2017 Isuzu D-Max LS-M Crew Cab 4×4
Though once confused with a Holden Colorado, Isuzu’s D-Max ute is carving its own path along with building a loyal band of followers thanks to an unsurpassed reputation for toughness, good value and reliability.
Owners are finding that you can’t kill a D-Max with a stick… a point underlined by the minimal warranty claims Isuzu Ute has to process.
The recently upgraded D-Max and its predecessors use a commercial vehicle engine lifted from Isuzu trucks and adapted to light commercial vehicle applications.
It’s not the most refined or most powerful in class but other utes would struggle to come near D-Max for reliability. All engine internals are heavy duty… the pistons, conrods, crankshaft, turbo, even the engine block itself and cylinder head are made for strength.
The 3.0-litre, turbo diesel, four cylinder is good for 130kW/430Nm and recent modifications see it capable of returning 7.8-litres/100km fuel economy while passing EU5 emissions regulations.
Though it is quieter than before, the engine still rumbles away under the bonnet but that’s alleviated a bit by the new six speed auto and manual transmissions which reduce engine revs for any given speed along with improving pulling power and fuel efficiency.
While the manual is an improvement over the previous five speeder, top gear is way too high for general use apart from high speed highway cruising.
The auto with a lock-up function from 2nd through 6th cogs is a much better proposition and works a treat with the enhanced turbo engine.
The recent D-Max upgrade brought in a new look to the front and rear as well as the interior though the latter still has too much hard grey plastic and satnav is only on the higher grade models.
Owners will no doubt appreciate the 2017 D-Max’s strengthened rear differential and other powertrain upgrades. ols.
It gets a five star ANCAP crash rating but there’s not much by way of advanced driver assist features apart from a reverse camera.
The $46,400, LS-M (manual) model tested is second up the ladder and misses out on hardwired satnav but gains decent audio, Bluetooth and all the other stuff you’d expect in a new vehicle these days.
Its strength lies in the ability to go pretty much anywhere you like and get back or tow up to 3.5-tonnes without any issues.Performance is strong and you can sit in it all day and still walk when you get out. Whether it will carry a full load of passengers, a tonne in the tray and tow 3.5 tonnes all at once is open to speculation. We wouldn’t attempt it if the vehicle was ours.
The auto is the one to get though… better for everything especially towing.
ON THE ROAD
Driving is aided by the functional controls and large, comfortable seats. Access through all four doors is easy and there’s plenty of rear seat legroom, often an issue with crew cab utes.
The test vehicle had a tray line which gets a big tick and one of those stupid hard tonneau covers that negates the benefits of having a ute
We towed a car (on a trailer) with the test D-Max and barely felt its presence. Fuel economy was up a tad and it was a bit slow off the mark but that was all. Interstate van towing wouldn’t be a problem.
We’d have an auto D-Max in the garage in a blink, any spec’ would do.
➔ Attractive new style
➔ More torque
➔ Improved fuel economy
➔ 5-Star ANCAP rating
➔ Comfortable seats
➔ Tows 3.5 tonnes
➔ Passes EU5 emissions regulations
➔ More performance from engine revisions
➔Possibly the most reliable ute on the market
➔ More kit this time around
➔ Comfortable ride
NOT SO MUCH
➔ Hardwired satnav only on higher grades
➔ Gets expensive as you go up the scale
➔ Too much grey inside
➔ 6th cog in manual useless around town
ALTERNATIVES: Toyota Hilux SR Double Cab $46,490, Mitsubishi Triton GLS Double Cab $41,900, Nissan Navara Dual cab SL $43,990.
Make/Model: Isuzu D-Max LS-M 4×4 Crew Cab
Engine: 3.0-litre, four cylinder, turbo diesel 130kW/430Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, optional 6-speed auto
Suspension: Wishbone and coils at front, leaf springs at rear
Payload: 1.0 tonne
Fuel economy: 7.8-litres/100km
Safety: 5-star ANCAP