Urban AdventurerPOSTED BY Mick Chan ON 13 January 2015
SUVs and crossovers are increasingly popular with the urban crowd for the elevated seating positions that they offer, and pick-up trucks are getting into the fray now that they are becoming even more refined.
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 seats front and rear, which lends this D-Max an air of added luxury.
Dashboard design is recognisable from the Chevrolet Colorado with which it shares basic architecture, which is a good thing, like compartments aplenty to give ample storage for everyday oddments such as keys, drink bottles and the like.
Front seat comfort is comparable with that of the Colorado’s, while the rear seats boast a class-leading recline angle of 24° from vertical.
Where it differs from the Colorado is in its drive experience.
For a 3.0-litre turbo diesel, its 175hp/380Nm output figures suggest a rather unstressed power plant, 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.
Judged subjectively, the Safari’s on-road demeanour is much better resolved than most pick-up trucks, particularly with an unladen tray.
And within city limits where the pick-up trucks are increasingly making its habitat, these owners are probably not making a habit of loading up their trucks with a few hundred kilogrammes of 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 requires 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.
The Safari’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, there is always the plus-minus manual override just beside the “D” position.
Right off the showroom floor, the Safari’s practicality is perhaps the best of the pick-up trucks, as the V-Lid lockable tray cover is included in its RM118,486 sticker price.
It isn’t quite car-like yet in that aspect though for 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 crowd to lifestyle-slanted vehicles such as the Safari, and Isuzu backs it up with peace of mind with 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.
Specifications of the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross 3.0L AT Safari:
Engine: 4JJ-TCX 2,999cc in-line four 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: RM118,486 on-the-road including insurance