It’s all very well testers swanning about in super stylish 4x4 trucks with leather seats, fancy alloys and side bars (as we do occasionally), but in the real world of fleet, readers are much more likely to be buying “cooking” versions like the Isuzu D-Max 4x2 single-cab on test here.
The D-Max has replaced the old Rodeo and is available in single, extended and double-cab formats.
While this model may lack some modern refinements such as remote locking, carpets and a clock, it certainly makes up for these shortcomings with a massive load area and a fine build quality that promises a good few years of solid reliability ahead. To prove it, Isuzu offers a five-year warranty.
At the D-Max 4x4 launch last summer, Paul Tunnicliffe, managing director of importer IM Group, predicted this truck would eventually lead the sector. It’s a tall order bearing in mind it is up against the new Ford Ranger which has just been voted LCV of the Year at the Fleet Van Awards.
But this new truck is certainly head and shoulders above the old Rodeo – and bear in mind too that the rival Volkswagen Amarok is only available in 4x4 format at present. Isuzu’s aspirations may, however, be thwarted by its smaller number of dealers.
The 4x2 shares the same 2.5-litre twin turbo common rail diesel powerplant engine as the more upmarket versions and offers a meaty 163bhp and 295lb-ft of torque at between 1,400-2,000rpm, which translates on the road into a massive amount of low-down grunt.
Meanwhile, fuel economy is a reasonable 38.2 mpg on the combined cycle and emissions nudge just in under the 200g/km hurdle.
But it is in the rear end that this truck excels, with a load area measuring 2,305x1570mm – that’s a whopping seven-and-a-half feet in length in old money. It will also tow a 2,500kg braked trailer, although bear in mind that to do this you’ll need a tachograph.
For the basic price of £13,729 ex-VAT you get as standard ABS and electronic stability control (ESC) – top marks for that in the Fleet Van Safety Book – front, side and curtain airbags, electric windows, air-conditioning and a CD player.
Behind the wheel
Sometimes after driving top spec test vehicles, climbing aboard the more basic versions proves a big disappointment.
However, in the case of the D-Max, our week behind the wheel proved enjoyable, apart from on one longish trip when my cargo requirements exceeded the ability of a two-seater pick-up truck.