The D-Max is all about continuous improvement, reports Damien O’Carroll.
Isuzu isn’t the sort of company to give their vehicles a facelift every few years. rather, much like the Koreans, Isuzu prefers to make running changes and improvements to its vehicles throughout their lifespan.
While this makes it hard to impress the neighbour with your latest shiny new model, it does ensure that customers get the best possible version of their new vehicle at any given moment.
And, besides, Isuzu has never been about impressing the neighbours anyway. Leave that to the flashy city utes. Nope, the D-Max has always been about work.
However, that doesn’t mean “uncomfortable” or “stripped out”, as this second-from-the-top spec LS model on these very pages proves.
Like all D-Max utes, the LS is powered by Isuzu’s 3.0-litre inline four-cylinder diesel turbo engine that produces 130kW of power and a healthy 430Nm of torque, with the torque figure coming in at just 2,000rpm in the automatic version we drive here (the manual has its torque peak at 2,200rpm). The engine is hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission.
While it isn’t the most powerful or torquiest ute in the segment, its incredibly broad spread of torque means it can just dig in and pull from almost anywhere in its rev range, something that is incredibly useful when towing or off road and also makes driving the D-Max around town easier than most.
This broad, flexible approach shouldn’t really come as a surprise, as the 3.0-litre engine is straight out of Isuzu’s light truck range, where low down flexibility is essential.
On the road the D-Max is as good as any ute that isn’t a Ford Ranger or VW Amarok in terms of ride quality, while its handling is largely benign, even without a load in the tray.
While the engine does have a tendency to get a bit coarse, road noise is nicely contained, while wind noise – something bug, boxy utes always struggle with – is more than acceptable.
The LS is also impressively well-equipped, with a backing camera as standard, as well as climate control air con, power adjustable mirrors, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, satellite navigation, hill descent control, LED daytime running lights and taillights, fog lights, aluminium side steps, power mirrors and 17-inch alloy wheels.
At $57,990 the 4WD double cab LS represents excellent value for money in the current ute market that has seen top-spec models creep over the $70K mark in recent times (even the top-spec LS-T D-Max tops out at $60,990).
It’s blend of rugged ability and creature comforts for the money asked makes a very compelling case of the D-Max LS and the engine’s impressive flexibility just adds weight to that case.
Body type Double cab ute
Engine type Inline four-cylinder diesel turbo
Engine capacity 3.0-litres
Max power 130kW @ 3600rpm
Max torque 430Nm @ 2000rpm
l/100km (Combined) 7.9
C02 emissions 209g/km
Boot capacity N/a
Spare tyre Full size steel
ANCAP rating 5 star