2017 Isuzu D-Max Review
The comprehensive Isuzu D-Max review
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|Cars Guide||75%||"The Isuzu D-Max may not be as flash as a Ranger or as advanced as the new HiLux, but its heavy duty new engine developed for Australian conditions, plus tried and tested underpinnings, make it a smart pick."||Read more|
|Mr 4x4||78%||"The D-Max still makes sense for the Australian ute market. It’s not the flashiest, it’s not the fastest. Nor is it the cheapest. But it does feel like one of the most honest."||Read more|
|WhichCar||70%||"The Isuzu D-Max is a down-to-earth ute that carries and tows well, and in 4WD form can handle hard work off road."||Read more|
|Car Advice||70%||"It is what it always has been: an honest, reliable, strong, competent and rugged ute that can handle work, play and adventure."||Read more|
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How does the Isuzu D-Max compare with its peers?
The complete Isuzu D-Max review
Isuzu D-Max Pricing
The D-MAX is available in 23 body/drive/spec variations. Prices start at $28,500 for the manual SX 4x2 Low Ride base model, featuring cruise control and a touchscreen display with Bluetooth connectivity. The top-of-the-range LS-T Crew Cab retails for $54,200.
Prices exclude on-road costs. Models are High Ride unless otherwise stated.
Single Cab Chassis
|SX - 4x2 Low Ride||SX – 4x2||EX – 4x4||SX – 4x4|
|3.0L Diesel Manual – $28,500||3.0L Diesel Auto – $31,700||3.0L Diesel Manual – $34,800||3.0L Diesel Manual –$38,000 (optional Auto $40,100)|
Space Cab Ute/Chassis
|SX – 4x2 Space Cab Ute||SX – 4x4 Space Cab Chassis||LSU – 4x4 Space Cab Ute|
|3.0L Diesel Auto – $35,500||3.0L Diesel Manual – $40,700 (optional Auto $42,800)||3.0L Diesel Manual – $46,200 (optional Auto $48,300)|
Crew Cab 4x2
|SX – Low Ride Crew Cab Ute||SX – Crew Cab Chassis||SX – Crew Cab Ute||LS-U – Crew Cab Ute|
|3.0L Diesel Manual – $34,500||2.3L Diesel 120kW Manual – $36,876 (optional Auto $39,451)||3.0L Diesel Auto – $37,300||3.0L Diesel Auto – $43,600|
Crew Cab 4x4
|SX – Crew Cab Chassis||SX – Crew Cab Ute||LS-M – Crew Cab Ute||LS-U – Crew Cab Ute||LS-T – Crew Cab Ute|
|3.0L Diesel Manual – $43,200 (optional Auto $45,300)||3.0L Diesel Manual – $43,900 (optional Auto $46,000)||3.0L Diesel Manual – $46,400 (optional Auto $48,500)||3.0L Diesel Manual – $48,300 (optional Auto $50,400)||3.0L Diesel Auto – $54,200|
In the eyes of motoring journalists, the D-MAX is distinctly average. It doesn’t do anything terribly well, but neither does it disappoint in any key areas. This model is a mid-life facelift, based upon a vehicle that was first launched in 2012.
Across the board, there was much praise for the Australian market exclusive 3.0L diesel. All reviewers felt the engine has good amounts of torque and is a welcome improvement over the previous D-MAX diesel. The new 6-speed gearbox replaces a 5-speed box and has been well received as it makes the D-MAX more comfortable at high speeds.
However, reviewers marked the D-MAX down for its simplistic, hard-wearing interior. The plastics used aren’t as good quality as some of the D-MAX’s competitors. The engine is noisy, even for a diesel. The rear end feels bouncy and jiggly.
Off-road the D-MAX is capable, but journalists think it should at least be offered with an optional lockable rear diff.
The D-MAX doesn’t do anything particularly well that makes it stand out in a competitive market. If it were cheaper, perhaps a bit more modern or more refined, it would score better.
|CarsGuide||“If it was $5,000 cheaper, had more safety tech, and Isuzu offered a limited slip diff and rear diff-lock – at least as options – this thing might just be a real contender.”|
|MR 4x4||“It’s not the flashiest, it’s not the fastest. Nor is it the cheapest. But it does feel like one of the most honest. It’s all the same ingredients in the same recipe, this time they are just that little bit tastier.”|
|WhichCar||“All models, from farm truck to family tourer, have stability control, full airbag coverage and a five-year warranty.”|
|CarAdvice||“The facelifted 2017 Isuzu D-MAX LS-M isn't quite a full-on workhorse ute, but nor is it a lifestyle truck.”|
Engine and performance
The D-MAX is available with just one engine option, the 4JJ1, an Eu5 compliant, DOHC, 4-cylinder, common-rail, 3.0L turbo-diesel. This particular 4JJ1, the 4JJ1-TC Hi-Power, has been developed specifically for the Australian market, after a consultation with typical Isuzu buyers.
