Isuzu D-Max (2012 – 2021) Review

Isuzu D-Max (2012 – 2021) At A Glance


+Powerful 2.5-litre and 1.9-litre diesel engines with 3.5 tonne towing capacity, simple and robust interior, wide choice of bodystyles.

-Limited steering wheel adjustment, diesel engine is noisy, ride quality lacks the refinement of its rivals.

The Isuzu D-Max is one of the most capable one-tonne workhorses on the market, pairing low running costs with gargantuan towing ability. Admittedly, it's not the most refined or advanced pick-up money can buy, but when it comes to hauling up to 4.6 tonnes on a budget, the D-Max is difficult to fault.

The Isuzu D-Max was launched in 2012 as the replacement for the Rodeo. Unlike some of its rivals, the D-Max doesn't pretend to be an SUV-aspiring lifestyle vehicle, instead it is pitched as a heavy duty work tool aimed squarely at builders, forestry workers and engineers.

The D-Max is certainly a robust workhorse and can tow up to 3.0 tonnes (extended to 3.5 tonnes from July 2013 onwards). It will also carry a 1050kg - 1136kg payload and can be fitted with a huge choice of bedliners and load covers. There are three body styles to choose from - single, extended or double cab - although it's the double cab that provides the most flexibility, given its large interior and five large seats.

Most models are powered by a 2.5-litre twin-turbo diesel engine with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox. The engine delivers 163PS and a whopping 400Nm of torque – from as little as 1400rpm – which provides a lot of low-down pull, through all of the gears. Buyers can choose between two-wheel or four-wheel drive, with the latter providing off-road ability. Claimed fuel economy is 38.7mpg for manual versions, while automatics will provide a claimed 33.6mpg.

In 2017 the D-Max’s 2.5-litre diesel was replaced with a smaller 1.9-litre unit. As before, the four-cylinder engine produces 164PS, but overall torque levels are lower with the 1.9 unit producing 360Nm. However, while the new engine offers 40Nm less torque, the 2017 D-Max retains its 3.5 tonne towing capacity and 1.0 tonne payload.

The D-Max isn't particularly refined on the road; there's lots of engine and road noise, while the leaf sprung suspension pitches heavily in the corners and under hard braking. However, while the ride can be poor at times, the steering is responsive and the 2.5 engine quiets down on the motorway.

The interior isn't the best, with lots of cheap plastics and flimsy materials, but it's practical enough. Everything feels hard wearing and there are plenty of cup holders and pockets. The tough seat fabrics also feel like they’re designed to survive life in a working vehicle.

The D-Max is available in a large choice of trims and can get quite expensive, with the range-topping Blade version breaking the £30,000 barrier when you include VAT. However, if you're planning to use the D-Max for work, then you'd be better with the entry-level versions. Not only are they comfortable, durable and easy to clean, but they also make the D-Max excellent value when you factor in its decent economy and huge load carrying potential.

Looking for the latest model? You'll need our 2021 Isuzu D-Max review.


Ask Honest John

Why does the Isuzu D-Max hesitate when I use the accelerator?

"My employer has just taken delivery of a new Isuzu D-Max pick-up. When driving it, I find that the initial throttle response is almost zero for about 2/3 seconds before the engine picks up. This is problematic when pulling onto busy roads or any situation that requires instant acceleration. Any advice welcome. Thank you."
This is a characteristic of the vehicle, I'm afraid. The D-MAX is a large and heavy pick-up. The 1.9-litre engine is turbo reliant and this means there is a bit of a lag between pressing the throttle pedal and the vehicle accelerating.
Answered by Dan Powell

Will a pick-up's DPF be okay with mostly short trips?

"I currently have a BMW 1 Series diesel that has a DPF fitted. I drive two daily trips of 15 miles with quite a bit of traffic. Over six years of ownership, I have not currently had any DPF issues but am looking to upgrade my vehicle to a new 1.9 Isuzu D-Max. Are all DPF’s similar enough to provide me with an understanding of if I may experience any problems with this vehicle under the same driving conditions?"
All DPFs are not equal. And this makes it annoyingly difficult to predict how they react to low mileages. Some are fine, most are not. As a general rule, I advise a minimum of 15-miles per journey to justify a Euro6 diesel. But I would be concerned with something like the D-MAX because pick-ups are generally designed for high-milages.
Answered by Dan Powell

We've got a 2006 Defender. Should we hang onto it or sell it?

"We own a 2006 Land Rover Defender 90 TD5 (120,000 miles) and, unfortunately, due to higher road tax rates and congestion charges in clean air zones it'll be almost impossible for us to continue to afford to run this fine vehicle. It's in good condition with a current MoT and Full Service History by Land Rover. My wife has a horse and given harsh winters, floods etc, nothing beats a Defender in getting her to the yard. We've looked at the new Defender and pricing. It's very expensive and doesn't seem as durable as our Defender. Do you think it's worth swapping (finance is cheap)? If not, should we put it away and wait to see if the value shoots up?"
The good news is your Defender's probably worth considerably more than you'd expect - second-hand Defender prices are high even for abused, rusty examples (which your car isn't, by the sound of it). Unlike most cars, buyers concentrate on condition (which varies dramatically) rather than age or mileage meaning it's hard to place a figure on it, but you'd probably be looking in the region of £16,000 for a private sale. While it's difficult to predict future Defender values, furloughing it might be a bad idea. It's surprising how quickly a car will deteriorate once it's out of sight and mind. As a replacement, consider a Toyota Land Cruiser or maybe a pick-up truck like an Isuzu D-Max.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What single cab pick-ups are available new in the UK?

"I'm looking for a new single cab pick up in the UK. Are there any available other than the Ford Ranger XL Regular Cab and the Toyota Hilux Active 2 door? "
Single cab pick-ups are becoming increasingly rare. The majority of pick-ups in the UK are double cab, so they can be used as rugged family cars. However, Isuzu still offers a single cab version of the D-Max. The Nissan Navara is also available as King Cab, which is an extended version of the single cab with two small bench seats in the back.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Isuzu D-Max (2012 – 2021) cost?