There was a time when Isuzu's midsize pick-up truck was simply called “Pickup”. In other parts of the world, the truck was also known as the 'KB' which is essentially the pick-up truck's chassis code. If you don't remember it, you were probably too young to see that model. It was a time before Isuzu started using the Fuego and D-Max names.
Back in the mid to late 90s, if you were looking for a pick-up truck beside the Nissan Eagle, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200, and Mazda B-series (B2200), there was the Isuzu Pickup. It wasn't the most stylish truck out there, but it had a well-earned reputation for toughness and reliability. This model came out when pick-up trucks were made for work and not the lifestyle crowd. These haulers were simple and had one purpose in mind: to carry five people, along with their gear.
But if you needed an off-road machine to get you through the toughest of terrains, there was the 4x4 model that was aptly named '4x4 Pickup'. The name may not have been the most creative, but this top-of-the-line (at the time) workhorse was all about the business.
It came with a 2.5-liter 4JB1 OHV turbo-diesel inline-four paired to a five-speed “overdrive” gearbox. The engine made an impressive (back then) 100 PS at 3800 rpm, and 225 Nm of torque at 2300 rpm. From its namesake, this pick-up also benefits from a 4WD system and limited-slip differential for better traction.
But what made this pick-up stand out is that it came with an automatic freewheeling hub. Back then, when you need to engage (or disengage) all four wheels when going off-road, you have to get out of the cab and lock the front wheels. But thanks to the automatic freewheeling hub, the front wheels can automatically disengage from the front axle. Imagine having to get out of the truck to disengage the wheels manually in muddy terrain before. Nowadays, all that can be done in the comfort of the cab.
As far as features and styling are concerned, it did carry some unique equipment. It came with 15-inch polished steel wheels, a chrome package for the grille, side mirror caps, door handles and rear bumper, power windows, automatic door locks, and even power steering.
The pick-up game has moved on by leaps and bounds since the 4x4 Pickup debuted. Its successor, the all-new D-Max, is one of the most advanced trucks in the market today. But if it wasn't for its rugged and no-compromise grandfather, the new D-Max wouldn't carry its solid reputation for dependability and reliability. The next time you see an old-school Isuzu Pickup or Fuego on the road, give the owner a thumbs up because they are keeping a 4x4 relic on the road.