The 2021 - 2022 Isuzu D-Max is offered in 9 variants - which are priced from ₱ 857,000 to ₱ 1,825,000, the base model of d-max is 2021 Isuzu D-Max RZ4E Single C&C MT which is at a price of ₱ 857,000 and the top variant of Isuzu D-Max is 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 4x4 LS-E AT which is offered at a price of ₱ 1,825,000.
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For anything that is not a Toyota Hilux, making inroads in the pick-up truck segment is an uphill battle. Point at any random truck, and the responses will invariably be, "Oh, look at that Hailak." But, if any pick-up can change that this perception, it's the 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, the flagship of the range.
So, is the all-new D-Max good enough to have people ditching the Hailak moniker and turn the segment on its head? Can it really out-truck the usual suspects like the Toyota Hilux Rogue, The Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, and the Ford Ranger Wildtrak? All signs point to that, but first, let's dive in!
Exterior - A distinctive, commanding presence
Let's face it, when it comes to pick-up trucks, it's rather hard to deviate much in terms of exterior design due to its form factor. The basic silhoutte remains largely the same, leaving manufacturers with only the front-end design to make an impression. But, boy does the D-Max make one hell of an impression.
Perhaps our tester's Valencia Orange was a factor, but the D-Max, especially in this X-Terrain guise, exuded a commanding road presence. The front-end features a substantially gaping grille, flanked by 'fangs' and a pair of distinctive LED daytime running lights.
Most vehicles moved aside when we pulled up to overtake, which was reflective of the D-Max X-Terrain's demeanour. In saying that, the D-Max X-Terrain is not all show no go, as it still has plenty of ground clearance to deal with any off-road excursions that you might want to attempt.
And yes, this D-Max will handle all that with aplomb. What with 240 mm of ground clearance and 800 mm of water wading depth (which comfortably bests the Toyota Hilux and Mitsubishi Triton, both at 700 mm), and equal to the Ford Ranger Wildtrak.
Something of a more subjective debate is the design of the 18-inch wheels, which might not be to everyone's taste. For most part, it looks inoffensive and blends well with the rest of the D-Max's exterior. It might not look as overtly masculine as the Toyota Hilux, or as radical as the Mitsubishi Triton, or even as elegant as the Ford Ranger, but the D-Max is nothing if not good-looking.
Interior - How can a pick-up truck be this premium?
Some of WapCar.my's team members had a chance to sample the car when it was launched earlier this year. Among the things that we raved about was the interior. That sentiment remains very much the same. This interior is day and night from its utilitarian predecessor's scratchy, dull effort.
Where do we start? The black and brown colour combination just oozes class (are we still talking about a pick-up truck here?), and all the materials adorning the door cards, dashboard or armrest feel high-quality and plush. Seriously, a pick-up truck has no right to feel this premium.
And this observation is not just in isolation. Compared even to class standards, the D-Max's interior is up there with the best, if not the best in this class. Subjectively, the Toyota Hilux has the edge in terms of interior design, but counters back with swathes of soft touch plastics and leather inserts that really pleases the senses.
Special mention goes to the seats, which are superb for someone my size. It cradles you in all the right places, providing plenty of support and comfort. Pair this with the perfectly sized steering wheel (in rim thickness and diameter), and the D-Max is really easy to live with. Dare we say it, these are the best seats of any pick-up truck, Hilux, Triton and Ranger included.
Then you get to the switches and major controls. Yup, high-quality and clicks with a satisfying heft. The instrument panel, consisting of e-LUMAX red-on-white dials and a 4.2-inch multi-info display (MID) is also pleasingly well laid out and easy to read.
One small gripe about the MID is that the menus are not the most intuitive to navigate. Say you find the Lane Departure Warning a little overbearing and want to switch it off, it's best that you stop the car (somewhere safe) and dive into the menus to do so. On the move, it can be distracting, not to mention dangerous.
Taking care of all your entertainment needs is a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay ready. This is hooked up to a 8-speaker set up that, whilst not exactly audiophile levels of sound reproduction, is good enough for its intended purpose, and no poorer than its competitors.
Being the flagship of the range, the D-Max X-Terrrain is decked out generously in the equipment department as well. Your RM 141,938 gets you;
Electrically adjustable driver's seat
Remote engine start
Automatic headlamp levelling
ADAS suite (FCW, AEB, ACC, AHB, LDW)
The engine and transmission combo is also quite relaxed in the way it delivers its grunt. Being a turbodiesel powerplant, there's plenty of shove from low revs (all 450 Nm can be accessed from 1,600 rpm onwards).
