Isuzu D-Max (2012–)

Last updated 3 June 2019

A lusty 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel with twin turbochargers helps the D-Max offer masses of pulling power almost from tickover. Get the motor spinning and it has all the grunt you could ever want spread between 1500rpm and 3000rpm. With 163PS and 400Nm of shove, the Isuzu makes light work of towing trailers all the way up to its 3.5 tonne maximum and lugging up to one tonne of payload is no problem in the pick-up bed.

It helps that the D-Max comes with a slick six-speed manual gearbox, matching the Ford Ranger on this front, that lets it trickle off the line when you need to make small manoeuvres in tight spaces. Press harder on the throttle and the D-Max displays a turn of speed you might find surprising for a pick-up, though it is accompanied by a fair degree of diesel clatter, so the Isuzu is not quite as refined as the Ranger or Nissan Navara.

However, the D-Max gets back on terms with its rivals when it’s cruising along. Thanks to well chosen ratios, sixth gear in the manual gearbox version of the D-Max means easy, relaxed cruising and the engine is whirring away at low revs at the motorway speed limit. Not only does this mean quiet journeys but also good fuel economy and the D-Max will turn in an official 38.2mpg as a two-wheel drive model. Go for the all-wheel drive version and economy comes in at an identical figure but emissions actually drop very slightly to 194g/km from the two-wheel drive’s 195g/km.

In 2017 the D-Max’s 2.5-litre diesel was replaced with a smaller 1.9-litre unit. As before, the engine produces 164PS and maintains the D-Max's impressive 3.5 tonne towing capacity and one tonne payload. Running costs are lower too, with a claimed 40.3mpg. 

If you head off-road in the D-Max, it’s every bit as able and unstoppable as the Ford Ranger or Volkswagen Amarok and it can even give a Land Rover Defender a taste of its own medicine when the going gets very tough. The only limiting factor here is probably whether you worry about minor bodywork scrapes that come with driving in the rough stuff.

Back on the road, the double wishbone front suspension gives the D-Max good bite into corners and a planted feel to the front wheels. The steering is accurate and light, with a decent turning circle adding to the D-Max’s credentials.

However, like its key competitors, caution is needed on slippery roads when the load bed is empty or running light as the leaf-sprung rear suspension can allow the back axle to step out of line. Luckily, the deft steering is more than up to catching any such waywardness and standard ESP means you won’t be left flailing at the wheel. 

Engine Fuel tank MPG CO2
2.5 D 5 69 L 34–38 mpg 194–220 g/km
2.5 D Euro 5 69 L 34–38 mpg 194–220 g/km
Contract hire from £186.00 +VAT pm
Lease from £197.00 +VAT pm

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