With modern technologies, turbocharging along with better engine design allows smaller blocks to punch above their weight.
For example, Isuzu’s latest D-Max 1.9 Blue Power 4X4 Premium which gets a new downsized 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine, delivers higher performance compared with the 2.5-litre block in the previous line-up.
Power from the breakthrough 1.9-litre RZ4E turbodiesel engine is higher at 150hp (up by 36hp) and maximum torque now stands at 350Nm (up from 30Nm).
In addition, the engine also claims an improvement of 19% in fuel efficiency, making the D-Max 1.9 Blue Power the first pick-up truck in Malaysia to be certified as an energy efficient vehicle by the Road Transport Department.
Reprising the typical pick-up look with an imposing bonnet and high ground clearance, the D-Max 1.9 Blue Power gets an updated black-chrome grille with new front bumper and bi-LED headlights and daytime running lights.
It also gets stylish 18-inch alloy wheels to give a trendy appearance.
Other optional accessories to spice up the exterior include pull-out cargo tray (RM700), sports bar (RM1,320), tailgate assist (RM650) and side steps (RM1,000).
To appeal to private and commercial users, Isuzu has taken efforts to make the D-Max 1.9 Blue Power more comfortable and a tad more upmarket.
Being major touch points for the driver, the centre arm and door armrests are padded to make long distance driving more relaxing.
The dashboard also gets some soft touch materials.
The Multimedia DVD player is an 8.0-inch touchscreen display type that supports GPS navigation, smart mirroring, Wi-Fi, AM/FM, MP3, AUX, USB, iPod and Bluetooth with eight speakers to boot.
Sound delivery is clear and much better than most audio systems seen in pick-up trucks of the past.
Also available are two USB charging ports - one for the front and the other for passengers at the rear.
Seating position is easily higher than crossovers and passenger cars, giving the driver a commanding view of the road ahead.
The combination leather and fabric seats is a good move by Isuzu Malaysia to make pick-up trucks more appealing than before to private buyers.
As with all double cab pick-up trucks in the local market, rear legroom is adequate.
However, the backrest of the rear seats can be rather upright to those new to the pick-up truck scene.
At night, the bi-LED headlights which are mounted higher than those on passenger cars, throw white light further and easily brightens up a greater portion of poorly lit roads.
Like any turbodiesel pick-up truck, the 1.9-litre engine fires up strongly through a push start/stop button before idling down to the usual diesel engine “clatter.”
Engage the six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift into “D” and the 1.9-tonne vehicle takes off effortless without having to floor the accelerator.
As for the suspension, which has been tuned predominantly for carrying heavy payloads in the cargo area, the ride is naturally much firmer than that of passenger cars.
The plus point is that the D-Max 1.9 Blue Power, with its ground clearance of 235mm, can easily tackle rough roads and demanding terrain with much aplomb and confidence.
During highway driving, the vehicle handles well but don’t expect it to carve up fast corners like a sports coupe.
On straight stretches, the D-Max 1.9 Blue Power can easily reach and exceed the legal speed limit without the need to stomp the throttle.
A good level of noise insulation made the cabin surprisingly quiet and muted from outside noises when driven at cruising speed.
The dial to set drive mode to 2H, 4H or 4L is conveniently located on the centre console and is easy to use.
As Isuzu Malaysia conservatively claims the D-Max 1.9 Blue Power has a frugal fuel consumption of 8.0 litres per 100km, its fuel tank capacity of 76 litres should be able to provide a driving range of 950km.
Even after using up to half the fuel in the tank to travel some 500km, which includes city driving and a round trip from Petaling Jaya to Muar, Johor, we were quite delighted that the trip computer showed we still have another 500km of driving range available.
This way better than average fuel consumption for pick-up trucks is going to be a strong attraction for high mileage drivers.
Best of all, the 1.9-litre Blue Power turbodiesel engine can run on cheaper Euro 2M diesel as well as the more premium Euro 5 grade. Other key features include dual front airbags, anti-lock braking system with electronic brake distribution, brake assist, hill start assist, hill descent control, electronic stability control, traction control system, reverse camera with parking guide and reverse sensors.
Priced at RM115,799, the D-Max 1.9 Blue Power is well-specified and is a value-for-money consideration for private and commercial users wanting a double cab pick-up truck that is among the very top in delivering miles and smiles.
Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Blue Power 4X4 (A)
Engine: 1,898cc, 4-cylinder VGS turbodiesel intercooler, 16 valves, Direct Injection Electronic Commonrail
Maximum power: 150hp at 3,600rpm
Maximum torque: 350Nm from 1,800 to 2,600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with Sequential Shift
Features: Two airbags, Bi-LED Projector headlights with manual levelling, LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), front fog lamps, auto folding wing mirror with LED turn indicator, anti-lock brake system (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control (HDC), Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control System, Side Door Impact Beams, Collapsible Steering Column, e-LUMAX with Advance Multi-Information Display, Reverse Camera with Parking Guide, Reverse Sensors, Multimedia DVD Player with 8-inch Touch Screen, GPS Navigation, Smart Mirroring, Wi-Fi, AM/FM, MP3, AUX, USB, IPod & Bluetooth and eight speakers, bedliner and 255/60R18 alloy wheels with Highway Terrain tyres
Price (on the road, without insurance): RM115,799.20