Driving through the Herefordshire countryside on a bitterly cold day yet with clear blue sky, bright, albeit wintry, sunshine and the driver’s heated seat on maximum output has to be one of the most pleasurable experiences you can have.
That is what I was doing a few days after I took delivery of an automatic Isuzu D-Max Utah Double Cab 4x4 pick-up – the latest addition to What Van?’s long-term test fleet.
The Isuzu D-Max was a worthy winner of our Pick-Up of the Year award for 2018.
Power comes courtesy of a 164hp 1.9-litre diesel, which you fire up by pressing a button on the dashboard – always assuming, of course, you have the magic key fob to hand.
The four-door five-seater Utah is some way up the D-Max specification walk so you enjoy a more than decent level of standard kit as the earlier reference to a heated driver’s seat indicates. The front passenger seat is heated too.
Climate control is included in the deal, as is cruise control. All five seats are leather-trimmed, and the driver’s is electrically adjustable for reach, rake and height.
For your money you also enjoy Bluetooth connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto alongside satellite navigation, a 7in touchscreen and an eight-speaker DAB digital radio.
Switch to reverse and a camera allows you to see whatever is behind you on the dashboard screen. Rear parking sensors are fitted too.
A drop-down tailgate gives access to the load area, which is protected by an optional, lockable Mountain Top Roll roller-shutter cover.
For a big, heavy, truck the Isuzu D-Max pulls strongly away from rest. Progress is aided by the fuss-free way it slips from one set of gears to the next.
Should you tire of automatic transmission then you can always switch to manual mode and go up and down the gearbox using the shift lever. In most cases, however, there is no real need to take the trouble and you might just as well leave it in ‘D’ for drive.
To engage four-wheel drive all you have to do is rotate a knob between the seats. If you wish to engage a low-range set of gears then you push the knob down and turn it again.
The D-Max handles surprisingly well and you can push it through bends without having to worry that it will suddenly decide to become tail-happy. The ride is by no means perfect, but is better than I remembered from my previous encounter with this model.
Noise levels have not improved however, with the engine sounding harsh as you accelerate off the line. It is a problem Isuzu needs to address.
As for fuel economy, we averaged around 33.0mpg. That is a little below the official combined figure of 36.2mpg; but it’s early days.
Both are far better than might be expected given the size and weight of the vehicle.
Isuzu D-Max Utah Double Cab automatic 4x4 pick-up
Official combined consumption 36.2mpg
Our average consumption 33.0mpg*
Price range (ex VAT) £16,499-£28,999
Price (ex VAT) £26,149
Service intervals 2yrs/12,000mls
Load length 1,485mm
Load width (min/max) 1,080/1,530mm
Gross payload 1,091kg
Engine size/power 1,898cc/164hp
Gearbox 6-speed auto