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Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Safari test drive_lead Cars Bikes Trucks

Review: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Safari – the urban adventurer

POSTED BY Mick Chan ON 02 December 2014

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Safari test drive_lead Cars Bikes Trucks

SUVs and crossovers are increasingly popular with the urban crowd for the elevated seating positions that they offer, and now that pick-up trucks are becoming even more refined, they too are joining the urban fray.

The “V-Cross” in this D-Max model’s name denotes the use of a larger 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel, while the Safari moniker signifies the range-topping variant.

As befits a more upmarket variant, the Safari has had particular attention paid to its interior. Leather upholstery covers the Safari’s seats front and rear, which lends this D-Max an air of added luxury.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Safari test drive_dash compartments Cars Bikes Trucks

Dashboard design is recognisable from the Chevrolet Colorado with which it shares basic architecture, which is a good thing – compartments aplenty give ample storage for everyday oddments such as keys, drink bottles and the like.

Front seat comfort is also comparable with that of the Colorado’s, while the rear seats boast a class-leading recline angle of 24 degrees from vertical.

Where it differs from the Colorado is in its drive experience. For a 3.0-litre turbodiesel, its 175hp/380Nm output figures suggest a rather unstressed powerplant, whereas the Colorado makes 500Nm of load-lugging torque from 2.8-litres in comparison, and the Isuzu makes do with five forward speeds in its automatic transmission to the Chevy’s six. However that’s by the numbers; on the road the D-Max V-Cross is hardly found wanting for more muscle. No, the V-Cross sets itself apart with the way it carries itself.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Safari_dashboard Cars Bikes Trucks

Judged subjectively, the Safari’s on-road demeanour is much better resolved than most pick-up trucks, particularly with an unladen tray. Within city limits where the pick-up truck species is increasingly making a habitat, most – or at least some – can be expected to have replaced a traditional three-box sedan, and these owners are probably not making a habit of loading up their trucks with a few hundred KGs’ payload on a daily basis. As such, the Safari is one of the best in ride comfort.

Steering is where the Safari reveals more of its industrious roots; changing direction at low speeds require a firm pair of hands. Its weight is still on the agreeable side of manageable, and with more speed on the open road the helms lightens up nicely.

It’s automatic gearbox has five forward ratios compared with some other trucks’ six speeds, but being one down on the ratio count poses hardly any degradation to the Safari’s forward motion; in fact it seems to make the best use of the engine when left to its own devices, and when the driver wants to call the shots himself or herself there is always the plus-minus manual override just beside the ‘D’ position.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Safari test drive_V-Lid Cars Bikes Trucks

Right off the showroom floor, the Safari’s practicality is perhaps the best of the pickup trucks, as the V-Lid lockable tray cover is included in its RM118,485.90 sticker price. It isn’t quite car-like yet in that aspect though, locking the lid requires a separate key. Having said that, the fact that the lid comes standard is commendable.

Day-to-day practicality is part of what draws the crowds to lifestyle-slanted vehicles such as the Safari, and Isuzu backs it up with peace of mind from a three-year, 100,000km warranty and the Isuzu Doctor Mobile round-the-clock roadside assistance. Packaged thus, the V-Cross Safari should prove to be an attractive proposition for would-be pick-up truck buyers, despite coming in at nearly RM120,000.

With the ruggedness, utillity and practicality offered, the D-Max V-Cross Safari is a lot of truck for the money.

Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Safari_rear Cars Bikes Trucks

Specifications of the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross 3.0L AT Safari
Engine: 4JJ-TCX 2,999cc inline-four cylinder diesel, common-rail direct injection, turbocharged
Max power: 175hp at 3,600rpm
Max torque: 380Nm from 1,800-2,800rpm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic with manual override
Safety features: ABS, EBD, BA, ESC, traction control, pre-tensioning and load limiting front seat belts, Isofix child seat mounts for rear seats, side impact door beams, collapsible steering column
Price: RM118,485.90 on-the-road including insurance

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