As a major player in the global pick-up market, selling around 650,000 trucks a year around the world, Isuzu has always gone its own way with D-Max. While there have certainly been high specification models on offer, the company has built its reputation on hard-working trucks, rather than luxury car alternatives.
That hard work ethic starts with a sturdy chassis and the new D-Max gets an extra cross rail and larger chassis rails, to deliver improved rigidity. This helps to reduce noise and vibration, while also improving handling on and off the road. Larger cab mounts also contribute to reduced NVH, resulting in a quieter cab environment.
The wheelbase has been increased by 30mm, to provide improved in-cab space, particularly in the rear. Despite having a longer cab and a slightly longer pick-up bed though, the D-Max is actually shorter overall, as the more vertical front end and 30mm higher bonnet line have reduced the front overhang.
As others moved to ever more powerful and larger engines, Isuzu went the other way, launching its 1.9-litre diesel engine in 2017. That Euro 6D motor remains unchanged for this iteration, still pumping out a healthy 164hp, with 360Nm of torque. Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are also on offer, though the automatic has been improved, to offer 25% swifter gear changing and response. The company has added a rear differential lock into the equation, as standard on its mid and high-range trucks, while all D-Max get larger brakes to reduce fade and improve service life.
Talking of ranges, Isuzu has shuffled the pack to create three distinct pick-up lines. Utility is the base line, though there is nothing basic about the hard-working models. Utility trucks can be had with single, extended or double-cabs and they feature 16” steel wheels on single cab models and 18” steel wheels on extended and double-cab models. The trucks also come with black bumpers, door handles and mirror housings.
Thanks in part to the adoption of electric power assisted steering, all D-Max trucks now benefit from a comprehensive range of ADAS systems, contributing to the pick-up’s recent Euro NCAP five-star rating. This includes Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Traffic Sign Recognition, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Blind Spot Monitor, Emergency Lane Keeping and Rear Cross Traffic Alert on every model. The trucks also get auto wipers and headlights, with High Beam Assist.
Inside the cab, Utility models have manual air conditioning, DAB radio with Bluetooth, power windows, Stop & Start and remote central locking with a follow-me-home function.
The mid-range All Purpose line-up includes the DL20 and DL40 models. DL20 can be had in extended or double-cab, while the DL40 is double-cab only. The DL20 adds the rear differential lock, 18” alloys, adaptive cruise control and Lane Keeping Assist if you opt for the auto transmission, front fogs, rear parking sensors and body-coloured bumpers.
The DL40 gets Bi-LED headlights, LED front fogs, daytime running lights and rear lights, a reversing camera, leather upholstery, electric driver’s seat, dual zone climate control and a 7” touchscreen. Finally, Isuzu has the Adventure range, with the new V-Cross replacing the previous Blade model. The V-Cross comes with gunmetal grille and side steps, auto headlight levelling and a 9” touchscreen. The Adventure range will grow over time, with a replacement for the current XTR and AT35 models.
“We will always be known as a working pick-up,” said managing director William Brown.
However, even Isuzu will be offering a wider range for the dual-purpose and leisure markets. Traditionally 50% of UK sales have been the working and all-purpose trucks, with a further 30% going to national fleet and just 20% of sales into the adventure market. But Brown sees that changing, by 2025 he believes that 45% of sales will be all-purpose, 25% national fleets and up to 30% adventure buyers.
This is partly due to the changing landscape in the UK pick-up market, with Mitsubishi, Nissan, Mercedes and VW all dropping out, there is a growing space for Isuzu in all areas of the sector. In 2019, when the D-Max was last updated, Brown said that he was hoping to hit 10,000 D-Max sales a year in the UK by 2025. Now he believes that target will be reached much earlier. Indeed, as this new D-Max was launched, it had already sold out until much later in 2021, with more than 800 fleet orders already confirmed.
The push up market has also led to a slight refocus on Isuzu’s dealer network. While the company continues to sell through agricultural dealers and heavy goods outlets, it has also picked up 11 new dealers with more of a lifestyle focus. Unsurprisingly, eight of those were previously Mitsubishi outlets.
Though this updated D-Max enters a changing market, there are some factors that remain the same. Pick-up buyers want a truck that can work. With that in mind all D-Max can carry over 1.0-tonne and tow up to 3.5-tonnes. All models sit below 2,040kg unladen too, so can be driven at car speeds on A-roads. The standard adoption of ADAS safety systems is also impressive.
Certainly, the truck performs well on and off the road, with the rear diff lock adding to its all-terrain credentials. On the road, the engine still isn’t the quietest around when you are looking for acceleration, but there are few complaints with performance and the new cab environment is packed with features. Utility prices start at just over £20,000 for a 4×2 single cab, rising to £31,929 for a V-Cross automatic, putting D-Max in a strong position against the competition. It is hardly surprising that it has been so well received.