Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Scottish Highland road test

In 4x4, Car Reviews, Isuzu, Pick-Ups by Matthew Macconnell

What makes a great off-roader? Chunky tyres, four-wheel-drive and a diff-lock…

Car Reviewed: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

That’s not the purpose of this review. I could’ve easily found a bogged field to test its off-road skills, but instead, I opted to test something that often goes under the radar in pickup reviews – road comfort.

Unless you’re a farmer or find yourself traversing up and down construction sites, your pickup will most likely be spending most of its life on the tarmac. Steering clear of fields, I opted to put the D-Max to the test in a 400-mile Scottish Highland road trip to see just how it would perform in the real world.

Before setting off, becoming familiar with the car was a must, and it was easy to do so. You don’t need to be a computer hacker to turn on the heated seats or change the cabin temperature, as there are many clicky buttons just below the snappy central touch screen. A rotating knob allows you to switch between 2H, 4H and 4L drive settings, and there’s a manual handbrake. The interior quality of the D-Max is impressive and is miles ahead of the previous generation.

Two things caught me off guard, however: the DVD player in the glovebox – cool, but very 2002, and the silly MountainTop Roll shutter that covers the rear bed. No matter what I did, I could not get this thing to open. I even turned to YouTube for a visual guide, but even this failed. I gave up in the end and resorted to throwing our luggage in the backseat.

The D-Max had a full tank of fuel, and the readout showed 520 miles before setting off. We would start in Central Scotland and head for Eilean Donan Castle via Dalwhinnie. Usually, travelling such distances in a pickup would result in your head bursting from squeaks, rattles, and road noise, but thanks to the rubber that Isuzu has installed between the frame and body, I was free of any sore heads or irritation. Sixty-seven miles into our journey, the computer showed 37.2mpg.

By climbing further north into the land of endless motorhomes and holiday-goers, the D-Max’s power, or lack of it, quickly became apparent. The 161bhp and 360Nm struggle to shift the Isuzu’s 2,030kg mass, and while the six-speed auto shifts smoothly, the 1.9-litre powerplant sounds like it’s struggling whenever the throttle is mashed. Overtaking needs to be carefully planned, and while the same goes for its Ford Ranger competitor, the extra 41bhp and 140Nm make things a bit easier.

Likewise, its rivals have the edge in on-road comfort. The D-Max soaked up the rough Highland backroads but not without bouncing the cabin. In the corners, it felt sharp and precise. Hustling it is easy due to low body roll and predictable responses.

After our 400-mile-round journey, the fuel readout showed 35mpg and the car had 195 miles of fuel left, a respectable economy return. I was left with a few closing thoughts. Its rivals do a few things better: it’s agile and easy to drive, plenty of trim choices, and the cabin is practical and feels quality. Isuzu still has some refinement to do with the Isuzu D-Max, but with the masses of improvement over the old-gen car, who knows what Isuzu will offer next?

Author Rating 4/5

Car Reviewed: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

on the road price, as tested £35,514

  • 0-62mph 13secs
  • Top speed 112mph
  • Mechanical 1.9-litre 4-cyl diesel
  • Fuel Economy 35mpg as tested
  • Max Power 161bhp@3600rpm
  • Torque 360Nm@2000rpm
  • Dimensions MM 5265 L/1870 W/1790 H
  • CO2 emissions 163-205g/km
  • Transmission 6-speed automatic 4×4
  • Bed Dimensions MM 1495 L/1530 W/490 H

Matthew MacConnell


A motoring journalist from Central Scotland with a Diploma in Freelance and Feature Writing from the London School of Journalism, contributing to various online and print automotive publications. Matthew covers features, news and car reviews and enjoys the fast-paced environment of the motoring world with a strong coffee in hand. From a Honda Jazz to a Lamborghini Reventón there’s nothing off limits.

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