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“Whoah! Check out that four-by-four – that is hot!” Some movie scenes are so memorable, they leave indelible imprints on your mind, that can be conveniently drawn upon at a moment's notice. When our long-term 2016 Isuzu D-Max LS-U Space Cab rolled into the CarAdvice Melbourne driveway, I felt like Marty McFly back in 1985 Hill Valley.
The black Isuzu pickup with optional nudge and sports bars might be three decades and a brand away from Marty’s dream wheels, but there is something about a ‘tough truck’ that just works.
Priced from $46,200 (before options and on-road costs), our Cosmic Black ($396 option) Isuzu D-Max LS-U Space Cab features the Japanese brand's trademark 130kW/380Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel truck engine matched to a five-speed automatic transmission.
The satin-black nudge bar ($682) and sports bar ($719) help create a much more aggressive look, but the 17-inch silver five-spoke alloy wheels don’t really help the tough stance of the D-Max, so we swapped them over to a set of six-spoke Speedy rims on Toyo all-terrain tyres.
These wheels are what Isuzu fits to their iVenture Club support vehicles so we’ll put them to the test with some off-road trail running while we have the ute under our care. They aren’t part of Isuzu’s ‘official’ catalogue, but can be had for around $255 each, plus tyres.
We also have a tow pack ($747), tub liner ($550) and soft tonneau cover ($629) fitted. This brings the total of Isuzu options to $3327.
To complete the look, we've thrown on a set of fog lamps and spot lights (using the pre-existing mounting brackets on the bars), and while not as cool as Marty’s KC-Daylighters, they do make our D-Max much more unique.
We opted for the suicide-door Space Cab variant as its mix of practical cabin size and ample tray length is, in our eyes, the perfect combination. Given we are usually running one- or two-up in a car, the Space Cab's extra 273mm of bed length compared with the dual-cab, makes the D-Max that much more convenient for helping around the office and for any impromptu ‘Oh, you have a ute…’ moving requirements.
The rear ‘jump’ seats are suitable for shorter trips, but aren’t all that comfortable. My six-year-old daughter refers to them as the ‘poo seats’ as the right-angled seating arrangement is very much like… well, you can figure it out.
Inside, the cab is the same as every other low- or mid-spec D-Max or MU-X. Cloth seats, basic radio and air conditioning controls and not much else. As we have noted with Isuzu’s current range of vehicles, it is basic but it works.
There’s no climate control, navigation, rear-view camera or automatic anything. Perhaps drawing similarities to Marty’s 1985 pickup isn’t that far off the mark after all…
Given the huge growth in popularity in the lifestyle ute market in Australia, and the breadth of technology offerings within, the 'old-school' Isuzu sits reasonably far outside the 'modern' way of doing things.
We’ll put this to the test during our time with the car, however, to see whether a bunch of soft-handed, latte-sipping, desk jockeys can handle the ‘real world’ of cars that don’t park themselves. That said, Isuzu sold 11,300 4x4 D-Max utes in 2015 - essentially the same as every small-premium SUV combined - so a back-to-basics approach can’t be all bad.
So what is in store for the black ‘Max while it lives with CarAdvice?
As noted, we’ll give it a couple of runs off the beaten track to see how it handles the weekend-adventurer role. On a short shakedown sojourn through some tough trails in Victoria's Toolangi State Forest, the D-Max seems well up to the task, with only the standard side steps hampering progress over severely rutted terrain.
The lack of hill descent control or a differential lock didn’t stop the ute from charging through where some trail-bike riders were hesitant to continue, although, we would suggest wearing sensible footwear no matter how casually you treat the day…
We’ll check fuel economy on weekend tours, with and without a trailer, and we’ll make sure it works hard as a ute to help with any number of CarAdvice office and home-improvement projects on the immediate horizon.
The Isuzu will help as a media support vehicle for a couple of larger comparisons, being convenient for carrying gear and getting it where it needs to be to help the video team get those hard-to-nail shots.
Most importantly, we’ll assess how the D-Max handles day-to-day living around the tight, cobbled laneways of Richmond and inner-city Melbourne. We may also try to ‘customise’ our spotlight covers with the cool KC ‘smiley’ design, but don’t tell anyone they aren’t legit.
Let us know if there is anything you’d like to know or see us do with the 2016 Isuzu D-Max, and we look forward to updating you on its progress.
2016 Isuzu D-Max LS-U Space Cab
Date acquired – January 2016
Odometer reading – 3587km
Travel since previous – NA
Consumption since previous - NA
Click on the Photos tab for more 2016 Isuzu D-Max LS-U Space Cab images by Tom Fraser and James Ward.