Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Discussing the choice of engine for the Isuzu D-Max doesn’t take long because there’s only one: a 162bhp 1.9-litre diesel. That might not sound like enough, but even in its bulkiest double cab form, you have a better payload than an equivalent Ford Ranger.
It certainly pulls from low in the rev range, but it quickly runs out of puff. It doesn’t feel any more sluggish than an entry level Toyota Hilux, but the most potent versions of that and the Ford Ranger whip up to motorway speeds far faster. Exacerbating the issue is a very short first gear on manual models and a hesitance for the six-speed automatic to kick down.
The Ranger is also happier in the bends. Although it’s easy enough to guide the D-Max along, the Ranger’smore precise steering gives you greater confidence and is less affected by mid-corner bumps.
Engine refinement is never the strong suit of a pick-up, and the Isuzu D-Max is no exception. Any demands for a bit more speed result in a cacophony of noise not helped by the engine’s lowly output. A Ranger or Ssangyong Musso’s engine is smoother, and because both of those have a bit more power you don’t have to work them as hard, keeping the noise down. You’ll also hear plenty of wind whistle around the big mirrors and a fair amount of road noise, too.