What is it: 

This is the cheapest model in the Isuzu D-Max line-up, powered by a 1.9-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine (rather than the 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel) paired to a six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel-drive.

This model is most commonly used by traffic controllers (hence the nickname) and small businesses that need plenty of cargo-carrying space but don’t need hardcore off-road ability.

Although this model sits up high like a four-wheel-drive (and can handle some rough tracks) it is in fact two-wheel-drive. Six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel-drive versions are also available.

Price: $31,990 drive-away (as this review was published, one of the cheapest diesel utes on sale today).

Engine: Turbo 1.9-litre four-cylinder diesel (110kW/350Nm versus 140kW/450Nm for the 3.0-litre).

Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive.

0 to 100km/h (as tested): 

The VBox showed acceleration times of 12.6 seconds (shifting at 3000rpm) or 13.0 seconds (shifting at 3500rpm).

This is slower than most diesel double cabs which typically stop the clocks between 10 and 11 seconds.

These are not race cars, of course, but we run these tests so we have an indication of performance.

Emergency braking from 100km/h (as tested): 

The VBox showed an impressive stopping distance of 40.8 metres (versus 42 to 44 metres for most double-cab utes).

This is because the Isuzu D-Max SX single cab is lighter than its double cab siblings. 

We tested the vehicle unladen (as we test all cars) so clearly extra weight in the vehicle and/or slippery road conditions would increase the braking distance.

Good points: 

Surprisingly perky engine. Anti-stall technology makes it almost impossible to conk out in this manual (it would be very forgiving to learn on). 

Isuzu deserves kudos for fitting every available piece of safety technology to even the cheapest model in its range.

The safety suite includes radar cruise control, speed sign recognition, blind zone warning, rear cross-traffic alert (the sensors are hidden behind the fake bumper fascias under the rear of the tray, so don’t throw them away), a rear view camera, and a centre airbag to prevent head clash in a side impact. The list goes on.

Hard wearing vinyl floor and comfortable cloth seats (with height adjustment, rare in this price range). 

Adjustable seatbelt height, plus tilt and reach adjustment for the steering wheel (also rare in this price range).

Good road holding. Good braking (for a ute). The massive (Isuzu-fitted) rear tray is bigger than most rivals.

Bad points: 

The halogen headlights are woeful compared to bi-LED technology. Surely halogen’s days are numbered given the cost of bi-LED tech is coming down.

These utes are meant to be driven with a load, so the suspension can be bouncy when the tray is empty.

Fuel economy was ok (we averaged 9.0L/100km in a mix of city and freeway use, unladen) but we were expecting a bigger reduction in consumption versus the 3.0-litre.

In our experience the 3.0-litre is about 10 per cent thirster than the 1.9-litre.

The infotainment screen is not a high resolution display but this might be addressed with the facelift that is just around the corner.

What the haters say: 

The 1.9-litre doesn’t have enough guts.

What the haters don’t understand: 

The 1.9-litre is fine for light duties and large parcels/cargo, especially if you’re not towing or carrying a heavy load.

Should you buy one? 

If you need a vehicle like this, absolutely. The Isuzu D-Max SX 1.9 “traffic controller” might even make more sense than a diesel double-cab four-wheel-drive ute for some buyers.

In our opinion this is the best value single-cab diesel ute on the market today. 

It has a sharper price and a longer warranty (six years versus five years) than the Toyota HiLux Workmate diesel – and most other name-brand rivals – and Isuzu also has an excellent reputation for reliability and dependability.

Also consider: 

Toyota HiLux Workmate.