Isuzu is targeting a slice of the upmarket pick-up action with its D-max Yukon, but James Dallas is feeling the need to get candid about its reversing camera.
Isuzu’s strength in pick-ups has traditionally focused on the workhorse end of the sector.
With the Rodeo it enjoyed particular popularity within the farming community, which warmed to its competitive pricing and rugged capabilities without being put off by its lack of frills.
Isuzu was happy to leave the lifestyle bit of the market to the likes of Mitsubishi with its stylized and aggressively named L200s like the Barbarian and Warrior and Nissan with its powerful and luxurious Navara Outlaw.
But with Ford and VW raising the sophistication stakes with the new Ranger and the Amarok respectively and Toyota maintaining strength in the corporate sector with its Hilux, Isuzu is now looking to extend its reach.
The D-Max line-up covers a lot of bases and is now split into two groups: Utilitarian and Premium. Our Yukon sits in the more luxurious second group with just the flagship Utah above it in the pecking order.
Its price of £19,499, excluding VAT and options is certainly competitive compared to rival manufacturers’ models occupying similar positions in their line-ups such as the Ford Ranger Limited (£22,040), the VW Amarok Trendline (£19,995) or the Nissan Navara Tekna (£21,870).
But it is hard to escape the suspicion that the Yukon is out of its comfort zone in such company.
It just feels rougher at the edges with a slightly less polished exterior. Although macho chic is de rigueur in the pick-up segment the D-max Yukon feels weighty to drive in comparison to others, especially in urban settings where it can have the air of a rustic cousin struggling to adapt to an unfamiliar environment.
The interior too is rudimentary and lacks rival’s sophistication.
A couple of particular bugbears with us have been the radio/cd/ipod system and the rear view camera.
The visual parking aid comes as part of a package with the satellite navigation system and at £934 it does not come cheap.
Our first complaint is that it has no audible alert to accompany the camera image. If we had to choose one type of reversing aid we would opt for the beeps that increase in frequency when the tailgate nears something in its path.
Secondly the camera view itself is warped and distorted. Objects that initially seem far off have a tendency to loom suddenly near and it takes practice to judge precisely how close they are. The camera does not have a grid system, which some do, to make it easier to gauge distances.
At night time the camera is virtually useless – it is hard to distinguish anything at all and if there is a headlight or street lamp behind the vehicle the in-cab screen becomes filled with a piercing glare.
While the sound from the radio and CD player is good the iPod connection in our Yukon does not function. Frustratingly, when plugged in via the portal in the central console, an image of the album you wish to listen to appears on the screen but the system steadfastly refuses to issue any sound.
Another gripe is that the buttons on the media unit are extremely small and fiddly to use – a fairly common feature on commercial vehicles from some far eastern manufacturers, but not all, and one that is increasingly anachronistic in the marketplace.
It is a relief then that the impressive sat nav system can be operated by touch-screen controls.
It’s quick and easy to use and, so far, has proved to be reliable and accurate – giving clear audible and visual directions while quickly re-calculating routes when necessary.
The steering wheel mounted controls for the stereo and the excellent cruise control are other plus points.
Isuzu has ambitious targets for the D-max but it needs to iron out a few creases at the higher end of the range before it can stand shoulder to shoulder with the sector’s best.