David Williams has been trying out the extended cab version of the Isuzu D-Max
Choosing a pick up suitable for farm and family use, almost always involves a compromise between room inside and space in the rear buck. David Williams has been trying out the extended cab version of one of the most popular farm pick-ups; the Isuzu D-Max, to see if it can fulfil both criteria.The Isuzu D-Max replaced the earlier Rodeo model, but continued its reputation for build-quality and reliability and has proved a hit with agricultural users since its introduction in mid-2012. There are three body styles; single cab, extended cab and double cab, and four specification levels; utility, available in 4×2 or 4×4 versions, and Eiger, Yukon and Utah, all available only in 4×4 versions.All share the same 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder, twin-turbocharged, common-rail fuel-injected engine, which produces 163hp and peak torque of 400Nm from just 1,400rpm. Six-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmissions can be specified and Isuzu claims fuel savings of up to 10 per cent over earlier Rodeo versions.The D-Max is built on a rugged chassis and 4×4 versions can carry payloads up to 1,136kg depending on model, and tow up to 3,500kg on a braked trailer. When the total vehicle length available is divided into engine, cab and load bed it is usually the load bed that is reduced to make space for a larger cab and more passengers and, whereas the single cab D-Max has a load-bed length of 2,305mm, the double cab’s is shortened to 1,552mm.For most agricultural users the bed of the double cab is adequate, but the shorter bed means hand tools such as pitch forks and brooms stick out of the back, and when the truck is used daily to take straw bales to stock out in the fields, the reduced load capacity can mean more trips.The extended cab version is designed to provide more useable bed space, and extra storage for tools and other items in the cab, which is achieved by sacrificing some of the comfort of the double cab’s second row of seats, replacing them with large floor bins with lids which double as the base for two fold-down seats. Instead of the standard 4-door set-up, the extended cab has two conventional doors at the front, and two shorter rear-hinged doors at the rear, with no central pillar between. This results in a load bed length of 1,795mm, enough for most long-handled tools and the truck retains the ability to carry two rear seat passengers.For the rear passengers to get in and out, either of the front doors has to be opened first and then an agricultural-sized handle on the inside of the rear door releases the rear door. The rear seats fold up almost flat against the rear of the cab when not in use, making the area behind the front seats ideal for transporting tools or other large items.The seats each fold separately so if only one is needed then the full space behind the other front seat remains available for storage. In practice the rear seats are more comfortable than they first appear, despite the shallow padding, but legroom is limited and, for an adult, anything other than short journeys would be uncomfortable. However, these are proper seats with full inertia-reel 3-point seat-belts and they mean the vehicle can fulfil both farm, and family transport roles when required.Comfort and versatilityIn the Yukon version tested, the front fabric seats are comfortable with plenty of legroom and adjustment. The steering wheel is adjustable for angle, and feels suitably chunky for a farm vehicle. All controls are well laid out and the buttons and knobs are a decent size and easy to use, even with farm gloves. The D-Max is designed for functionality and storage is provided in abundance.At the rear, along with the under-seat bins, there are pockets in the front seat-backs, and for the driver and front seat passenger there are two glove-boxes, plus deep door pockets among the 12 variously-sized storage spaces. The Yukon is well equipped with plenty of technology including a decent trip computer, operated from the indicator stalk, and bluetooth hands-free telephone and media connection. The navigation system was one of the easiest in-vehicle versions I have used and whereas some are very complex offering many options and features which will never be needed, the Isuzu’s was straightforward to programme and easy to follow without having to resort to the operator’s manual.The dashboard is clear and well laid out, and the only thing I disliked was the bar-chart type fuel gauge, which meant I relied more on the range indicated by the trip computer as the tank became under quarter full.The heating and air conditioning is controlled manually, rather than through climate control, but it was easy to maintain a constant temperature.Visibility all around was good, and large door mounted rear view mirrors, with electric folding, provided a clear view on the road while, for reversing, an image on the main display screen from the optional rear view camera helped ensure safe manoeuvres.On and off roadOn the road the twin-turbo engine had plenty of torque and pulled away from junctions with little rev needed and no sign of turbo-lag which made it very flexible between the six gears. Cruising at 70mph was effortless, with the engine at approximately 1,700rpm and the fuel consumption was reasonable, averaging 34.2mpg on a long motorway journey and 30mpg over the week-long test which involved on and off-road driving. Off-road the torque available meant lower gears could be selected and there was a choice of ratios available even at low travel speeds, allowing excellent control.The combination of generous 225mm ground clearance and Pirelli Scorpion 255-60-18 tyres meant travelling over uneven ground along a muddy woodland track was no problem, even in 2wd, but 4wd was easy to engage when needed using a rotary switch in the cab, and includes options; 2wd high, 4wd high and 4wd low, but required the operator to push down before rotating it to prevent accidental selection of the lower gear range.However, the decent engine torque and low ratios available in the main gears meant there was never a need to select low during the test drive. On the road the ride was firm, especially with no load in the rear, but not uncomfortably so, and a journey of more than 400 miles in a day was achieved in relative comfort. With a load in the back, the suspension was softer, but still performed well and the truck handled well on windy back roads.Load carrying
The buck and rear tailgate are made of decent steel and will withstand typical farm use. The test vehicle had a roll-top lockable cover which was well-designed and, when not in use, rolled neatly at the front of the buck taking up very little of the available load carrying space.The tailgate has a practical wide opening, extending almost to the rear corner-mounted taillight clusters on each side and a good firm latching system inspired confidence.Verdict and price
The trendy blue paint finish and distinctive alloy wheels of the D-Max test vehicle were attractive, but couldn’t disguise the truck’s functional design. Rugged inside and out, and with a load capacity to suit most farmers, the extended cab version offers load-carrying advantages over the twin-cab but successfully achieves dual-purpose functionality. Long journeys for rear-seat adult passengers would be uncomfortable, but for younger family members there would be no problem and, when not needed, the rear seats’ clever stowing design means the rear of the cab can be used for transporting tools and other equipment.The Isuzu D-Max Yukon Vision extended cab pick-up comes with the reassurance of a 5-year 125,000-mile power train warranty and costs 20,399 on the road.