The outcome of the Pick-up of the Year category at the What Van? Awards 2023 was a highly familiar one, with the Isuzu D-Max claiming the prize for the second year in a row, and the fifth time in the last six years.

It’s a formidable record, and according to Isuzu UK managing director Alan Able, it’s one that has many contributing elements.

Able said: “The D-Max’s award-winning success is the result of a combination of factors, including its exceptional design, outstanding performance and durability. 

“We have also placed a strong emphasis on listening to our customers and relaying their feedback to the Isuzu factory in Thailand.”

The current generation version of the D-Max has been with us since 2021, but last year still saw exciting developments for the model.

Newly-introduced variants included automatic versions of the Utility Extended Cab, Utility Double Cab and DL20 Extended Cab models, all of which were previously manual only, while a rear differential lock was also made available throughout the range.

In addition, we saw the latest iteration of the extreme off-road spec Arctic Trucks models, the AT35, with features such as 35in tyres, fitted to 17in matte black alloy wheels, and a Bilstein performance suspension system giving a 50mm ground clearance increase over the standard truck.

When asked about the highly varied nature of the D-Max line-up, Able said: “Maintaining a broad appeal is crucial to the brand since it enables us to connect with a larger audience and cater to their needs. 

“The varied D-Max line-up, which includes workhorse models and Arctic Trucks models, displays our dedication to providing vehicles to suit anyone from tradesmen to thrill seekers. 

“At Isuzu UK we are the pick-up professionals, and we are committed to providing pick-ups that can face any challenge.”

Combined with the strength of the existing range, the outcome was a highly successful market performance in 2022 for the D-Max, with registrations increasing by 17.95% year-on-year, in contrast with a 30.4% contraction for the overall pick-up market.

Discussing the reasons for this, Able said: “The D-Max saw sales growth in 2022, despite the overall pick-up market declining thanks to exceptionally high customer demand, stemming from a combination of both quality vehicles and brilliant customer service. 

“Our committed franchise partners have also done a brilliant job of managing difficult supply lead times by keeping customers constantly updated on the progress of their new vehicles. 

“The Isuzu brand is nothing without the passion and dedication shown by our network.”  

The D-Max’s sales growth included a 59.5% increase in fleet sales, with the model’s appeal to this sector boosted by Isuzu UK’s dedicated Fleet Conversion Centre. This offers a unique one-stop shop, working in conjunction with Isuzu UK’s fleet sales, homologation and technical teams, which ensures the build-to-order service provides customer-specific vehicles, whilst retaining the manufacturer’s warranty, and ensuring the capability of the vehicle is not compromised in any way.

The D-Max’s fleet appeal was highlighted by Isuzu exhibiting different fleet partner conversions at last year’s CV Show.

Discussing this area, Able said: “Fleet partnerships are incredibly important to Isuzu, as they help us to better understand the needs of fleet operators and provide us with the opportunity to develop innovative solutions that meet a variety of specific needs. 

“This continuous development means that, as a company, we can continue to grow and evolve, pushing the limits of the D-Max to explore new possibilities.”

Other developments for the D-Max range in 2022 included the launch of new accessories packs.

The High-Line, Mid-Line, and Start-Line packs were designed with the V-Cross and All-Purpose variants of the D-Max in mind respectively. All combined some of the best-selling accessories for the D-Max – including either a canopy or tonneau cover with each – to provide customers with a cost-saving and easier way of speccing up their truck.

Alongside the elements already discussed, an important element of the D-Max’s appeal to the What Van? Awards judges is the strength of the core product offering. A 1t payload and up top 3.5t towing capacity show its practical strength, while the Euro 6D-compliant diesel engine delivers 164hp and 360Nm of torque, and is available with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

There’s a choice of 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrains, and of three bodystyles – single cab, extended cab and double cab.

A comprehensive package of advanced driver assistance systems is standard, including autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, intelligent speed limiter, and lane departure warning and prevention.

Other items of standard equipment throughout the range include automatic headlights with high beam assist, automatic windscreen wipers, speed-sensitive power steering, DAB radio, and a stop-start system.

Of the D-Max’s award success, Able said: “Recognition from the What Van? Awards is a great honour for Isuzu UK and it demonstrates our commitment to delivering high-quality and reliable vehicles to our customers.

“This award is a testament to the advancement of the Isuzu D-Max, having started as a tough workhorse that now excels in every category including lifestyle and adventure. 

“Receiving this award also helps to reinforce both our brand image and our position as a leading player in the market.”