News & Media – Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew 2021: Review by Rod Chapman

Thinking about stepping up from a dual-cab ute? Isuzu says its updated NNR Traypack Crew has you covered… 

The latest evolution of the top-selling Isuzu N Series is here, with this seven-seat Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew boasting more safety, more towing ability and a class-leading warranty to further entice business operators, and those thinking of stepping up from a dual-cab ute. 

N Series Evolution

Isuzu Australia Limited recently updated its venerable 4×2 N Series and it is safety that’s topping the list of improvements. The company has lagged its competitors in the light-duty space in this respect in recent years but has now caught up with the arrival of Isuzu’s Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS).  

Utilising a dash-mounted binocular camera set-up from Hitachi, the system brings many of the latest safety advances to Isuzu’s N Series range, including forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, autonomous braking, and lane departure warning.

There’s also a distance warning system that issues an audible alert when following another vehicle too closely, a traffic movement feature that alerts the driver if the vehicle in front has moved off from the lights, and an auto lighting feature that automatically adjusts the brightness of the truck’s headlights to suit the prevailing light conditions.  

Importantly, the distance warning feature can be tailored to a number of distance settings and, along with the lane departure warning, can be switched off if desired. And of course the NNR has all the safety staples too, like driver and front passenger airbags, stability control, traction control, and hill start assist.  

However, the package doesn’t extend to features like adaptive cruise control or rear cross-traffic alert, although this truck does come with standard cruise control, likewise a standard reversing camera and buzzer.

The truck reviewed here now boasts an improved 4000kg towing limit and, like the rest of the 4×2 N Series range, now has a class-leading factory warranty. Coverage has been extended to six years/250,000km with six years of roadside assistance, with a three-year warranty on the body. Previously the standard warranty was three years/100,000km, extendable to five years/250,000km.  

And inside the cab, there’s new seating fabric and a darker hue for the lower cab plastics, in contrast to the pre-existing lighter colour for the headlining and A-pillar trim.

Related reading

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New Isuzu N Series is here 
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U for utility

While the wider update will further hone the N Series’ already competitive commercial proposition, the company is hoping the changes will also help this Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew carve a bigger slice of Australia’s burgeoning ute market. And key to converting ute buyers is the Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew’s keen pricing: $55,000 plus GST and on-road costs.

As part of Isuzu’s popular Ready-to-Work range of turnkey solutions, our test truck comes ready to roll as a five-seater dual-cab with pre-fitted heavy-duty aluminium tray. This drop-side tray is a Triple M unit that is fitted when the trucks first reach Australia, and it features a sturdy headboard, load restraint anchor points, lashing bars, and a step each side with grab handle for easy access.  

Measuring 3600mm long by 2060mm wide, the tray is also 950mm off the deck. Isuzu tells us this particular model has a generous 1700kg payload limit, so even with a few beefy blokes in the cab there’s still plenty in reserve for a hefty load.  

Cab entry is easy, thanks to low steps for all, wide-opening doors, large door apertures and grab handles on both A-pillars and B-pillars. And while the seating is basic, it’s comfy enough for the shorter-distance work for which this truck is intended. 

There’s no height adjustment for the driver’s seat, but the steering wheel is adjustable for tilt and reach and there’s a dead-pedal for your otherwise idle left foot (this model is only available with an automated manual transmission).  

With excellent vision all round courtesy of the expansive glasshouse and sizeable side mirrors, and the ease of the two-pedal AMT, this is a supremely easy-to-drive truck. And with a claimed kerb-to-kerb turning circle of just 10.7m, it’s surprisingly nimble for a vehicle with an overall length of 6.5m, bettering most dual-cab utes in this respect.

Purposeful power 

Also rather ute-like is its 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, which in various forms has also found its way into the Isuzu UTE D-MAX over the years (Isuzu UTE being a totally separate corporate entity, mind you).  

Isuzu’s 4JJ1 engine churns out a claimed 150hp and 375Nm, the truck barely noticing the load of sand we had in the back. 

But there’s good urge available through a wide band of revs, from say 1500rpm to 3000rpm, and the AMT just gets on with it. At 100km/h the engine spins at 2400rpm, while redline is indicated at 3200rpm. 

