Isuzu D-Max Utah
The thing about having a pick-up is that everyone wants a favour. Everyone has a sofa to move, a fridge to throw away, or a tree to take to the tip. Within hours of getting the D-Max delivered I was asked to do two of the three, both of which were a breeze despite my anguish of having a relaxed Monday evening cruelly taken away.
There are stacks of options to choose from when looking for a new pick-up, but arguably none are more suited to the job than the D-Max. Isuzu offers the model in a wide range of different variants, the most basic of which comes in at just over £16,000. I was given the Utah for a week, which sits close to the top of the range and is therefore about £10,000 more.
It’s equipped with a decent array of tech, including rear parking sensors and camera, which luckily for me made London life just about bearable in the mammoth truck. But the D-Max is actually much longer than it looks. On more than one occasion, I found myself optimistically stopping next to a space to attempt a parallel park, edging the back into position before sheepishly giving up. That said, it would be a tight squeeze getting a Smart car in most London spaces, let alone a giant pick-up.
It was also a squeeze fitting in four passengers - one in the front next to me and three in the back. Although there are three seats in the back, the middle is only suitable if you are of a similar size and stature to our very own Rachel Boagey, who wedged herself in there nicely. Anybody shaped like Freddie Holmes, on the other hand, would find themselves sitting on top of the other passengers. Not cool.
It’s not built for city or family life, then. But the D-Max really came into its own when I arrived home in South Wales for the weekend and started my long list of odd jobs, which included moving that sofa and fridge. The ride didn’t suffer too much even with the ridiculously heavy and oversized furniture and home appliances on the flatbed thanks to a new suspension system. Room wasn’t an issue either as the load bay measures 1,552mm by 1,530mm. Payload capacity for the Utah is just over 1.1 tonnes (though this differs depending on the variant), and it can also tow a load weighing up to 3.5 tonnes.
There is a distinct air of no-nonsense to the D-Max. Everything is kept simple, clean and practical, while any small details are purposeful. There are no swanky surfaces or pointless buttons in the cabin, so it doesn’t have the luxury feel that some of its competitors boast (such as the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, which is far pricier). But that’s not an issue. The D-Max isn’t trying to be something it isn’t. Also, I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of D-Max owners would reel in disgust at an overcomplicated dashboard or infotainment system.
Speaking of which, the 7-inch touchscreen couldn’t be easier to use, though at times the graphics resemble something closer to MS-DOS than to the latest version of Windows. It can also be a little unresponsive and takes time when connecting to smartphones.
Despite not having tested it I’d recommend the auto gearbox, as the manual was one of very few downsides. Apparently Isuzu opted for short ratios in order to enhance the D-Max’s towing capability, which makes sense in terms of functionality. But unless you’re in the work yard all day long and don’t hit the roads, then the lack of ability to accelerate may get infuriating. I also struggled to differentiate between first and reverse when I first got behind the wheel, but that could just be due to my incompetence.
The D-Max is a pick-up person’s pick-up. I hate the term, as ‘workhorse’ is often bandied about when describing any model in the segment, though it’s certainly applicable in this case. Rugged and dependable, it’s almost as if the D-Max has been built for tradeswomen and tradesmen by tradeswomen and tradesmen.