ISUZU D-MAX X-TERRAIN

The 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 full array of driver assistance systems.

STYLING
D-Max is priced from $29,990 for the no frills, tradesman special. But X-Terrain with all the bells and whistles 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 2020.

There’s 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 plus 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 an integrated rear bumper step and two cargo tie-down hooks inside the tub.

INTERIOR
The 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.

Rear legroom is not however what we’d call generous and it would be a crush with three adults back there.
Inside you’ll find leather and two-zone climate air, with rear air vents, tilt and reach adjust steering wheel, push-button start and walk away auto locking.

There’s an 8-way power adjust driver’s 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 the lower instrument panel.

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

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Isuzu X-Terrain gets a tried and true 3.0-litre diesel, with a six-speed “Rev-Tronic” auto transmission that has manual sequential mode.

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 — 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.

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

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

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

Isuzu is also among the first to introduce Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Turn Assist, with a system that is 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).

DRIVING
With less noise and vibration, it has a smooth turbine-like feel 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 trust? I guess experience will provide the answer to that one.

The 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.

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.

It’s fitted with gas shocks and softer, rear leaf springs, but ride quality is still on the firm side, and unexpected potholes and speed humps can jostle 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 tow ball 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.

SUMMING UP
But X-Terrain is 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.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
There are 17 variants in the D-MAX range.
2WD Cab Chassis models start at $31,200 for a 1.9 SX Single Cab to $41,700 (3.0 SX Crew Cab).
4WD Cab Chassis from $41,200 (3.0 SX Single Cab) to $58,200 (3.0 LS-U Crew Cab).
2WD Utes from $42,900 (3.0 SX Crew Cab) to $51,400 (3.0 LS-U Crew Cab)
4WD Utes from $50,900 (3.0 SX Crew Cab) to $65,900 (3.0 X-Terrain Crew Cab).
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Isuzu dealer for the complete range as well as drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS:
Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 4×4 dual cab utility, 6sp Auto

ENGINE:
Capacity: 3.0 litres
Configuration: 3.0-litre turbo diesel, in-line 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve with diesel particulate diffuser
Maximum Power: 140kW @ 3600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 450Nm @ 1600-2600 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 207 g/km

DRIVELINE:
Six speed automatic, part-time four-wheel drive

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5280 mm
Wheelbase: 3125 mm
Width: 1880 mm
Height: 1810 mm
Turning Circle: 12.5 metres
Kerb Mass: 2130 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 76 litres

BRAKES:
Front: 320mm ventilated discs with 2-piston calipers
Rear: 295mm rear drums

STANDARD WARRANTY: 6 years / 150,000 kilometres
RATINGS:
Looks: 8/10
Performance: 8/10
Safety: 8.5/10
Thirst: 7.5/10
Practicality: 7/10
Comfort: 7.5/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 8/10
Overall: 7.8/10

About Chris Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 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.
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