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