In keeping with the general smoothness of the D-Max's behaviour, gearshifts are also executed in seamless fashion, slurring almost imperceptibly between ratios. You would hardly complain about this 3.0-litre unit lacking poke, although the Hilux Rogue still feels more grunty (as it should, with 204 PS and 500 Nm) despite having a smaller 2.8-litre engine.
This being a Isuzu D-Max, there's no doubt that it can handle driving off the beaten path. We did a brief spot of off-road driving and the D-Max took it on exactly how we expected it to: nonchalantly. Sure, our test stretch was hardly a Borneo Safari trail, but it's not a place you'd take your regular cars in.
That's because this D-Max comes fully equipped with Terrain Command, allowing drivers to switch between 2H, 4L, and 4H modes by just turning a knob. Additionally, the X-Terrain variant adds a rear differential lock, further aiding its off-road prowess. In this respect, it is not inferior in any way to the Hilux, Triton or Ranger, its off-road pedigree obvious to see.
Driving experience - Capable and rugged at the same time
Let's start from the driver's seat. As mentioned, the shape of the seats are superb. You can sit in these all day and not get any aches. No matter what size you are, finding a good seating position is effortless, what with electric adjustment for the driver's seat, plus tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment.
We say this without a hint of exaggeration, the D-Max's driving position feels the most natural in this segment. From our experience, the Toyota Hilux's steering doesn't come close enough to the driver (even at max reach), never mind the Ford Ranger, which doesn't even have reach adjustment. Only the Mitsubishi Triton comes close to the D-Max's driving ergonomics.
As a result, the driving position is ergonomically sound. The steering wheel is not oddly offset, and the pedals are spaced out properly. This may sound frivolous, but remember these are the major contact points for the driver. Isuzu has nailed the basic things, and it makes the D-Max's cockpit most un-trucklike.
Again, because this is a pick-up truck that is 2 tonnes and a bit, you don't expect it to be brimming with feedback and sporty to drive. And that's completely fine. For most part, the D-Max handles as it should, which is tidy and drama-free. The steering is not too heavy, which is a boon in low speed, town driving.
Even at higher speeds, the D-Max's composure remains, tracking straight and true. Long distance driving would not pose a problem at all.
Ride comfort -Top-notch refinement, in a pick-up truck!
Back on regular tarmac, the D-Max rides with all the comfort and composure of a modern SUV or sedan. Sure, really sharp surfaces will jolt the ladder frame chassis with some vibrations, but 90% of the time, one would find no reason to complain about how the D-Max rides overall.
Lest we forget that we're talking about a truck here, the refinement levels on this D-Max are remarkable. On regular Malaysian roads, wind and tyre noise were impressively suppressed. When driven on similar roads, the D-Max feels much more refined than the Hilux and Triton, if a little less so than the Ranger, subjectively to our ears, at least.
Rear space is is also very decent, and will fit two adults comfortably. More impressively, the seats can fold down in a 60:40 split, something its rivals cannot boast of having. For practical reasons, having such a feature is immensely useful.
In fact, the D-Max's refinement is only interrupted by the clatter of the 3.0-litre turbodiesel unit. On this note, the Triton's 2.4-litre engine takes some beating in terms of quietness. Even so, this is more of a testament to the D-Max's peerless insulation rather than the engine being very noisy.
From a driving environment that had about 50% highway driving and 50% urban driving, the D-Max X-Terrain consumed 11.24 litres of fuel over a distance of 135.2 km. That works out to be an average figure of 8.3l/100km.
This is quite close to the figure displayed in the trip computer, which read 8.7l/100km.
Far from being an alternative, the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain is genuinely a top-notch choice for anyone shopping in this segment for a flagship pick-up truck. It has brought a whole new level of premium ambience and refinement to add to what was already a really accomplished package off-road.
Not only does it hold its own against some really accomplished comppetitors, but it even outscores the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton and Ford Ranger in many aspects as we've detailed. Isuzu really did its homework when developing this generation of D-Max, and it shows.
In its current guise, the Isuzu D-Max has truly shed its utilitarian and workhorse image. You'd be happy to motor in one of these to the office and back, even if your office is not a construction site. That's how good it is.
The Isuzu D-Max price in the Philippines starts at ₱857,000. The lowest price is the 2021 Isuzu D-Max RZ4E Single C&C MT, ranging all the way up to the 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 4x4 LS-E AT priced at ₱1,825,000.
Is the Isuzu D-Max a good car?
The Isuzu D-Max is a popular car to buy as it offers powerful and efficient engine options as well as premium, spacious interiors. Even used Isuzu D-Max cars offer the premium driving experience.
Is Isuzu D-Max manual or automatic?
We're learning that the 2021 Isuzu D-Max is available with continuously variable MT transmission