ISUZU'S D-MAX HAS THE FORCE WITH IT
WITH the D-Max, Isuzu has become a credible force to be reckoned with in the growing UK pick-up sector.
An efficient 2.5-litre turbo diesel can haul and tow hefty loads through the wildest terrain you're likely to come across and there are three bodystyles to suit a wide range of buyers. Smart, tough and affordable, it looks set to do very well.
Pulling power is the first thing you notice about this D-Max once out on the road. Though there's only a single, four cylinder, 2.5-litre engine choice now on offer, it's exactly the kind of powerplant you'd want in a vehicle of this kind, with 163ps on tap and, more importantly, 400Nm of torque from just 1,400rpm, the kind of grunt that makes low speed urban work easy and tough muddy inclines straightforward.
It's also a major reason why this vehicle can tow a braked trailer of up to 3.0-tonnes – not quite as much as a comparable Ford Ranger but usefully more than an equivalent Hilux or Mitsubishi L200.
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For wet or icy tarmac or light off piste work, you can take the opportunity, at up to 60mph, to twist the centre console dial and select high range all-wheel drive. It takes a second or so for the front wheels to engage but when they do, the D-Max feels notably more sure-footed on the slippery stuff.
Of course, once in a while, you'll need to do more, occasions on which you'll be further twisting this dial to engage the full low-range four-wheel drive mode, something that can only happen when the vehicle Is stopped.
In this mode, you really do get an incredibly accomplished off roader, aided by a well chosen first gear ratio that's an ideal "crawler gear" over rough terrain on which you'll appreciate ground clearance that at 235mm is much higher than you get with most other rival pick-ups.
Climb inside – easier than you might expect thanks to wide-opening doors – and you're greeted by an interior that's hard-wearing and cleanly styled.
One nice touch is the way that 60/40 split-folding rear seats enable you to more flexibly use this rear passenger space for packages. Additional storage compartments in the floor under the rear-seat base are also useful for keeping things out of harm's way.
At around 5.3m long, this is certainly a pretty large vehicle, so you won't be surprised to flip down the sturdy drop-down tailgate and you'll find a space 1,485mm long, 1,530mm wide and 465mm in depth – easily big enough for a euro pallet which can slide in the 1,110mm-wide space between the wheel arches.
If you thought Isuzu pick-ups were a bit rough and ready, it's about time you gave the D-Max a try. Once this brand was really one reserved for the requirements of pure commercial operators.
These days though, it'll also suit private buyers looking for an all-terrain utility vehicle that can play the lifestyle card.