THE FREEDOM MACHINE

How the new Isuzu D-MAX LS-U can bring you the horizon.

To drive the new D-MAX is to be emancipated, in a sense. And once you know the saccharine sweet of freedom, it gnaws away in the back of your mind, like a loose tooth, begging for your attention: you want to drive it again…further.

While it has a long history beyond our meagre shores, the D-MAX premiered in Australia in 2008, a youngblood, a new kid that few really understood. A reliable workhorse dressed in style yet to prove itself to a nation that already understood the value of Japanese engineering.

Now, a dozen years later, the D-MAX continues to turn heads, to earn its place at the rarefied table of ‘touring rigs’.

We had the chance to play around with the new LS-U variant of the new, completely redesigned D-MAX and it felt like a new wave all over again. This is a nice car.

 

SAFETY

Before we get to the fun stuff, though, I want to talk about the onboard safety features this thing has. While most of our fun around here happens on the dirt, we do some pretty long drives to get there. With features like Driver Attention Assist, which monitors your lane position and will actively steer you back into your lane if you’re drifting, and Autonomous Emergency Braking, lives are going to be saved out there, quietly, daily. As the old slogan goes, the life you save, may be your own.

 

COMFORT

A massive new 9in head unit is the brains of the operation, with satnav, eight speakers, dual-zone climate control and full CarPlay functionality. There are nearly as many buttons on the leather steering wheel as an F1 car, so you never have to slip out of the experience of driving to change the music to suit the terrain.

The built-in reversing camera will no doubt save a few bicycles in driveways as well.

Oh, and those drink holders positioned strategically right in front of the A/C vents are still there – these things are one of the most unsung heroes in the 4WD world.

 

UNDER THE BONNET

The 3.0L four-cylinder turbodiesel with a six-speed auto provides 140kW and 450Nm. If there’s one thing the D-MAX can easily rest its laurels on, it is the sheer reliability of this engine – born out of decades of experience building truck motors designed to take far more abuse than the average D-MAX owner is capable of dishing out.

A rear diff lock is standard equipment as well, which is awesome, and it seems to point to a tacit understanding that this is what Australians are doing with these trucks.

 

BUCKS

The LS-U is second from the top in terms of spec for the D-MAX, and it retails for $61,789 drive away. Isuzu offers some pretty cool factory options as well, like a real snorkel, side steps, bullbars and upgraded rims, so you can pretty much leave the showroom and hit the tracks.

The six year/ 150,000km warranty is pretty epic, and you get capped price servicing, as well as sevens years of roadside assist.

 

DO YOU WANT ONE?

Every vehicle is a long list of compromises: you can spend plenty on a 911 but you won’t be going that far offroad, right?

We think the D-MAX elegantly threads its compromises into stylishness without ostentation, performance without brutishness and reliability without being boring. It’s priced right for what it can do. The only question is, can you keep up?