‘Aggressive’ Isuzu D-Max Is a Five-Star Safety Choice

The new Isuzu D-Max has secured a coveted five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, despite being described as “too aggressive” during head-on collisions.

The Isuzu D-Max was tested by Euro NCAP’s Australian counterpart, ANCAP, earlier in the year, where it was awarded a five-star rating. The European agency has retested the pickup to ensure that those ratings remain valid for the region, including models destined for UK customers.

Competing in a segment that isn’t known for providing the safest vehicles to work in, the Isuzu D-Max is impressively equipped, with various electronic driving aids, automatic emergency braking, and a new centre airbag.

Isuzu D-Max safety testing
The innovative Isuzu D-Max centre airbag in action.

However, one test showed that its weight and front structure make the pick-up aggressive to other vehicles in a collision.

Euro NCAP’s testing methods were overhauled for 2020, with the head-on collision now consisting the test vehicle impacting a moving deformable barrier, representing another vehicle. This barrier, called the Mobile Progressive Deformable Barrier (MPDB), moves at 31mph towards the test car, itself travelling at 31mph towards the barrier. The resulting closing speed of 62mph thoroughly tests compatibility between different vehicles, as well as the basic crash safety of the test car.

Large vehicles, such as the D-Max, that fail to offer more protection – and better compatibility – to smaller vehicles during a collision are penalised with a lower overall safety score. The Isuzu pickup caused some ‘localised areas of high deformation’ to the MPDB.

Isuzu D-Max safety testing

Despite that, the Isuzu’s 84% rating for adult occupant protection, along with an even better 86% rating for child occupant protection, ensured the D-Max a five-star rating. The myriad safety systems fitted to the truck, including traffic sign recognition, driver fatigue monitoring, lane departure prevention and forward collision mitigation allowed for a safety assist rating of 83%. Pedestrian protection was rated at 69%, the bluff front of the D-Max providing adequate protection to a pedestrians legs and head in an impact, with the automatic braking system usually slowing sufficiently to avoid impact.

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“The new-for-2020 tests are really driving a requirement for increased performance and more aggressive cars like the Defender and D-Max are being identified and marked down as a result,” commented Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research’s director of research. “The latest test results show some manufacturers are finding compatibility a challenge.”

“Poor crash compatibility between vehicles has been a problem for years,” explained Euro NCAP’s secretary general, Michiel van Ratingen. “Now, in 2020, we have a frontal test which can assess how a vehicle performs in this regard and can penalise those cars that perform poorly. This is a first for safety assessment and should lead to better, more compatible designs in the future.”