Isuzu UTE Australia now offers an automatic transmission option in its D-MAX SX mid-spec 4x4 and 4x2 crew utes, while adding standard cruise control to all SX variants, freshening up its top LS crew utes and introducing a crimson red mica finish to the range.
The D-MAX high-series LS-U 4x4 and LS 4x2 crew utes are the most changed in appearance with a new design chrome grille featuring a prominent central cross bar and 'sabre-tooth' details plus new double-spoke alloy wheels.
Space cab rear seats
D-MAX's stylish space cab upgrades to four seats from two with almost all of its considerable cabin storage space behind the front seats preserved. Twin rear 'jump' seats with multiple folding modes are added to the variant which continues as an SX 4x4 cab/chassis manual.
Lifting each seat squab reveals a box with a flat load platform lid under which are segmented small tool storage racks. These boxes can flip forward and fill the rear foot-well recesses, their flat backs levelling with the prop-shaft tunnel to present a near flat load platform across the cabin floor width.
Each rear space cab seating position has a three-point seatbelt, cup-holder and a side pocket in the cabin side trim, plus enhanced visibility via the space cab's signature low-sill, rear opening rear side windows. A backrest pad stretches across the full cabin width rear wall
Despite the extra cost of the new space cab rear seat installation, the $2,500 price step up from single to space cab in D-MAX remains up to $2,500 less than others in the class. Space cab increases only $700 with the extra seats and cruise control.
All D-MAX SX variants also gain five-speed intermittent wiper mode while silver hubcaps for the 16” drilled steel wheels replace black, for a smarter look.
When applied to the 4x2 SX crew ute, the automatic option also includes the 4x4 high-ride suspension with 225mm ground clearance, wheel arch flares, 16” wheels and 245/70 tyres. Automatic remains unavailable on cab/chassis models due to their uniquely 150mm longer wheelbase of 3200mm, the longest in the class. Automatic has always been offered in D-MAX LS, LS-M and LS-U.
Inside all LS variants, the dash centre stack fascia and side air vent registers and surround panels all change to satin black with chrome trim rings from the prior silver finish. Cabin headlining adopts a cosy black, different from the continuing dark grey in the lower-spec variants. Instrument and control lighting changes to orange from blue while the silver bands around the main three dial faces change to a more up-market gunmetal.
Speedometer graphics in all D-MAX variants change to 2km/h graduations from the previous 5km/h with more legible numerals, in a nod to increased speed limit enforcement. Similar improved graphics apply to the tachometer and odometers.
“D-MAX has now been on sale in Australia for 18 months, so we decided to herald some running upgrades with a new look for our top-selling LS-U 4x4 and LS crew utes,” said Isuzu UTE Australia managing director Hitoshi Kono.
“We recently retailed our 5,000th D-MAX, and each month between 75 and 80 per cent of sales have been 4x4. Private and small business owners are still the majority of D-MAX buyers, which differs from the fleet sales which dominate the segment. However, the availability of automatic now in both 4x4 and 4x2 SX crew utes will fit the needs of many state and local governments as well as business and rental fleets.
D-MAX's tri-mode four-speed automatic has normal, Power and '3rd' modes plus Adaptive Grade Logic, which holds third gear during varied-gradient ascents to avoid 'hunting' and on steep descents to help hold speed. Power' mode upshifts at higher revs while '3rd' starts in third gear to avoid wheel spin on acceleration from rest on very slippery surfaces like snow, ice or wet clay.
“We're seeing the D-MAX's market share generally trending upwards against fierce competition, thanks to the great brand strength of Isuzu, with its 70-year history of building trucks big and small as well as diesel engines. It shows in D-MAX, which is a true truck built compact, with all the hidden engineering strengths built in and some class-leading attributes.
Local buyers have seen that D-MAX embodies the utter reliability for which Isuzu is globally famous and has demonstrated exceptional real world fuel economy and low ownership cost while still delivering on performance,” Mr Kono said.
D-MAX saves owners money with close to class-best economy figures allied to the meaty, under-stressed torque of its 3.0 litre turbo-diesel engine—also fitted to Isuzu's two-tonne trucks—for lugging and/or towing loads.
Official ADR 81/02 combined urban and highway fuel consumption figures show the D-MAX 4x2 single cab/chassis‟ 7.9 litres/100km is best in the one-tonne ute/conventional cab class bar one smaller-engined, lower-output competitor.
However in Isuzu UTE Australia's 2009 Max Run Challenge, a D-MAX SX 4x2 manual crew ute stretched its standard tank of diesel 1716.3 kilometres — which included 175 km of harsh outback gravel — an average consumption of just 4.428 litres/100km, the economy of an electric-petrol hybrid or a small diesel car. More recently in IUA's 2010 Max Run, a D-MAX LS 4x2 manual crew ute towed more than a tonne of trailered power boat 967 km on one tank.
The most popular D-MAX model is the LS-U 4x4 crew ute, also the highest spec and priced model in the range. It is well-kitted with standard air-conditioning, ABS with EBD, dual airbags, cruise, projector headlights, fold-in power door mirrors with turn indicators, leather tactiles, remote entry, electric windows with one-touch driver's glass up and down, dual-bin padded centre console, electro-luminescent instrument display, LSD and a lockable tailgate―handy when a canopy or hard tonneau is fitted. Externally, the LS-U sports its chrome grille, body-colour front bumper and wheel arch flares, front fog lights, chrome rear step bumper, side steps, 16” alloy wheels including the spare and high-ride suspension.
All three D-MAX cab/chassis variants have the longest endorsed tray load floor length from cab to axle among Asian conventional-cab one-tonners, for optimal loaded stability and safety. Their Isuzu chassis has a uniquely longer wheelbase ― by a sizeable 150mm ― in cab/chassis models than in its utes, and at 3200mm it is equal longest in the class.
D-MAX single cab's 2.55m tray load floor length is 150mm more than Triton, BT50, Ranger, Navara D22 and the basic HiLux Workmate equivalents. D-MAX 4x4's rear loading heights are also lower than other 4x4s thanks to its underslung rear leaf springs which are unusual in 4x4 utes but don't cost D-MAX ground clearance and they do lower the centre of gravity for added stability.
All 4x4 D-MAXs offer three-tonne maximum tow capacity, high 225mm ground clearance, paddock-crawler ultra-low low-range first gear with anti-stall, steel plate sump and transfer case guards, fuel tank shield, steep gradient ABS disabling (n/a EX), wide track 16”x7” wheels with 245/70 tyres, wheel arch flares, push-button dash controls for 2WD/4WD/low range selection and shift-on-the-fly up to 100 km/h between 2WD and 4WD High. D-MAX 4x2s can tow up to 2.5 tonne braked trailers.
The Isuzu UTE dealer network now numbers 62 nationwide with more under negotiation and a further 12 satellite service centres in separate towns. All D-MAXs are covered by 24/7 roadside assistance during their three-year/100,000km new car warranty.
Isuzu D-MAX RRP pricing spans from $ 25,100 to $44,500 for the 3.0 litre turbo diesel range. Indicative driveaway pricing per model will vary for differing areas, buyer profiles and dealers and potential buyers should consult their local Isuzu UTE dealer.
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