I like a pick-up truck. I like the utility of them, which is of course, the point. There’s a real usable versatility to them which suits for work, rest and play. Nowadays these behemoths of the byways are nowhere near as agricultural as they used to be, allowing now for more creature comforts. That doesn’t mean they have lost that ruggedness of old, it’s just a better overall package; not unlike the Isuzu D-Max featured here in Utah trim.
Rugged Pick-up Looks
The Isuzu 4x4s and pick-up range do not do flash. Instead they have had an understated but purposeful appeal. The sheer size gives them a strong road presence with a mix of car-like detailing and rugged styling as seen in my pics.
On the current model D-Max the key design changes include a new front bumper, bonnet, grille, headlights with LED daytime running lights.
The front of the Isuzu D-Max pick-up has a wedge-shape which delivers a more aerodynamic silhouette and the roof has been designed to reduce drag by directing airflow over the tailgate. This improves fuel economy, performance and level of cabin noise, say the company. We saw a commendable consumption average of 34mpg in mixed driving. Not bad for a big ‘un.
Muscular front wings which flare at the wheel arches, give the D-Max an imposing front view. The upgrade to LED daytime running lights ensures high-level response and better light distribution for improved visibility. At the rear, the tailgate has been reshaped with a spoiler design moulded into the top section and features a newly designed handle. Our test vehicle came with a lockable roll top on the commodious flatbed for extra security.
The Utility D-Max is equipped with either 15” steel wheels (4×2 single cab) or 16-inch steel wheels (4×4 single, extended and double cab). If you plan on working this vehicle commercially, then these are the wheels of choice.
In the premium range, the Eiger rides on 16” alloys, the Yukon and Utah (featured here) models are fitted with 18” alloys and the Blade flagship has sexy 18” Shadow grey alloys. A full size spare wheel (hooray! Give thanks to Isuzu!) is now standard on all versions, previously optional on Double Cab models.
Sitting Pick-up Pretty
Well, if not pretty exactly, at least comfortably. Certainly, the interior is rather uninspiring but I guess that’s the price buyers pay for the utilitarian aspect. Better that, in my opinion, than a load of superfluous bells and whistles. On the plus side the cab has great all-round visibility. Trim levels start at Utility followed by Eiger, Yukon, Utah with Blade topping the bill.
The version tested here is Utah which offers a leather upgrade over the woven seat fabric in lower-specced models. Keyless entry and push-start ignition is available for the first time. The range-topping Blade comes equipped with an upgraded premium leather trim with orange Blade design.
All models are fitted with new audio systems. Bluetooth Connectivity is standard on all versions whilst Yukon and Utah models are fitted with a 7-inch multi-function touchscreen audio system. Blade models are equipped with a 9-inch multi-function touchscreen system (see image below). Utah and Blade models feature DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite navigation as standard plus USB.
NOTE: There’s the full Utah spec for the tested model below whilst the images show the pick-up in Blade format with the superior interior. Worth the extra I’d say.
Do not expect sprightly performance. It isn’t that sort of car, thank you very much. It won’t be seen dashing around. However, the days of wandering steering on these big pick-up trucks are gone. The Isuzu D-Max commendably minimises body roll, the steering is accurate and rather crucially I feel in an off-road environment, provides plenty of feedback.
There is now a new, fuel-efficient 1.9L four-cylinder diesel engine. The 1.9DDi Blue Power will produce 161bhp with torque at a strong 360Nm. So not much in the way of speed then but, we learn, by downsizing and increasing the performance of the exhaust gas recirculation system, Isuzu has managed to achieve the Euro-6 emission rating without the need of AdBlue.
As ever you can get the Isuzu D-Max with a six-speed manual transmission, although there is the option of a newly-developed six-speed automatic as fitted to our example. It’s okay actually, smooth if slightly hesitant at times with low-range and a manual option via sequential shift. In fact the car was perfectly competent left to its own devices.
This is a busy old sector with more and more pick-up trucks in various guises becoming available as will become apparent here over the coming weeks. They have of course always been popular as working tools but they have also in recent years attracted an increasing interest from people who like the utility as family or sporting vehicles. The Isuzu D-Max double-cab offers a payload and towing capacity which is apparently best-in-class for this sector which is in its favour. Other contenders are maybe better looking but as ever its in the eye of the beholder.
What you can be sure of is that Isuzu have this type of working vehicle nailed and users can be sure of strength and durability above all. I enjoyed my week with it and although I didn’t throw too much difficulty at it, the pick-up did my bidding on and off-road with aplomb. Geoff Maxted