Isuzu D-Max long-term test – Latest Report

Date: Friday, May 31, 2024   |   Author: James Dallas

Although the 1.9-litre engine is not the most dynamic, the D-Max comes into its own when the going gets tough.

5th Report

The 1.9-litre 164hp diesel engine that powers the entire D-Max line-up, from humble Utility single cab up to the latest swaggering limited edition Steel, which is based on the top of the range V-Cross, has received criticism for lacking grunt and performance credentials compared to the drivetrains installed in some of its competitors.

Aside from the outrageous 3.0-litre 289hp V6 petrol engine that propels Ford’s Ranger Raptor, the mainstream Ranger line-up gets a 3.0-litre 240hp diesel and a 2.0-litre diesel producing 205hp and 170hp. Based on the same platform as the Ranger, Volkswagen’s Amarok gets the same engines apart from the V6 petrol. The Toyota Hilux was also previously called out for being underpowered but has supplemented its 2.4-litre 150hp unit with a much meatier 2.8-litre 204hp diesel. The KGM (formerly Ssangyong) Musso meanwhile, gets a 2.2-litre 199hp diesel engine.

As well as being more modest in horsepower terms than rivals, the D-Max’s engine also suffers in terms of refinement, it is far noisier than the Ranger’s 2.0-litre lump, for example. On the plus side, once it has built up a head of steam, the DL20 does not feel underpowered even with a substantial load on board.

When Isuzu introduced the 1.9-litre engine in 2017, it had the novelty of being the only pick-up engine not to require Ad Blue, but as emissions standards have become more stringent it does now need topping up with the Urea-based solution to remove nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) to keep it on the right side of the law.

D Max Off Road Copy

In recent weeks I have spent more time driving the DL20 on longer trips beyond the city limits and as a result the truck’s fuel economy has improved substantially and is now close to the official combined-cycle figure of 33.6mpg. During the excessively wet weather that engulfed the nation, particularly the part of the west country I visited in early spring, I was grateful for the DL20’s ability to remain unruffled under all conditions. Riding on 18in alloy wheels, the truck can cope with most on-road surfaces in 2WD but slipping it into 4H (4WD high) with a simple twist of the dial by the gear stick, means you can tackle slippery terrain like muddy tracks or waterlogged fields without trepidation.

I have not had to resort to 4L (4WD low) mode that provides drive to all four wheels in a low gear ratio for extra grip in extreme off-road environments and nor have I needed to engage the diff lock, which the ‘DL’ in the truck’s name stands for. It provides extra traction at up to 19mph by keeping the left and right wheels on the rear axle turning at the same speed. Most customers, such as farmers, for example, will rarely, if ever, need to call upon these functions but it is reassuring to know they are available, just in case. The same can be said for the joint class-leading wading depth of 800mm. If a less off-road-capable vehicle gets stuck then the tow bar affixed to my DL20 as a £275 (ex-VAT) option should come in handy to pull it back onto the right track. What’s more, as a vehicle designed to venture into harsher environments than most, it’s good to know the DL20 is equipped with a full-size spare wheel.

Report card: Off-road = 4/5

The DL20 is at home off the beaten track and equipped to cope with extreme conditions.

Isuzu D-Max DL20 Double Cab 4x4 

Mileage 2,696mls  

Official combined fuel economy 33.6mpg

Our average consumption 33.2mpg

Price range (ex VAT) £23,929-£35,779

Price (ex VAT) £29,679

Warranty 5yrs/125,000mls

Service intervals 12,000mls

Load length 1,495mm

Load width (min/max) 1,110/1,530mm 

Gross payload 1,120kg

Braked towing weight 3.5-tonnes

Engine size/power 1,898cc/164hp

Gearbox 6-spd manual

CO2 220g/km

Options (prices ex VAT)

Tow bar £275.00

13 pin towing electrics £185.50

Over rail liner £247.50


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