The flagship D-Max is not without creature comforts but remains a capable workhorse at heart.
The imposition of the Covid-19 lockdown has meant I’ve not been able to put as many miles on the Blade as I would have wished, but it has nevertheless proven to be an invaluable load-lugger over the past few weeks.
Like many families we have spent a lot of our enforced time at home attempting to get the garden into shape. In our case this means taking up arms against the rampant spread of bamboo plants, which are only slightly less aggressively malevolent than triffids.
So when the local recycling centre reopened, albeit for limited periods only, we were near the front of the queue with the Blade’s load bed brim full with bags of garden waste. Return trips were made with loads of household waste such as old paint cans, plastics and discarded furniture.
Double-cab pick-up trucks boast a go-anywhere ability that can serve them well in carrying a team of workers to inaccessible locations but they suffer in comparison to panel vans when it comes to load volume.
Nevertheless, with careful use of elastic bungee straps, having pulled back the truck’s Mountain Top roll cover (standard on the Blade but a £1,250, ex-VAT extra on lower trim levels) to create more space, I was also able to safely secure a dismantled single bed into the back for a journey home across London. A plus point when loading is that the tailgate employs a gas strut to ensure it opens slowly and gently rather than slamming into the horizontal position, as is often the case with flatbed pick-ups, and risking injury to the operator.
The advantage of having some weight on board is that it takes some of the bounciness out of the D-Max’s ride and makes it more comfortable to negotiate the city’s many speed humps. After all, despite its position at the top of the range, the Blade, like the rest of the D-Max line-up, is at heart a rugged workhorse.
Isuzu’s attempts at installing a sophisticated interior cannot wholly disguise this. The overall result is functional rather than stylish despite the leather upholstery and red stitching. A solid side step makes it easy to get into the cabin, and all the knobs and buttons are clearly positioned and robust, with the exception of the flimsy cover for the USB socket. The driver benefits from easy-to-use steering wheel-mounted controls, and the reversing camera is one of the best I’ve come across.
The Blade comes with keyless entry and a push-button starter, which is not the case with all the models in the flagship D-Max Adventure category – the XTR, for example, requires the driver to put an old-school key into the ignition.
The Blade also gets a full-size spare wheel, which is a must for a vehicle expected to tackle rugged terrain.
Overall, the interior is comfortable enough and a great improvement on previous vintages of the D-Max, let alone its predecessor, the Rodeo, and with the lockdown restrictions gradually easing to allow people to make longer journeys, I decided to take the family for a day trip to the coast in the Blade.
Automatic air-conditioning is a given in contemporary LCVs and efficiently kept the five occupants cool on what was a very hot day, while cruise control helped to make light work of the still relatively empty roads.
The satnav also proved as dependable as ever in getting us to our destination within a quicker than expected hour and a half and is easy to operate via a 9in touchscreen, as is the DAB radio and mobile phone connectivity.
One gripe would be the lack of legroom for the middle passenger in the back.
End of term report
Off-road = 4/5
Copes competently in all conditions
Refinement = 3/5
Lacks the sophistication of some flagship rivals
Cabin = 3/5
Functional rather than stylish
Overall score: 66%
Isuzu D-Max Blade 1.9 Auto
Official combined consumption 36.2mpg
Our average consumption 28.9mpg
Price range (ex VAT). £16,094-£35,334
Price (ex VAT) £29,809
Service intervals 12,000mls
Load length 1,485mm
Load width (min/max) 1,110/1,530mm
Gross payload 1,101kg
Engine size/power 1,898cc
Gearbox 6-spd auto
Options (ex VAT)
Lazer lights sports bar £810
(See below for previous reports)