Steve Banner experiences conflicting emotions as the Isuzu 4x4 departs the What Van? long-term fleet.
So it’s farewell to the long-term Isuzu D-Max – and I’ve mixed feelings about its departure.
On the negative side, and despite two visits to a local dealer, the radio and satellite navigation system still don’t function consistently.
Sometimes I can get a good reception, switch to Radio 4, and listen contentedly to The Archers or shout at the Today programme.
Sometimes I’m rewarded with a load of static. It’s not due to a patchy DAB reception, either – I’ve driven other vehicles with digital radio along the same routes and not experienced a problem.
So far as the satnav is concerned, I’ve concluded that the best course of action is to revert to attaching my trusty Garmin to the windscreen and plugging it into the 12V power point – something I did earlier on in the game in the hope of shaming both the radio and satnav into behaving themselves.
My other gripes concern engine noise – when you accelerate away from rest it is way too high, and it’s an area that Isuzu needs to address – while I don’t like the keyless ignition system, although they’re not peculiar to the D-Max and are a trend I guess I’ll have to get used to…
What about the positives? Fortunately, there are plenty of them.
The D-Max is solidly built, doesn’t rattle, groan or squeak, and seems capable of absorbing any amount of punishment when you take it off-road. I
ts performance in the rough easily matches that of its other 4x4 double-cab rivals, and four-wheel drive, plus the set of low-ratio gears that can accompany it should you need them, are easy to engage.
Offering smooth, jerk-free changes and a useful kick-down, the automatic gearbox is excellent.
You can always switch to manual mode, and I did so once or twice just for the say-so, but in most circumstances you can let the auto ’box get on with it – and it is more than capable of doing so.
With heated seats – the driver’s perch is electrically adjustable for height, reach and rake – and an effective air-conditioning system, driver comfort isn’t an issue, while the reversing camera and beepers ensured I didn’t come to grief during low-speed manoeuvring.
The load area is easy to access but requires more tie-down points, and the optional Mountain Top Roll lockable roll-top cover is invaluable.
The D-Max was less frugal than the (seldom accurate) official combined figures suggested it would be. But a heavy vehicle tackling steep hills fully laden will always struggle a bit in the fuel economy stakes, plus the handsome-looking pick-up does not require periodic infusions of AdBlue to meet the Euro6 standard. Now that is a definite plus-point.
For a comparatively large pick-up, the handling is exemplary.
You can push the Isuzu D-Max quite hard into bends without worrying that it will come adrift, and even the deepest potholes seem unable to deflect it from its course.
That’s a tribute to the suspension system, which offers an acceptable ride.
Isuzu D-Max Utah Double Cab automatic 4x4 pick-up
Official combined consumption 36.2mpg
Our average consumption 33.0mpg*
Price range (ex VAT) £16,499-£28,999
Price (ex VAT) £26,149
Service intervals 2yrs/12,000mls
Load length 1,485mm
Load width (min/max) 1,080/1,530mm
Gross payload 1,091kg
Engine size/power 1,898cc/164hp
Gearbox 6-speed auto
Options (ex VAT)
Load area roll top £1,127.50
Special paint finish £430
13-pin towing electrics £226.25
Tow bar £187.50
All the usual electronic safety devices are fitted and a camera and sensors help prevent reversing accidents.
Options list 4/5
It doesn’t come cheap, but the lockable load area roll-top cover is a must-have.
Exemplary handling, a smooth gear change, plenty of off-road capability and a decent turn of speed for a big pick-up have to be balanced against in-cab noise levels.
Load bay 3/5
Easy to access and I like the tailored liner, but it could do with more tie-down points.
Comfortable working environment with heated front seats and aircon.
Build quality 2/5
Well put-together, but our D-Max was let down by an unreliable radio.
OVERALL SCORE 70%
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