Pick-ups, like the Isuzu D-Max Blade, are very versatile vehicles but we must not forget that they are working trucks designed to withstand a hard life shifting stuff and generally getting bashed about. In recent times however the pick-up has begun to assume some pretensions – getting above its station, as it were. Like a scheming working-class suitor at the door of royalty, this humble truck has donned a sharp suit and is trying to attract the attention of the princess.
The idea of a pick-up as family vehicle isn’t quite as daft as it seems. Certainly they mostly retain as rear suspension modern versions of the leaf springs of old and, yes, they continue to betray their agricultural origins in small ways but there’s no getting away from the fact that they are really useful motors and kids absolutely love their rugged, go anywhere personality.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of the company of a range-topping Isuzu D-Max Blade and enjoyed the experience hugely. Why, I even parked it in the car park at my local Waitrose and nobody complained – surely an indication of social standing?
The first thing to notice is that the five-seat crew cab version is big; Benny Hill BIG. Inside, the furnishings are not agricultural at all. The Isuzu D-Max Blade is embellished with bespoke side-sill scuff plates, heated leather seats and carpet mats featuring ‘Blade’ graphics which in turn match the piano black interior highlights to give passengers a proper car-like ambience.
Kit includes a decent audio for playing ‘open range’ style tunes with a 6.1″ touchscreen / navigation system. In terms of today’s big-screen Cinemascope offerings it is on the small side but it all works well enough. These Fancy-Dan ‘doodads’ don’t bother me. In fact, the interior is pretty austere it has to be said which is indicative of the vehicle’s roots. All the basics are there though as are the expected safety features.
There’s even an integrated rear safety camera which, combined with the big door mirrors, makes reversing and parking a doddle. Also included are Bluetooth, AUX, CD, steering wheel controls, lots of cubby space and the like, just as your regular car in fact.
The Power To Serve
The Blade is powered by a 2.5L twin-turbo diesel engine common to the range. Producing 161bhp and with torque at 295 lb/ft, it’s not especially quick but it is full of purpose. It does however feel quite lively on the road, making driving more enjoyable. There’s plenty of power on the go for overtaking too so there’s no need to keep this commercial in the slow lane. It is quite a heavy steer for these excessively power-assisted days, but it is to be expected, I guess.
The Isuzu D-Max Blade combines what the company say is a class-leading towing capacity of 3.5-tonnes (braked), while also returning an official fuel economy of 38.7 mpg. We saw a figure closer to 34mpg but that’s still pretty good for a big’un.
On the road, the Isuzu is gruff on start-up but noise is reasonably well controlled once underway; just don’t expect limousine-like hush. Not for the first time I noticed that when well up to speed the pick-up became more settled and comfortable. Two-wheel drive is the standard set-up but when the going gets tough there’s a big, handy switch to select 4WD on the fly with an added low-range selection when the going gets sticky.
For shifting gears buyers have a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed auto. I’m not sure why, unless you were planning never to leave the tarmac, you would choose the auto ‘box although it works well enough. If you don’t need the security of a truck top canopy you can select a roller cover with rear style bar. The good news is that these are no-cost options, although we were unable by any means, short of breaking it, to get the roller cover to open so I can’t tell or show you what the flatbed looks like uncovered.
Trendy Truck Treats
Pick-up trucks like the Isuzu D-Max Blade are a fast-growing trend in the ‘leisure’ car market these days. This is borne out by the ever increasing choice available from several manufacturers with more joining the club in 2017, including vehicles from Fiat, Renault and Mercedes.
This type of vehicle has appeal. It will basically go anywhere in any weather and carry anything; it is robust enough to be child-proof yet offers almost but not quite car-like passenger attributes. The Isuzu D-Max Blade is definitely a car for work, rest and play. The opposition has some fine offerings too but this model is certainly one for the short list. Geoff Maxted