D-Max Blade Double Cab Auto
never driven a
likely think its
cowboy-ish. But its
far more than
just a Bucket List entry
around in a double cab could bring
out the secret Die Hard in you...
PICK-UPS ARE POPULAR, you can't argue with that. And the choice keeps on
expanding with the likes of even Mercedes diving in; no doubt there's gold in
them thar pick-ups… But while there are plenty of fancy new kids on the block,
it makes sense to check out the 'old timers' with years of expertise under their
One such is Isuzu's well-known and long-time favourite, the D-Max double cab.
Prices run from £18K to £30K (the XTR
and awesome AT35 specials
take that even higher, to, respectively £35K and £41K). But unless you're planning
on personally visiting Santa at his North Pole grotto, any of the standard D-Max
line-up's models will serve you perfectly well.
D-Max Blade looks the biz, too. Imposingly rugged and clearly eager to lock
horns with some apocalyptic terrain, its bonnet (that's nearer to your chest
height than your waist) fronts a thrusting nose treatment while down the flanks
blistered wheelarches not only look good but underscore its ability to go where
the wild things are (you won't get far crossing rough terrain without plenty
of wheel articulation). 255-width rubber with plump '60' profile sidewalls are
wrapped around metallic dark grey, multi-spoke, eighteen-inch alloys and the
paintwork is as shiny as on any flash sportscar the difference is you
can muddy a D-Max to the roof rails and it somehow looks even better!
utilitarian with a large
U, thats definitely not
the case when you pull
open the Blades door.
Step up you may be
glad of the non-slip side
step and sturdy grab-
handle on the A-pillar
and sink into a well-
Once inside the spacious
and airy cabin youLL
find plenty of leather,
finishing and enough
lifestyle features to make
you think SUV rather
While 'pick-up' implies utilitarian with a large 'U', that's definitely not
the case when you pull open the Blade's door. Step up you may be glad
of the non-slip side step and sturdy grab-handle on the A-pillar and
sink into a well-shaped chair. Once inside the spacious and airy cabin you'll
find plenty of leather, high-gloss black finishing and enough lifestyle features
to make you think SUV rather than workhorse.
Along with black leather upholstery the Blade gives you keyless entry and push
button start, a nine-speaker Pioneer navigation and infotainment system (the
central free-standing nine-inch touchscreen comes with sharp graphics, first-rate
full postcode 3D mapping and is intuitive to use), Apple CarPlay and Android
Auto, DAB radio, Bluetooth, HDMI and USB ports, automatic AirCon, reversing
camera, two-stage heated front seats, leather-wrapped multifunction wheel (phone,
audio, and cruise), electric windows (one-shot up/down for the driver), on-demand
powerfolding heated door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control,
tinted windows, and side steps. Oh, and Isuzu even throw in at no extra
charge! a matching alloy spare wheel: indispensable when going off-road
and when towing.
Safety tech and driver 'assists' include four-wheel drive, hill descent control,
trailer sway control, electronic stability control, dual front, side and curtain
airbags, hill start assist, LED daytime running lights and tail lights, drive-away
auto door locking, and height-adjustable front seatbelts.
The dash and centre stack layout is delightfully straightforward and everything
is where you'd expect to find it with big buttons and switchgear and no crowding,
and all operated easily on the move. The trad-style foolproof white-on-black
dials and the driver's trip display between them tell you everything
you need to know in a glance.
you do get is plenty is comfort the large seats are well padded and will
keep you relaxed all day long. There's very generous headroom even though you
sit tall. The benefit for the driver is the excellent side and forward visibility
out over the sizeable bonnet; from behind the D-Max's wheel you can see both
front 'corners' which makes placing the Blade a no-brainer in rush-hour traffic
or deep in the forest.
pledges to eliminate all
vehicles from the roads,
the reality is that even if
you cant buy a new one
after 2030 it will be years
before the last of the
diesel tribe finally goes
to the great scrapheap
in the sky.
More importantly for the
here-and-now is that
the Blade (and all D-Max
models) runs a gutsy
turbodiesel if you want
lugging power you need
torque, and diesel
delivers that in spades...
It's good, too, to have plenty of in-cabin storage. Along with not one but two
gloveboxes (one lockable) comes a lidded bin in the top of the fascia, a large
storage box capped by the wide central front armrest pad, door pockets that
honestly do hold bottles, and a drop-down case for your shades. Particularly
useful are the 'mini-drawers' at each end of the dash: they slide in/out and
can be used either as handy oddments boxes or as cupholders for your Starbucks
The glasshouse's large windows let plenty of natural light into both the front
and rear cabins and the full-width rear screen can be slid open, which on models
that come without the estate-style hardtop over the load deck is a real bonus
on sweltering hot days. Spot the dog loved it too! A drop-down central armrest
comfortably defines personal borders for two Bond-movie 'heavies' aided by long,
nicely-padded outer armrests. Flip-out cupholders are provided should you need
In fact, travelling in the back of the double cab is unexpectedly enjoyable
as there's plenty of room for legs, knees and feet and the seats are set high
off the floor, so passengers can enjoy some high-level people-watching. Three
in the back? That's doable too, and made easier due to the minimal floor tunnel.
And yes, the rear door bins hold bottles and seatback pouches, Isofix child
seat mountings and rear door child locks are all present and correct.
