We give it to the MAX

Riley Riley

What is it?

The D-MAX LS Terrain is Isuzu’s top of the range dual cab ute. You could call the D-MAX the Goldilocks of dual cab utes. It walks a fine line between the heavyweights and bottom feeders in the competitive 4×4 segment. It’s still related to the Holden Colorado, but not as closely these days. They share a chassis but the engines, transmissions and just about everything else is different. It looks better than the Colorado too.


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What’s it cost?

Prices for the “crew cab” — that’s what they call it — start from $43,900 for the entry SX.

Our test vehicle, the top of the range LS Terrain, is priced from $54,200. It was fitted with a few options however that bring the price to $58,985 — that’s before on-road costs.

There are some minor differences between the top of the range ute and wagon which we reviewed previously.

The main one is the rear suspension, which in the ute retains old school leaf springs that are better suited to a vehicle designed to carry loads.

The wagon gets a more sophisticated multi-link setup, to make the ride smoother and less rock and rolly — so the kids won’t get sick in the back.

One of the things we miss from the wagon is rear parking sensors, although you do get a rear-view camera.

Standard kit in this model includes six airbags, 18-inch alloys, full-size steel spare, leather and climate air conditioning, push button start, power adjust driver seat, daytime LEDs, large 8.0-inch touchscreen with reverse camera, satellite navigation and eight-speaker audio.


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What’s it go like?

The design dates back to 2012, but it has been upgraded several times, recently with a more powerful diesel and six-speed auto.

It sits on a separate ladder chassis with six cross members, a design better suited to the rigours off road driving because it allows some twist and flex.

Power comes from a four cylinder 3.0-litre turbo diesel that produces a handy 130kW of power and 430Nm of torque, and is paired with a Japanese Aisin adaptive six-speed auto, that lets the driver change gears manually if preferred.

In comparison to the wagon that we drove, the ute feels lighter and more nimble, and a better fit for its clothes.

With a kerb weight of 2026kg, it’s actually is 86kg lighter — about the weight of having a grown man sitting next to you.

The engine is smooth and relatively quiet for a rattler, but the brakes lack feel and so does the steering.

Switching to low-range four-wheel drive is easily accomplished with a rotary knob between the front seats.

Ground clearance is a decent 235mm and it comes with steel underbody protection for vital components, but things like the side steps, mud flaps and tow bar are likely to scrape (and do).

LIke the wagon it comes with hill descent control which in combination with a low crawler gear largely takes care of the tricky downhill stuff.

The ute has a larger 76-litre fuel tank and is rated at 7.9L/100km.

The thing is we were getting 8.7 from the wagon but fuel consumption in the ute was much higher at 11.3L/100km.

Diesels do take a while to loosen up, before producing their best results, but our test vehicle had 16K on the clock — the wagon had only 9K.


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What we like?

  • Unpretentious
  • Solid reliable brand
  • Looks better than Colorado
  • Capable off roader with proper low range four wheel drive
  • Rated to tow a full 3.5 tonnes (wagon pegged at 3 tonnes)
  • Infotainment controls more responsive than wagon
  •  5-year warranty


What we don’t?

  • No reach adjust for the steering wheel
  • No one-touch blinkers
  • No auto headlights
  • No auto wipers
  • No rear aircon
  • No auto dimming rear view mirror
  • Rear drum brakes (most utes have drums)
  • Terrible fuel consumption
  • No CarPlay or Android Auto



The bottom line?

If we were in the market for a 4×4 ute the D-MAX would be high on our list. With a sold reputation it represents good value for money.


Check out these stories too . . .

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Meet the ultimate off road campervan



Isuzu D-MAX LS-U crew cab ute, priced from $55,430
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 7.0/10
  • Thirst - 6.5/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 7.0/10
  • Tech - 7.0/10
  • Value - 7.5/10

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