The result is a 130kW power output, the same as the previous engine, but with a 50Nm torque increase. The peak torque now available sits at 430Nm (2,000–2,200rpm) and is delivered across a wider rev range, in part thanks to the variable geometry turbocharger.
Most reviewers noticed the increase in torque right away, saying the D-MAX is capable both at highway speeds and when traveling through soft sand at low speeds. This isn’t a quiet engine by any means – almost universally, testers said it was truck-like and loud.
The upgraded engine is teamed up with either an Isuzu-designed 6-speed manual (MVL-6N) or an optional Aisin 6-speed automatic “Rev-tronic” gearbox. The auto features sequential shift, brake shift lock and a fuel-saving locking torque converter on key gears. Reviewers labeled it “impressive” and “intuitive”.
The D-MAX also features selectable 4-wheel drive, which can be engaged on the move at speeds of up to 100km/h, and a low-range transfer box.
The optional auto box also features an uphill and downhill control system which holds gears longer on ascents and optimises engine braking when descending.
To achieve an Eu5 emissions rating, the D-MAX features a larger exhaust gas recirculation valve (EGR) and a diesel particulate diffuser. The pistons, fuel injectors and fuel pump were all redesigned.
Features and statistics
- 207g/km–213g/km 4x4Top speed- N/AEmissions standard- Euro 5Transmission- 6-speed Isuzu MVL-6N Manual or
- Aisin AWR6B45II 6-speed "Rev-Tronic" AutomaticSecurity- Engine immobiliserDrivetrain- 4x2 or 4x4Towing capacity (braked/unbraked)- 3,500kg/750kg
207g/km–213g/km 4x4Top speed- N/AEmissions standard- Euro 5Transmission- 6-speed Isuzu MVL-6N Manual or
- Aisin AWR6B45II 6-speed "Rev-Tronic" AutomaticSecurity- Engine immobiliserDrivetrain- 4x2 or 4x4Towing capacity (braked/unbraked)- 3,500kg/750kg
Isuzu is a diesel engine specialist, so it comes as no surprise that the D-MAX is shipped with only one diesel engine option. The 3.0L diesel is born out of their years of experience creating commercial trucks, where every drop of fuel-saving counts.
The D-MAX body has a lower drag coefficient (Cd) figure, making it more aerodynamic and therefore more fuel efficient.
The most fuel efficient of all the model range is the manual 4x2 Low-Ride Single Chassis Cab, with a combined fuel consumption of 7.2L/00km – this can be attributed to two less drive wheels and fewer components causing drag in the drivetrain. Automatic models add 0.5l/100km and of the 4x4 models, the Single Chassis Cab again is the most fuel efficient, with a combined consumption of 7.8L/100km.
Due to a higher kerb weight, auto box and 4 driven wheels, the top-of-the-line LS-U and LS-T models use the most fuel, achieving a combined reading of 8.1L/100km.
Reviewers found real-world averages were nearer to 10.0L/100km.
On tarmac, the D-MAX rides about as well as you’d expect from a workhorse ute. Travelling on smooth roads, the ride is acceptable. However, as soon as the road becomes uneven, the stiff rear leaf springs make for a bumpy ride. The steering is best described as inconsistent and uninterested. Rivals, like the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok, are better on-road, with faster acceleration and more responsive steering.
Around town, drivers will appreciate the 3.8 turns lock-to-lock power assisted steering, but travelling around tight car parks and streets will be stressful with a 12.6-metre turning circle.
Off-road, the D-MAX is planted and capable, but not impressive. The lack of locking rear diff hampers its off-road abilities. However, it does boast a low first gear ratio that is well suited to off-road driving. The hill descent control feature is nice to have, but some reviewers wished it worked at lower speeds than its 4km/h minimum.
Interior and other features
D-MAX’s interior isn’t anything radical. In fact, almost all reviewers said it felt dated, thanks to this generation 2012 release. It doesn’t hold up when compared with its rivals, with cheap plastics and poor level of finishing.
The cab does have plenty of space for both front and rear passengers. Vision is good too thanks to large windows. There’s plenty of internal storage bins and lockers, but some of them have temperamental opening mechanisms.
Farmers will appreciate the spartan interior, particularly on the rugged EX model. It’s nothing if not practical. All models apart from the LS-U and LS-T have hose-down vinyl floor matting.
Moving up the model range, each one benefits from interior enhancements. The LS-U will give you climate control, Sky Sound, roof and door mounted 8-speaker audio system and built-in sat nav. All models sport a leather steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, with the exception of the EX, which just has audio controls.
Isuzu has given the LS-M, LS-U and LS-T LED daytime running lights and rear combination LED lights. Higher spec models receive a smattering of external chrome trim.
