Isuzu D-Max (2012 – 2017)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

4dr pick-up (2.5 diesel [Single Cab 2WD & 4WD / Extended Cab 4WD / Double Cab 4WD])


When Isuzu replaced its aging Rodeo pick-up with this much more modern D-Max model in 2012, it finally became a credible force to be reckoned with in the growing UK pick-up sector. The tough 2.5-litre turbo diesel beneath the bonnet can haul and tow hefty loads through the wildest terrain you’re likely to come across and there are three bodystyles to suit a wide range of buyers. Smart, tough and very affordable, it’s a potentially very sensible used market choice.

The History

If you want a job done properly, you call in a specialist. And when the job in question is that of creating a reassuringly over-engineered pick-up, then for British buyers, the specialist in question is undoubtedly Isuzu. Japan’s oldest vehicle manufacturer is the only brand on the UK market that for decades has dedicated itself to the very specific needs of pick-up people, with rugged, utilitarian TF and then Rodeo models that were light on lifestyle but tough to beat. Which was fine if all you wanted was a dependable workhorse to lug things around. But not so good for those in search of something that could be a little more car-like at the end of the day, something like this, the Isuzu D-Max pick-up that was introduced in 2012.

‘Car-like’ might be over-stating things a bit. To be truly ‘car-like’, this vehicle would need to compromise hefty underpinnings that remain perfectly suited to the working week. But within the confines of the kind of vehicle a pick-up of this kind can be, the post-2012 D-Max represented a huge dynamic step forward for its brand – as it needed to match competitors of the calibre of Ford’s Ranger, the Volkswagen Amarok, the Toyota Hilux and the Nissan Navara. Compared to its Rodeo predecessor, it was safer, more powerful, more spacious and much better looking, with lower running costs, extra equipment and more off-road capability.

This D-Max sold until the Spring of 2017, when it was replaced by an updated model featuring a more efficient 1.9-litre diesel engine.

What To Look For

There are plenty of satisfied D-Max owners out there, but we did come across a few who had issues. In one case, an owner complained that the engine wouldn’t rev; it’s an issue that tends to relate to faults with either the connector to the throttle position sensor or the crank angle sensor. In another instance, the owner concerned noticed a knocking sound that set in when coming to a halt in a D-Max that had covered about 20,000 miles. Another owner had a problem with a water-logged diff that entailed the need for an expensive replacement. And another buyer complained of a camshaft chain/ oil pressure-related noise from the engine. There were also a few instances of niggling radio head unit faults. Otherwise, the only issues are the ones common to all pick-ups. So check that the loadbay doesn’t have too many scrapes and dents. And look underneath the vehicle for signs of over-enthusiastic off roading.

On The Road

Have you ever bought something and found it a bit under-specified for the job you had in mind? Annoying isn’t it? Sometimes it's good to choose something quite the opposite. A watch, say, that's waterproof to 200 metres. Maybe a quad-band mobile phone. Or perhaps this Isuzu D-Max pick up. This thing feels completely bullet-proof in a way that only the more expensive Toyota Hilux can match. And it’s got far more pulling power than ‘Top Gear’s’ favourite, despite costing no more to run.

Pulling power in fact, is the first thing you notice about this D-Max once out on the road. Though there’s only a single four cylinder 2.5-litre engine choice on offer in the pre-2017 version of this model, it’s exactly the kind of powerplant you’d want in a vehicle of this kind from this era, with 163PS on tap and, more importantly, 400Nm of torque from just 1,400rpm, the kind of grunt that makes low speed urban work easy and tough muddy inclines straightforward. It’s also a major reason why this vehicle can tow a braked trailer of up to 3.0-tonnes – not quite as much as a comparable Ford Ranger but usefully more than an equivalent Hilux or Mitsubishi L200.

On the move, this engine isn’t the most refined of its type but it’s a big step forward from older Isuzu units in this respect, helped by the fact that the designers went to a lot of trouble to soundproof both the cabin and the engine bay to what they hoped were passenger car-like standards. In fact, everything about this vehicle is more cultured than buyers of its predecessor, the Rodeo, will remember.


If you thought Isuzu pick-ups were a bit rough and ready, it's about time you gave the D-Max a try. Once this brand was really one reserved for the requirements of pure commercial operators. These days though, it’ll also suit private buyers looking for an all-terrain utility vehicle that can play the lifestyle card.

But how does it stack up in its crowded market? Very well actually. Pricewise, it’s one of the best value choices in the class and with this post-2012 design, Isuzu’s appeal in the pick-up sector was broadened to suit the sort of buyer who would previously have automatically looked to a Nissan Navara or a Toyota Hilux. The sort of person who might not be considering this D-Max. But probably should be.