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  • Strong, reliable and no nonsense; handles a load and towing better than most; long warranty period; regular sales offers to ensure a good deal
  • Looks and feels older than it is; basic cabin materials don’t match retail price point; pricier to service than competitors

OUR RATING
7 / 10




Keeping things simple in a changing market can be difficult.

Considering there are more than 200 choices available to buyers looking for a new dual-cab ute in Australia, it is reassuring to know that the Isuzu D-Max has stayed relatively true to its no-nonsense workhorse heritage.

We say ‘relatively’ true as the 2016 Isuzu D-Max LS-Terrain is the dressed-up and lightly flashy top-spec model.

Things are going well for Isuzu in Australia: the brand has seen annual sales grow by almost 26 per cent in 2015, and 4×4 pickup models have almost doubled in sales since 2013.

That’s no mean feat, given that the D-Max doesn’t quite have the same ‘energy drink for breakfast’ appeal as a Toyota Hilux.

Available locally since 2013, the second generation D-Max was developed as a ‘cousin’ of the Holden Colorado. But, rather than different bodywork over a similar driveline (like the Ford Ranger / Mazda BT-50 relationship), the Isuzu and Holden share body and trim components but are very different underneath.

Powered by Isuzu’s 3.0-litre ‘4JJ1’ turbo-diesel truck engine, the $53,000 D-Max LS-Terrain has 130kW and 380Nm under the bonnet. Not massive numbers on paper (considering the Colorado has 147kW/500Nm), but the 3.0-litre runs in such a relaxed state of tune, the numbers don’t seem to matter when the D-Max is put to work.

2016 Isuzu D-Max LS-Terrain 4x4 Dual Cab Ute Review

It’s relative simplicity to get things moving too. The 4WD system can be adjusted on the move to switch from rear-wheel drive to either high- or low-range four-wheel drive, and in a world where nine-speed transmissions are becoming standard fare, the Isuzu still makes do with five. There is a sport-shift mode, and a grade braking function (no dedicated hill-descent system though), which help to maintain control in more extreme situations.

The combination results in reasonable economy too, returning 10.9L/100km on our test loop, against a 8.5L/100km claim. Our driving included some basic acceleration tests and a variety of terrain.

With a payload capacity of 1005kg and braked tow rating of 3500kg, the D-Max has the ability where it matters.

Fill up the tray and hit the road, with a requisite ‘trucky’ whistle from the turbo, and the Isuzu responds almost the same way no matter what size load you have in the back. The same goes for towing, short of something over two-tonne, you need to look in the mirrors to remember there is a trailer back there.

It handles ‘truckily’ too, and is best kept to sensible speeds and cornering activities. Like most utes, it will bounce around when empty but settles well with a load. Steering is heavy at low speeds but provides good feedback and a sense of confidence on the go.

2016 Isuzu D-Max LS-Terrain 4x4 Dual Cab Ute Review

The work/life balance isn’t quite split down the middle, though.

Inside, the D-Max, even with the heated, leather seats of the Terrain, is a bit clunky and basic. It is like an older version of the Colorado, which itself isn’t the most modern-feeling ute on the market.

The dashboard and its hard-wearing plastics feels hollow, and there are no fewer than five blanking plates for ‘missing’ buttons that make you feel you are missing out on equipment, despite being the top of the range.

While the Terrain includes keyless start (the button is by your left knee, took us a while to find it), climate control and a 7.0-inch touch screen navigation system (with reverse camera), some simple elements, like automatic headlights, are absent.

Overall, though, while it won’t win any style awards, the D-Max interior is roomy and comfortable and quite well laid out.

Storage is great, with a deep console box, twin gloveboxes and good-sized door bins. There are handy cupholders in front of the dash vents and even another cubby in the top of the dash. The lid here is a bit counter-intuitive and you have to push down to make it go up… and that doesn’t always work.

The single-zone climate control device is the circular unit seen in the Colorado and, while a bit silly looking, is very easy to use with big, bright numbers noting your temperature setting.

2016 Isuzu D-Max LS-Terrain 4x4 Dual Cab Ute Review

Unlike many third-party units, the infotainment system is simple and easy to use, with good audio connectivity and even a ‘mini D-Max’ featured on the navigation maps. It suits the rest of the car though, simple and no nonsense.

Back seat room is good for three adults, but long rides would be better suited to running four-up, just for the extra shoulder room in the back. There is a center armrest and map pockets, but no vents or charge points.

Despite only being three years old, the model feels much more dated than many of its competitors. This is true on the outside, too: the 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and giant 4×4 and Isuzu stickers look like 1990’s hand-me-downs.

This is part of the blue-collar charm of the D-Max though. There is a rugged honesty about it, the little truck that isn’t pretending to be something it isn’t, and as we noted, that is something that resonates well with buyers.

On the down side, the 4JJ needs more attention than most, and your D-Max will be in for a service every six-months, costing around $758 per annum to maintain through Isuzu’s capped-price package.

Isuzu stands by its D-Max ‘mini truck’ and offers a five-year, 130,000km warranty. There’s a full-size spare and a choice of nine colours (metallics are a $396 option) to further entice buyers. Ours is Ash Beige. Exciting!

2016 Isuzu D-Max LS-Terrain 4x4 Dual Cab Ute Review

The $53,000 asking price for the D-Max LS-Terrain is a little steep, but Isuzu has regular market offers that see this drop well into the $40s, so make sure you haggle at the dealer.

The 2016 Isuzu D-Max LS-Terrain may not look, or be, as modern as other utes, but it is robust and capable – on and off road. If strength and reliability are high on your requirement shopping list, we recommend taking a closer look.

Click on the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser.


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ISUZU D-MAX BREAKDOWN

2016 Isuzu D-Max LS-Terrain 4x4 Dual Cab Ute Review
  • 7
  • 7.5
  • 6.5
  • 6.5
  • 7
  • 6.5
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Isuzu D-Max Specs

LS-TERRAIN HI-RIDE (4x4) : TF MY15 : 3.0L DIESEL TURBO F/INJ - 5 SP AUTOMATIC - DIESEL - CREW CAB UTILITY
Car Details
Make
ISUZU
Model
D-MAX
Variant
LS-TERRAIN HI-RIDE (4x4)
Series
TF MY15
Year
2016
Body Type
CREW CAB UTILITY
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$44,660 - $50,750
Dealer Retail
$43,660 - $51,920
Dealer Trade
$34,300 - $40,600
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
DIESEL TURBO F/INJ
Engine Size
3.0L
Cylinders
DIESEL TURBO 4
Max. Torque
380Nm @  1800rpm
Max. Power
130kW @  3600rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
67W/kg
Bore & Stroke
95.4x104.9mm
Compression Ratio
17.3
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
5 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive Type
4x4
Final Drive Ratio
3.727
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
DIESEL
Fuel Tank Capacity
76Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
8.1L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1940
Gross Vehicle Weight
5950Kg
Height
1795mm
Length
5295mm
Width
1860mm
Ground Clearance
235mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:3000  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
12.6
Front Rim Size
7x17
Rear Rim Size
7x17
Front Tyres
255/65 R17
Rear Tyres
255/65 R17
Wheel Base
3095
Front Track
1570
Rear Track
1570
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DRUM
Front Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Leaf spring, Gas damper
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Power front seat Driver
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Leather Steering Wheel, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Mobile Phone Connectivity, Power Steering, Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front, Side Steps
Interior
Centre Console Box - Multi-purpose, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Front Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
60 months /  130,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Mid Driver Side Chassis
Country of Origin
Thailand