The What Van? Road Test: Isuzu D-Max

Date: Thursday, October 12, 2017


Detail -engine

Engine and gearbox

Max power is achieved at 3,600rpm while top torque of 360Nm bites across a 2,000-2,500rpm plateau. Isuzu has managed to achieve compliance with the Euro6 exhaust emission regulations without having to resort to AdBlue. 

The automatic gearbox allows you to switch from auto to manual mode and back again by tapping the shift lever. The mode you are in is shown on a dashboard display.


Pulling strongly away from rest and sliding smoothly from one set of gears to the next, the D-Max automatic is an eager on-highway performer.

Switching from auto to manual mode is easy, and thereafter all you need to do is tap the shift lever to go up/down the gearbox, but there seems little point in doing so if all you are doing is trundling down the A40. You might as well leave it in ‘D’ for Drive and let the gearbox get on with it, availing yourself of the highly effective kick-down whenever you
need to overtake.

The D-Max swings through bends effortlessly, but its suspension struggles with Britain’s increasingly pocked marked road surfaces. You feel every one of the many bumps.

Load the truck with a few 25kg bags of sand and things calm down somewhat, and putting a bit of weight in the cargo area makes little difference to the Isuzu’s ability to storm up steep hills.

Isuzu needs to take another look at the sound insulation between the cab and the engine compartment. Noise levels from the four-cylinder diesel were too high, with the engine note verging on harshness on occasions.

Power-assisted steering offers a 12.2m turning circle. Parking in city centres is always going to be an issue with a truck that is almost 5.3m long, and the aforementioned camera and sensors proved their worth time and again.

To engage four-wheel-drive all you need to do is twist a knob between the seats, then depress it and twist it again if you want to engage a low-range set of gears. As with the previous model, shift-on-the-fly allows you to go from 4x2 to 4x4 and back again without having to come to a halt.

We contented ourselves with an admittedly gentle and undemanding plod around one or two of Herefordshire’s muddier fields. The D-Max was more than capable of coping with the conditions and the hill-descent control button (a new feature) we used on one occasion proved effective.

Our demonstrator’s alloys were shod with Toyo Open Country A33 255/60 R18 Mud and Snow tyres.

The Utah sits on 18-inch alloy wheels, and it’s good to see that a full-size spare wheel is provided. It makes a lot more sense for a 4x4 that may be driven over rough, tyre-gouging terrain than a ‘will it/won’t it plug the puncture’ inflation kit.


The five-year/125,000-mile warranty should be applauded, especially given that it is mirrored by a five-year roadside rescue and recovery package, which includes European cover. They are accompanied by a three-year paint warranty and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.

The mileage element of the two-year/12,000-mile service interval may seem a little short, but not if you spend a lot of time bouncing up and down rutted tracks. It’s easy to do your truck damage without realising it, and that damage will need attending to. If that’s your duty cycle we’d recommend interim safety checks.

We averaged around 33mpg, a touch below the official combined figure of 36.2mpg, which is 7.7% better than the one quoted for the old model.

LED daytime running lights consume less power than conventional ones and rarely need replacing, making a modest contribution to cutting running costs, but every little bit helps.

Utah Double Cab automatic 4x4 pick-up

Price (ex VAT)   £25,149
Price range (ex VAT)    £15,749-£27,999
Gross payload     1,091kg
Load length     1,485mm
Load width (min/max)    1,080/1,530mm
Load bay height     483mm
Loading height     813mm
Gross vehicle weight     3,050kg
Braked trailer towing weight     3,500kg
Residual value     26.91%*
Cost per mile     51.2p
Engine size     1,898cc, 164hp @ 3,600rpm
Torque     360Nm @ 2,000-2,500rpm
Gearbox     6-spd auto
Fuel economy     36.2mpg (combined)
Fuel tank     76 litres
CO2      205g/km
Warranty     5yrs/125,000mls
Service intervals     2yrs/12,000mls
Insurance group    40A
Price as tested     £27,026.50

(* after 4yrs/80,000mls; Source: Kwikcarcost)

Options fitted: Load area roll top (£1,150), Special paint finish (£400), Tow bar (£187.50), 13-pin towing electrics (£140)



Ford Ranger

  • Price (ex VAT) £17,795-£27,945
  • Gross payload      1,002-1,240kg
  • Engines      130hp, 160hp 2.2 diesel, 200hp 3.2 diesel

Verdict: Decide you want a Ranger and you won’t be able to complain about a lack of choice. You get to pick from a 4x2 or a 4x4 and from a variety of cab and trim levels. Ford’s offering rides and handles well and is backed by a comprehensive network. The heart says the 3.2, the head says the 160hp 2.2.

Mitsubishi L200

  • Price (ex VAT) £18,300-£29,880
  • Gross payload      1,045-1,145kg
  • Engines    151hp, 178hp diesel

Verdict: Also marketed by Fiat as the Fullback, the L200 remains a safe, sensible choice, but could do with a few revisions to keep up with the rivals. It’s very competent off-road though and its 4x4 system is easy to manage. Will we see a Great Wall version if the Chinese brand bags Fiat Chrysler Automobiles?

Toyota Hilux

  • Price (ex VAT) £19,711-£30,152
  • Gross payload      1,100-1,120kg
  • Engines     148hp  2.4 diesel

Verdict: A rugged and near-unbreakable workhorse, the Hilux comes with a broad assortment of derivatives - you can even have it bodied as a 4x4 tipper - and trim levels. Ride and handling are well up to standard but a bit more power would be welcome. Why not add a 180hp version to the line-up, Toyota?


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