Isuzu D-Max, 2nd-generation,  tough work horse Motorsportchannel.com received the new Isuzu D-Max for a spin not too long ago, courtesy of the folks at Isuzu Malaysia. The rather popular pick-up from Isuzu has now entered only its second generation and already, in comparison to the first-generation D-max, the exterior motifs are more ravishing and even upbeat on its contemporary status.

The 2nd-generation Isuzu D-Max pick-up has not lost any of its previous charms. It’s still as sturdy as its predecessor and feels good on the pave roads. The writer feels that the Isuzu D-Max is somewhat between a mid-range pick-up to a top-end 4X4.

Isuzu D-Max: excellent as always on fuel economy

Isuzu D-Max, 2nd-generation, at the side

Our writer went straight to the fuel consumption factor and proved that our test unit D-Max gave very good returns on mileage. It’s frugal in terms of fuel consumption, he wrote. With plenty amount of low to mid range torque, the truck was able to pull itself up to cruising speed pretty quick and maintained a 90km/h at 2000 rpm on fifth. Also, the 90km/h at 2,000 rpm benchmark greatly attributed to the truck’s exceptional fuel consumption, especially on long distance cruising. Though it’s a bit disappointing that Isuzu did not include a six speed manual gearbox in the new D-Max; the writer opined that if it had been included the pick-up would surely give a better performance and still maintain a decent fuel economy. Still our test unit did well in this department. There is a new engine in the D-Max line-up which is the new 2.5-liter with variable geometry system (VGS); Isuzu has claimed that the 2.5l D-Max can outdo the previous 3.0l D-Max.

Pick-ups are meant for functionality and up-sized goods transportation, therefore the new Isuzu D-Max has conformed to its sheer purpose in plenty of ways. The writer skimmed through the D-Max for some truck performance benchmark; he reviewed that the D-Max gave a decent amount of acceleration but still felt lacking. The reviewer wanted more out of this 2.5L turbo diesel engine, but it just did not deliver. Hard acceleration felt quick but not urgent. In essence, the truck pulled pretty decently to 110 to 120 km/h, but as soon as it was pushed to almost 160km/h, the D-Max began to lose its composure. The writer noted that though the performance was average, it was still acceptable based on the truck’s gross weight of 1960 kilograms!

As mentioned above, a six speed gearbox might actually help this situation with smaller cogs. The writer testified that a 6-speed transmission would have done wonders for D-Max’s 136 hp at 3600rpm and 320 Nm of torque specifications.

Isuzu D-Max: Handling tweaks and a 6-speed gearbox needed

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The Isuzu D-max scored moderate points for handling, according to the reviewer’s take. He affirmed that the D-Max felt a bit skittish on paved roads and more obvious during twisty roads. Our writer almost always pushes cars to the limits, even pick-ups!

With heavy duty leaf springs on the rear, the Isuzu D-max still felt bouncy. The reviewer suggested that fitting an old refrigerator in the rear tub would have improved the handling of the D-max a bit more, or more practically fitting wider tyres would have made more sense. The D-Max had to be driven with a bit of caution as the rear started to sway at speeds of 90 km/h and up or on a twisty section and in wet conditions. Our writer testified that the high ride height and narrow tyres of the D-Max probably caused the rear to give up during those situations. He prompted that an adjustment on chamber or toe and relevant suspension settings would do the D-Max’s handling some good.

On a more positive note, the Isuzu D-Max is fitted with the nicer double wishbones with coil springs. This is truly a truck and a truck only. It’s meant to be a work horse and not so much of an everyday vehicle, unless you don’t mind accessibility and parking disadvantages.

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The interior of the new D-max is relatively spacious, with plenty of amenities, compartments all around. Dials and buttons are ergonomically placed and easy to reach, read and view. Overall the D-Max’s cabin is sturdy, thanks to the quality materials utilized in respective sections.

The Isuzu D-Max’s interior layout is better than what’s available on your regular pick-ups. The side step with a handle on the lower side panel is a good addition especially when entering and exiting the vehicle in a hurry. The seats and center arm rest are quite comfortable and snugly, whereas the steering is leather-wrapped with your customary switches for the stereo unit, which comprises the FM/AM, MP3 WMA player with 4-speakers & 2-tweeters.

The reviewer opined that apart from starting and hard acceleration, the D-Max’ cabin noise was very bearable. On the road, the engine kept reminding him that it had a turbo fitted inside, with its constant whirling and spinning echoes. Wind noise and tyre roll reverberations were apparent, but could easily be ignored.

Another area where the new Isuzu D-Max shines is the safety department. Rated a 4-star Euro NCAP, the D-Max is recognized as one of the top echelons when it comes to safety features in the pick-up and commercial vehicles segment. It’s a bit weird that Euro NCAP only describes how the car will behave in an accident and not how well it will do to avoid accidents.

The premium D-Max includes the entire safety equipment repertoire, which are; the Airbags, Brake Assist(BA), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), and LSD (Limited Slip Differential).

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The Isuzu marque is becoming quite a choice amongst pick-up or truck buyers. Predominantly, Isuzu focuses on pick-ups and commercial vehicles, and that invariably makes them very good at it. From what we have gathered, trucks built by Isuzu are tough and persist over time. More importantly, Isuzu D-Max range has proven to be a true work horse, a excellent distance runner, and with proper maintenance an Isuzu D-Max can last up to hundreds, thousands of kilometers. An interesting point noted by the reviewer, comparing the Isuzu D-Max and a popular ‘T’ branded pick-up, the D-Max has an automated switch to change configuration from 2W to 4H to 4L, whereas the ‘T’ pick-up’s 2W/4W/4L configuration has to be operated via a cumbersome gear lever.

Isuzu D-Max: Price and Availability

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The starting price for the Isuzu D-max is at RM 69,799.60 which is without the VG turbo unit, and this goes all the way to RM 101,111.10 for the fully loaded 2.5 with all the goodies. The goodies will exclude side steps, roll bars and bed liner which are optional extras. The 3.0l single cab will costs you a small sum of RM 73,390, which we think to date is the cheapest 3.0l for a brand new truck.

Final thoughts from the reviewer: Producing trucks these days are not just entirely about creating off road vehicles to meet the demands of enthusiasts. We also have drivers that want a truck simply because they like owning one.

Isuzu D-Max images

Isuzu D-Max, 2nd-generation Isuzu D-Max, 2nd-generation,  rear profile