I love seeing how people react when they first clap eyes on the Isuzu D-Max Yukon. They stand at the front of the truck, tilt their head to the left or right and then tilt it some more as they come to terms with the sheer size of the thing. Then they look at Mrs Big-Surname in a way that suggests they’re not quite sure how she manages to live with such a thing on a daily basis.
Whichever way you look at it, the Isuzu D-Max Yukon is a formidable beast of a machine. The question is, what on earth is it doing on the PetrolBlog Fleet?
Well, it’s here as the replacement for the long since departed Daewoo Musso. In May 2014, we said a
sad fond farewell to what has to go down as a failed experiment. The Isuzu D-Max – or ‘truck’ as it’s affectionately known – arrived soon after and, shock horror, we’re not planning on selling it any time soon. In fact, it’s about to experience its first MOT.
Which represents a rare thing for PetrolBlog. Here is a car that you can still buy new and can therefore be subjected to the rigours of the PetrolBlog Score. And, thanks to Isuzu’s generous five-year warranty, it’s still covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee. These are uncharted waters at PBHQ. But don’t worry, the other, less polished members of the PetrolBlog Fleet are still present and almost correct.
Quite why it has taken me so long to review the Isuzu D-Max Yukon is anyone’s guess. Partly, I guess, because the car actually belongs to my better half, but also because I question its relevance to readers of PetrolBlog. But hey, if you’re in the market for a truck the size of Rutland Water and fancy channelling your inner light commercial vehicle fascination, you may find this of interest.
If not, I’ll refer you to the sidebar, where you’ll find delights of a different nature.
The Yukon sits bang in the middle of the D-Max’s trim ladder, neatly sandwiched between the poverty spec Eiger and the lavish Utah. It’s part of what Isuzu calls the Premium range, aimed at a more lifestyle audience than the Utility range.
Differentiating between a Premium and Utility D-Max is easy, just look for the different grille (chrome on the Yukon and Utah), alloy wheels, projector headlights, chrome door handles and body-coloured bumpers. The Yukon is available as an extended or – as in the case of our D-Max – a double cab.
The Yukon gets the likes of a chrome grille, side steps, rear load liner, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, manual air conditioning, six speakers, leather steering wheel with audio/cruise control and folding heated door mirrors, but does without the full climate control, roof bars and heated leather seats of the Utah. The question is, can you live with an Isuzu D-Max Yukon on a daily basis?
Well yes, but you do need to make one or two allowances and sacrifices.
At 5,295mm, the Isuzu D-Max is an exceptionally long vehicle. To put that into context, the new Range Rover measures 4,999mm. The length is something you’re constantly aware of.
I recall the first weekend we had it and we found ourselves in the Swan Centre multi-storey car park in Leatherhead. Big mistake. At 1,785mm tall, it cleared the height restriction without a problem, but attempting to manoeuvre the D-Max on the up and down ramps – no way. A few choice words were muttered as we attempted to fold the long vehicle into an exceedingly short gap. We haven’t ventured near a multi-storey car park since.
The length, coupled with atrocious rear visibility, means most journeys involve some kind of logistical planning session where a full risk assessment is conducted. You don’t venture down too many blind alleys, narrow lanes or confined spaces in a D-Max.
Part of the problem is the lack of parking sensors on all but the Utah model. You can fit them retrospectively and a rear parking camera is also available, but I’ve heard mixed reviews about the latter. The rearward visibility issue is compounded by the excellent Truckman Grand Leisure Canopy. At £1,380 + VAT plus VAT, it’s not cheap, but it transforms the Isuzu pick-up into a hugely practical grand estate car. It also serves to accentuate the size of the D-Max.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve chucked all manner of things in the back of the truck. Open the split rear tailgate and you’re presented with a huge amount of space. It’s hard to see how you could use the D-Max as a family vehicle without some kind of canopy on the back. You need the security of a locking compartment, not to mention some shelter from the elements.
Having what is essentially a large garden shed attached to your 4×4 also means you become incredibly useful for friends and family. The ‘truck’ has been called upon to transport two dozen ducks in cages, garden rubbish, an entire kitchen and any number of straw bales. For us, it has been used for a family holiday in Wales, numerous trips to the tip and the fortnightly restocking of animal feed.
