Fitted with a Rhinoman canopy and roof-racks from The Bush Company, the Isuzu D-Max LSE served as the perfect road-trip partner through Swellendam and Hermanus.
Within Isuzu’s extensive D-Max range, the double-cab 3,0L LSE model hits a bit of a sweet-spot for me. Kitted with full four-wheel drive capabilities (low-range transfer case, selectable four-wheel-drive and a rear diff-lock), as well as Isuzu’s trusted 3,0-litre turbo-diesel engine, the LSE is the perfect companion to those interested in trading the highway for gravel driving and even technical off-roading.
This particular LSE was made even more road-trip compatible with the fitting of a Rhinoman Gen 7 DC Xtreme canopy to the load-bed, and Explorer E/C roof-racks made by The Bush Company, sized to the canopy.
For the first weekend of December, my friends and I organised a trip to Swellendam, where we would spend two nights camping at the Kam’Bati River Resort, before heading through to the edge of Hermanus and Stanford to spend a few days at a farmhouse on the Klein River lagoon.
On Friday morning we loaded up the bakkie with bags, tents, cooler boxes and food for three, with my mate taking the backseat next to the bedding and my partner and me up in the front. I was surprised by how much space the load bed retained despite the hardbody canopy, and we managed to fit everything in without even having to tie any cargo to the roof racks. The trip was the first I had done in a bakkie with a lockable canopy, and while it protects cargo from weather conditions, it also adds a layer of security. You need the car keys to unlock the back of the canopy at two different points, so one sits at traffic lights secure in the knowledge that the luggage is safe.
On the subject of traffic lights…the traffic out of Cape Town was horrendous as we made our way up to Swellendam. Summer is definitely here. While the fuel economy was always going to be affected by the extra weight of the canopy, roof racks and roadtrip cargo, the stop-start traffic didn’t help the numbers and we were sitting on around 12,3L/100km by the time we got flowing on the N1. All the Isuzu D-Max bakkies I’ve driven this year have returned very good fuel economy figures, and after a few hours of steady driving the numbers dropped closer to what one would expect; we were averaging 10,8L/100km by the time we got to Swellendam.
You’ll find the lower gears rather noisy and long, but once you’re up to the National speed limit the D-Max motors along nicely. Isuzu’s trusty 3,0-litre turbo-diesel provides you with 140kW of power and 450 N.m.
There’s a short stint of gravel road as you turn off the highway towards Kam’Bati River Resort, which the bakkie, with four-wheel-high drive mode selected, handled with ease. After all, it is the environment in which a D-Max is most comfortable, those winding dirt roads.
I’m a big fan of Isuzu’s D-Max range, they’re robust vehicles; well tuned for off-road driving, comfortable at high speeds on the highway and surprisingly economic too.
After the weekend at Kam’Bati we packed the car back up – full of gear – and set off on the roughly 100km stretch to Hermanus. Between driving to Hermanus and then back to Cape Town a few days later, we managed a final average of 10,6L/100km – a respectable effort given the fully packed load bed, canopy and roof racks.
While we didn’t have to make use of The Bush Company’s Explorer roof racks, they’re an awesome addition for long trips, as you can add extra storage or attach a rooftop tent. The utility also prevails around the city if one needs to transport something that can’t fit into the canopy. Constructed from robust welded aluminum alloy, the rack ensures substantial strength and rigidity.
The Explorer Roof Rack was initially crafted for Rhino Cab Extreme Aluminium Canopies but fits various dual cab canopies or custom designs, and will set you back R8 995. With a standard width of 1200mm, there are three length options: 1400mm, 1700mm, and 2200mm, accompanied by Flat Plate Fitment brackets.
Isuzu D-Max Double Cab 3,0-litre LSE 4X4 at a glance:
- Price: R869,500 (December 2023)
- Engine: 3.0-liter turbo-diesel, 4-cylinder
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Power: 140 kW
- Torque: 450 Nm
- Driven wheels: Selectable 4WD
- Fuel consumption: 8.2 L/100 km (no canopy/roof rack) 10,6L/100km (with canopy/roof rack)