The Isuzu X-Runner special edition has been revived to coincide with a range of upgrades to the rest of the D-Max range as it approaches the end of this generation’s model cycle.
Unlike the last D-Max X-Runner introduced in 2017 as a mid-range model, the 2019 edition is based on the top-of-the-range LS-T.
While it isn't quite a match for the likes of the Ford Ranger Wildtrak or Toyota HiLux Rogue, it does bridge the gap with extras such as push-button start, perforated leather seats with red stitching, red trim highlights in the cabin, a sports bar, tub liner and rear parking sensors, and X-Runner badging on the rear doors and scuff plates.
As with previous X-Runner models, the new version is distinguished by red Isuzu badging in the grille, steering wheel and wheel centre caps.
Priced at $54,990 drive-away – $4000 more than the current drive-away offer on the LS-T – the 2019 Isuzu D-Max X-Runner is available in one grade, the 3.0-litre turbo diesel with six-speed auto.
The only choice is colour: metallic red or pearl white, both included in the price. Only 645 examples combined are being introduced (180 red and 465 white).
Apple Car Play and Android Auto are still not available on the D-Max but the X-Runner does come with built-in navigation.
As part of the changes for 2019, the X-Runner and the top two model grades – LS-T and LS-U – now come with tarmac-biased tyres. The base two grades favoured by fleets and tradies still come with all-terrain rubber.
The subtle tyre change is designed to give the updated D-Max better on-road handling and steering feel.
Isuzu research found most buyers of the luxury models rarely venture too far off the beaten track. The company also made minor adjustments to the steering to make it easier to manoeuvre at car park speeds.
Isuzu representatives remain tight-lipped about the next generation D-Max but CarAdvice understands it is at least 12 months away from local showrooms.
The company is yet to confirm key details about the next generation D-Max – such as the vehicle’s size, engine capacity and technology available – but early spy photos show it appears to have grown closer in size to the top selling Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger.
It is unclear whether the D-Max will adopt the new generation 1.9-litre turbo diesel or soldier on with the current 3.0-litre turbo diesel – or offer both options.
While autonomous emergency braking remains conspicuous by its absence on the 2019 update – as every new or updated rival has the advanced safety aid available – it’s understood the next generation D-Max will fill this void in order to appeal to family and fleet buyers.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling