Isuzu’s D-Max is more stayer than sprinter, but isn’t that what utes are made for?

Australian Transport News - - UTE MEGATEST -

This gen­er­a­tion D-Max first ar­rived here in 2012. Most no­tably for a man­u­fac­turer with a long his­tory of de­sign­ing and build­ing its own utes, this D-Max wasn’t a 100 per cent Isuzu prod­uct – un­like its pre­de­ces­sors. The start­ing point for this D-Max was, in fact, a GM de­sign, at least in terms of its ba­sic chas­sis and body shell, even if Isuzu engi­neers were in­volved in the de­sign process from early on.

Tak­ing the ba­sic chas­sis and body shared with the Colorado, Isuzu then added its own en­gine, gear­box, trans­fer case, rear axle, sus­pen­sion springs and dampers, in­te­rior fitout and ex­te­rior body pan­els, grille, lights and other de­tails to end up with what is a very dif­fer­ent ute to the Colorado.

Things stayed much the same un­til 2017 when a heav­ily re­vised en­gine came along, as did six-speed man­ual and au­to­matic gear­boxes (re­plac­ing the pre­vi­ous five speed­ers), more noise, vi­bra­tion, and harsh­ness (NVH) con­trol mea­sures and en­hanced equip­ment lists. For the 2018 model (as tested here), fur­ther re­vi­sions have bought sus­pen­sion and equip­ment changes.


The D-Max’s three-litre four-cylin­der diesel can trace its roots back to 2006, when it first ap­peared in the Holden Rodeo – ef­fec­tively an Isuzu wear­ing a Holden badge. The lat­est up­date to this long-serv­ing en­gine for the 2017 model brought higher-pres­sure com­mon-rail in­jec­tion, a new vari­able­ge­om­e­try low-in­er­tia turbo, new pis­tons and a diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter (DPF), the key Euro 5 tech­nol­ogy that is found on all the en­gines here.

De­spite all these MY17 en­gine changes, the max­i­mum power re­mains a mod­est 130kW/174hp (the low­est here along with Hilux) and, while the max­i­mum torque fig­ure is now 430Nm (up from the pre­vi­ous 380Nm), 430Nm is a class-low fig­ure shared with the Tri­ton.

On the road, things play out bet­ter than this sug­gests. While the D-Max is no pow­er­house, it’s still a re­laxed en­gine and doesn’t need to be revved par­tic­u­larly hard to get the job done. It may, for ex­am­ple, have sim­i­lar power and torque num­bers to the Tri­ton, but it does the same job at lower en­gine speeds.

In its lat­est it­er­a­tion, the D-Max’s en­gine is far qui­eter than be­fore, although the gen­eral en­gine-run­ning re­fine­ment still isn’t any­thing spe­cial. The fact that it’s the largest-ca­pac­ity four-cylin­der here, and also

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