Loaded up, the D-MAX will carry almost 1,250kg in the tray, but the double cab models will only haul 919kg. The D-MAX coped with 750kg in the bed effortlessly, but whilst towing a boat and trailer, one reviewer said it was slightly flustered. Despite Isuzu adding extra sound insulation to the cab, the engine noise is very noticeable inside and it is certainly not as quiet as some of its rivals.
The D-MAX has no active driving assists whatsoever; all models do have ABS, electronic stability control, traction control, hill start assist, hill descent control and emergency braking assist. In terms of safety, there are 6 airbags: dual front, curtain and side airbags, child seat tethers in the rear and anti-intrusion bars built into the doors.
|Single Cab Chassis Low-Ride SX||Single Cab Chassis SX||Single Cab Ute SX||Crew Cab Ute Low-Ride SX||Crew Cab Chassis SX||Crew Cab Ute SX||Crew Cab Ute LS-U|
|6-Speed Manual Gearbox||✔||✗||✗||✔||✗||✗||✗|
|6-Speed “Rev- Tronic” Automatic Transmission||✗||✔||✔||✗||✔||✔||✔|
|Locking Rear Differential||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗|
|Rear window demister||✗||✗||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Underbody steel skid plate||✗||✔||✔||✗||✔||✔||✔|
|Under-front aero cover||✔||✗||✗||✔||✗||✗||✗|
|Underbody protection for transfer box, sump, fuel tank||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗|
|Standard Rear Leaf Suspension||✗||✗||✗||✔||✗||✔||✔|
|Heavy Duty Rear Leaf Suspension||✔||✔||✔||✗||✔||✗||✗|
|Heavy Duty Front Brakes (300mm disc)||280mm disc||✔||✔||280mm disc||✔||✔||✔|
|Height-adjustable driver’s seat||✗||✗||✗||✗||✔||✔||✔|
|Double Wall Ute Tub, with 4 tie-downs||✗||✗||✔||✔||✗||✔||✔|
|Projector Lens Headlight||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✔|
|Chrome Exterior Trim||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✔|
|4 Speaker Sound System||✔||✔||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗|
|6 Speaker Sound System||✗||✗||✔||✗||✗||✗||✗|
|8 Speaker Sky Sound System||✗||✗||✗||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Built-in Satellite Navigation||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✔|
|Single Cab Chassis EX||Single Cab Chassis SX||Space Cab Chassis SX||Space Cab Ute LS-U||Crew Cab Chassis SX||Crew Cab Ute SX||Crew Cab Ute LS-M||Crew Cab Ute LS-U|
|6-Speed Manual Gearbox||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|6-Speed “Rev- Tronic” Automatic Transmission||✗||Opt||Opt||Opt||Opt||Opt||Opt||Opt|
|Locking Rear Differential||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗|
|Rear window demister||✗||✗||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Underbody steel skid plate||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Under-front aero cover||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗|
|Underbody protection for transfer box, sump, fuel tank||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Standard Rear Leaf Suspension||✗||✗||✗||✔||✗||✔||✗||✔|
|Heavy Duty Rear Leaf Suspension||✔||✔||✔||✗||✔||✗||✔||✗|
|Heavy Duty Front Brakes (300mm disc)||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Height-adjustable driver’s seat||✗||✗||✗||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Double Wall Ute Tub, with 4 tie-downs||✗||✗||✗||✔||✗||✔||✔||✔|
|Projector Lens Headlight||✗||✗||✗||✔||✗||✗||✔||✔|
|Chrome Exterior Trim||✗||✗||✗||✔||✗||✗||✔||✔|
|4 Speaker Sound System||✔||✔||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗||✗|
|6 Speaker Sound System||✗||✗||✔||✔||✗||✗||✗||✗|
|8 Speaker Sky Sound System||✗||✗||✗||✗||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Built-in Satellite Navigation||✗||✗||✗||✔||✗||✗||✗||✔|
The 2017 D-MAX is a bit of an unusual one. It doesn’t do anything particularly poorly but it fails to shine when held up against the tough competition. In the end, Isuzu slipped up by not dramatically altering a now 6-year-old platform to keep up with its rivals.
The D-MAX is noisy, even for a diesel – a problem that is magnified in the cab. It’s also not as well specced or built as say the VW Amarok or the Ford Ranger. It doesn’t offer the best value for money. The lack of rear locking diff, even as an option, hampers its abilities off-road.
In direct comparisons, the D-MAX finished below all other utes in this market. Should you buy one? Yes, but only if you get an astonishing deal. The stripped back, basic EX farm truck is a neat addition to the range for those who need a tough ute. Most other manufacturers don’t make a farm truck spec, so that’s something that might pull you towards the D-MAX .
The D-MAX then is a solid all-rounder that doesn’t under deliver, but it doesn’t shine either. You certainly won’t regret buying one, but you might just wonder “what if?”.
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