DPermission and ability are sometimes two different things. Horse and boat owners who want a car that can tow the maximum permissible 3.5 ton load know this. Since there are only a few SUVs that are allowed to pull so much on the hook, trailer users often reach for the pick-up and enjoy the loading area at the same time.
The editors already had the Isuzu D-Max in their test fleet in 2017, and we didn’t think it was bad as a commercial vehicle, but the drive weakened. Our pleas for a larger engine and a modern automatic were not heard, the current model is still working with the four-cylinder diesel with a meager 1.9 liter displacement and 163 hp, which should advance this load, but now emit fewer exhaust gases. Otherwise, the changes are manageable, among other things, there are a few more assistants.
The customer gets a two-seater with a long loading area from around 30,000 euros and the double cab with five seats from 38,850 euros, in between there is the one and a half cab with emergency seats behind the driver and front passenger. All this in four equipment levels, but the D-Max five-seater costs 52,500 euros in the highest. It does have illuminated make-up mirrors, but no navigation system. In any case, the equipment looks dignified, for the most important functions there are toggle and rotary switches that can even be operated with gloves. There is a choice of manual or automatic, each with six gears.
The latter still doesn’t convince us, because the engine constantly stirs helplessly in the converter, only to then generate propulsion with a delay. It almost feels like a continuously variable transmission and is annoying, so we would prefer the manual switch without looking at it. Amazing that the D-Max is relatively economical despite this waste of power. This is particularly evident on the freeway, where we drove briskly between 130 and 150 km/h with nine liters, the Isuzu runs quietly and quietly up to high speeds, more than 170 km/h are of course in the level cannot be reached.
On the return trip in a caravan from Eriba weighing around a ton, he was surprised: he was content with around ten liters. Of course, he consumes it in town and country without a trailer, which the competition with larger engines manages at least as well. Almost nothing can disturb the towing vehicle and trailer on the journey, the sheer length of the pick-up ensures that the combination runs smoothly.
However, every tough climb shows that the D-Max quickly runs out of breath. We can’t imagine what would happen in the same place with the permitted 1.1 tons of payload and 3.5 tons on the hook. The standard terrain reduction cannot be used there for more traction either, because the four-wheel drive, which is forcibly coupled with it, is switched on rigidly like in grandfather’s times and therefore the tires rub in every corner. We repeat ourselves: this car deserves a bigger engine and a new automatic transmission, permanent four-wheel drive would not be bad either.
After all, the Isuzu cuts a good figure off-road, it now has a rear differential lock as standard and a hill descent control and can wade through streams up to 80 centimeters deep. The Isuzu D-Max is a cheap offer for drive ascetics. If you can live with that, you get a lot of car for your money. Everyone else is still waiting for a larger engine and a modern automatic.