Pick-ups were once just for work. A capable load lugger with off-road capability, able to get to places normal cars could not reach. In recent years though, the pick-up manufacturers have discovered that their customer base now contains many ’lifestyle’ drivers, who want a pick-up for urban use & whose main concern is what their pick-up looks like.
All of the pick-up manufacturers now have a vehicle for this customer, with both Renault & Mercedes-Benz due to launch versions shortly. In the meantime, Isuzu who perhaps offers the most varied pick-up range, has two good looking models. The top of the range Blade & underneath this the Utah which CC&V spent a working week in recently.
Isuzu has fitted a brand new 1.9 litre turbo diesel engine to on’s range, which produces 164 PS & 360 Nm of torque. The engine retains the 3.5 tonne towing capacity & over 1 tonne payload of the previous version, whilst providing a quieter, more refined & economical driving experience. Another key benefit is that the new engine meets Euro 6 standards without the need for the addition of AdBlue.
As per previous D-Max models, Shift-On-The-Fly 4×4 is a key feature of the 17MY truck. The rotary dial allows the driver to select four-wheel drive on the move & is also equipped with low range gears.
The range-line up from the much-loved D-Max is retained; Utility, Eiger, Yukon, Utah and Blade with a range of single, extended and double cab variants available.
The D-Max range comes with a five-year / 125,000-mile warranty & was the first pick-up in the UK to be offered with such a comprehensive peace-of-mind package. Running costs are kept down by 12,000-mile or 24-month service intervals, five years’ roadside rescue & recovery including European cover, a three-year paint warranty & a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.
The key design changes include a new front bumper, bonnet, grille & headlights with LED daytime running lights. The front of the pick-up has a wedge-shape which delivers a more aerodynamic silhouette & the roof has been designed to reduce drag by 0.4% versus 15MY D-Max by directing airflow over the tailgate, thereby improving fuel economy, performance & the level of cabin noise.
At the rear, the tailgate has been reshaped with a spoiler design moulded into the top section and features a newly designed handle. A full size spare wheel is now standard on all versions, previously optional on Double Cab models.Three body styles are offered: single, extended & double cab derivatives.
The interior of the new-generation D-Max has also been updated.The instrument panel has been redesigned with an updated central display & clearer font. Manual transmission models also come equipped with a gear shift indicator to assist drivers with achieving optimal fuel economy. Additional USB ports have been added to the lower centre dash & rear of the centre console across the range (except Utility). Extended and Double Cab variants are equipped with flexible rear seats that have a folding base, fold flat and also split 60/40. Extended Cab versions also have under seat base storage.
All of the cosmetic changes, especially those inside the cab have most definitely improved the D-Max range & have aligned it more with the lifestyle pick-ups already launched. However, it is the engine & transmission options which are the key changes on the new generation D-Max. The engine has been downsized to a new 1.9-litre turbo diesel engine which produces 164 PS and 360 Nm of torque. A choice of new 6-speed manual or automatic gearbox options are available, specifically developed for the new D-Max.
Our test model the Utah (from £24,149 CVOTR) certainly looks the part. Standard issue include, 18” alloys, silver side steps, LED rear lights rise control,keyless entry & push button start, Apple CarPlay™ & Android Auto™, SatNav, DAB digital radio, roof bars, leather upholstery with heated front seats, rear parking sensors & automatic air conditioning.
First & foremost it looks great. I have to say that the D-Max Utah is definitely one of the best looking pick-ups of any I have driven recently. Big bold wheel arches, wrap-around headlights & black roof rails make it stand out on the road. The black cabin of the D-Max was well laid out & I found all of the controls easy & comfortable to use. The quality inside is good & the new infotainment system with larger touchscreen is definitely an improvement over the last model.
There’s plenty of room in the front for both driver & passenger. Storage is good too, with two water storage pop-outs in the dashboard, decent sized door pockets & a useful glove-box. On top of the dash there’s also a pop-up storage area & above your head drop-down storage to put your sunglasses as well. You can get 3 adults in the rear, but whoever sits in the centre seat may not want to be there for long, as with all pick-ups, especially when unladen, it’s bouncy in there.
The 1.9 litre 164 ps turbo diesel engine offers maximum torque of 360 Nm @ 2,000 – 2,500 rpm & is Euro 6 compliant. Top speed is 112 mph. The turning circle is 12.2 metres on 17″tyres. The D-Max measures 5.295 m long by 1.860 m wide & is 1.795 m high. Ground clearance is 235 mm. Wheelbase is 3.095 m. The fuel tank holds 69 litres. The rear load bay is 1.552 m x 1.530 m x 46.5 cm with a maximum payload of 1101 kg.
Fuel economy in the Utah that I tested, which came with the 6-speed automatic gearbox, is a claimed 36.2 mpg, which is up 3 mpg on the outgoing 2.5 unit. CO2 emissions of 205g/km are also lower than the old model’s 220g/km.
Some readers may not be as keen to know what goodies their pick-up comes with, but rather what can it do for me. A pick-up should be used as a pick-up. Isuzu took us around a tough off-road obstacle course at Duncombe Park & I was able to utilise the D-Max’s new technology such as Hill Descent Control, including driving along & across a fast flowing river. The D-Max also shone whilst towing a trailer & with 1000kg of hay in the back on-road & I can genuinely confirm that the smaller 1.9-loitre engine does the job at least as well as the previous 2.5-litre version & with improved gear ratios, for first & second gear even better !
Friends & neighbours always ask me about pick-up’s & whether they would cut it as a family car. Because it looks great, the Utah or sister model Blade, would definitely attract the family-man. Whilst they are “so much better than they used to be,” I tell them, ” this is not an SUV but a pick-up.” If you’re used to the soft-road ability of an SUV, then any pick-up will come as bit of a shock, especially to those travelling in the rear. There’s no getting away from the fact that the D-Max as well as all other pick-up’s, is a commercial vehicle & it shines as a CV.
One of the real plus points with the Isuzu though, is that in the main, the Isuzu dealer network is not made up of giant car group locations, but contains some smaller commercial experts, which is great news for those who don’t want to be sold a car. Isuzu dealers are also located in some smaller urban & rural places, which again is refreshing for those not based in town. The range of pick-up’s that Isuzu offer is both more extensive & better value for money than it’s competitors, offering a pick-up for all budgets. Your pick-up is your livelihood & Isuzu’s reliability is second to none. These in my opinion, make Isuzu the pick-up of choice for those in the know & this new 1.9-litre version makes an even more compelling case than before.
The John Stockton of pick-ups 3.25/5