Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands: Test drive Isuzu D-Max

The first association with the phrase “American car” is likely to be a muscle car: “Mustang” or “Camaro” – something from this series. But somewhere nearby, there will definitely be a pickup. Any. Pickup trucks in the USA are a real workhorse: to carry feed for animals on the farm and deliver building materials. Why didn’t they do it on them!

Over time, the pickup format has become popular not only in America. Europe has also pulled up, where there is also vast farmland and even Japan.

My test was just the same pickup from the Land of the Rising Sun from the Isuzu company – the D-Max model. What is the Japanese car industry ready to offer in the niche of hard workers? Let’s figure it out.


  • engine: in-line, 4 cylinders, 3 liters, diesel;
  • power: 190 hp s., 450 Nm;
  • 6-speed automatic AISIN;
  • full, rigidly connected front axle (Part-Time), differential lock;
  • average consumption during the test drive – 8.4 liters per 100 km;
  • traveled 1579 km.

First meeting

At the mention of a pickup truck, it immediately seems like something akin to a UAZ: simple, austere, and not particularly modern. So: all this is definitely not about the D-Max. The car has a full range of modern systems, including adaptive cruise control, seven airbags, lane tracking, climate control, LED headlights, and even an auto-dimming rearview mirror. In general, a complete “stuffing” of a modern car. There is also a USB socket for passengers in the second row and its own ventilation outlet. There are only two USB connectors for the whole machine, and this is frankly not enough. And there is only one cigarette lighter connector.

You may have questions about his appearance. D-Max looks peculiar, but at the same time, it has a certain charm. And we can certainly say that this appearance is not trivial. Behind, as is customary for Japanese pickups (look at Toyota), there is a large Isuzu inscription, and the taillights are proudly raised. On the front, two peculiar strokes resemble staples. What associations do you have?

There are also practical things here: side skirts, protection of important elements under the bottom, and trim of the trunk body with plastic from the inside. All that is missing is the plastic around the perimeter, especially if the car will be used as a workhorse. However, what else to do with the pickup?

The format is also worth noting. Pickup trucks have their own designations, and the D-Max is “2 + 3”, that is, it has two rows of seats, like in a passenger car. Both without any prejudice.

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Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max

For me, this was the first long acquaintance with the pickup because some things were unusual. So, for example, you cannot hide a backpack from prying eyes on the street – you had to take it with you or put it in the trunk. There is, however, a place under the second row, but not so much. If you want to fix the situation, you will have to buy a Kung. The tailgate, by the way, is also opened with a separate key. That is, the central locking does not lock it.

Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max

Ergonomics and fit

Since the car is large, a natural question arises, how spacious and generally comfortable it is. I have already mentioned that there is a complete set of modern automotive technologies in the maximum configuration. Not particularly necessary, but pleasant: the only thing missing is a sunroof and automatic windows on all windows. With such dimensions, the camera in front would not hurt, but alas – it is not.

Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max

The driver got electronic seat adjustments and lumbar support but without memory for the position of the seat. Looking ahead, I will say that I drove more than 700 km on it in a day and was not tired at all. The front passengers also have excellent lateral support. The steering wheel, like any passenger car, with a comfortable grip. It accommodates a scattering of buttons, media controls, and cruise control. True, there are no disks and spinners, but this is not enough, perhaps, for adjusting the volume level. The climate control feels retro but very comfortable – thanks to the physical keys.

The instrument cluster is classic, with its own style of arrow-pointers. The onboard computer is simple and, in general, sends greetings from the past decade, but at the same time, it is convenient and understandable. I would say that the tidy, in general, match the car.

I would also like to note the abundance of drawers and niches. Bend your fingers: two boxes on the right in the dashboard (there is a DVD in the upper one!). One in the top center, another on the driver’s left, and two retractable cup holders. Of course, there is also a deep niche in the center armrest, which, however, is not regulated in any way. There is a niche for a smartphone in the center, and it turned out to be very smooth – the devices slide.

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How is it on the second row? Spacious. It will be more comfortable for two, but more because a reclining armrest is installed in the center. Rear passengers do not have heated seats, but there is a lot of space both above the head and legs. And two more “handles of fear” and a window that goes down completely. An infrequent phenomenon, you must admit. All that is missing is the second USB connector and the cigarette lighter socket. However, the handles are by no means superfluous – they really help on a rural road.

Having driven the D-Max decently, I can only praise its comfort, both in terms of fit and ergonomics. I can only scold the unregulated center armrest and the lack of brightness control of the backlight for the dial gauges. The fact that the brightness setting of the onboard computer is hidden very deeply.

A few words about the multimedia system: in my configuration, this is a 9-inch screen (7 more) with support for all kinds of pairing systems: CarPlay, Android Auto (it fell off a couple of times for me), Miracast, and Mirror Link. Well, the usual AUX connector and Bluetooth are available. The system works smartly, no complaints. But the general visual style … it was clearly done by engineers, not designers. Three settings of the display itself in different modes are worth what!

Driving experience

450 Newton meters make themselves felt almost immediately. For a car weighing not much more than two tons, the power is behind the eyes! At the same time, it is very smooth in overclocking, if not too actively heated. Feeling like in a truck: assertive, confident, and without jerks. It is worth noting here that the thrust is generally distributed very evenly and over almost the entire engine speed range.

Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max
Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max

The drive is rear-wheel drive (full plug-in), so you can easily skid on a dirt road – you need to keep this in mind.

But the most important thing is how it drives! Uh, actually, the Isuzu D-Max floats down the road. This is especially evident on broken asphalt, where irregularities manifest mainly by active swaying and ear. On the ground, it works similarly, which of course, gives you the confidence to drive. The flip side of this softness is swing and roll in corners. The latter, however, are very moderate. And yet, this is a car without sporting habits, and it is really very comfortable.

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You might think that at the same time, it is badly controlled, but no – the steering wheel with power steering perfectly conveys information about what is happening under the wheels. In general, its steering is extremely pleasant.

It will be important to note that this is a frame SUV. It is also worth mentioning the carrying capacity – it differs in the D-Max in the range of 965-1045 kg, depending on the configuration. The ground clearance also varies – 235-240 mm.

Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max


High seating position, decent ground clearance, comfort both in the cabin and on the road. These are the ingredients for a great car experience. I never imagined how fun a pickup truck could be! I wanted to ride and drive on it – not every passenger car gives such an impression.

The engine pulls amazingly – a power reserve of 76 liters on a tank is enough for 700-1000 kilometers, depending on the use scenarios.

Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max
Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max

As a result, only one question remains: what are the use cases for this car? I had a senior configuration on the test. In this version, I see it as a working machine of an already very successful artisan who makes, for example, custom-made furniture to deliver the goods to the client bypassing the forwarding companies. The second option, and as I noticed it is popular, is a travel car. Many companies offer to install a canopy on the D-Max and equip the trunk with additional boxes. This makes the card ideal for long journeys, especially because its frame structure allows it to be lifted and put on more passable rubber.

Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max
Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max

Isuzu also has more “working” configurations. With mechanics, higher carrying capacity, but one and a half times cheaper. Such a car will already become a typical workhorse. What’s nice is that all versions will have the same engine.

I confess I did not expect that the pickup is ready to give so many emotions!

Pickup from Japan for our hinterlands.  Test drive Isuzu D-Max


  • comfort in the cabin and on the road;
  • patency;
  • high-torque and gambling engine;
  • power reserve.


  • few USB connectors, only one cigarette lighter socket;
  • non-adjustable armrest, which is important for long journeys.

May not like:

  • somewhat outdated on-board computers;
  • no heated rear seats.

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