of the professional user. Matthew Eisenegger, Editor at Trade Van Driver, commented: “Its solid, no-nonsense approach, we feel, just can’t be beaten for those who need a real tough workhorse.”
The mighty motor has a ‘shift-on-the-fly’ system, allowing you to adjust between two and four-wheel drive modes while travelling at speeds of up to 60 mph. That’s impressive, not to mention convenient, but its ace card is its load-lugging talent.
The towing capacity of the D-Max has been increased by 500 kg – adding to its already colossal three tonne pulling power. The enhancement, which only came into effect in July 2013, has come as a response to customer feedback and to please those who were demanding extra capacity. So now, all 4×4 models of the Isuzu D-Max will be able to haul a maximum braked load of 3.5 tonnes – that’s enough strength to pull a house out of the ground. Well, almost.
Isuzu hasn’t just concentrated on brute force and practicality though. The D-Max has been awarded a four-star safety rating by independent vehicle assessment organisation, Euro NCAP. The results of the recently-introduced, tougher test, mark the pick-up as one of the safest motors in its segment.
The D-Max is proving to be tremendously popular with UK buyers. In fact, Isuzu posted record single-month sales in March 2014, delivering 950 new vehicles to British customers, representing a 15.3 per cent increase on the same month last year. A total of 1,322 D-Max pick-ups were sold in the first quarter of 2014.
It already boasts class-leading fuel efficiency, residual values and a pioneering five-year / 125,000-mile warranty. And now with the boost to its towing capacity I wouldn’t be surprised if the Isuzu D-Max becomes the pick-up of choice for business and recreational users alike.
PROS ‘N’ CONS
• Strong √
• Safe √
• Practical √
• Noisy engine X
• Runs wide on corners X
• Max speed: 112 mph
• 0-62 mph: 16.0 secs
• Combined mpg: 33.6 (unladen)
• Engine: 2,499 cc 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo diesel
• Max. power (bhp): 161 at 3600 rpm
• Max. torque (lb/ft): 295 at 1400-2000 rpm
• Max. towing weight (braked) 3500 kg
• CO2: 220 g/km
• Price: £21,974 (Exc. VAT)