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Isuzu D-Max DL40 2021 Review

What a brilliant time for Isuzu UK to launch their all new D-Max pickup, the timing could not be any better, as we have recently seen the demise of many of its competitors such as the Mitsubishi L200, Fiat Fullback, Mercedes-Benz X-Class and Volkswagen Amarok. Not only that, Nissan have decided not to bring in the next generation Navara, leaving the market effectively to Ford, Toyota and Isuzu although we shouldn’t forget the SsangYong Musso. This new pickup could potentially prize those diehard users of all those marques exiting the UK market. The question is : How good is this all new Isuzu D-Max 2021 and in particular the DL40 model?

Isuzu D-Max Sales

Over the last ten years Isuzu has sold around 5000 to 6000 units per annum and they expect to sell a similar number in 2021 but after that the team are aiming to double that volume to 10,000 units by 2025, a very ambitious target. Volume is one thing but the mix of the type of trim levels they sell is also very interesting. Let’s face it the D-Max has ,until now, been seen as very much a workhorse type of pickup leaving the lifestyle sector to the likes of Volkswagen, Toyota and Ford but this will be changing apparently. If we look at their current sales mix, around 25% is fleet and 75% retail with half of sales in the ‘all-purpose’ sector, 30% in ‘business’ and just 20% in the ‘lifestyle/adventure’ sector. According to Isuzu the all new D-Max will increase appeal in the Lifestyle/Adventure sector taking increasing by 50% to 30% of all sales whilst still retaining its appeal to the ‘all-purpose’ and ‘business’ sectors.

Isuzu D-Max DL40

Isuzu D-Max 2021 Model Line-up

Isuzu has decided to split the models into three ranges, Business, All-Purpose and Adventure and four trim levels Utility, DL20 and DL40 and V-Cross. Effectively this means the Business is the Utility, All-Purpose are the DL20 and DL40 and finally the Adventure is the V-Cross. Of course all models share the ability to tow 3.5 tonnes and can carry over a tonne and more importantly they have an unladen weight under the key 2040kgs meaning they are treated as a passenger car for speed limits on single and dual carriageways. Their competitors all need to travel 10 mph lower on single and dual carriageways and the latest digital ANPR speed cameras able to detect the difference via the registration number plate linked to the V5. Perhaps a key advantage for the new D-Max is the safety aspect, as its been awarded the coveted five star Euro NCAP under the new style testing regime which is significantly more demanding.

DL40 Driveline

Isuzu have retained the 1.9 litre Euro 6D compliant engine which deliver 164bhp and 360Nm of torque and is available with either a six speed manual incorporating a ‘lockout’ function in the form of a ‘lift to release ring’ preventing accidental selection of reverse gear. There’s also an upgraded six speed automatic boasting a 25% faster gear change, both transmissions have a ‘Stop & Start System’ helping with fuel economy. Perhaps the biggest news regarding the driveline is the introduction of a Selective Catalytic Reduction system meaning there is the need for a 14 litre Adblue tank unlike the previous generation which was ‘Adblue free’.

The four wheel shift-on-the-fly system has the ‘normal’ three configuration settings of two wheel drive high for on-road driving using the rear axle, four wheel drive high for slippery surfaces such as grass or mud and finally, four wheel drive low for extra-traction and extreme off-road terrain.

As mentioned earlier the ‘DL’ stands for Diff-lock, which will only engage when four wheel drive low is selected and the speed is less than 5mph and it provides more traction than a Limited Slip Differential.

DL40 Safety Features

So the DL40 sits just below the ‘top of the range’ V-Cross’ but retains many of the key and important features and a plethora of advanced driver assist systems which are standard across the range but a few added bonuses on the double cab models specifically :

  • Standard across the range
  • Cruise Control
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Autonomous Emeregency Braking
  • Traffic Sign Recognition
  • Manual & Intelligent Speed Limiter
  • Lane Departure Warning and Prevention System
  • 8 airbags (Double Cabs) 7 airbags on others
  • DL40 Double Cab Models
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Emergency Lane Keeping
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Isuzu D-Max DL40

Chassis, Suspension and Brakes

The whole suspension systems has been revised with the front having higher mounted upper control arms helping to reduce body roll, vibration and increase tyre contact. The rear features a new design of rear leaf spring to improve ride and comfort especially when unladen and the articulation has been improved with more efficient shock absorbers to help cushion impacts. The new design chassis cab mount absorb more noise , vibration and harshness resulting in even quieter cab environment and there’s a new 5mm reinforced resin underbody air deflector alongside a 1mm engine sump, transmission steel guard and 1.5mm steel skid plate location just aft of the front bumper.

