Test Drive by Graham Breeze
The Isuzu D-Max is set for a makeover in 2017 as suddenly all the big players in the pick-up market have decided to up their games.
But I’m hoping the bosses at Isuzu aren’t too adventurous in their plans for this year as the current D-Max range is more than holding its own and fits the “rugged workhorse” label perfectly.
Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Volkswagen are all big players in a growing sector and 2017 promises to be a massive year for pick-up sales, but the award winning Isuzu should continue to flourish.
There’s two types of D-Max available. You can go for the workhorse option, which does just what it says on the tin, or choose the double-cab Blade, which I put to the test, offering improved levels of luxury.
That means you get the sort of cab you really want to keep separate from the rear load space, sporting the kind of leather upholstery you simply don’t want exposed to the farmer’s overalls or builder’s jackets.
Add a reversing camera, climate control, heated seats and eight-speaker infotainment system to the leather package and you’ll understand just what I’m talking about.
There’s still a lot of hard plastic which Isuzu might like to improve on in any revamp and while all the controls are perfectly placed and a joy to operate you’re left with a feeling that perhaps the opposition’s range toppers have a bit more to offer.
If you like a high seating position, you’ll simply love the D-Max. The well supported driving position gives great all-round visibility, while rear-seat passengers were quick to comment on the airy cabin and comfort.
The tried and tested 2.5-litre twin-turbo diesel engine offers class-leading towing capabilities which makes it an attractive option for a multitude of reasons – and in five-speed automatic mode proved a joy to handle off-road.
On the tarmac the D-Max is a different proposition though, meaning you need to keep concentration levels high to stay in a straight line and avoid too much oversteer on tight bends.
Understandably there’s a wide turning circle for such a big vehicle and that means a few problems for parking when popping to the supermarket, where companies pack in so many spaces it’s almost impossible to open the doors.
Prices start at just under £26,000 but the model on test would set you back over £28,000 and despite higher official fuel economy figures you’ll be very lucky to get more than 30mpg.
Isuzu backs-up D-Max sales with a five-year, 125,000-mile warranty though, so it’s a case of swings or roundabouts for buyers.
I’m awaiting the new arrival with an air of anticipation – nothing too rational I hope.