This is the Isuzu D-Max XTR – the striking new ‘Adventure’ model that has all the ingredients to conquer off-road and turn heads on the road. We put it to the test on some unforgiving terrain including a slate quarry and forest trails.
Right back to when it first entered the UK market, Isuzu has found itself a loyal fanbase among the agricultural and construction industries, thanks to the rugged durability and capabilities of the likes of the Isuzu KB pickup, Trooper and latterly the Isuzu D-Max.
However, unlike other manufacturers, Isuzu has failed to take full advantage of the lifestyle pickup boom that we’ve experienced over the past 5-10 years. While there’s no questioning the D-Max’s productivity and reliability, it trails many of its stablemates when it comes to comfort, refinement and that all-important – for lifestyle customers at least – sex appeal.
However, the new Isuzu D-Max XTR is here to liven up the party!
Isuzu D-Max XTR Styling
Front-end styling cues, which consist of a front bumper guard, bonnet protector and headlight frames, have transformed the appearance of the D-Max, while the imposing wheel arch extensions at the side enhance the aggressive look. All of these features, and the door handles and rear bumper, have been finished in matte black and protected by a ‘Raptor’ coat.
The XTR sports 17-inch, 6-spoke satin black alloy wheels and the side steps have an angular framework to drain mud, sand and snow. XTR customers are restricted to just four colours; Splash White, Titanium Silver Met, Obsidian Grey Mica and Cosmic Black Mica.
Apart from the new face, another obvious alteration is the slightly raised ride height. Isuzu has fitted Pedders suspension, a new front suspension upper arm in conjunction and newly designed damper units which raise the frame 25mm and provides a 250mm ground clearance.
Stopping distances have been shortened thanks to new ventilated discs and pads from Kevlar at the front, and the Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus 265/70R17 tyres – which have achieved Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake and the Mud + Snow accreditation.
On the Inside
The Isuzu D-Max XTR gets its very own ‘sports seats’, which are suitably padded and finished in a mix of leather, suede and carbon fibre leather upholstery and green stitching. Meanwhile, the D-shaped steering wheel creates a sporty impression and, again, is trimmed in leather and suede with green stitching.
While the cab is packed full of storage spaces and includes many premium features including air conditioning, heated seats, reversing camera, although the keyless entry and ignition and electric seats are noticeable absentees.
Infotainment is provided by a Pioneer system which includes a seven-inch touchscreen display, eight speakers, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted controls and front and rear USB ports. The XTR Nav+, costing £1,150 more than the standard XTR, adds satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a DAB radio.
Powering the XTR is Isuzu’s 4-cylinder RZ4E engine producing 162bhp (at 3,600rpm) and 360Nm (between 2,000 and 2,500rpm). First and second gear are noticeably short, and we therefore much preferred Isuzu’s smooth and decisive six-speed automatic transmission.
Despite lifting the chassis, the D-Max XTR is well planted and there’s very little body roll going into the corners. Since switching to the 3-leaf design last year, the D-Max has been far more refined and less jumpy than with the previous 5-leaf configuration.
However, it’s off the road where the D-Max really comes into its own. The longer axle articulation, extra 25mm of ground clearance and greater approach angle were extremely handy when navigating the hazardous forest track, however, we had to be wary of the larger rear bumper hitting the ground.
Isuzu’s shift-on-the-fly 4WD system with low-range is recognised as one of the best on the market and, even though it lacks a locking rear-diff, we found that the traction control system was more than capable on both forest and gravel tracks.
Loading and Towing
At 1,485mm long, the load bed is one of the smallest in the double-cab segment, although it is wider and deeper than most of its competitors. The XTR inherits the 3.5t towing capacity and one-tonne payload, and the load bed liner, lashing points and even the tailgate dampener are all included as standard.
Isuzu D-Max XTR Price and Availability
The Isuzu D-Max XTR has been available to order since April but the first deliveries only took place in September. The XTR starts at £33,999 plus VAT, rising to £34,999 for the automatic, and this is backed by Isuzu’s reputable 5-year, 125,000-mile warranty (Nav+ is £1,150 more and available on both manual and automatic).
As of September 2019, the D-Max and SsangYong Musso are the last remaining pickup trucks that don’t require AdBlue. Residual values are extremely high thanks to Isuzu’s tough stance on excessive discounting and the respected build quality.