Cars Isuzu D-Max

Published on June 18th, 2024 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain In Melaka Pickup Truck Drive Review

This revised D-Max gives urban cowboys an option to think about.

The Isuzu D-Max has never been a slow seller in any market it has been available for sale. This is why many Chinese automotive brands have been using it as the base for their own version of a pickup truck decades ago.

Take the best, turn it inside out and tweak it enough to not get any legal notices. It has worked for some of these Chinese pickup truck manufacturers until now.

So, until this model arrived in April 2021, the D-Max has been seem using various nameplates with ‘Made In China’ origins.

Now here is a revised version of this 2021 D-Max and it gets some added safety equipment and cabin technology to compete against a range of new models entering the Asia Pacific market which has been Isuzu’s playground for decades.

Yes, Isuzu has been a top sales performer in most of Asia Pacific nations with some close rivalry from its ‘friends’ from Japan.

This time, the latest version of the D-Max comes across as being more like a ‘jack of all trades’ rather than a just strong commercial performer.

It is a well known fact that the modern pickup truck market development is slow, but when it happens it does so in large leaps. The introduction from pure utility to having comfort oriented features, like a full entertainment system and sequential shifting for an automatic gearbox all started with the American pickup trucks.

To the hardcore off-roader or contractor, these may seem like pretty pointless features (hence why very basic models are still on offer), but to a discerning lifestyle-oriented pickup truck owner these features may make or break the decision to purchase.

This all new D-Max is produced in Thailand for the global market at a dedicated plant. This new plant takes advantage of numerous technological developments in the automotive sector in order to improve the quality and consistency of the final product.

On the road, this 3.0L diesel performs exactly as you would expect a D-Max to perform. The award winning 3.0-litre diesel engine we are test driving here, the ‘Premium’ X-Terrain version, comes with a price tag of RM157,938.40 but the range starts with the simple ‘farmers’ variant which is priced from RM98,949.20.  

To satisfy the lifestyle crowd, the flagship Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain boasts a 10-inch infotainment system (ready with wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto), new leather seats, Japanese origami Miura design elements, and ambient lighting, among other updates.

The X-Terrain is already known for its comprehensive suite of ADAS and ASEAN NCAP 5-star safety rating.

Also, a few added NEW safety features a stereo camera with a wider 120° view, enhancing its ability to detect and recognize objects, including child pedestrians, for quicker and more accurate responses. This allows for better autonomous emergency braking (AEB) feature within its revised Allsight active safety suite, which most notably now also includes Rear Cross Traffic Brake (RCTB) and a 360º surround view camera with a 3D view function on this X-Terrain variant.

Drive dynamics has also improved with the new ‘Rough Terrain Mode’ which is available in all the 4×4 Double Cab variants and lets not forget the easy to use differential lock button. Using the ‘Diff-Lock’ button activates a feature that provides added traction in slippery conditions plus it provides an off road driving experience that is more secure.

On the open road the suspension damping remains slightly on the stiff side, although this would have been done to compensate for potential heavy loads some drivers might carry in the truck bed of the D-Max.

Steering is responsive and after a long drive the cabin seating keeps all passengers happy as it is well padded and comfortable. Yes, it is delivering SUV levels of comfort and this is surprising. When pushed, this 450Nm diesel engine is smooth in its power delivery and sounds rather sedate where it is not as noisy as some others.

At the end of the test drive only one thought came to mind, should we pay a little more and get the 3.0L X-Terrain with more bells and whistles, a thirstier diesel engine and also higher yearly road tax? Well, road tax is a ‘once a year’ payment and provides a better driving experience on the open road.

OK, so diesel subsidies have been removed and right now there is a lot of social media chatter about how much it cost to run a diesel pickup truck, especially a 3.0L diesel engine.

So, really not to worry as Isuzu also has a very good diesel sipping version of the D-max which is the 1.9L 4×4 Premium variant which is priced at RM134,649.20. Maybe this variant is better suited for your needs.

Isuzu D-Max 3.0L 4×4 Premium Specifications

Engine: 16-valve DOHC with Variable Geometry Turbo & Common-Rail Direct Injection

Capacity: 2,999cc

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Max Power: 190hp @ 3,600rpm

Max Torque: 450Nm @ 1,600rpm

Price: RM157,938.40

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