2012 Isuzu D-Max review

* Five-year warranty and four-star crash rating * On sale now * Priced from 23,345...

2012 Isuzu D-Max review
15 Oct 2012 10:50

Traditionally, pick-up trucks such as the Isuzu D-Max have been aimed squarely at the building trade, but the D-Max's immense loadbay, massive ground clearance and off-road capabilities won't be lost on the growing breed of extreme leisure pursuit enthusiasts.

What's the 2012 Isuzu D-Max like to drive?
Power for the D-Max comes from a 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that produces 161bhp and 295lb ft of torque.

For everyday use power goes to the rear wheels, but when tackling trickier terrain, a rotary dial mounted behind the gearstick can be turned to engage all four wheels. Turn the dial another notch to select low-range gears, which enable you to make the most of the engine's rev range even while crawling up a rutted track at walking pace.

Although the engine is pretty chattery at tickover and downright shouty when you work it hard, it does deliver pretty effective performance between 1500rpm and 3500rpm.

Sixth gear is effectively a high ratio overdrive to help boost fuel economy, however, slot it into top at 60mph and the rev counter hardly registers.

Although the D-Max has relatively sophisticated double wishbone suspension at the front, the heavy-duty leaf springs fitted to the rear make the ride a little bouncy when the loadbay is empty. This bounciness and associated shortage of grip means you need to be cautious on slippery roundabouts, because a heavy right foot will induce the rear wheels to slide.

Thankfully, the D-Max comes with stability control to prevent the tail from getting too animated. It also comes with the reassurance of six airbags should the worst happen.

However, the whole point of horizontally mounted leaf springs is that they spread the load over a wider area than upright springs, which helps the D-Max cope with an impressive one-tonne payload and tow a braked trailer of up to three tonnes.

With the D-Max's limited steering lock, three-point turns are somewhat challenging in narrow streets. All-round visibility is excellent, though, so reverse parking doesn't present too many challenges, despite the vehicle's length.

What's the 2012 Isuzu D-Max like inside?
Given that the D-Max's is likely to be used as a workhorse, it's just as well that the interior is built from hardy, no-nonsense materials.

There's a decent amount of leg-, head- and elbowroom for a five, and the large windows give the cabin a light and airy feel.

The shortage of adjustment to the steering wheel a small amount of vertical travel and zero reach adjustment makes it difficult to find a comfortable driving position.

There's plenty of standard kit, however, including air-conditioning, CD player, iPod connector and Bluetooth. Rocker switches mounted on the leather-bound steering wheel that operate the radio and cruise control functions are also included.

Should I buy one?
If you're in the market for a pick-up, then the D-Max is certainly worth considering. It'ss capable of hauling and towing significant loads and feels built to survive a hard life.

It's not as refined or as plush inside as a Ford Ranger or Volkswagen Amarok, but it is still a credible rival to traditional 4x4s thanks to its serious off-road abilities.

What's more, it's relatively efficient, with average economy of 38.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 194g/km. It also comes with an impressive five-year warranty.

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What Car? says

Pete Tullin