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Isuzu D-Max DL40 Review

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

When we think of pick-up trucks, we think about something that’s probably got an American twang to it – a Ford F-150 Lightning or a Toyota Hilux or something.

We probably don’t think about an Isuzu.

And that’s a shame, because the Isuzu D-Max has plenty going for it – including the DL40 version, which has room for the whole family.

Pick-up trucks no longer conform to the stereotype of utilitarian boxes of metal with squeaky, clattery tailgates. Nowadays, they have the same creature comforts as just about any family car you can buy.

On that note, the D-Max DL40 gets 18-inch alloy wheels, Bi-LED headlights, keyless entry, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also boasts a DAB radio, heated front seats and an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat with powered lumbar support.

A body-coloured front bumper completes a robust but stylish look.

Inside, you’re treated to a leather upholstery, a seven-inch multifunction colour touchscreen, and a host of driver-assist features that make journeying a breeze.

The D-Max DL40 is powered by a 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine that delivers a healthy 164PS and 360Nm of torque, plus a six-speed automatic transmission, although a manual gearbox is also available.

The natural shape of pick-up trucks makes it difficult to give them good looks. But the bold lines, muscular shapes and a massive grille with angry headlights, plus air intake-like slots, give the D-Max a pleasingly aggressive and commanding presence.

It is a truck that means business, and it’s not afraid to show it.

The engine performs well at low speeds and low revs, delivering a significant amount of grunt. But further up the rev range, you’ll find yourself wanting to change up a gear to continue making progress and, at motorway speeds, it doesn’t really impress.

Few pick-ups are setup for a 70mph thrash, so Isuzu can’t be accused of getting it wrong. It will do 70mph comfortably – it’s just that getting there feels like a trip in itself.

Isuzu has worked hard on improving the ride comfort and, thankfully, in this department, this is by far the best D-Max to date due to the double wishbone front suspension and heavy-duty rear leaf springs that absorb bumps with ease.

The same improvement can be found in the D-Max’s handling which, by pick-up truck standards, is precise and responsive, making it surprisingly agile for a vehicle of its size, in part due to the impressive steering.

The automatic ‘box ensures seamless gear changes, although it’s a bit sluggish to change down.

The truck comes with hill descent control, which automatically applies the brakes when descending steep slopes, ensuring a safe and controlled climbdown.

Inside the D-Max DL40, you’re welcomed by a fairly stylish cabin.

The black leather upholstery is classy and durable, while the silver accents on the steering wheel, gear lever and air vents add a touch of sophistication.

The infotainment system has a seven-inch touchscreen that’s reasonably good, although rivals have higher resolution graphics and are easier to use, while SatNav is an optional extra, even on top-of-the-range models.

A 4.2-inch multi-information display is also included.

Practicality is where the D-Max DL40 truly shines, offering five seats in this double-cab version which provides as much space as a mid-sized hatchback.

All variants of the D-Max can copy with a metric tonne in the load bed or a maximum tow limit of 3,500kg. That helps because the 1,000kg payload rating means it can qualify as a commercial vehicle, which can save you money on road tax.

That is a good thing because it’s not the most economical vehicle, delivering a combined fuel consumption of 33.6mpg. Plus, it emits 220g/km of CO2 which is on a par with competitors, but hardly impressive at the same time.

Safety is a priority for Isuzu, and the D-Max DL40 is no exception.

The double-cab version of the D-Max was crash-tested by Euro NCAP, earning a five-star rating and scoring 86% for adults and children, plus 83% for safety assists.

Safety assistance features including forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, and traffic sign recognition.

Overall, the Isuzu D-Max DL40 scores well in many areas, but the lack of engine refinement means it’s not the best in the business.

The automatic gearbox is better suited to those with ample patience and the ride still isn’t the best despite Isuzu’s hard work in making improvements.

However, it’s without doubt a big step forward on Isuzu’s previous offerings and it’s rugged, practical, and packed with features.

The poor fuel economy is something that’s common on pick-up trucks, so in context, there are no complaints here.

Overall, if you can live without some creature comforts, the next one down – the DL20 – might be worth looking at, while the entry-level single-cab D-Max Utility is significantly cheaper.

Fast Facts – Isuzu D-Max [DL40, automatic] as tested:

  • Max speed:            112mph
  • 0-62 mph:               13.0secs
  • Fuel economy:       33.6mpg (WLTP)
  • Engine layout:       1.9-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
  • Max. power (PS):   164
  • CO2:                       220g/km
  • Price:                     £32,779 (excl. VAT)

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