A-PLUS FOR ISUZU’S D-MAX
A TOUGH TRUCK THAT’S CIVILISED AND COMFORTABLE
ISUZU'S latest D-Max is quite a ute, but the name has always puzzled us; was there an A, B or C-Max?
Can't recall any such animals. However, what matters is the new one is an improvement over its predecessor: bigger, quieter, more refined and one of the bestlooking in its class.
The Thai-built D-Maxes come in a wide range – 4x2 and 4x4, cab chassis, single cab, crew cab and space cab, and in SX, LS-U, EX or LS-M trim, manual or automatic, priced from $27,200 to $51,700.
Ours was a 4x4 manual LS-U crew cab at $45,500.
Common to all is a gutsy 3.0 litre turbo-diesel, which is mated to your choice of five-speed manual or five-speed auto transmission.
It's a big boy, with spacious front and rear accommodation; the seats well-shaped in front and nicely bolstered for comfort and support, and the back seat, also with a lot of head, leg and shoulder room, can take three passengers.
Hop in behind the leathertrimmed sports steering wheel and there's a pod facing the driver that houses the essential info, with the six-speaker audio system, complete with CD, MP3, FM/AM, plus Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, centre dash.
The 130kW/380Nm 3.0litre common-rail motor has been tweaked with a stainless-steel timing chain and other new, longer-life internal bits.
Suspension is still old- school, which most truckies maintain is the proper set-up for a serious load-carrying machine, and comprises a coil-sprung independent front end and a leaf-sprung rear.
What impressed was the comfortable ride the D-Max gave.
Its long- travel suspension soaked up bumps and lumps and we were never subjected to the sharp bounce that's often part of 4x4 driving.
The ute ran easily and quietly, used only 8.5litres/100km and we noticed drivers of other utes cast longing eyes at it.
Folk who use the D-Max offroad will be glad to know it's a top performer in the rough stuff.
For the record, the approach and departure angles are 30 and 22.7 degrees respectively and you have 235mm of ground clearance and the D-Max comes with underbelly protective plates. Towing capacity is 3500kg. If you're heading offroad, you simply twirl the rotary switch on the transmission tunnel and select what drive you need.
Safety? Six airbags, ABS, EBD and brake assist and traction control.
A real tough truck, but a civilised one that also looks good and is easy to drive.