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Isuzu Utah with Lintran’s hunter pack

There are any number of decent 4x4 options around but the one that seems to have taken the shooting world by storm is the crew cab. This offers a 4-door layout with a big cargo bed in the rear with a fold down tail gate. So up front you can carry 4-5 people in comfort and shoot from the vehicle too. The back offers a lot of room for carrying deer, feed and the 101 things we need to transport on and off road. It also separates the mess from the cab, unlike say an estate-type layout.

BARE BACKED

Though a dedicated Land Rover owner, a brand I have tested a number of times over the recent years is Isuzu’s D-Max series, which as a crew cab I really rate! One aspect of the general design of all makes is that the cargo bay is not covered so whatever you might put in is both open to the elements and also thieving hands. This is actually quite limiting giving it the storage ability of a large saloon car, less boot! Let’s face it; we shooters do carry around a lot of gear! So once you have your truck the next essential apart from decent off-road tyres is a hard top!

However, you can go further and in 2012 Isuzu launched its Huntsman Pack upgrade for their D-Max, made by Lintran it was designed with the help of Mike Robinson, a professional deer manager, TV game chef and well-known restaurateur who has long-standing experience of what is required from a vehicle used regularly in the field. This as I discovered gives a high level of in-vehicle security, also the optional dog boxes make great lock ups too!

2015 UPDATED & IMPROVED!

For 2015 Isuzu has updated its hugely popular Huntsman Accessory Pack for their D-Max Yukon and Utah premium pick-up truck models. Which turns this hard working and powerful turbo-diesel into a practical vehicle for hunting and game management and again Mike Robertson has been involved.

The new Accessory Pack also address the truck’s off road ability, plus and most pleasingly Isuzu have held at the same price as before! These include an Aeroklas Commercial Canopy with matching roof rails and vent, a Lintran Transafe drawer system with GapFlap. The rubber has been improved too, as has the stealth ability with Cooper Discoverer A/T3 tyres on 17” black alloy wheels and a full size spare wheel kit of the same spec. These all-terrain boots give the Utah some serious on and off road capabilities too.

Isuzu also include what they call a ‘de-chrome pack’ which replaces shiny and eye-catching silver with black, heavy-duty side steps, bumpers and roof rails, this last on both the top of the cab and the canopy for extra storage. There are also front and rear rubber trays in the cab and an under rail bed liner.

INSIDE TOO

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Inside you get a Pioneer F860 Vision satnav pack with reversing camera; useful on a vehicle with such limited rear vision, a 3.5 tonne tow bar and 7-pin electrics; a tailgate damper (Yukon models). Vehicles come in a choice of either Tundra Green or Cosmic Black only, which is fine by me. Additional optional extras include the Huntsman leather interior in the two colour options and single or double dog boxes.

Mike Robinson commented: “The new Huntsman Accessory Pack takes our original thoughts and designs for the perfect hunting pick-up truck even further! It now features better security, which is a huge bonus, wider side steps and a renowned Lintran drawer system for safe and secure storage of guns and ammo. This version really is unbeatable and makes the Isuzu D-Max highly practical to use yet also stylish and comfortable. You name it, the new Huntsman has got it, but it is still the discreet top end off-roader I know and love.”

SPLIT DRIVE

My test truck was the Utah in Tundra Green, which I prefer over the black as it does seem to blend in slightly better, aided by the de-chrome theme too. It has all that you might expect of a modern 4x4: 2.5-litre twin-turbo common-rail diesel engine, power & efficiency - 163 PS, 400 Nm and 38.7 mpg (combined cycle), 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission available, 3,500 kg (braked) towing and 1,000 kg payload capacities, full aircon, 4-star Euro NCAP safety rating and a 5-year/125,000-mile warranty. Depending on the model/version prices range from £14,999 to £26,999 (CVOTR).

I got the automatic option, which did not get me too excited as I never considered it that viable for off road use. Well this is a bit different and shows just how far technology has moved on since I last drove non-stick. You in fact have two drive options – full automatic, which I found excellent for round town work and what I would term as pre-select! Here you flip the lever to the right and it allows you to select up and down the five gear ratios much like using a stick shift. Great for long road runs as I found it more economical and, when required, equally so cross country. To put it bluntly the Utah was a ’sweet ride’ on or off road!

LOAD UP

The Lintran Transafe drawer system is clever as it is bolted into the cargo bed and does not rob too much height/space either. It consists of a twin lock (fold-down) Gap Flap that covers both the draws, either side are separate lock boxes that would be good for ammo etc. The twin draws will easily take shotguns as well as scoped and bipod mounted rifles with moderators. I easily got two large assault rifle type bags in each tray and given the size of bag I reckon you could carry six fully fettled rifles!

My truck came with the double dog boxes, which are big enough for animals such as Labradors without being too cramped. They are made of strong steel mesh with a decent wide, lockable door. Having no hound on hand I used them for storage and they too take a lot of guns and gear, in my job as a gun writer this Lintran system proved ideal and I would like something similar for my Landy! Rear vision as with most crew cabs is not amazing and the dog boxes don’t help; I have to admit the reversing sensor was a god send!

The obvious down side of the dog boxes is that they take up most available space in the cargo area so to a degree negating the real purpose of a crew cab. For me the Transafe drawer system is the better option as it provides secure storage for firearms on and off road! A nice touch is the Utah’s tail gate is lockable, which is not always the case with other makes, so creating even less access to those thinking of breaking in! Overall the Isuzu D-Max Utah with Huntsman pack will transform this excellent crew cab.

 

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