A Jack of All Trades – Isuzu D-Max Blade

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The Isuzu D-Max has now been around since 2002 and the current second-generation model has been with us since 2012 but is still winning awards left, right and centre in 2019… So what makes it stand out from all the other pick-ups currently on the market?

For me, one of the main strengths of the D-Max is its no-frills approach to trucking. A lot of trucks on the market are trying to target the civilian market first, and the commercial market second and as a result, outright ability and functionality are compromised. This is not the case for the D-Max – Yes, it has an automatic gearbox, comfy leather seats with contrasting orange leather stitching, an Alpine SatNav with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but it also has a 3.5 tonne towing capacity and 1 tonne payload and the 1.9 turbocharged diesel engine manages to return healthy fuel economy without the need for AdBlue. Clever ladder-frame construction also makes the D-Max 42% stronger than its competition which basically means it can take a beating for longer without needing to be replaced – perfect for farmers and construction workers alike who just want to load up the bed and crack on with their business.

The Blade is the closest to a road car or SUV in the D-Max range offering up bigger, smarter black wheels, stitched and heated leather seats, cruise control, an automatic transmission, and a few other “creature comforts” to separate it from the more agricultural models further down the line-up, but it still has the class-leading strength and usability you’d expect. In the week I had this model I racked up a fair few miles in a variety of different situations including a 330-mile round trip up to Manchester, where I would be sat on the A1(M) for a few hours and also some more everyday local driving both on and off the beaten track to see how this truck compares to some of the Land Rovers and other Pick-ups I have used in recent times.

First and foremost, the Blade is still a commercial vehicle, but even for a soft-skinned desk worker like myself, the ride up the A1 was smooth and comfortable. You do have the usual body roll and the empty load bed made acceleration in standard 2WD mode feel a bit juddery due to the lack of weight over the rear wheels. There was also a fair bit of road and wind noise at higher speeds, but it also had a fairly decent stereo so that was remedied quickly and easily. The only real issue I had when using it for daily work duties was parking it. The common issue of car parking spaces being smaller and cars being larger was exaggerated quite significantly in the D-Max due to its sheer size but a rear parking camera twinned with a huge 9″ screen and power-folding mirrors certainly helped me get both in and out of a few tighter spots. I even managed to average 41mpg on my trip up North which was very surprising.

Back in the Fens I got to experiment a bit with the truck’s 4WD set up and I even got use the low-range box for a bit when it got particularly muddy near my house, and as expected it pulled through with ease. It may not be equipped with multiple locking differentials, or have a load of fancy tech-driven off-road driving modes, but the simple set up of a low-range box and four-wheel-drive combined with a bit of diesel grunt means the D-Max has a “go anywhere” approach which again, makes it brilliantly capable for a vast array demanding professions. Other trucks may be prettier and have a more car-like interior design but the D-Max feels like it can get the job done. And isn’t that the most important part?

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my week with the Blade. I’ve always loved off-roaders and trucks and by wrapping this one up with shiny black paint, giving it some lairy orange stitching, illuminated sill plates, and a big bulky roll bar and LED lamps only made me want to go out and play with it more! Every other vehicle around me is either a Land Rover or a truck so I finally felt at home with the locals as I went about my daily business. The only real disappointment for me was the performance, and I know that isn’t what these trucks are about, but at the same time these are also designed to be towing vehicles and do a lot of long distance driving as well spending their lives on farms and the 1.9 diesel lump seemed to struggle a bit when you put your foot down. I know there is a lot more behind the choice of a smaller capacity 4-pot engine over a bigger, thirstier and less economical 6-cylinder unit, but the extra grunt would have been handy a few times…

It’s clear that the D-Max is a very capable and reliable commercial truck and the Blade edition has been designed to be a bit more “everyday” but by keeping the ingredients simple and not softening up the truck makes this a very appealing and attractive proposition for anyone in the trade who wants all the functionality with the added bonus of a few mod-cons and comforts. An entry-level D-Max starts at around £20,000 for a single cab “Utility” model, but this full-fat double cab Blade, with all the trimmings, will set you back around £35,000 – but it does come with the highly desirable 5-year/125,000 mile warranty that just shows how confidence Isuzu have in the reliability of these vehicles.

You can read more about the Isuzu D-Max Blade, and the rest of the line-up right HERE.

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