2016 Isuzu D-Max Blade Review
The Isuzu D-Max Blade sits among a heavily competitive market of premium pickups – competing with Mitsubishi, Ford, Volkswagen, Nissan, Toyota and, in the future, Mercedes, Renault and Fiat. While the name is associated with rugged workhorses, the newer rivals are starting to reflect the D-Max’s age.
Inside, the D-Max’s cabin is spacious and well equipped, with a straightforward layout and many of the features you’d expect. There is a distinctly commercial feel about the interior, as it is trimmed with hard plastics and it would benefit from a more premium material. The seats are firm and not really comfortable for long haul journeys, where you begin to feel stiffness. In addition to the spacious cabin, there are several storage cubbies dotted around the interior and two cup holders for the driver and front passenger. The back is very spacious and makes it perfectly suited to carrying workmen and their equipment around. Shopping usually ends up getting thrown here too, as it is much more convenient than using the rear loading area.
Despite the current model’s styling being four years old, the D-Max still has quite a modern look to it. The front of the pick-up swoops with a curvy, rugged design that gives it a more sporty look than expected from something in this market. Meanwhile, the rear is pretty much as you expect from any pick-up with the standard folding gates and accompanying body height lights. The D-Max sits higher up than its closest rivals, ground clearance comes in at 235mm versus the 212mm clearance of the Mitsubishi L200. The rear loading area cover is difficult to operate and the instructions don’t really help, so it doesn’t see much action on the day to day.
The D-Max is a workhorse and performs as such, with acceleration akin to a van or tractor. That said, it does handle anything you throw at it, from motorway cruising to tight, uphill, rural roads. The handling is really good and feels robust especially when four-wheel drive is engaged. Off road, the D-Max is very capable and holds up to even the most demanding of roads. Fuel efficiency is fairly good for a vehicle of this size, achieving 29mpg, although this is poor compared to the 40+mpg quoted by its rivals.
Unsurprisingly, the D-Max is equipped with all the standard you’d expect to see in a car – from 12v sockets to a Pioneer navigation system. The display is simple but it’s hard to navigate and configuring phone connections or navigation directions is very difficult. Some of the vehicle’s features aren’t obvious at first site, and you find yourself stumbling on stuff like heated seats when you’re looking for something lost down the side of the seat.
The D-Max is perfectly suited for its purpose: a workhorse. It’s rugged, efficient and has plenty of space for storing tools and equipment, and it’s built to last. However, it is maybe too basic for the family and leisure market the premium pickup is aimed at. This, combined with the difficult to grasp features, are what makes the D-Max only suitable for its very basic use of running workers to and from sites.