Review: Isuzu D-Max

09 Oct 13 Tim Barnes-Clay

After a tough-as-old-boots workhorse for towing that doubles up as a family motor? Consider the Isuzu D-Max.

isuzu d-max

If you're in the market for a tough-as-old-boots workhorse then look no further than the Isuzu D-Max.

The rugged 4x4 pick-up is available with a car-like four-up cab, meaning you can actually use the vehicle as a tool as well as a family motor.

I had the extended cab body configuration - a fairly rudimentary model with rear-opening side-access panels for back seat passengers.

Although basic, the vehicle still offers respectable standard equipment. This includes air conditioning, daytime running lights, electric windows and front, side and curtain airbags.

The diesel-powered D-Max is propelled by a somewhat farm-machinery sounding 2.5-litre twin-turbo lump.

It's available with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. Mine was mated to a manual gearbox. 

Changing gears a bit of a work-out

Changing gears is a bit like a gym work-out: the clutch is heavy and the gear change action is akin to stirring cement.

However, you soon get used to the slightly gruff, no-nonsense way the Isuzu works.

You sit up high behind the steering wheel, so visibility is good, and the seats are surprisingly comfortable.

The vehicle is pretty bouncy over rough surfaces so it can jostle you and your passengers around, but it never causes you to lack faith in its road-holding abilities.

The steering and brakes are excellent but you are always aware of the size of the D-Max: it's long, and doesn't have rear parking sensors, so reversing can be a nightmare, especially in town.

Isuzu D-Max: A car for the open environment

But, let's face it, this isn't exactly a city car. The Isuzu's main talent is to help tough guys carry out tough jobs in less crowded environments.

Yes, it’ll double up as people transport when it's off-duty, but tackling muck, grass, sand, snow and everything in between is what the D-Max is best at.

The mighty motor has a "shift-on-the-fly" system, allowing you to adjust between two- and four-wheel drive modes while travelling at speeds of up to 60 mph.

That's impressive, not to mention convenient, but its ace card is its load-lugging talent.

Increased towing capacity

The towing capacity of the D-Max has been increased by 500 kg – adding to its already colossal three tonne pulling power.

The enhancement, which only came into effect in July, has come as a response to customer feedback and to please those who were demanding extra capacity.

So now, all 4x4 models of the Isuzu D-Max will be able to haul a maximum braked load of 3.5 tonnes. That's enough strength to pull a house out of the ground. Well, almost.

Isuzu hasn't just concentrated on brute force and practicality though. The D-Max has been awarded a four-star safety rating by independent vehicle assessment organisation Euro NCAP.

The results of the recently introduced tougher test mark the pick-up as one of the safest vehicles in its segment.

Isuzu D-Max popular with UK buyers

The D-Max is proving to be tremendously popular with UK buyers after the Japanese marque announced record sales of 824 vehicles during March.

It already boasts class-leading fuel efficiency, residual values and a pioneering five-year or 125,000-mile warranty.

And now with the boost to its towing capacity I wouldn't be surprised if the Isuzu D-Max becomes the pick-up of choice for business and recreational users alike.

Isuzu D-Max: Pros & cons

  • Strong ✔
  • Safe ✔
  • Practical ✔
  • Noisy engine X
  • Gear-change X

Isuzu D-Max: Fast facts

  • Max speed: 112 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 16.0 secs
  • Combined mpg: 38.2 (unladen)
  • Engine: 2,499 cc 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo diesel
  • Max. power (bhp): 161 at 3600 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 295 at 1400-2000 rpm
  • Max. towing weight (braked) 3500 kg
  • CO2: 194 g/km
  • Price: £20,069 (incl. VAT)