And the bonus of having the shed/load space away from the cabin is that the interior stays cleaner, for longer. The dog loves travelling short distances in the back, which – thanks to the opening and tinted windows, stays remarkably cool. Thanks to the tow bar, we can also attach four mountain bikes to the back, although this does transform a long vehicle into something requiring a police escort.
As for interior comfort, well that’s pretty good. The fit, finish and ergonomics put me in mind of a Suzuki, which means its robust, well laid out and fit for purpose. The dials are clear, the controls feel built to last and the driving position will appeal to anyone who likes the commanding view offered by a 4×4. It’s not difficult to feel imperious behind the wheel of a D-Max.
The six cupholders (four in the front/two in the back) highlight the D-Max’s commercial vehicle roots, while there’s plenty of room in the numerous storage bins and pockets. There are a number of minor niggles. Like the volume of the audio system, which offers little range, despite going up to 63. Yes, sixty-three. The cloth seats are also hard to keep clean and present a strong enough case to upgrade to the leather trim offered by the Utah.
Special mention must go to the distance to refuel reading on the dashboard. For the first few hundred miles it is fine, but get to say 90 or 60 miles and it suddenly changes to a simple ‘low fuel’, so you have absolutely no idea how much diesel you have left. And this is precisely the time at which you need it most. Crazy.
Speaking of fuel. To-date, over a period of 12 months and just over 10,000 miles, the Isuzu D-Max has averaged 32mpg. A little way short of the claimed 38.7mpg for a D-Max with a manual gearbox, but given the size of the thing and the nature of its duties, it’s hard to complain. We typically get between 450 and 500 miles from its 69-litre tank. The road tax renewal has just come through and will cost £225 for the year.
On the road, the Isuzu D-Max Yukon behaves pretty much as you’d expect. The commanding driving position gives you a good view of the road ahead and the steering is usefully light and direct. The six-speed gearbox is surprisingly smooth and the overall experience is let down only by some diesel clatter at idle and when driving at speed. But given the nature of the beast, this is entirely forgivable.
When travelling without a load, the ride is typically bouncy and the D-Max can feel a bit skittish. You do have to watch your step on slippery surfaces, as it can become a little tail-happy. The 160hp 2.5-litre diesel engine provides a remarkable amount of off-the-line pace, but the chief party trick is the 295lb ft of torque, which literally gives it a tremendous amount of pulling power.
Note, ours is a 2012 model, which offers a maximum towing weight of 3,000kg. Later models offer 3,500kg. The payload is listed at just over a ton for the D-Max with a manual gearbox.
And on the few occasions where we’ve had to engage the four-wheel drive system, the Isuzu D-Max has been sure-footed and supremely capable. It’s little wonder these things are becoming increasingly popular.
Ours is a relatively high mileage vehicle, having arrived at PBHQ with 52,000 miles on the clock. In a previous life it spent time as a company vehicle for a firm specialising in veterinary supplies. We figured that the high mileage is good for a diesel engine and the majority of that use would have been on motorways and dual carriageways. Aside from a worn-out gear knob, the D-Max is showing little signs of its 62,000 miles.
So all things considered, the Isuzu D-Max Yukon is a welcome addition to the family. It’s not a jump-in-and-go car, but we can’t help but love its immense practicality, off-road skills and good road manners. You do have to take into consideration the high cost of main dealer servicing, the price of tyres and whether or not there will be room to park it at your destination, but these factors aren’t isolated to the D-Max.
Is the Isuzu D-Max Yukon the ideal family vehicle? Ideal would be stretching things, but if you enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle and have a few animals to feed, it’s a tremendous thing to have about the place. It even has a four-star Euro NCAP safety rating, which provides some peace of mind. The double cab provides ample space and rear seat passengers will find little cause to complain about the amount of head- and legroom
And of course, now we have one Isuzu in the house, surely it’s only right to add another. Anyone for Piazza?
Date arrived: May 2014
Mileage on arrival: 52,014
Mileage now: 62,799
Fuel economy: 32.0mpg
CO2 emissions: 220g/km
Faults: two flat tyres
Costs: service (£1,100)