Powerful boost for rugged Isuzu D-Max pick-up
Isuzu’s D-Max has always been a seriously capable pick-up but now a new smaller, more efficient engine powers up its appeal, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
If you’re in the market for a robust, rugged pick-up to mix business with pleasure, it’s hard to ignore Isuzu’s D-Max.
With its roots in the commercial vehicle sector, in which Isuzu built its revered reputation, the D-Max has branched into the lucrative lifestyle market and looking to increase its presence with the new-generation model.
Look and image
A subtle facelift sees it get a new front bumper, bonnet, grille and headlights with LED daytime running lights.
The D-Max is an imposing pick-up – it’s well over five metres long – but also one of the more stylish.
Under the bonnet
The biggest change is a new 1.9-litre turbo diesel replacing the 2.5-litre unit. Producing 164PS and 360 Newton metres of torque between 2,000 and 2,500rpm, it retains a 3.5-tonne towing capacity and can carry more than a tonne.
It’s up to 7.7% more fuel efficient in 4x4 models while cutting CO2 emissions by up to 6.8% – meeting Euro 6 standards without AdBlue.
The new engine is quite raucous under hard acceleration – very noticeable with the new six-speed automatic transmission which adapts shifts to driving style – but, once cruising, rumbles away quietly. Overall it returned 30mpg with a best of 36mpg on a gentle run.
How it drives
The ride is jiggly without a load on board, an issue for pick-ups with heavy-duty suspension. But that suspension, along with shift-on-the-fly 4x4 with a rotary dial to select four-wheel drive on the move and low-range gears when stationary, helps make it so capable off-road. You get used to the sensitive ride but are always aware of what is going on under those big, chunky tyres.
The steering is slow and lifeless and, in rear-wheel-drive guise, the back end can be a little skittish in the wet with a heavy foot and a light load deck but, as pick-ups go, it drives well, even on twisty country roads where its size is the biggest challenge.
Space and comfort
The entry Utility model is available as single, extended and double cab versions with double cabs the default for Eiger, Yukon, Utah and range-topping Blade, although Yukon is also offered as an extended cab.
In the double cab, front seats occupants have loads of space but, while legroom is adequate and headroom plentiful in the back, the rear seat backs are very upright. For added practicality, the 60/40 split seat cushions flip upright to stow tall items and the one-piece back rest folds flat.
Hard plastics abound in the cabin but they’re robust and easy to clean.
A large load bay, with a tailgate that drops flat to aid loading, swallows bulky items and my Blade test car was fitted with a sports bar and lockable roller cover – or you can have a colour-coded canopy.
At the wheel
Large instruments, controls you can operate in work gloves and range-topping Blade’s nine-inch multi-function colour touchscreen are all very user-friendly. A large glovebox, separate compartment above it in fascia, lidded locker between the seats, drinks-holders and doorbins give plenty of storage.
Gloss black trim, silver plastic highlights and orange stitching on the padded door armrests, upholstery and seat logos on the Blade’s leather seats make it feel less workhorse-like.
And thank goodness for rear parking sensors, camera and large door mirrors because there’s a lot of D-Max behind you when reversing.
All models include hill-start assist, hill-descent control, Bluetooth, power windows and air-con while Eiger gains reversing camera, 16in alloys wheels, body-colour bumpers and six-speaker CD audio system.
Mid-spec Yukon gets 18in alloys, side steps, seven-inch touchscreen, cruise control and rear load liner.
Utah adds keyless entry and ignition, sat-nav, DAB radio, roof bars, leather seats, heated front seats, rear parking sensors and auto air-con.
Blade adds tinted windows, nine-inch touchscreen, remote locking lower tailgate, Blade puddle lamps, front parking sensors and load cover.
The Isuzu D-Max’s rugged reputation has made it a serious pick-up contender, now the efficient new engine powers up its appeal.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Isuzu D-Max Blade 4x4 Double Cab auto £33,541 (CV price £27,999). Range from £18,841 (CV £15,749)
Engine: 1,898cc, 164PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel
Performance: top speed 112mph
MPG: Urban 30.4; extra urban 40.9; combined 36.2 (manual 37.2, 42.8, 40.4)
CO2 emissions: 205g/km (manual 183g/km)
Insurance group: 40A (out of 50)
Warranty: Five years or 125,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 5,295mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,860mm; H 1,795mm