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Isuzu_dmax_pickup_review
The Utah is the up-market end of the Isuzu D-Max range but with the same essentials like payload and towing capacity as the more workaday versions

Isuzu D-Max Utah pick-up

What is it?

ISUZU’s brawny D-Max pick-up is available in three bodystyles: Single, Extended and Double-Cab. Double-Cab models are offered in four specifications: standard Isuzu D-Max, Eiger, Yukon and Utah.

We tested the more utilitarian Extended-Cab model in February 2013 and now we’re trying the top-of-the-shop Utah variant.

There’s no denying that the D-Max looks all business – it’s rugged, mean and moody and in Utah spec is resplendent with 17-inch six-spoke alloy wheels in finished in black.

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It’s much more comfortable and better equipped inside, right down to the heated leather front seats

Our test model was also equipped with a colour-matched lockable hard-top over the pick-up bed, which gives the D-Max the appearance of a large 4×4 SUV. Rugged it is, but utilitarian it’s not.

And that’s abundantly clear as soon as you sit inside the cab. It’s a full five-seater, with plenty of legroom for the rear passengers. The seats are comfortable offering good support – and the front seats are heated.

A feature of the Isuzu D-Max is the ability to fold one section (seat base) up and one section (seat back) down independently, which improves load-configuration choices.  Additional storage compartments in the floor under the rear-seat base add to D-Max’s load-lugging versatility.

With electronic adjustment of the driver’s seat, I found it easy to achieve a comfortable driving position and visibility is excellent through the large windscreen. The chunky, leather-covered steering wheel has audio as well as cruise controls. Also unique to the Utah model is automatic climate control.

Instrumentation is simple and clear, with two large dials for road speed and revs, and a central digital display showing gear selection, fuel reserves, mileage and so on.

Our test model was fitted with the optional Vision Pack, which comprises premium a touch-screen Pioneer multimedia sat nav and audio system with integrated rear-view parking camera. The sat nav is efficient and easy to use but the wide-angle, imaged-reversed rear-view camera takes a little getting used to. It’s coupled with parking sensors, so you’d have to work very hard to hit something.

All four windows and both doors mirrors are electrically operated.

 

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The hard-top is a fixture and just as useful for weekends as work

Our test model was equipped with the five-speed automatic gearbox, which also offers a manual sequential selection function. It’s pretty slick to use and the option to switch to ‘manual’ which can be done back-and-forth at any time on the move, is handy if you need to hold on to lower ratios and push the D-Max on with conviction.

The Isuzu D-Max operates in two-wheel-drive under normal conditions, with selectable 4WD and low-ratio.

Despite much work on noise vibration and harshness over Isuzu’s previous pick-up, the Rodeo, the cab seemed a little noisy, and there was a vibration somewhere that I couldn’t track down. But it’s not a big deal.

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The optional Vision Pack includes a rear-view camera though it takes a little getting used to

Without doubt, the 163hp 2.5-litre pulls well and, with 400Nm of torque on tap, it feels strong and willing. There’s plenty of grunt for that low-range off-road work, too.

The D-Max has a very firm ride, though. It’s a characteristic of the rear leaf spring suspension, which is expected to deal with a 1-tonne-plus payload. But on all but the smoothest roads, expect to feel every bump.

There’s nothing wrong with the steering or handling, though as usual with a pick-up, the ride and handling improve with a load on board. All Isuzu D-Max pick-ups are equipped with ABS, ESC and TCS.

The tailgate lock operates with the central locking system but the optional hardtop has to be unlocked with a separate key.

The loadbed at 1552mm long x 1530mm wide is pretty capacious and our test model was fitted with a rigid plastic load liner and a nifty slide-out tray, which makes loading and unloading a pice of cake.

With a payload of more than a tonne, its a serious load lugger. It’ll also pull a 3.5-tonne braked trailer.

Isuzu clearly has faith in the D-Max as it offers a class-leading five-year/125,000-mile warranty.

 

Isuzu_dmax_pickup_review
The sliding tray that comes with the load liner is very useful for loading heavy items

What’s hot?

  • Beefy looks with the brawn to back them up
  • Punchy engine well up to the task
  • Dual-range gearbox for serious off-road work
  • Utah model has high-level of equipment, including climate control, heated front seats, cruise control and multi-media vision pack
  • Slick auto box with manual ‘sequential’ option
  • Good payload and towing capacity
  • Class-leading 5-year/125,000 mile warranty

 

What’s not?

  • Cab noise levels could be better
  • Ride is hard – unladen you’ll feel every bump, for sure
  • Rear-view camera is slightly eccentric and takes a while to get used to

 

Isuzu_dmax_pickup_review
For business people who need the solid practicality of a 4WD pick-up but want something more comfortable, the Utah should be on your list

Business Vans verdict

Isuzu’s D-Max is well-built, with a ruggedness that’s more than skin deep and an excellent powerhouse in the beefy 2.5 turbo-diesel engine. The top-of-the-range Utah adds luxury with leather interior and a range of high-end kit.

But despite the refinements, it’s ready to go to work, with a decent road capacity, towing ability and genuine off-road capability. For a vehicle that’ll graft all week and be fun all weekend, the D-Max has a great deal going for it.

 

What you need to know

 

On the road price ex VAT (CVOTR)£ 21,999
Load length1552mm
Load width (max)1530mm
Load height (without hardtop)465mm
Load capacityn/a
Payload1058kg
GVW3050kg
Towing capacity braked/unbraked3500/750kg
Engine2.5-litre 4-cyl diesel
Power/Torque163hp/400Nm
Economy (combined)38.2mpg
CO2 emissions194g/km

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