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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
@ytimesmotoring
7:24 AM 26th February 2022
cars

D-Max In The Dales – Isuzu’s Top Pickup On Test

There has been a mass exodus from the pickup truck market, a little strange when not so long ago manufacturers were rushing out new offerings, keen to get a slice of the action. So, what has happened?

It seems that contrary to predictions, buyers didn’t flock to trade in their SUVs. Gone is the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, Fiat Fullback, Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara and the Volkswagen Amarok. The latter will return as a joint venture with Ford.

Still on sale are the ever-popular Ford Ranger, tough as old boots Toyota Hilux, SsangYong Musso and the latest Isuzu D-Max, comprehensively updated last year and the subject of this test.

The new truck has much more presence. The new grille is more imposing and together with the newly designed lights, the vehicle takes on a more aggressive appearance. Side steps protect the body and aid access, whilst the new rear bumper also now includes a step for easy load bed access.

There are now three distinct ranges and four trim levels. The ‘Business’ range is clearly aimed at the working owner and can be had in single, extended and double cab variants.

Next up are the ‘All-Purpose’ models which improves the spec considerably and offer an automatic transmission option.

Top of the pile is the ‘Adventure’ range, with styling enhancements clearly aimed at the lifestyle buyer. All bases would therefore seem to be covered – a D-Max to suit all buyers, but will they all be satisfied?

Prices start at £21,009 + VAT and there is a delightful honesty about the D-Max in this basic guise. On test here is the top V-Cross model, from £32,759 + VAT with automatic transmission. Isuzu say they expect this to be the best-selling model.

The kit count is impressive, with all round electric windows, central door locking, air conditioning and cruise control. Leather for the seats, heated up front are really quite comfortable.

Having driven the D-Max with manual gears, being in an automatic reminded me how much better this choice is. The changes are smooth, and if you tackle some serious off-roading, you really don’t want to be bothering with a clutch pedal.

Under the bonnet of all D-Max pickups is the familiar 1.9-litre turbo-diesel engine. Boasting 164PS and 360Nm of torque, it is an effective engine but sadly becomes far too agricultural when extended. It also now needs AdBlue to reduce emissions. It’s fine in a more ‘working’ variant, less so in the top model.

Much work has clearly gone into making the D-Max a more refined offering and this is clear from improvements to the suspension and steering. Shame Isuzu didn’t at least fit more sound deadening to silence the high revs grumblings!

I subjected the D-Max to my usual local off-road routes, and it coped admirably. No surprise there, but I would spec more hardcore tyres if I was going to stray off the beaten track very regularly. The standard fit Dunlop Grandtreks are more biased towards road use.

A rear differential lock is fitted to top models. Hill Descent and Start Assist are however standard on all. A late evening drive home through the Dales saw the D-Max tackle the icy and snow-covered roads with aplomb.

As a workhorse, the D-Max will excel. Able to tow a trailer of up to 3.5 tonnes and with a 1 tonne payload, there is not much the pickup will not be able to do.

Safety improvements are worthy of comment, especially as the new D-Max has been awarded a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. It is the first pickup to achieve this accolade and that should be applauded.

It is also worth mentioning that the D-Max weighs less than 2,040kg. Why is this significant? Well, many double cab trucks exceed this weight and therefore must comply with goods vehicle speed limits, which are 10mph lower on single and dual carriageways.

The D-Max interior is much improved. The quality of the trim materials feels more premium, whilst still retaining their air of robustness. Seats are comfortable, with adjustable lumbar support on all models.

Rear occupants have more space and larger doors for easier access. Up to 10 cupholders a located round the cabin and there’s plenty of additional storage compartments.

The steering wheel now boasts reach and rake adjustment, so finding the ideal driving position is a doddle. The steering is speed sensitive, so light at lower speeds and weighting up nicely when at a steady cruise.

So, to sum up…. New D-Max, unstoppable off-road, capable on it. Well equipped, safe and with a model to suit all, there is much to commend.

Fast Facts

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Double Cab
Prices start at £32,759 + VAT
164PS 1.9-litre diesel engine
360Nm torque
0-62mph in 12.7 seconds
Top speed 112 mph
Combined economy 30.7 to 33.6mpg
Emissions 220 to 241g/km CO2
Towing capacity 3.5 tonnes
1.0 tonne payload
5 year/125,000 miles warranty