Isuzu D-Max Utility

Isuzu D-Max Utility, 2024, front
Isuzu D-Max Utility, 2024, front, wading
Isuzu D-Max Utility, 2024, side
Isuzu D-Max Utility, 2024, rear
Isuzu D-Max Utility, 2024, interior
Isuzu D-Max Utility, 2024, load bed

A SIMPLE glance at a rush hour traffic queue is evidence of the surge in the popularity of pick-up trucks.

Like the Americans, we just love them. Latest figures show that sales rocketed by more than 40 per cent year on year.

Whether it's the all terrain ability, their versatility or purely the macho image, these rough, tough high riders are on a roll.

Of course, one of the catalysts of the pick-up bonanza is the increasing number of double cabs with four doors and four seats, which of course allows them to be used socially as family runabouts when they're not being used as work slaves either on the farm or in construction.

Another cause is the demise a few years ago of the evergreen Land Rover Defender, now replaced by an expensive fashionista that has little relevance to families on middle incomes or farmers.

The choice is myriad, but pushing hard and with a number of awards under its belt is the sturdy Isuzu D-Max that we've recently been driving.

The version we were loaned was the Utility model, a very basic workhorse with steel wheels, vinyl floor covering and neither heated seats nor sat nav.

Passengers of the fair sex - my wife included - remarked on the absence of a mirror on the sun visor. Of more concern was the lack of rear parking sensors, but models higher up the range look after those accessories.

With stronger, stiffer chassis than the previous D-Max, the latest incarnation also has revised suspension which gives an almost car-like ride over metalled roads without losing out over the rough stuff. It feels composed and comfortable even when travelling with a light load - good news for those who want it as weekend transport.

Electronic power steering is positive and has sufficient weight to reassure drivers in the strong winds that we encountered during the test period.

The cabin has been restyled and smartened, although as a functional work tool it is inevitably sombre but businesslike. Front seats are supportive and proved ache-free over several four-hour journeys. There's ample legroom front and rear, though the seats in the back are somewhat upright.

With a five-star Euro NCAP rating, the four-wheel-drive D-Max is among the safest trucks on the market.

Among the preventative features are lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, forward collision warning, blind spot monitor and emergency lane keeping. It also boasts eight airbags.

Power comes from a 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine that churns out 164bhp, enough to tow 3.5 tonnes and it will happily carry a 1.0 tonne payload.

Although the latest model is marginally shorter, its load area is slightly greater and passenger space is increased.

Despite its bargain-basement price - around £30,000 - it's a relaxing, easy drive with a not unpleasant gruff note from up front. The six-speed automatic transmission took much of the strain out of long trips and is to be recommended. On the fuel front we average 34mpg over almost 500 miles, mainly lightly loaded.

FAST FACTS

Isuzu D-Max Utility

Price: £30,099

Mechanical: 1.9-litre, 164bhp, 4 cyl diesel engine driving 4 wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 12.7sec

Combined MPG: 30.7mpg

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions: 241g/km

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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