– By Rod Fuller –
Isuzu’s D-MAX has long been the stalwart of rugged 4×4 light trucks in Australia, with a solid reputation for reliability built on its undeniable qualities toughness, dependability and all round performance. Let’s face it the D-MAX has been around for ages and is still in the top three or four 4×4 utes in the market, outperforming many other Johnny Come Latelys in this sector and handsomely as well. Rumour has it, that some bloke (Noah I think) got his boat stuck on a slippery boat ramp a while back at the Mt Ararat beach resort in Turkey. Lucky for him though, another bloke had a D-MAX on hand and managed to save the day – or so I heard.
Isuzu’s latest model of the D-MAX is a worthy successor to previous models and now features an upgraded engine and transmission package (3.0 litre inline DOHC 16V turbo diesel with 130kw and 430nm and six speed transmission) to comply with Euro V emission standards.
Whilst the styling has softened the appearance from the front of the D-MAX slightly, the D-MAX is still as tough as ever and remains an absolute performer both on and off road. Off road it will go just about anywhere with 235mm ground clearance and impressive approach and departure angles (30 and 22 degrees respectively) that will allow the D-MAX to tackle some very rough and rugged terrain. Especially if you are using one in the mining or forestry sectors or are a farmer on the land.
I drove the LS-U model and on road it is an effortless drive, riding on 17” alloys with 255/65R17 Bridgestone H/T tyres. The driver enjoys a very comfortable seating position with a commanding view of the road ahead, and with a 3.5 tonne braked towing capacity is standard across all 4×4 variants in the range, taking a caravan or boat on that long haul holiday will be no trouble at all. Fuel economy on a combined cycle is 7.9lt per 100km and CO2 emissions average 209g/km.
On the inside there are plenty of creature comforts with climate control air conditioning, cruise control and a seven inch touchscreen to control the stereo, Sat Nav and Bluetooth functions. The touchscreen doubles as the display for the reverse camera. Electronic safety aids include stability and traction control systems, emergency brake assist as well as hill start assist and descent control. My test vehicle unfortunately had an issue with the Bluetooth and wouldn’t work correctly, so I couldn’t test the phone connectivity. But having recently driven the MU-X, I feel it would be of the same quality.
Like all SUV/4×4’s these days couple holders abound, so if you can’t find somewhere for your coffee or water bottle, you’re not trying hard enough. I particularly liked the dual glove boxes for storage space along with the extra 12V outlet that hides within the top one. Perfect place to plug in my portable Dash Cam.
D-MAX remains one of the toughest 4×4’s on the market today, and with the release of the new model and its subtle refinements, makes it just that little bit more liveable than the previous model. I drove it around town in heavy traffic, out in the country, off road and even on the beach. And there was nowhere that I took it that it did not prove itself to be supremely capable vehicle in all situations. It is an excellent example of a great 4×4 work/life balance vehicle. Isuzu D-MAX, going anywhere you want.