A-PLUS FOR ISUZU’S D-MAX

A TOUGH TRUCK THAT’S CIVILISED AND COM­FORT­ABLE

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Drive Way -

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.

Ver­dict:

A real tough truck, but a civilised one that also looks good and is easy to drive.

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