2021 Isuzu D MAX X TERRAIN 1

What is it?

X-Terrain is the hero of the Isuzu D-Max utility range.

Bigger, bolder and ballsier, it’s right up there with the best of Aussie 4×4 utes.

New D-Max is a big step forward from the previous model, more refined, better equipped and with an upmarket feel.

It’s now one of the safest 4×4 utes on the road too, with a five-star crash rating and fully array of driver assistance systems.

2021 Isuzu D MAX X TERRAIN 10

What’s it cost?

D-Max is priced from $29,990 for the no frills, tradesman special.

But X-Terrain will set you back more than twice that figure at $63,900 plus on-roads.

That’s a hefty increase on the launch price of the ute which was $58,990 driveaway back in August.

X-Terrain gets the same tried and true 3.0-litre diesel, with a six-speed “Rev-Tronic” auto transmission with manual sequential mode.

And there’s also plenty of black bits, with 18-inch dark grey alloys, fender flares, front and rear underbody spoilers, an aero sports bar, under rail tub liner and matte black lockable roller tonneau and unique paint finish.

Completing the picture are LED Daytime Running Lights, LED tail lights, Bi-LED projector headlights with auto-levelling feature, front and rear parking sensors, with with an integrated rear bumper step and two cargo tie-down hooks inside ute tub.

Inside you’ll find leather and two-zone climate air, with rear air vents, tilt and reach adjust steering wheel, push-button start with auto walk away locking, 8-way power adjust driver seat, power driver lumbar adjustment, power windows with one-touch up/down driver’s window, adaptive cruise control, auto lights and wipers, auto high beam, storage space under rear flip up seats, and a power outlet in lower instrument panel.

A 9.0-inch infotainment system features built-in navigation, Voice recognition, DAB+ digital radio, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, plus a “Sky Sound” roof-mounted audio system with 8 speakers including two in the roof.

D-Max is the first ute and one of a small handful of vehicles to introduce an additional centre airbag across the entire range.

Mounted within the inner-side of the driver’s seat, it’s designed to protect both front occupants from colliding with each other during a severe impact.

Isuzu is also among the first to introduce Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Turn Assist, with the system able to autonomously brake at intersections to avoid driving into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

The Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS) uses radar and binocular style cameras that precisely detect and measure distance, size, velocity and depth of vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and other potential obstacles.

The system incorporates Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR), Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and Emergency Lane Keeping (ELK).

D-Max is backed by a 6-year warranty, up to 7-years roadside assistance and 7-year capped price servicing.

2021 Isuzu D MAX X TERRAIN 4

What’s it go like?

X-Terrain seats five with storage under the flip up rear seats and Isofix and top-tether points for both outboard seats in the back.

But rear legroom is not what we’d call generous and it would be a crush with three adults back there.

The upgraded 3.0-litre turbo diesel puts out 140kW of power at 3600rpm and 450Nm of torque from 1600 to 2600 rpm — 10kW and 20Nm more than before.

The torque band is five times wider and more usable than its predecessor, we’re told — with 400Nm on tap from 1400 through to 3250 rpm.

The engine features new internals, high-pressure direct injection and a more efficient electronically controlled Variable Geometry System (VGS) Turbocharger.

X-Terrain is available only with a 6-speed auto, with part-time four-wheel drive and high and low range gearing.

With a rotary selector switch, high range four-wheel drive can be engaged on the fly up to 100km/h, but low range requires a stop and change to neutral.

The diff lock is only available in low-range and limited to 28km/h, but that gives plenty of leeway.

With less noise and vibration, it has a smooth turbine-like feel to drive that is reminiscent of Kia’s excellent diesels — and it doesn’t sound as truck-like as before making it more family friendly.

It’s long at more than 5.3 metres and has a turning circle of 12.5 metres, which can make it a handful in car parks.

But at least the reverse camera in this model acquires dynamic coloured guidelines which gives what you are seeing some perspective.

Having said that, the camera seems to paint a very different picture to the exterior mirrors which suggest obstacles are much closer.

Which one do you back? I guess experience will provide the answer to that one.

X-Terrain sits on 18-inch alloy wheels, with 265/60 series rubber and has 240mm of ground clearance, with steel underbody protection, an electronic rear diff lock and wading depth of 800m.

It’s fitted with gas shocks and softer, rear leaf springs, but the ride quality is still on the firm side, and unexpected potholes and speed humps can have a chaotic effect on occupants.

Steering is light at low speeds but not as precise as a car at speed and you could find yourself reeling it in if you get to a corner and haven’t been paying attention.

Like most utes it also has rear drum brakes.

This model can carry a 970kg payload, with a tub that measures 1570 x 1530mm and 490mm deep, with an overhead sports bar and lockable roller-style tonneau cover.

The cover goes with the territory but compromises the usable space and can be tricky to lock and unlock until you know the trick.

A tether strap is provided to retrieve the cover, but if you toss it in you’ll need to climb in and retrieve the strap before you can close the thing.

The tub itself is fitted with a protective liner, but lacks a 12 volt outlet and comes with only two tie-down points.

X-Terrain can also tow a 3500kg braked load, with a maximum towball rating of 350kg and comes with trailer sway control.

The large 9.0-inch touchscreen looks impressive, underlined by a line of control switches and in this model you get to use the whole of the architecture — but a physical volume control would be nice.

With a 76-litre fuel tank, fuel consumption is a claimed 8.0L/100km. We were getting a steady 9.0L/100km.

D-Max is covered by a 6-year/150,000km warranty, with 7-year roadside assistance and 7-year capped price servicing.

2021 Isuzu D MAX X TERRAIN 5

What we like?

  • Good fuel economy
  • Strong, smooth performance
  • Front grab handles
  • Big touchscreen
  • Built-in navigation

2021 Isuzu D MAX X TERRAIN 8

What we don’t like?

  • Cabin somewhat plastic
  • Lacks wireless phone charger
  • Easy to scratch running boards
  • Floor mats difficult to remove
  • Tricky to unlock roller tub cover
  • Alloy wheel design too retro

2021 Isuzu D MAX X TERRAIN 3

The bottom line?

Shame it doesn’t have the big lettering on the tailgate.

But X-Terrain ticks the same boxes as the frontrunners in the 4×4 dual cab ute segment.

The important ones anyway, in that it’s big and boofy with plenty of black bits and a tub that’s ready for action.

New D-Max is a big step forward from the previous model, with a more refined drivetrain, an upmarket feel and longer equipment list.

It’s always been a solid, if unremarkable choice, but a no brainer in terms of getting a name brand at a bargain price.

With this release, however, the gap has narrowed considerably — so you need to do your homework.

CHECKOUT: Isuzu D-Max: Finger lickin’ good

CHECKOUT: Car sales bounce back as winter bites

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain ute, priced from $63,900
  • Looks - 8/10
    8/10
  • Performance - 8/10
    8/10
  • Safety - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
    7/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Tech - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 8/10
    8/10
7.8/10
Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain: Price creep steals the sparkle

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.