Cars Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel 4x4 Test Drive Review

Published on April 16th, 2021 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel 4×4 Test Drive Review

Isuzu Malaysia’s Brand New D-MAX Is A SUV That Looks Like A Truck.

You probably did not know this, but Isuzu has just launched a brand new D-MAX and it is already breaking sales records around the globe. We get the top version which is called the X-Terrain for a test drive and here below is our impression. 

D-MAX Success

In July last year, this new D-MAX had outsold the Toyota Hilux in Thailand for the first time in 30 years. In September 2020, this D-MAX was selling so well that it had a 4 month waiting list in Australia right after it was launched.  In December last year this D-MAX was sold out in Norway even before it had been unloaded from the cargo ship. 

In September 2020 this all new D-Max was awarded a five-star rating by the ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program) that comprehensively assesses the safety of new vehicles. 

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D-MAX History                                                                                                                                  

Isuzu is primarily a truck and diesel engine company. Yes, there was a time when they ventured into the passenger car and SUV segment, this was decades ago and they did have these vehicles on Malaysian roads. The Isuzu JJ sedan from the early to late 1980s and the Isuzu Trooper which had three generations launched in Malaysia from the early 1980’s and can still be seen on our roads till today. Built in the Isuzu Fujiawa factory in central Japan, this well engineered and hardworking 4×4 was the workhorse of choice for many. 

However, Isuzu management in Japan decided to be a global truck specialist and so they concentrated their efforts on the growing pickup truck segment and the commercial vehicle market with robust and reliable diesel engines and this has been a win-win situation for them till today.

Well, they did have a ground breaking sports SUV in early 1997. This was the Isuzu VehiCROSS and till today there is no rival for its looks. Looking like a vehicle that should be transporting humans on Mars, it was expensive and sold in very limited numbers.

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D-MAX New Model Drive Impression

Let’s start with the looks. This is one handsome vehicle with evergreen looks. Which means it will last for more than 5-8 years without looking the least bit dated. 

Open the doors and you will immediately notice that it is not sitting very high like some of its immediate rivals. This means getting in and out is easy and actually, it has a SUV ride height which is best for urban cowboys and also commercial vehicles buyers who navigate mining sites, logging sites and plantation of various kinds.

Next comes the cabin outlook. This D-MAX carries a SUV cockpit, dashboard and seats. Yes, the cabin is from a SUV and this is what buyers want today. Sitting in the electric powered semi-bucket, leather clad seat you will easily forget the open load area at the back when on the road.

Cabin features from a modern SUV have been fitted inside this all new D-MAX to compete and better its segment rivals. 

Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel 4x4_side view
Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel 4x4_front seats
Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel 4x4_rear seats
Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel 4x4_meter cluster
Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel 4x4_engine

You get a touchscreen entertainment system that is ready for full device connectivity and soft touch buttons for your climate control and all necessary functions. Get into the back seat of this D-MAX and you will realize how easy it is to get comfortable in the semi-bucket seats and legroom is sensible good. Even three adults in the back will not be arguing about space, unless they are all from the Sumo academy. 

Back into the driver’s seat and you will easily get comfortable and ready to drive this SUV…….ooops….sorry…pickup truck.  The ignition button sits on the left side of the multi-function steering wheel and the new 4JJ1 diesel engine (it’s a 3L displacement) rumbles to life. A lot of engineering has gone into this diesel engine with its 250 MPa high injection pressure, electronically-controlled VGS turbocharger, heat-insulating coating on the piston, double-scissors gear which all add up to deliver good power, low fuel consumption and low engine noise. 

It is a smooth working engine and with the slick shifting six-speed automatic transmission you will find overtaking easy and getting up to illegal speeds quick. Yes, this 3.0L D-MAX is fast and surprisingly stable at speeds unlike some of its rivals. All this is thanks to the engine sitting further back in the bay for better weight distribution, the longer wheelbase and the ‘Isuzu Dynamic Drive Platform’. 

Steering feel in traffic is very SUV like, well weighted and precise and as you gather speed it never feels floaty or un-communicative.

If you are using the rear load bay, take note that the tail gate now is light touch and easy to use. If you are from Borneo and have some river crossings to do, it now has 800mm of water wading depth capability. On par with its immediate rival. 

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D-MAX Features & Safety

Scoring also the maximum five-star safety rating in the 2020 ASEAN NCAP tests, the all-new Isuzu D-Max offers a new level of safety to offer improved protection for occupants as well as other road users. Aiding drivers will be a host of Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) available in selected variants.

High praise has to go for the level of safety features in this D-MAX. It is the first pickup truck to standardize advanced life-saving safety systems across every model. AEB, Lane Departure Prevention, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring and much more are included.

Advanced safety equipment is joined by automatic headlights with high beam control, Reversing Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, Driver Attention Assist and 7-airbags which are features found in a SUV.

Lets not forget the 9-inch central infotainment touchscreen with integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to ensure the driver is well entertained on long journeys. 

D-MAX Final Word

Well, it’s all new from the ground up, it has a SUV like cabin, its safety features rival a premium SUV and it has a reliable diesel engine that has been proven over the years. Time for you to test drive this D-MAX and decide if it fits your needs, commercial or urban. 

Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel 4x4_village setting
Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel 4x4_farmers choice
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Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel 4x4_semi bucket seats

ISUZU D-MAX X-Terrain 3.0L Diesel Specifications

Engine: Inline-4, BluePower Diesel

Capacity: 2999cc

Transmission: 6-speed auto Sequential Shift

Max Power: 190PS @ 3,600rpm

Max Torque: 450Nm @ 1,600 – 2,600rpm

Price: RM88,599.20 to RM141,938.40

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