Car Review: 2017 Isuzu D-Max LS.

Isuzu seem to be the quiet achievers in Australia. With no sedan or hatch passenger cars, they rely on a five seater four door ute with off road capacity, or an SUV version of said ute. But don’t think for a moment this means a lack of presence. The 2017 D-Max has received a make over and has more than enough presence to make up for a two model passenger car oriented range. Want choice? There’s 14 variants available, covering two and four wheel drive, high and low ride, space cab or crew cab, manual or auto. A Wheel Thing piloted the D-Max LS 4×4 Crew Cab.The exterior has been given a subtle and successful facelift. The headlights have been tweaked along with the grille and bumper, as have the taillights. The result is a more streamlined look, with no loss of the assertive attitude. The review car was fitted with tonneau cover, snorkel, tow bar, and ‘roo bar. Sidesteps and a rear roof bar were also fitted. They’re the kind of options you’d expect to see on an off road capable vehicle in semi-rural and rural areas. It adds to the visual heft of the D-Max, emphasising its no nonsense bluffness.Adding to the take no prisoners stance is the overall dimensions. It’s a big unit at over five metres in length and varies in height to be either nearly 1.7 to 1.85 m tall. The wheelbase is 3095 mm and this means you’ve plenty of head/shoulder/leg room for front and rear seat passengers. Leg room is 915 mm for the four door version with head and shoulder space 1040 mm and 1430 mm respectively.Passengers don’t lack for comfort, with leather and carbon fibre look material wrapping the pews. It’s here that the D-Max could do with what may be seen as a luxury. Heating for the seats would be a great addition, as the air-conditioning took just that little too long to warm up for comfort during a week of Sydney’s coldest weather. Given that this kind of vehicle gets down and dirty in areas that experienced temperatures far lower than the NSW capital, a warm seat on a minus ten day would be very appreciated.The heart of the big ute is a thumping 3.0 litre diesel, churning out a reasonable 130 kilowatts and an impressive 430 torques, on tap between 2000-2200. It’s matched with a superb six speed automatic, with ratios designed to provide excellent driving and economy. On the freeway it would be barely off idle at the speed limit, with the engine ticking over quietly. However it’s old school diesel when pushed, getting thrashy and noisy. It’s quick enough off the line considering its heft (it’s just shy of 1900 kilos dry) but the ratios that give the D-Max such driveability under way hamper acceleration. There’s no need to worry about stopping either, with 300 mm discs and 295 mm drums more than up to the task.But it’s not intended to be a sports car. It’s a load lugger with three point five tonne towing capacity. It’s off road capable, with switchable two and four wheel drive and with high and low range, along with Hill Descent Control. There’s the huge ute tray as well which, when loaded, helps settle the otherwise bouncy rear. It’s also astoundingly economical, with the drive starting with an estimated range of close to one thousand kilometres. It’s not an idle boast, with the highway cycle somewhere around 6.5L/100 km from the 76 litre tank.Inside, Isuzu have also waved the wand. There’s still the almost cartoonish look to the seven touchscreen, and a take it or leave look to the information screen in the dash binnacle. But the plastics are better, the colour scheme is more integrated and the overall look is of a higher quality. Smartly, Isuzu have kept the circle based air-con control design, with a dial for the temperature (up to 32 degrees, thank you kindly) in the centre and mode and fan buttons located around it. The sound system was a delight; although lacking DAB the FM was clear and well balanced in the soundstage, with the bass delivering a good thump and the treble crisp and clear. This trim level also includes Bluetooth streaming, and, unusually, DVD playback.The headlights are manual, in that the LS doesn’t have auto on. From a safety point it’s something A Wheel Thing believes should be standard in the industry. What is standard is the full suite of safety aids, both passive and active. The big tyres, 255/60/19 from Toyo, on the D-Max could be coaxed into slippage on damp, tight, corners, and you’d immediately feel the traction and stability control programs making their presence felt. The 4WD system is engaged via a centre console mounted dial and, as you’d expect, it’s easy to use and deal with. Isuzu offer a standard five year warranty, five year capped price service, and five year roadside assist. That’s if your Hill Start Assist, Emergency Brake Assistance, Reversing Camera, and six airbags all conspire to rub their hands and cackle evilly.At The End Of The Drive.
The revamp of the 2017 Isuzu D-Max is a welcome one. Quality is high, it looks better inside and out, and it represents better value. At around $55K for this model it competes fairly with the likes of the Holden Colorado, Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, and Mazda BR50. For details on the very comprehensive range, go here: 2017 Isuzu D-Max range

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