There’s a good reason why the Isuzu F-Series is consistently one of the best-selling trucks on the Aussie market – it’s an impressive vehicle.
I had the keys to a 140 (or 14 tonne)/260 (260hp) FSR for a couple of days, my first time ever piloting a truck from Isuzu’s F-Series range.
As you can see in the photos, this particular truck has a skip-bin body bolted on the back.
The truck was also fitted with the optional Allison LCT2500 fully-automatic transmission.
We should start with the transmission – a real highlight.
I’m always a bit cautious and apprehensive about auto gearboxes, and automated manuals for that matter, experiences with early incarnations no doubt the cause of this anxiety.
But this is a quality box that really makes the Isuzu like a big car to drive.
The six-speed fully automatic transmission glides through the gears and really helps you maximize the power and torque (265hp/788Nm) on offer from the Isuzu 6HK1-TCC six-cylinder engine.
The transmission was also found to be responsive when a lower gear ratio was required.
Just as importantly, working in conjunction with the exhaust brake, the transmission is nicely programmed to drop down the ratios without the use of the front and rear drum brakes.
So, red light ahead, foot off the accelerator, exhaust brake on – very impressive slowing power transmission/exhaust brake combined to get you down to 20km/h.
This is all designed to help you avoid wearing your brakes out – it looks like mission accomplished.
The Isuzu F-Series steering is very light, and there is very little play off centre – two idiosyncrasies that I like, especially in a vehicle that will see the vast majority of its working life in city/suburban areas.
The engine is quiet and the cab is well sound-proofed too.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is very good, the A-pillars are thin, however there’s no gap between mirrors and the A-pillar on the passenger side – be cautious of things hiding in the blind-spot behind.
The mirrors though are excellent and, unlike some of the competition, both the main mirrors and the convex spot mirrors are electronically adjustable – that’s a big tick from me.
Isuzu traditionally gives you a fairly basic/functional work environment and the F-Series is no different.
The driver gets an ISRI air suspension seat that gives really good support, especially to your lower back, but there isn’t an arm rest for your left arm and this lets overall comfort down a touch.
The instruments are large and easy to read, while the driver info screen is also fairly basic and doesn’t give you anything but the bare minimum info.
All the controls are well-placed and easy to understand.
There’s cruise control, a big roof-mounted light, a couple of cupholders, electric windows and a simple/effective HVAC system (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning).
Up on the roof are two storage lockers, they aren’t huge, but are adequately sized for most odds and ends carried in a truck like this.
The floor height in the Isuzu is pretty much exactly one metre off the ground, and with just the one step you have about a 56 centimetre climb onto the step, then 44 centimetres from the step to the cab.
It feels like a hefty climb and could be an issue if your mobility isn’t great.
A big help with the climb aboard are the grab handles/railings mounted left and right of the door openings.
The steering wheel, like what I recently found in the updated Isuzu N-Series, is a bit hard/slippery for my liking – and you’d think after a couple years of hard work it would be even less grippy.
It would also be nice to have audio/Bluetooth controls on the wheel too.
Isuzu F-Series has an impressive infotainment system that features digital radio and sat-nav as standard (although the sat-nav hadn’t yet been loaded in on my test vehicle).
The unit also serves as the display screen for the optional reversing camera (able to display up to four camera images) and as the interface for the Isuzu telematics system.
There’s a well-sized storage area on the back of the fold-down centre seat.
Finally, the FSR cab has an ADR42 compliant sleeper, however there’s no mattress supplied as standard, you also would want to be pretty flexible getting in there.
Isuzu F-Series Good Bits
- Engine/transmission performance
- Exhaust brake functionality
- Ease of use
- Easy to access transmission dipstick and fluid bottles
- Simple, robust interior
Not So Good Bits
- No controls on steering wheel
- Slippery, slightly uncomfortable steering wheel
- No left-hand arm rest for driver
- Could have more cabin storage spots/cupholders
As I said at the top, this is a quality offering that is ready to do years of hard work without any complaints.
The highlight is the transmission/exhaust brake functionality and overall ease of driving.
There’s a couple of simple things inside the cab that could improve comfort, however these might not be deal-breakers for most potential operators.
Check out all the Isuzu FSR 140/260 specs here.