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Pick-up appeal taken to D-Max with smart Isuzu

16:51 19 December 2014

Pulling power  - Isuzu

Pulling power - Isuzu's D-Max pick-up is really rather civilised to drive and the premium models make practical transporot for families with active lifestyles.

Isuzu/Andy russell

Isuzu’s D-Max takes the humble pick-up to a new level of premium, practical all-round attraction, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

If you’re looking for a workhorse with a wow factor then modern pick-ups have loads going for them.

When I was growing up, people I knew who drove pick-ups needed them for their business and there is still a perception that pick-ups are rather utilitarian and spartan when it comes to creature comforts.

But, nowadays, pick-ups are also seen as lifestyle vehicles for people who want to mix business with pleasure or active families who like the great outdoors and need to be able to tow and carry equipment for their past-times.

The result is that many manufacturers are creating dedicated models to cater for all needs and markets.

Isuzu D-Max

■ Price: Isuzu D-Max Yukon double cab, £20,249 excluding VAT, £24,242 with VAT (automatic £21,249 – £25,442 with VAT). D-Max range, (excluding VAT, £14,749 to £24,995.

■ Engine: 2,499cc, 163PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel

■ Top speed 112mph

■ MPG: Urban 31.7; extra urban 43.5; combined 38.2 (automatic 28, 38.7, 33.6)

■ CO2 emissions: 194g/km (automatic 220g/km)

■ Insurance group: 10A (out of 50)

■ Warranty: Five years or 125,000 miles

■ Will it fit in the garage? Length 5,295mm; width (excluding door mirrors) 1,865mm; height 1,785mm

Take Isuzu, which has built its success and reputation on commercial vehicles, which has split its D-Max line-up of single, extended and double-cab models into two specific ranges – utility and premium.

With five-seater double cabs to the fore, the premium models are badged Eiger, Yukon and Utah. If that conjures up images of mountainous challenges and a sense of adventure, then that is what the D-Max is all about – at well over five metres long this go-anywhere pick-up is a monster of a motor.

The Yukon double cab is the big seller and really looks the business with its 17in alloy wheels – particularly smart when finished in black – and chrome grille, back bumper and side steps.

It’s not just about looks though. Climbing up into driving seat of the high-rise cab of this imposing pick-up is daunting at first but the D-Max is actually very easy and surprisingly accomplished to drive.

Under the bonnet is a 163PS 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine which produces a lusty 400 Newton metres of torque between 1,400 and 2,000rpm and gives it plenty of low-down pull, both on and off road, so it picks up well for something weighing the best part of two tonnes.

It also means you don’t need to work the engine hard to make good progress and that helps real-world economy. With longer runs, I was regularly getting mid thirties to the gallon in the five-speed automatic version and the six-speed manual is even better. On one gentle economy run I managed 45mpg with a very light foot.

And with the automatic pulling 2,000rpm at an indicated 70mph it can cruise comfortably.

Given the heavy-duty suspension and big tyres, the ride is pretty settled – it’s a little sensitive travelling slowly over poor surfaces but smooths out with speed. It corners competently with decent steering response – unlike a lot of pick-ups which change direction like a boat as you turn the wheel and wait for it to react.

Normal driving sees the D-Max in two-wheel drive mode but you can simply and quickly select four-wheel drive high and low ratios via a controller between the front seats to make the most of its off-road ability – particularly useful if you need to haul boats out of water.

The interior is well trimmed and finished in durable materials and the spacious cabin has enough height, width and legroom to seat five adults comfortably.

The D–Max has a payload of more than a tonne and a vast cargo bay, more than 1.5m long and wide and nearly half a metre deep, which can be covered with a lockable roller load cover or a hard-top canopy for added protection and security.

All D-Max models comes with stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, six airbags, electric windows, air-conditioning and radio/CD while premium models add more and more creature comforts depending on model to give them an increasingly upmarket feel.

The Isuzu D-Max is a real pick-up rather than a put-down when it comes to all-round appeal.

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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