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THE cus­tomer is al­ways right.”

It was this at­ti­tude that lead to the devel­op­ment of Isuzu’s MY18 D-max and MU-X, with the Ja­panese com­pany lis­ten­ing in­tently to cus­tomer feed­back – namely from its I-ven­ture Trips – and mak­ing the nec­es­sary changes ac­cord­ingly.

The big-ticket item re­vealed at the re­cent MY18 launch – and later tested at a wa­ter­logged Mt Cot­ton Train­ing Cen­tre in Queens­land – was the up­date to the D-max’s rear sus­pen­sion, of­ten crit­i­cised by own­ers and the public for be­ing rough and jit­tery on cor­ru­gated tracks. To this end – and in an Aus­tralian mar­ket first – IUA has taken the steps to cor­rect this short­fall by re­plac­ing the five-leaf rear sus­pen­sion with a three-leaf sus­pen­sion setup (all High-ride Crew Cabs ex­clud­ing LS-M and SX Cab/chas­sis vari­ants).

Drop­ping from a five- to three-leaf spring soft­ens the ride, mak­ing the D-max more com­fort­able on not just long-dis­tance out­back roads, but on free­ways and sub­ur­ban back­streets. The setup utilises high-strength yet light ma­te­ri­als, as well as a pro­gres­sive spring rate. Larger rub­ber si­lencers are now also po­si­tioned be­tween each leaf spring.

A day out at the Mt Cot­ton Train­ing Cen­tre, about 30 min­utes’ drive from Bris­bane, pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity to sam­ple the up­dated D-max’s der­riere back-to-back with the out­go­ing model. The MY18 model feels nicely set­tled at the rear on un­du­la­tions taken at a mod­er­ate click – 50 to 60km/h – with the rear feel­ing softer than the rel­a­tively firm rear-end of the MY17 model. How­ever, due to the short na­ture of the course, we will need a longer stint be­hind the wheel for a more com­pre­hen­sive judge­ment.

A fur­ther up­date to the MY18 D-max range has seen IUA in­crease the GVM of the en­tire range. The GVM on the new 4x4 range is now 3050kg, which has paved the way for IUA to also hike up the pay­load ca­pac­ity of all mod­els by 100kg in com­par­i­son to the out­go­ing MY17 line-up.

We loaded an MY18 D-max with 600kg in the tray – putting it at 93 per cent over­all ca­pac­ity – and went for a quick squirt along a closed road cir­cuit. The heavy load was barely dis­cernible on climbs and when thrown through a chi­cane, but, again, a more com­pre­hen­sive test will pro­vide greater in­sight. So far so good, though.

Speak­ing of pulling weights, IUA learnt via feed­back that more than half of its cus­tomers pur­chase a D-max or MU-X for the pur­pose of tow­ing. To this end, it has added Trailer Sway Con­trol (TSC) to all new 4x4 mod­els. TSC con­trols (ahem…) a towed trailer if any un­wanted sway oc­curs, and it does this by mon­i­tor­ing trailer move­ment through the ESC sen­sors and then mod­u­lat­ing throt­tle and brake in­puts to all four wheels.

We put this to the test on the closed road loop, whip­ping around in both an MU-X (tow­ing a 1900kg caravan) and D-max (tow­ing a 1750kg boat). The brief tow test high­lighted more than any­thing the com­pe­tency of that 3.0litre en­gine, as nei­ther rig showed any sign of strug­gling to lug al­most two tonnes of weight. TSC was harder to judge due to the sim­plic­ity of the cir­cuit, though.

In other safety news, all MY18 D-maxe utes (not cab-chas­sis) are now equipped with a rear bumper and a re­vers­ing cam­era, but other safety fea­tures – in­clud­ing AEB and lane de­par­ture warn­ing – are still a no-show.

IUA has also re­jigged its D-max line-up, with the LS-T now sit­ting

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