If you’re going to dethrone a dictatorship, you better show up with some big guns for your coup d'état. That’s precisely what the Isuzu D-Max has done as it deposed the long-reigning king of the pick-ups; the Toyota Hilux.
Granted, that was up north in Thailand but to topple the Toyota’s stronghold on the segment, you know it’s got to be the bees’ knees.
Now that Isuzu Malaysia has brought in the new third-generation D-Max, you can things to be shaken up a little in the segment. There’ll be seven variants with a new flagship trim in the form of the 3.0-litre 4x4 AT X-Terrain to take on the Hilux Rogue and Ford Ranger Wildtrak.
Taking a turn down “no replacement for displacement” alley, a new 3.0-litre turbodiesel will serve as the flagship powertrain. Codenamed 4JJ3, it’ll be found in the top two trims (X-Terrain and AT Premium) as well as the contractor-spec single-cab.
With 187hp and 450Nm of torque, it’s a climb of 13hp and 70Nm over the previous 3.0-litre mill. If you’re thinking those aren’t impressive numbers, Isuzu favours detuning their engines for increased durability and better consumption.
The other engine is the now-familiar RZ4E-TC 1.9-litre common-rail four-cylinder diesel engine with a variable geometry turbo. That’s 148hp and 350Nm of torque.
Isuzu has rated both engines capable of B20 biodiesel. A six-speed manual or six-speed automatic are the transmissions of choice.
At the bottom of the D-Max rung is the 1.9-litre 4x4 Single Cab; aka the contractor’s workhorse. It goes for RM88,599 while the 3.0-litre 4x4 Single Cab is RM95,538. Kit includes:
- 16-inch steel wheels
- urethane steering wheel
- manual climate control
- black front bumper
- single-DIN head unit with USB slot
- vinyl seats
- dual airbags, ABS, EBD, hill start assist, hill descent control, traction control
- no bedliner (additional RM950)
If you need more doors on the cheap, that’s going to be the 1.9-litre 4x4 Manual Standard at RM99,599. This twin-cab gets the following extras:
- painted front bumper
- halogen fog lights
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- 4.2-inch multi-info display in the instrument cluster
- multifunction steering wheel
- cloth seats
- double-DIN head unit with Bluetooth + six speakers
- rear air-conditioning vents
- rear 2.1A USB charging slot (standard for all twin-cabs)
- reverse sensors
If you prefer to not row your own gears, the 1.9-litre 4x4 Automatic Standard for RM106,999. The equipment is pretty much identical with the addition of:
- bi-LED projector headlights
- LED DRLs
Next up is the 1.9-litre 4x4 Automatic Premium that costs RM121,549. This is probably where the average urban consumer will start perusing. The extra coin nets you:
- automatic bi-LED projector headlights
- LED front and rear fog lights
- LED taillights
- 18-inch wheels
- leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel
- chrome side-view mirrors
- 7.0-inch touchscreen head unit + Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
- eight speakers
- black combination leather seats
- dual-zone climate control
- passive cruise control
- keyless entry + push-start
- tailgate assist spring
- blind spot monitoring
- dual airbags
If you’re of the “no replacement for displacement” mentality, the 3.0-litre 4x4 AT Premium is for you at RM128,038. However, bear in mind that this nets you the bigger powertrain and not much else. The rest of the kit is identical to the 1.9-litre above.
Last but certainly no the least by any means is the flagship 3.0-litre 4x4 X-Terrain. Positioned to give the Hilux and Ranger Wildtrak sleepless nights, the pricing might keep you up at night but we can guarantee it’s worth every single cent. This one goes for RM141,938.
There’s a ton of extra kit for all that money. Isuzu’s reputation for reliability and fuel consumption preceded them, now they just needed to get acquainted with refinement and comfort.
Creature comforts comprise a front windscreen that reduces infrared light transmission, aerofoil wiper blades with integrated washer nozzles, a differential lock, remote engine start and some catchy 18-inch wheels.
Aimed at the discerning urban user, the cabin gets some fancy looking brown leather, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment as well as a 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Safety isn’t neglected here with seven airbags and almost the full suite of active safety tech. Said active safety is made up of forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane departure warning, pedal misapplication mitigation and auto high beam.
Unfortunately, there’s no 360-degree view so it’s the reverse camera only and parking sensors. Furthermore, the lane departure warning doesn’t include lane departure mitigation; meaning just as audible warning if the D-Max X-Terrain strays across the white lines.
Looking to take on the big boys in the segment, Isuzu delved under the skin to improve refinement and comfort. This includes tweaks to the platform for reduced NVH, a longer wheelbase for cabin space and revised rear door openings for better ingress and egress.
For those looking to take a ride on the wild side, the intake system for the engine was raised to improve wading depth. It’s now 800mm from the previous model’s 600mm. On top of that, there’s also a 1.5mm steel skid plate to cover the front underbody as well as a 6mm steel sump guard for the engine and gearbox.
All new D-Max variants get a five-year or 150,000km warranty but the D-Max X-Terrain has a little something extra thrown in; a seven-year unlimited mileage warranty coverage.