When the weather gets really hot, what were once muddy, heavily rutted tracks occasionally criss-crossed by rivulets get baked dry in the sun.
On the face of it that should make them easier to tackle because there is no danger of getting stuck in clinging gloop. Nor is there any need, in the D-Max’s case, to turn the knob between the seats to engage four-wheel drive, still less to push it down and twist it again to engage the Isuzu’s low-range set of gears too.
Crossing baked-hard ruts, however, is rather like crashing over concrete ridges: tackle them at anything other than (very slow) walking pace and you are rewarded by a series of loud bangs as the underside of the truck encounters something hard and unyielding.
It is then you start to wonder whether you might have done some serious damage.
That’s when one of the D-Max’s key advantages comes to the fore. Far from being an SUV that’s fine for the school run but for not much else, it is built like the proverbial brick outhouse. It can absorb a remarkable amount of punishment without anything falling off or starting to groan and squeak. Clearly, the ground clearance it enjoys helps, aided by the big, 18in wheels on our demonstrator.
Tackling rock-hard terrain is guaranteed to shake your passengers about so it is fortunate that the one in front has a grab-handle on the A-pillar.
The outboard rear passengers can hang on to handles above the doors, but there is nothing for the centre passenger to grasp. Maybe it might make sense to fit a handle in the middle of the ceiling. It’s an arrangement you see quite regularly in panel vans with three-seater cabs.
Fortunately, the front seat offers the driver plenty of support when the truck’s rocking and rolling, while it’s in hot weather that the aircon comes into its own.
Report Card: Build quality = 4/5
The tough D-Max easily handles scorched, bumpy off-road terrain.
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
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