2018 Isuzu N-Series Update Review

2018 isuzu n-series

Isuzu has updated Australia’s best-selling truck for 2019 with the N-Series getting a range of new additions/tweaks.

We got along to the Australian launch of the updated Isuzu N-Series this week and came away of the belief that the already popular little offering is unlikely to lose any friends moving forward.

In fact, the Isuzu offering is a good chance of actually finding more potential purchasers following the update.

Isuzu say they’re committed to the traditional bread and butter Isuzu small truck buyer, opportunities though to grow the Isuzu N-Series sales totals stand with wooing tradies and the like away from dual-cab utes.

And some of the changes (outlined below) look likely to do just that.

What’s new in the Isuzu N-Series?

The big change being introduced to the Isuzu small truck is additional models featuring independent front suspension.

Traditionally, light-duty trucks have come with leaf spring front suspension and while this is great for carrying a load, for the humans in the cab it can be a jolting and uncomfortable ride.

Leaf spring suspension still features on the traditional N-Series models.

isuzu n-series independent front suspensionHowever, for those looking to use the Isuzu small truck as a tradies workmate, or perhaps as a van alternative, independent front suspension is on offer in the NNR model (single or crew cab).

The coil spring suspension (as seen above) aims to give the N-Series a more car-like ride and having driven both on the launch I can say it is mission accomplished (more below).

The independent front suspension also brings rack and pinion steering “for sharper steering responses in urban environments”.

Regarding the front axle weights, yes, the independent front suspension is only good for a maximum of 2600kg, the traditional leaf spring set-up handling 3100kg – however, Isuzu say for most potential applications the independent set-up will suffice.

Other changes coming into the Isuzu N-Series range include:

  • Updated 6.2″ infotainment system with truck-specific sat-nav
  • 12-month service intervals (and up to 20,000km)
  • 3.5 tonne towing capacity (NLR/NLS)
  • Upgraded tyres (4×2 and 4×4 models)
  • New NPS 4×4 models with Automated Manual Transmission (AMT)
  • Improved AMT cooling system on 4×4 models
  • New NPR/NQR variants suitable for eight-pallet bodies
  • Euro 5 compliance on 4HK1 engine (thanks to new oxidation catalyst)
  • AMT improvements, including new kick-down feature
  • Addition of cruise control as standard across range
  • New Blue and Black paint options on N-Series Tradepack models
  • New Servicepack-X offering with X-wing style locker doors

Also confirmed by Isuzu Australia are some new options, including a 4.5 tonne tow-bar (coming soon), rear parking sensors (low mount and high mount), chrome bull bar options, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

What’s it like to Drive?

Across the launch event I got the chance to drive an array of different N-Series variants, including 4×2 and 4×4, AMT and manual, and with the two different front suspension set-ups.

As mentioned in my recent test drive of the N-Series tipper, I am not a huge fan of the Isuzu N-Series manual transmission as I think the 1st gear selection (down and to the left) is awkward.

Forget the manual though, this AMT in the N-Series is a sensational alternative.

2018 isuzu n-series AMT selectorWith the new kick-down feature – push the accelerator to the floor and you get a lower gear, and really smooth/efficient gear changes, the days of the AMT being secondary to a manual in a light-duty truck are well and truly over.

Same goes for the independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering – the difference is enormous.

Where the leaf spring front end has you bouncing up and down on road undulations, the coil springs soak up the movement and provide a much more comfortable and confident feel.

I thought the Isuzu N-Series cab was also well-insulated with only minimal engine and road noise evident, and visibility from the driver’s seat is really good too.

The updated infotainment system makes your day behind the wheel of the Isuzu light-duty truck a lot more enjoyable and I’m really glad to see digital radio as standard.

There’s good overhead lighting and roof-mounted storage spots too.

Tilt and reach steering adjust also helps improve comfort, however it would be nice if there was some way of having an arm rest for the driver’s left arm.

2018 isuzu n-series interiorA few things that might take a bit of shine off the Isuzu include a lack of steering wheel mounted audio controls (something you will most likely miss if stepping out of a ute/van).

While the driver info screen is a bit dated and there’s a lot of info there in only a fairly small green screen.

I mentioned I had a drive of the 4×4 Isuzu N-Series – this was only on dirt and proved (as you probably already know) that the Isuzu is a very capable off-roader.

Check out the Isuzu N-Series 4×4 in action…

I thought the AMT again outshone the manual here, while I was a bit disappointed with the rear space available in the crew cab version.

Sure, there’s seating for four abreast in the back, but the two middle seats are hampered by a lack of legroom thanks to the engine compartment extending into the space.

I thought a second grab handle for those climbing into the crew cab would be a good touch too (there’s only one of the trucks B-pillar).

While I was surprised the Isuzu offering didn’t have rear heating/air-conditioning – this is something found in the Hino 300 Series 4×4 Crew Cab.

isuzu n-series servicepack-xThe Summary

Isuzu has a big share of the light-duty truck market for a number of reasons, including the ability to supply so many different variants.

Now, especially in the tradie/mines/last mile delivery type segments, Isuzu not only has even more tailored offerings, but additions like independent front suspension and the impressive AMT which make the N-Series a genuine alternative to the status quo.



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