Eager to take full advantage of the departure of so many of its rivals from the pick-up market, Isuzu (UK) has spent the last few months rolling out the latest version of D-Max. 

Marketed in both 4×2 and 4×4 guise, it has been restyled and re-equipped, with a heavy emphasis on safety throughout the range. As a consequence it has been awarded a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating; the maximum that can be achieved.

It has also won the What Van? Pick-up of the Year award for 2022.

Even entry-level Business models with their Utility trim boast features such as Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Intelligent Speed Limiter and Traffic Sign Recognition as standard alongside Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking. 

All 4×4 double-cabs benefit from Emergency Lane Keeping, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, while automatic models benefit from Pedal Misapplication Mitigation. It should ensure that catastrophe does not ensue if you accidentally slam your foot down on the accelerator rather than the brake pedal. 

Move up to the All-Purpose range’s DL20 and DL40 4×4 models and yet more safety systems and equipment are provided, along with a standard rear diff lock. The Adventure range nestles at the peak of what is a somewhat complicated line-up, with the V-Cross – the subject of our test – featuring what Isuzu describes as Gun Metal exterior styling on its wheels, side steps, radiator grille, mirror casings and door handles.

With both 4×2 and 4×4 variants up for grabs, Utility D-Max pick-ups are sold with single-, extended- and double-cabs. DL20, DL40 and V-Cross are marketed solely as 4x4s and all three are available as double-cabs, with DL20 also listed with an extended cab.

Alterations beneath D-Max’s bodywork include bigger brakes, changes to the suspension and new cab mounts. What has not changed however is D-Max’s engine power output.

A 1.9l diesel at 164hp is installed in everything, and a bit more power would be welcome. 

It was with this thought in mind that we started getting to grips with our top-of-the-range V-Cross four-door double-cab automatic. The six-speed transmission has been upgraded to allow up to 25% faster gear changes, says Isuzu.

V-Cross is also sold with a six-speed manual box, but you can switch the automatic to manual mode by pushing the shift lever to the right.

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Load bay

Access to the load box, with its eight tie-down points, is by means of a lockable tailgate which is lowered with the assistance of a gas strut. The help is welcome; it’s a hefty lump of metal.

As is common with modern 4×4 pick-ups, the tailgate rests horizontally when lowered. The bulky, body-coloured, rear bumper, which incorporates a step, means it cannot
be dropped down completely.

Braked trailer towing capacity is a healthy 3.5t.


Interior and equipment

Complete with leather upholstery and protected by an alarm, there is no denying that V-Cross’s cab is well-specified. 

Both the front seats are heated, and the driver’s seat is electrically-adjustable for height, reach and rake. The lumbar support is power-operated too.

The leather-trimmed steering wheel’s height and reach are alterable manually and the wheel plays host to the DAB radio’s remote controls, along with buttons for the truck’s  adaptive cruise control system.

Air-conditioning is included in the deal too, and the heating and ventilation matrix is controlled by a bank of rocker switches beneath the 9in multifunction colour touch-screen, which oversees the infotainment system. 

Put the truck in reverse and the screen will show you what is behind you thanks to a rear-mounted camera. Front and rear parking sensors should also help ensure that you don’t damage your vehicle or a luckless passer-by during low-speed manoeuvring.

Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto form part of the package, as do a USB port and a 12v power socket.

Electric windows are fitted to all four doors, and the exterior mirrors are power-operated and power-foldable. However they lack a wide-angle section.

In-cab storage facilities include a lidded bin between the front seats accompanied by a pair of cup-holders, a lidded and lockable glove-box and a compartment with a lid on top of the fascia. A sunglasses holder sits just above the windscreen and you will find a pop-out cup-holder plus a flip-down cubby-hole set into the fascia to the right of the steering wheel.

There is a shelf at the bottom of the dashboard plus bins in all the doors.

Air vents are installed in the rear of the console between the two front seats for the benefit of people sitting in the back along with another USB point. All three rear seats boast lap-and-diagonal belts plus headrests, and if the middle seat is not in use then the back can be folded down and transformed into an armrest with a couple of cup-holders.

Legroom for the two outermost passengers is acceptable, but limited if you happen to occupy the centre seat.

