SPURRED on by the rise of the SUV, many more pick-ups are now being bought by families, those who enjoy the outdoor life - activities such as cycling, surfing, camping - and want something a little different, more rugged.
Increasingly popular in the UK is the multi-award-winning Isuzu D-Max. It's a monster, towering over even some of the largest SUVs, but it drives as simply as a family hatchback. And that's no mean feat.
Sales growth has been helped by the expansion of the model range to include more family-orientated, high-spec models such as the Yukon, Utah and the range-topping D-Max Blade.
Such car-like refinement is popular but that doesn't undermine the D-Max's workmanlike credentials.
In 2020, Trade Van Driver crowned it Best Workhorse Pick-up for the eighth year in a row. It was also crowned Pick-Up of The Year at the 2020 WhatVan? Awards for the third year in a row.
The D-Max is one of the most cost-effective pick-ups on the market with low insurance groups, strong residual values and fuel economy. The official figure for the Blade auto is 36.2mpg, though I managed just 27.8mpg, which I think is probably about right.
In auto, the Blade is priced at Â£29,314 for business users and Â£36,312 for retail customers. It is covered by a comprehensive 125,000 mile/five-year warranty and five-years of roadside assistance - a real statement of confidence from the brand.
It is now powered by a strong - if a little noisy under acceleration - 1.9-litre twin-turbo diesel engine, producing an ample 360Nm and which achieves Euro 6 emission standards without the need for AdBlue.
The D-Max's shift-on-the-fly dial is located on the centre console. This easy-to-use system allows drivers to switch between two-wheel drive and high-ratio four-wheel drive at speeds up to 60mph, though to engage low-ratio four-wheel-drive, the vehicle must be stationary.
There is a 1,086kg towing capacity on the automatic and a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes for both twin and triple axle trailers. The load bed measures an impressive 1,485mm long by 1,530mm wide - large enough for a Euro pallet - and the side walls are 465mm high. It can carry over a tonne of cargo.
A durable rear load liner protects the load bed and a tailgate damper ensures that the tailgate lowers with a gentle opening action.
All well and good, but most retail buyers will be looking at refinement.
Blade comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, while folding, heated, black door mirrors accompany tinted windows. Side steps and roof bars complete the look. There's also projector headlights, LED daytime running lights, fog lights and keyless entry as standard.
Added to that are illuminated front footwells, illuminated aluminium door sills and puddle lamps for when you're not wearing your work boots. The interior benefits from a carpet floor, Blade branded carpet mats, leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic air conditioning and a height-adjustable leather steering wheel.
Infotainment is provided by a nine-inch multifunction colour touchscreen complete with satellite navigation, DAB radio and a variety of connectivity methods including Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Even before the trend for families buying pick-ups emerged, Isuzu recognised that for many professionals, a pick-up is chosen as a family car, as well as an everyday working tool. So, the D-Max is loaded with safety and driver assist technology, such as driver, passenger and curtain airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
The braking system incorporates Electronic Stability Control, Trailer Sway Control, ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist System. Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control also feature. However, fitted with a canopy, rear visibility is very restricted.