Given it's high-riding looks you might be in for a surprise when you ride along
in a D-Max for the first time because it's pretty laid-back to drive in around
the houses and on long runs its 5.3-metre long and 1.87-metre tall body
wraps itself around you protectively and makes driver and passengers feel safely
above the fray. Despite it's XXL footprint it actually doesn't feel the least
you'll hear the odd thump from the tail when driving over larger speed humps
or major potholes but generally even badly patched blacktop barely registers.
Better still, there's none of that 'bouncy castle' effect you can experience
with some pick-ups when running with just a driver and front passenger.
course there's a 'workmanlike' veneer to its on-road driving character but then
few other vehicles can also be as brutally effective off-road. For all sane
drivers the D-Max's roadholding is reassuring and predictable; it feels well-planted
through the twisties and secure and stable on fast motorways. Job done!
it feels as well
suited to the raw terrain
as a Dakar Rally
challenger, blitzing its
way over the rough stuff
The heart of the D-Maxs
off-roadness is a 4WD
system that offers both a
high and low-range set
of ratios the latter the
better to tackle the truly
On-road you can quickly
flick from two- to four-
wheel drive on
at up to 60mph using the
rotary knob close to the
selector lever. Which is
when severe weather
conditions blanket the
country during the
government pledges to eliminate all fossil fuel-powered vehicles from the roads,
the reality is that even if you can't buy a new one after 2030 it will be years
before the last of the diesel tribe finally goes to the great scrapheap in the
sky. More importantly for the here-and-now is that the Blade (and all D-Max
models) runs a gutsy turbodiesel if you want lugging power you need torque,
and diesel delivers that in spades.
A 1.9-litre in the engine bay pumps out 161bhp and, more importantly, 265lb
ft of torque which is how it's able to pull a massive braked 3,500kg
(more than most of its greenhorn rivals) plus over a one tonne (1,086kg) payload.
It feels suitably bullish low-down and gets off the line willingly. The autobox
is a six-speeder and thanks to a well-stacked set of ratios is well matched
to the powerplant's torque band. And for those times when you might need to
personally control the shifting when towing or off-road you can
flick the selector lever into its manual +/- gate and change gear exactly as
and when you want to.
Despite its commercial-grade grunt the soundtrack is fairly muted and is effectively
in the background most of the time and when loping along at the legal limit
(it will run to 112mph). While those planning to use its formidable towing and
off-road capabilities to the full will not be losing any sleep over the fuel
consumption, it's no gas-guzzler. Officially the combined figure is an agreeable
36.2mpg, which isn't at all bad. We drive 'em hard so that everyday buyers will
know what to expect in real-life a week driving the Blade in all conditions
and on mixed roads saw us record an average of 33.7mpg.
Off-road it feels as well suited to the raw terrain as a Dakar Rally challenger,
blitzing its way over the rough stuff with determination. The heart of the D-Max's
off-roadness is a 4WD system that offers both a high and low-range set of ratios
the latter the better to tackle the truly tricky bits. On-road you can
quickly flick from two- to four-wheel drive 'on the fly' at up to 60mph using
the rotary knob close to the selector lever. Which is equally reassuring when
severe weather conditions blanket the country during the winter months. Far
from the tarmac, the D-Max's hill descent control, 235mm of ground clearance
and its 600mm wading ability all help keep it moving, as too does its approach,
breakover and departure angles which are designed for getting over obstacles
without leaving any bodywork behind!
boot is the loadbed behind the cab. D-Max models usually come specced with a
sturdy, roll-top 'bootlid' that slides open; closed and locked it turns the
lined bed into a secure, weatherproof and exceptionally big boot to stow your
gear. Or, like our test Blade, it can be fitted with a proper hardtop 'canopy'
that turns it into a commodious estate with side-opening rear glazing and a
proper heated rear screen.
come specced with a
sturdy, roll-top bootlid
that slides open; closed
and locked it turns the
lined bed into a secure,
exceptionally big boot
to stow your gear.
Or, like our test Blade,
it can be fitted with a
proper hardtop canopy
that turns it into a
commodious estate with
glazing and a proper
heated rear screen...
arrangement gives you a split tailgate: the lower section is the D-Max's sturdy
and helpfully damped heavy-duty tailboard that you'll need to drop when loading
cargo it sits perfectly horizontal and level with your mid-thigh for
no-hassle loading into the toughly lined and very large 'boot'; the upper section
is a full-width opening glass rear screen that lifts up high for quicker access.
Roof bars provide more load-carrying options.
Sometimes, if you're not carrying rear passengers, you might just find it more
convenient to utilise the space behind the front seats. In which case you can
either drop the one-piece backrest to form a useful flat-based load area or
fold up either (or both) of the 60:40-split rear seat bases, which can be locked
upright against their backrests, to provide taller single or double-width load
areas. Another handy option when carrying longer items in the loadbed is to
open the rear screen's sliding centre section for some extra length.
The D-Max comes with a 5-year/125,000-mile warranty that's better than
many ordinary cars that won't have anywhere near as hazardous and hard a life
that underscores just how well built this pick-up actually is. Good to
know particularly when you're far from help 'off-piste'. With the D-Max what
you see is what you get: an urban-jungle-proofed, all-terrain-tackling, versatile
lifestyle machine that feels a safe haven on today's hazardous roads. Best of
all, it's an easy rider. Yee-Haa! ~ MotorBar
Isuzu D-Max Blade Double Cab Auto
Maximum speed: 112mph | 0-62mph: 13 seconds | Test Average: 33.7mpg
Power: 161bhp | Torque: 265lb ft | CO2: 205g/km