In addition to the safety devices outlined earlier, D-Max comes with Traction Control, Brake Assist System, and Hill Start Assist. Trailer Sway Control will respond if a trailer you are hauling starts to snake, and should hopefully bring things back under control by reducing your speed.

Should you be unlucky enough to be involved in a collision then you will be enveloped by front, side, curtain, centre and driver’s-knee airbags. The last two are new additions.

Multi-Collision Brake applies the brakes after any smash in which the airbags have been deployed. Disc brakes are installed at the front, while drums do duty at the rear. 

D-Max’s suspension system employs leaf springs at the back. McPherson struts are fitted at the front, with new upper control arms intended to reduce body roll and vibration, and increase tyre contact with the ground. 

The V-Cross’s 18ins alloy wheels were shod with Dunlop Grandtrek AT25 265/60 R18 tyres.

Electronic power steering delivers a 12.5m kerb-to-kerb turning circle.

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The four-cylinder in-line diesel achieves its top power output at 3,600rpm. The top torque of 360Nm bites across a 2,000rpm-to-2,500rpm plateau.

The D-Max employs AdBlue housed in a 14l reservoir to help keep its Euro 6D exhaust emissions under control. You will find the reservoir filler point beneath the fuel flap located on the truck’s nearside.


There is no denying that V-Cross handles well for a 4×4 pick-up. It rides reasonably well too, even when unladen; probably better than most of its rivals.

The automatic box delivers the horses available smoothly and rapidly, which is to its credit, but we would like rather more of them.

While 164hp may be fine for most fleet applications, businesses that run heavily-laden for most of the time or regularly tow a trailer will, we suspect, be looking for more power. Isuzu should seriously consider offering a 200hp or thereabouts diesel as an extra-cost alternative.

Noise is seldom a significant issue, although the engine can occasionally sound harsh under acceleration, and at low speeds. The cab sits on new mounts designed to absorb more noise, vibration and harshness, but we cannot help feeling that additional attention needs to be paid to sound-deadening.

All extended- and double-cab D-Max pick-ups weigh less than 2,040kg un-laden. As a consequence – and unlike some of their rivals – they are subject to car rather than goods vehicle speed limits. The latter are 10mph lower on single and dual carriageways.

Net result? You should be able to achieve better journey times, and still stay legal.

Four-wheel-drive is easy to activate and you can switch to it while the truck is in motion. All you do is twist a knob at the bottom of the dashboard, which additionally allows you to choose either a high- or a low-ratio set of gears depending on the terrain you are proposing to tackle.

Switches to engage the rear diff lock and Hill Descent Control sit next to the gear shift lever. The Electronic Stability Control and fuel-saving Stop and Start systems can be switched off.

The truck’s off-road performance is exemplary.

Steep ascents and descents, heavily-rutted boulder-strewn tracks, deep, clinging mud and rather-deeper-than-you-at-first-thought streams hold no terrors for it. It happily tackles them all, and comes though with flying colours.

A beefed-up ladder chassis plus a steel skid plate and sump guard help minimise the risk of damage.

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At five years/125,000 miles, there is no denying that the warranty is a generous one. Roadside assistance in the UK and European Union member states is provided throughout its duration, and D-Max is further protected by a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.

Service intervals are set at one year/12,000 miles. That may sound short when compared with the lengthy intervals promoted by some van manufacturers, but it makes sense given the hammering 4×4 pick-ups can receive when they are driven

Even with Stop and Start, fuel economy is not V-Cross’s strong suit, although much the same can be said about well-nigh-all 4×4 double-cab pick-ups with automatic boxes. We averaged around 33mpg; better than the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) mid-figure quoted by Isuzu, but worse than the combined figure.

Keyless ignition is fitted, which means you can start the engine by pushing a button – that’s assuming you have the key fob present. 

Such systems raise security issues no matter which vehicle manufacturer is involved.

Our advice? Keep the fob in a signal-blocking Faraday pouch when not in use to help ensure thieves cannot overcome the truck’s anti-theft devices, and drive it away.

