Isuzu D-Max V-Cross


     Isuzu don’t sell cars here in the U.K. I’m not entirely sure they sell cars anywhere else either. A quick Google – just for clarity I hasten to add - reveals them to be “a Japanese truck and engine manufacturer, currently producing a selection of commercial and personal vehicles as well as diesel engines for automobiles, industry and boats”. A few of us may remember the Isuzu Trooper, but, believe it or not, that particular a five seat 4x4 SUV hasn’t been available to buy new since 2002. Time flies, eh?

    The reason I mention such things is because I, like you I’m sure, associate Isuzu predominately with trucks. By which I mean pick-up trucks.  Out here in the Far Unlit Unknown it would appear that every farmer and self-employed builder you can point a finger at drives one. They’re tough old things, I’m told. The pick-ups, that is.  The body-on-ladder-chassis D-Max comes with the ability to carry a tonne in the back and tow a further 3.5 tonnes on a braked trailer behind – a pickup must have, surely? There’s selectable - On the Fly as Isuzu call it - high and low-range four-wheel drive too, plus as-standard locking differentials, and everything is backed by Isuzu’s 125,000 mile / 5-year warranty. You can see the appeal.

    Under such circumstances you could be forgiven for thinking that Isuzu’s predicted pick-up best-seller would be a rufty-tufty low-mid range spec example; steel wheels, manual’ box, and barely any luxuries.  Apparently, that’s not the case.

     An indication of how much Isuzu have quietly and continually developed the D-Max is surely the fact that they now predict the best-seller will be the range-topping double-cab V-Cross Auto, rather than the anything from the D-Max’s entry-level Business range. With the dreaded VAT applied a fully loaded (please, pardon the pun) V-Cross costs nearly £40k - enough to make many-a tight-fisted farmer suck through what’s left of his or hers teeth for years. No wonder then that “my” brand new D-MAX V-Cross, complete with alloy wheels, Isuzu’s imposing double-fang grille, LED headlamps, side steps, optional load-bed liner, and matching D-Max registration plate, drew some envious looks.

    These days though, you’re as likely to see a pick-up’s load-bed laden with jet-skis, or mountain bikes as you are one carting building materials or hay bales around.  The pick-up market has moved on; people having leisure time and lifestyles, rather than just lives, have seen to that.

     Higher disposable incomes and no doubt attractive PCP deals have helped push the D-Max’s interior more up-market too. In the V-Cross, a nine-inch touchscreen. dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats,  all-round electric windows, central-locking, and even adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and lane assist all put in an appearance. There’s no built-in sat-nav, strangely, although you do get Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so you can run all those all-important apps. All D-Max also get Hill Descent and Start Assist as standard. And believe or not, the D-Max is the first pickup, to achieve the much-coveted five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

   One other important thing: because the D-Max tips the scales at less than 2040kg, you are legally allowed to cruise at 70 mph, rather than 60 mph which is more usual for a pick-up this size.

      Sadly, all that new found refinement hasn’t stretched to the D-Max’s engine. There’s only one choice, a 1,898cc 4 cylinder 16 valve, turbo-diesel. It’s more than punchy enough to provide ample oomph for day-to-day duties, but it develops its power quite high up in its rev-range, and the din it makes whilst doing so… It rattles like a ball-bearings in a biscuit tin, and sends vibrations through the cabin even at idle. Throw-in Isuzu’s somewhat hesitant 6-speed automatic gearbox (still, it’s better than the manual, I’m reliably informed) and suspension that’s clearly been set up for load-lugging rather than luxuriating, and on a country road the D-Max sounds, and rolls, like a trawler on a heavy tide. It does eventually settle into a not-so-distant hum once on smoother surfaces, thankfully, and un-laden you should see the claimed 30.7 mpg without having to be too careful.

     Rugged rather than refined; more solid than it is sophisticated. Nevertheless, the D-Max once again feels altogether better than it used to. And with a variant to suit all walks of life - from the farmer, to the family-man who just fancies tougher, more adventurous weekend transport - there’s a lot to like. So much so in fact What Van have just awarded the Trooper their Pick-Up of the Year award.

   Isuzu clearly know their market – they know it very well indeed.



Isuzu D-Max D-Max V-Cross 4x4 Double Cab Automatic


Engine: 1,898cc 4Cyl 16 valve, RZ-4E turbo-diesel  

Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual mode and switchable “on-the-fly” 4x4

Power:  163 bhp @ 3,600 rpm

Torque: 265 lbft at 2,000 – 2,500 rpm

Max Speed: 112 mph

0-62 mph: 12.7 Sec.

CO2: 241 g/km

MPG: 30.7 (combined)

Price: from £33,499 CVOTR +VAT  


Many thanks to Daniel at ISUZU for the loan of their D-Max V-Cross



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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