Isuzu D-Max Tipper review - great conversion at a great price

  • New Tippadeck Tipper conversion for the D-Max pickup driven
  • Based on Utility Extended Cab model – so plenty of load space
  • Alloy construction, high payload, conversion costs just £3,995

Isuzu unveiled a new D-Max Tipper conversion in mid-2020, and now we've had a chance to drive it. Based on the entry-level Utility trim level and the Extended Cab body, it's strong value and offers plenty of load space.

Designed as a conversion for D-Max pickups that are already registered, Isuzu says it can offer delivery on the new conversion in just four weeks. This also means it continues to be relevant even as the brand new second-generation D-Max is launched in the UK.

Payload is generous, the tipper mechanism is easy to use - and safety conscious - and there's little impact on the driving experience.

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The tipper back is a 'Tippa' model produced by Bristol-based converters TGS. The 'Tippadek' bed construction features interlocking alloy panels that are 18mm thick, providing strength with low weight and resistance to corrosion.

The load area is 1,977mm long and 1,800mm wide (sitting above the wheels means there’s no intrusion from the wheel arches), while the drop-down side panels are 300mm tall.

Isuzu D-Max Tipper review, 2021, rear view, bed sides and tailgate dropped

The corner posts can be removed to make a totally flat platform, helpful for loading, and the tipper tailboard has a two-way hinge assembly. Which means it can open from the top or the bottom.

There are tie points under the floor, the back of the cab is protected by a gridded tubular gantry, and all of the underlying tipping gear and subframe have been galvanised to prevent corrosion. Rubber mounts and buffers stop things banging together that shouldn’t.

The tipper mechanism is a one-way affair, and uses an electro-hydraulic power pack controlled via a wander lead - so you don’t have to be stood right next to the truck when operating it. We found the system very intuitive to use, and it seems robust enough, even given the hefty 1,162kg payload rating provided for this test example.

Isuzu D-Max Tipper review, 2021, wander lead

Further safety measures include an fixed prop for when the bed is raised, anti-burst valves should the hydraulics fail, and a dual-tone alarm to warn anyone nearby that the tipper is in motion.

How much can the D-Max Tipper carry?

Exact payload is likely to vary slightly with model year, and as it's calculated by subtracting the pickup's kerb weight from the official gross vehicle weight, it will also depend on the amount of fitted equipment.

As mentioned, this test vehicle has an official payload of 1,162kg. So what we can definitely say is that the D-Max Tipper will comfortably carry more than a tonne, and therefore easily maintain light commercial vehicle tax status as far as the HMRC is concerned.

What else is included?

The D-Max Utility is basic – so you get a black plastic front bumper, door handles and door mirrors. But the mirrors are heated, and you get air-conditioning as standard, in addition to Bluetooth, twin 12v sockets in the cab and electric windows.

There are also four airbags, hill-start assist, hill descent control and trailer sway control. As with other D-Max models, the Tipper will tow 3.5 tonnes (though not with a full payload).

Isuzu D-Max Tipper review, 2021, cab interior, rain

The interior has an easy to clean vinyl floor - ideal for site work - plus you get central locking and under-seat storage. The Extended Cab body has rear seats, but these are intended for occasional use, rather than long-distance.

The 16-inch steel wheels can be fitted with BF Goodrich All-Terrain tyres at extra cost if you’re regularly in low grip environments.

Who is the D-Max Tipper aimed at, and are there any rivals?

Isuzu is hoping the new Tipper conversion will appeal to likes of tree surgeons, landscape architects, gardeners and construction companies - customers it already attracts, given the robust and hardworking nature of the D-Max.

You can have a tipper conversion on any pickup, but only Toyota also offers a tipper as one of its 'standard' LCV conversions - we have a Toyota Hilux Tipper review you can read, and this, too, is a TGS conversion.

Isuzu D-Max Tipper review, 2021, hydraulic mechanism, rain

The Ford Ranger and the Nissan Navara are available chassis cabs, however, which makes them very suitable for tipper conversions; you'll just have to find a firm to do it, rather than order directly from the dealer.

Alternatively, there are plenty of van chassis cab tipper conversions on the market as well, often available as direct-from-dealer conversions. But these won't have the same rugged off-road capability as the D-Max (or Hilux), and may stuggle to be competitive for payload (though load space may be greater).

What's the D-Max Tipper like to drive?

As with any D-Max, the emphasis here is on tough capability rather than comfort, but this is still a truck that will happily plug along the motorway without too much fuss. The newer the D-Max the better the suspension for road use, so in part this will depend on the age of truck you choose to use for the conversion.

Isuzu D-Max Tipper review, 2021, front view, silver, rain

There is a little more wind noise than with a regular D-Max, thanks to the way the tipper bed sticks out beyond the width of the cab, and with the optional all-terrain tyres fitted there is a little more road noise as well. Similarly, the steering is a touch squirmier with them fitted, but unless you really want to go tearing along B-roads (and we wouldn't really recommend that in any pickup) you shouldn't have any serious issues.

That said, while the upgraded tyres are very handy if you need to scrabble about in the mud, they won't be so useful on slippery roads since they have a reduced contact area compared with conventional tyres. This also impacts on stopping distances when braking hard. So consider where you plan to use the truck carefully before committing to that extra expense.

How much does the Isuzu D-Max Tipper cost, and how can I buy one?

The Tipper is sold through the Isuzu dealer network as a ‘used approved conversion’, which means you buy the truck, it gets registered and then it goes for conversion. Or you buy a used D-Max and send that for conversion. Either way, Isuzu isn't registering them as tippers from new. 

Because it’s approved, it will still be covered by whatever's left of the full Isuzu five-year / 125,000-mile warranty and roadside assistance package.

The plan is to build around 200 examples a year, but the best news of all is that the conversion cost is just £3,995, plus VAT but including delivery. Considering the quality and the capability, this strikes us as great value.

Also read:

>> Our full Isuzu D-Max full review

>> All-new Isuzu D-Max full details

>> Toyota Hilux Tipper conversion review

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