Driven: Isuzu D-Max AT35 2020 Review

The relationship between Isuzu and Arctic Trucks is now into its fifth year and there is a slight update for the 2020 model, which shows in the developments for the latest D-Max AT35.

Chief among the alterations to the AT35 is the new Bilstein suspension system but there are also modest upgrades to the exterior and interior.

First launched in 2016, the D-Max AT35 has proved to be a popular model for Isuzu with thousands of examples sold. Not only does the flamboyant truck appeal to the lucrative lifestyle sector, quite a number of commercial operators – like foresters and utility companies – have made the switch, attracted by its rugged off-road capabilities when working on remote worksites.

Design and Architecture

Isuzu D-Max AT35 Nokian tyres

The D-Max AT35 sets the precedent from the outset. With 35-inch Nokian Rotiiva Tyres, 17×10 AT Black Alloy Wheels and flared wheel arch extensions, it stands head and shoulders above the competition.

For the 2020 model, Isuzu has replaced the Fox suspension system with one from Bilstein of Germany, which it says is to ‘tackle even tougher terrains’. We found the Bilstein more limiting than the previous Fox arrangement, but it was certainly more comfortable and refined. 

There are also new chunkier and grippier side steps and logos applied to the wheel centre cap and the wing and tailgate. A forward-facing camera has also been added; a hugely practical feature when traversing rocky terrain or manoeuvring in tight spaces.

On the Inside

Isuzu D-Max AT35 Interior

Something the Isuzu has long been slated for is its dated cab and dashboard design. Isuzu has alleviated this by fitting new quilted leather upholstery with geometric pattern and central spine detail and a new 9-inch display; giving the interior a new lease of life.

With the new touchscreen display comes a plethora of gadgets and devices like Bluetooth connectivity, DAB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and nine speakers including a subwoofer and Satellite Navigation.

The audio package also incorporates front and rear USB ports, an HDMI port plus a wireless charger which is located in the top glove box to safely and conveniently charge your phone while driving.

Driving Characteristics

Given its huge size and the fact it sports all-terrains, the AT35 is surprisingly quiet – even on the motorway. With the 1.9, we recommend the seamless automatic transmission as the short gear ratios on the manual means you’re constantly flying through one and two.

As expected, there is quite a lot of body roll in the corners but the steering is just as accurate and responsive as standard variants.

Despite the smaller engine, the AT35 guzzles the juice. Due to its taller stature and wider wheelarches, we averaged just 26mpg on our week-long loan for the road activities, which included a mixture of urban and motorway.


Isuzu D-Max AT35 rear

However, its off the road where the D-Max AT35 really comes into its own. With 290mm of ground clearance, the D-Max AT35 is 55mm higher than the standard version and there are excellent approach and departure angles of 44 and 24-degrees respectively.

While the D-Max lacks a locking differential (although this may change next year), the effectiveness of Isuzu’s traction control system more than makes up for this. As with the standard model, there is a shift-on-the-fly system which allows you to switch to 4-wheel drive while moving and low-range is also on hand.

Isuzu D-Max AT35 Price and Availability

The new AT35 is priced from £39,995 plus VAT for the manual and £40,995 plus VAT for the automatic – a price increase of £2,000. There is no doubt that this is the most extreme VAT deductible pickup on the market.

Coming in a choice of Cosmic Black Mica, Obsidian Grey Mica, Splash White, Titanium Silver Met, Sapphire Blue Mica and Spinel Red Mica, the Isuzu D-Max AT35 is backed by the respectable 125,000-mile or 5-year warranty and 5-year roadside assistance in the UK and across Europe.

Isuzu D-Max AT35 2020 Technical Specifications

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