Pick-ups used to be workhorses, so that’s what you got. A tough, uncompromising package with little thought given to design, comfort and specification. It did a job, didn’t cost too much, and that would be it writes Ian Strachan.
No more. A 21st century pick-up is a fashion statement. That means it has to look good, be at least as comfortable as a car, and come with all the goodies you’d expect on an upmarket saloon. That’s where the Isuzu DMax pick-up scores. Imported by the International Motors Group, the Rodeo DMax 2.5D Yukon Hardtop that I tested has a stylish crew cab body, a huge hardtop-covered load-space and a high specification. Its spacious interior is light and pleasant – a far cry from pick-ups of the past.
This DMax is powered by a strong and willing 2.5 litre diesel unit. It sounds tough and is tough – a growling 163 bhp engine with plenty of grunt if you need it for towing or off-roading. My test car married the engine to a six-speed manual gearbox with sensible ratios which resulted in a smooth and effortless ride.
Despite its size, the unladen DMax can still return respectable fuel economy figures of 38.2 miles to the gallon in mixed driving.
It handles pretty well, too. Suspension is soft, which means you’ll roll around corners a little, but straight-line handling is comfortable and steering is precise. Four-wheel drive and high range gearing can be engaged by turning a simple control.
There’s plenty of room for five people in this vehicle, with good headroom. The high specification also gives you alloy wheels, cruise control, air conditioning, load-space liner, CD player, electric door mirrors and all round electric windows – all for £23,869 on the road including VAT and delivery. You get all the safety features you’d expect on a car, plus the advantage of a high driving position. My test car was fitted with a satellite navigation system (£900) which includes a reversing camera – a very useful accessory in a hardtop pick-up where rear visibility is not great.
Isuzu pick-ups have been around for a long time, but this is undoubtedly the most refined and car-like to date. It sells in 130 countries worldwide and could easily take sales in the UK from more established competitors.
Public utilities, farmers and construction workers will find this a comfortable working vehicle, but it will also appeal to businessmen looking to reduce their tax bills, and those who recognise the pick-up as the new cool vehicle to be seen in.