Gear shifts aren’t lightning fast, but they’re smooth and the transmission makes a decent fist of selecting the right cog for the job.  

More importantly, the transmission invariably does its bit to aid fuel economy. We drove this truck for a week over a mix of city streets and arterials and achieved an average fuel economy of 13.5L/100km, and that’s without using ‘Eco’ model. It’s a bit above what you’d expect of a dual-cab ute, but not a heap more, and when you consider the NNR’s extra load space, payload and towing limits, it’s not a bad trade-off. 

With a 100-litre fuel tank (with a lockable fuel filler cap, these days), that spells a safe working range of around 720 kilometres. 

Independent front suspension

The ride is really quite refined – by truck standards, anyway. The independent front suspension, a coil/shock arrangement, smoothes out the worst of our Aussie roads, and I’m sure things would improve further with additional weight (our load was only around 35 per cent of its total available payload).  

Life isn’t bad in the back, either. Sure, it’s a bit Spartan in the second row and only the two outboard seats receive three-point seatbelts, but there’s good leg room and head room and there’s a bit of room for storage under the four-seater bench. The seat back is quite upright but overall it’s fine for carting a team for the modest distances most of these trucks will invariably cover.  

I like how the various new safety systems have been integrated into the truck. The audible alert relating to the collision warning, lane departure warning, distance warning and traffic movement systems is loud enough to grab your attention without being totally intrusive, and the sensitivity of the lane departure warning seems spot-on to me. And if you find yourself in an environment in which it’s going off regularly, you can always switch it off with the push of a button (likewise the distance warning feature). 

An amber visual warning flashes up on the small central digi display whenever an alert is triggered, too.

Downsides? While practical and hard-wearing, the cab interior is showing show its age, I think, and I’d like to see a larger multimedia touchscreen (preferably with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity) and integrated steering wheel controls.  

As we’ve seen in passenger cars for many years, integrated controls on the steering wheel for managing calls and audio are just safer than having to take a hand off the wheel and eyes off the road, as you stretch to find the controls on the dash. Oh, and the steering wheel obscures some of the pushbuttons on the dash, not that that’s a big issue if you’re already familiar with the truck.  

And there’s little in the way of concealed in-cab storage, apart from the twin overhead shelves, which benefit from elastic netting to prevent items from spilling out. Cup/bottle holders in the second row would also be welcome, to complement the slide-out tray in the centre of the dash. 

The verdict

It might take a bit longer to find a parking space than a typical dual-cab ute, it might cost a bit more, and it might lack the ‘street cred’ of a modern ‘lifestyle’ ute, but for business operators and drivers who need a dual-cab vehicle for sheer utility and capability, this Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew stack up well on so many fronts.

Add in the extra safety smarts, its bigger towing limit and its excellent factory warranty, and prospective buyers now have three more reasons to give this truck the nod, on top of its already proven reputation as a rugged, capable and fit-for-purpose load-lugger. 

Specifications: 2021 Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew

Engine: 4JJ1-TCS 3.0-litre in-line four-cylinder turbo-diesel  
Power: 110kW (150hp) at 2800rpm  
Torque: 375Nm at 1600-2800rpm  
Emissions: ADR 80/03 (Euro 5)  
Transmission: Isuzu six-speed automated manual  
Configuration: 4×2  
Front suspension: Independent coil spring/shocks  
Rear suspension: Leaf springs  
GVM: 4500kg  
GCM: 8000kg  
Front axle limit: 2600kg  
Rear axle limit: 5000kg  
Towing limit: 4000kg  
Wheelbase: 3395mm  
Fuel capacity: 100lt  
Brakes: Four-wheel disc  
Safety: Advanced Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Distance Warning System, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Movement Warning, Electronic Stability Control, Automatic Lighting System, Driver/passenger airbags, ABS, traction control, ECE-R29 compliant cab, reversing camera  
Price: $55,000 (plus GST and on-road costs)  
Warranty: Six years/250,000km with six years of roadside assistance (three years warranty on body)