Trucking just got more stylish, and safer says Shahzad Sheikh

From quarries to corner shops, from lugging loads to ferrying families, from off-roading to wind boarding, Isuzu has got a pickup truck for you – meet the all-new 2021 D-Max. A new platform and, most crucially of all, a dramatically upgraded and improved cabin, sees this working horse extend its desirability and grab a larger market share (10,000 sales predicted by 2025).

It’s actually three distinct line of trucks in one model range. The first is the base model, utterly utilitarian, carry-cargo and bash-it-against-boulders Business Range, with on-road prices starting from £25k. Leaving basic for plush, the next line up is the All-Purpose Range, denoted by DL (for Differential Lock) with the fully equipped DL40 Double Cab automatic taking your spending up to £37k.

Finally, there’s the ‘lifestyle’ V-Cross with more speakers, bigger infotainment touchscreen and gunmetal exterior finishing for the grille, alloy wheels and mirrors topping out at nearly £40k. This only comes as a double cab with manual or auto options. DLs are extended or double cab, and the base models are available along with single cab.

There’s only one engine offered, the 1.9-litre diesel motor putting out 164bhp and 360Nm of torque from just 2000rpm. Combined fuel consumption is in the 30mpg range with CO2 emissions at 220g/km. 0-62mph acceleration is in 12.7 seconds for the manual and 13 for the auto. But that belies the fact that on the go, the D-Max isn’t found wanting. It pulls strongly and builds up momentum nicely. Go for the auto though, the manual is more fun, but with a long throw and transmission tremble, it feels crude in this grown-up truck.

The ride is well controlled, with a little float but not as much pitching as you’d expect from a vehicle with so much suspension travel. Handling is surprisingly competent and it’s an eager companion when negotiating 45-degree inclines or 90-degree bends. A more ‘sportier’ version surely beckons. Raptor rival anyone?

Where it’s really a surprise is in the vastly improved refinement and sophistication which makes it a substantial threat to its two main rivals in the segment, the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux. It doesn’t pitch and roll on the go as much as trucks of old, it keeps the rattles and squeaks to a minimum, and light steering and good brakes make it an easy drive.

Inside the DL and V-Cross model have all the toys including a full set of car-like driver’s aids from automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and rear-cross-traffic alert. There’s room for three big teenagers in the back, should you want to run this as a family vehicle, and they can even hide stuff in secret compartments under the rear seats.

With the latest D-Max Isuzu has really raised the appeal of owning a truck for work, play, or both!