The ladder chassis strength and rigidity has increased thanks to an additional extra cross member and larger chassis rails which are 34% wider and 14% higher in key sections, resulting in improved side impact safety.

DL40 Exterior

Of course probably the most dramatic change for the all new D-Max is the exterior which has been designed to appeal to all pickups types of users, there’s a new front bumper with contoured fog light positions together with a more horizontal bonnet and angular design. The DL40 differentiates itself from the other models by having a chrome exterior detailing on the radiator grille, door mirrors and handle as far as colour coding is concerned. Bi-LED headlights with integrated daytime running lights and LED fog lights complete the new lighting systems and Rain and Light Sensors provide information to the automatic headlights and high beam assist system. A newly designed silver side step, 18″ Two-Tone Alloys, tailgate damper with front and rear parking sensors as well as reversing camera completes the exterior changes.

Isuzu D-Max DL40 Bi-LED lights

DL40 Interior

The newly revised drivers seat is 8-way electrically adjustable including lumbar supports, and the front seats are heated as well as having improved comfort mainly thanks to a central panel in the backrest dispersing body pressure evenly, firmer side bolster sections and the cushion is made from Anti-Vibration Elastic Comfort (AVEC) foam which minimises vibrations from the road.

The wheelbase is 30mm longer and 20mm of this results in more shoulder room, higher hip points and greater reclined seats back angle for the rear passengers and the B-Pillar is positioned 25mm further forward which means the rear door opening has increased allowing for easier access.

Storage has also been improved all around the cab, including upper and lower gloveboxes, upper dashboard storage, centre armrest storage and 10 cup holders to name just a few. A new electronic speed sensitive power steering system is lighter at lower speeds whilst heavier at high speeds and reduces the feel of bumps and potholes.

The new dashboard features a colour 4.2″ Multi-Information Display providing information on items such as system health checks, infotainment, fuel levels, speed as well as the Advanced Driver Assist Systems and gear shift indicator.

The DL40 dual zone climate controlled cab boasts a very advanced level of infotainment featuring :

  • 9″ Multifunction Colour Touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • DAB Radio
  • 6 speakers
  • USB Ports in the front and rear
DL40 Interior

Isuzu D-Max DL40 On the road

The team at Isuzu gave the Vanguide team an opportunity to test the D-Max in a Scottish quarry just outside Glasgow for the off-road section as well as an on-road segment covering A and B road with a few miles on a dual carriageway.

Approaching the new D-Max its obvious this vehicle has undergone a remarkable transformation and all for the better with a bold new front grille and bumper and stepping inside the cab confirms this is on a completely different level to the old model. The keyless entry and push button start fires up the engine although its hard to tell as the in-cab noise is on a level with passenger cars, putting the six speed automatic into drive and setting off along the quarry route which held a number of ‘obstacles’ the Isuzu team had constructed showed this pickup not only looked good it has also retained many of the key capabilities of the old model plus a bit more.

Along the road section the it felt a lot more ‘refined’ and didn’t have that ‘agricultural’ feel and sound of the old mode which should help it appeal to the lifetsyle and ‘adventure’ buyers Isuzu were keen to talk about.

Prices

Isuzu D-Max 2021 Prices

Summary

With the lack of choice now facing the pickup buying public and the giant strides Isuzu has taken with the all new D-Max its no wonder they have already a full order book and looking to increase their allocation from the factory in Thailand. If you’re looking for a new pickup then the D-Max should be on your list and the DL40 looks to be the best value for money in the range.

Click here to hear how you could win an all new D-Max for a year