Rugged and ready
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.
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.
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.
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.