With the best will in the world a mud squelching field is not the place for this glitzy pick up.

Well, you wouldn’t want to get that nice paint job dirty. No, towing a speed boat, carting surf boards to the beach, or adventuring off road is more the thing for the new breed of pick up. Forget big SUVs, the young trendsetters have been seduced by these customised trucks.

Take the D-Max. Only a third of its sales go to the heavy duty utility market, the rest are blinged up lifestyle models that will set you back up to 40 grand and more. Isuzu even has a specialised centre that will do pretty much anything to make your pick up stand out from the crowd.

During the pick up exodus in 2021, Mitsubishi and Nissan the two biggest names to leave the field, smaller manufacturers like Isuzu and KGM Ssangyong grabbed the bull by the horns and took advantage of the big hole in the market.

Isuzu really went to town with D-Max offering a keenly priced single cab workhorse, extended cab (five seater with two doors) and a four-door double cab. They have a one tonne payload and apart from the base single cab can haul three and a half tonnes with every gizmo needed for serious off road driving. Load bed lengths range from 2330mm for the single cab to 1495mm for the double.

Stats from Isuzu show how the pick up market has been turned on its head. Back in 2012 the all purpose utility dominated the market, now that is down to a third with adventure and business models the big sellers.

Why choose a rough riding pick up over a comfy SUV? It is all down to tax breaks for company car drivers. Go for a pick up and the Benefit in Kind rate is lower than a car regardless of the CO2 emissions even though they are pretty high on pick up engines.

Isuzu is convinced its best selling D-Max will be the top of the range automatic V-Cross and here’s why.You can’t help but be sucked in with the smart paint finishes, 18in black alloys, and it does not stop there. Get behind the wheel and be pleasantly surprised by the layout and quality. There are hard plastic finishes but plenty of leather as well.

Equipment level is reasonably high with keyless entry, leather heated seats, all round electric windows, powered driver’s seat, six speed automatic gearbox, if you prefer that over the manual, air con, auto dipping Bi LED headlights, camera and all round parking sensors the stand out goodies.

Safety has not been forgotten either with an extensive list including cross traffic alert, my favourite because it is so helpful when reversing from a parking space, particularly with a vehicle this length.

The driver’s binnacle has a mound of selectable information while the central 9in touchscreen deals with the radio and bluetooth. Navigation is not an option but there are smartphone connections for Google maps and the like. Heating, thank goodness, is selected by physical  switches in the centre console so there is no scrolling through menus and dabbing the touchscreen just to get the fan going.

The double cab is a good five seater with ample width for bulky adults along the back seat which drops down to provide a solid flat surface for in-cab storage.

Bearing in mind the nature of the beast economy is reasonable averaging 33mpg, better than the official figure, with a best of 35mpg on a 120 mile round trip.

If a pick up is on the shopping list then remember to have an open mind. D-Max is a tough off roader even wearing swanky V-Cross clothes, so expect a roughish ride on anything other than silky smooth tarmac surfaces. Piling some weight into the load bay will calm things down a bit.

The engine has an agricultural rap and is pretty noisy until it reaches cruising speed after 50mph. D-Max is the least powerful against its main rivals which won’t bother a farmer or tradesman who want plenty of torque for hauling loads and towing, but acceleration is way off the more powerful engines in the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hi-Lux something Isuzu should consider if it is to keep pace with the growing demand for classy pick-ups.

For now everything is moving in the right direction. D-Max has been picking up awards left right and centre, and between the entry sub 30 grand utility and up market V-Cross is a go anywhere 4×4 with something for everyone.

Fast Facts

D-Max V-Cross

£44,323 (starts £29,923)

1.9 litre diesel; 161bhp

0-62mph 13secs; 112mph

30.7mpg combined


Insurance group 50

Towing: 3500kg

Payload 1090kg