Rugged and ready

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Two Wheels -

back­wards so pas­sen­gers are at least semi-com­fort­able. It needs some weight in the tray to avoid jolt­ing through the rear leaf springs and the in­te­rior is look­ing dated com­pared with the class lead­ers. Hard plas­tics and a lack of glossy high­lights are great for the work­horse mod­els but don’t give the high-end LS-T a qual­ity look.

SAFETY

Six airbags en­sure oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion but the D-Max only earned a four-star rat­ing from EuroNCAP, which says chest and leg pro­tec­tion are mar­ginal in a frontal crash. The side im­pact crash caused no dam­age to the dummy but pas­sen­ger pro­tec­tion— as with most ve­hi­cles in this class— isn’t great.

DRIV­ING

Com­pe­tent on road, ca­pa­ble off it. That sums up the Isuzu— and points to it be­ing a smart choice for own­ers who want a gen­uine 4x4 ute with­out own­ing some­thing as big as the Ranger. The ride is a touch jit­tery in the rear with the tray un­loaded but set­tles down with 200kg of ce­ment. Di­rect steer­ing helps when driv­ing on nar­row lanes and in carparks and it’s backed by a de­cent amount of feed­back when the D-Max is cor­ner­ing.

The pow­ered driver’s seat is a bonus but the wheel can’t be ad­justed for reach.

On pa­per, the four-cylin­der engine lacks torque com­pared to its ri­vals but on the road that won’t be felt un­less own­ers are ap­proach­ing the tow limit. The five-speed auto lacks a cog com­pared to the class lead­ers but has great fuel use at 8.1L/100km. Engine noise is also a touch louder, with muted clat­ter at idle and on full throt­tle.

VER­DICT

The Isuzu is a se­ri­ous 4WDbut that comes at the ex­pense of cabin ci­vil­ity at a time when the class lead­ers are get­ting soft and ci­tified.

For that rea­son I’d spend the ex­tra $700 for the Mazda as a tradies’ run­about, but if I was look­ing for a pur­pose­ful of­froader, it’d be hard to go past the D-Max.

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