A full-size spare wheel is provided with the tools and jack stowed behind the back seat. It’s good to see LEDs used for the headlights, daytime running lights, rear lights and front fog lights. It will be a very long time before any of them need replacing. 

The Bi-LED headlights fitted incorporate the high and low beam into one projector module. They switch on or off automatically according to light levels, and dip when oncoming vehicles are detected. 

They go back to high beam when the vehicles have passed.

A rain sensor triggers the windscreen wipers at the first sign of a downpour.

The truck we drove was finished in Sapphire Blue mica paint for an extra £500. In fact every paint finish bar plain white attracts the same premium – an added cost that’s down to the buyer.

Now, come on Isuzu. Surely anybody shelling out for the top-of-the-range model shouldn’t be asked to pay extra for a few pots of fancy paint?

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross 4×4 automatic double-cab pick-up

Price (ex VAT) £31,929

Price range (ex VAT) £20,179-£31,929

Gross payload 1,070kg

Load length 1,495mm

Load width (min/max) 1,080mm/1,530mm 

Load bay height 490mm

Loading height 838mm

Gross vehicle weight 3,100kg

Braked trailer towing weight 3,500kg

Residual value 31.9%*

Cost per mile 64.5p

Engine size/power 1,898cc, 164hp @ 3,600rpm

Torque 360Nm @ 2,000-2,500rpm

Gearbox 6spd automatic

Fuel economy (combined WLTP) 30.7.mpg 

Fuel tank 76l

CO2 241g/km

Warranty 5yrs/125,000mls

Service intervals 1yr/12,000mls

Insurance group 44D

Price as tested £32,429

* after 48 months @ 20,000 miles a year – source – KWIKcarcost


Sapphire Blue mica paint £500


Ford Ranger

Price (ex VAT) £24,050-£49,075

Gross payload 620-1,252kg

Braked towing weight 2,500-3,500kg

Engines 130hp, 170hp, 213hp 2.0 diesel

Verdict: Ford has revealed an all-new Ranger for 2022/23 with a beefy-looking V6 diesel. If you can’t wait that long, then you will find the existing model is a dependable workhorse that should satisfy requirements. Prospective purchasers are spoilt for choice, with three different cab configurations and nine specification levels, including special editions. 

SsangYong Musso

Price (ex VAT) £23,165-£31,165

Gross payload 1,050-1,140kg 

Braked towing weight 3,200-3,500kg

Engines 181hp 2.2 diesel

Verdict: Recently upgraded with a redesigned front-end, Musso is a well-priced, well-equipped truck that is handily-capable off-road, and covered by a remarkably-generous warranty. If you need a bit more cargo space then check out the long-wheelbase Rhino variant, which offers additional load floor length. Specification levels are high, but a few more on-board safety aids need to be provided if Musso is to keep pace with marketplace trends.

Toyota Hilux

Price (ex VAT) £22,478-£52,229

Gross payload 1,000-1,030kg

Braked towing weight 3500kg

Engines 150hp 2.4 diesel, 204hp 2.8 diesel 

Verdict: The new 2.8l diesel gives the legendary (no apologies for using the word in this context) workhorse a welcome power boost. Any drawbacks are more than outweighed by its unimpeachable off-road credentials and its well-deserved reputation for durability. As well as the new engine the latest model gets a variety of mechanical changes, a restyled exterior and an upgraded interior.

The Final Verdict

Design 9/10 –Stylish-looking truck that it is subject to car speed limits.

Cabin 8/10 – A comfortable working environment with plenty of on-board storage space.

Ride 8/10 – Fine when heavily-laden, better than most when lightly laden.

Refinement 7/10 – No squeaks, creaks or groans, although noise can occasionally be an issue.

Load area 8/10 – Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Handling/performance 7/10 – Needs to be offered with a more-powerful engine  to keep up with competition.

Engine/transmission 8/10 – Power delivered smoothly, and four-wheel-drive easily engaged. 

Standard equipment 9/10 – Well provided with all sorts of creature comforts.

Operating costs 8/10 – Generous warranty and a well-judged service interval for a 4×4 cab pick-up.

What Van? subjective rating 8/10 – Well-equipped when it comes to safety, and an impressive off-road performer.

Overall Rating = 80/100