THE Isuzu D-MAX has been reborn and recharged, and in this instance we were thrown the keys to the LS-U, the model below the X-Terrain top dog. It doesn’t disappoint, and quite frankly, we are rather impressed.
At first glance you will notice the new face Isuzu has given the DMAX, debuting a new grille which that has been affectionately nicknamed as the double deck of vampire teeth.
Full disclosure, the D-MAX we were given had a polished alloy bull bar over the front end so we didn’t get to embrace the full effect, but you can still notice the new age look. Granted the genuine bull bar did bring a level of aggression to the vehicle.
Around the back, the new scalloped edge taillights give it an iconic look, and see the rear end gaining a sexier side than it’s predecessor. 18-inch alloys come standard in silver, with the design of the new rims feeling rather futuristic.
They look like something straight off a concept vehicle, but either way, you will either love them or hate them.
The suspension set up has been improved over the previous version, with higher mounted control arms and independent suspension to minimise body roll when taking corners, whilst adding rear leaf springs for those heavy loads.
The D-MAX is fairly comfortable on road, steering is light but efficient, pretty much point and shoot. You no longer float over speed bumps, but you also don’t hit the roof in doing so. We would say we are fairly satisfied with the overall upgrade. A little stiff, but good.
Stock ground clearance comes in at a claimed 240mm and water wading capability of 800mm, but we do think you could still get into a bit of mischief straight out of the showroom. The new model is also fitted with a rear diff lock.
That fact has certainly got buyers excited, and will give you that extra piece of mind for those muddy, sticky situations.
Jumping inside, the rear seats have plenty of room for the children, with anchor points for child seats, rear air vents and a USB charging point, which is perfect for when the iPad dies. Isuzu definitely had families in mind when remodelling their marquee ute.
Up front, there’s been a complete redesign, and you can certainly tell. The LS-U is fitted with fabric seats (only the X-Terrain comes with leather), but they are still very comfortable. A 9.0-inch infotainment screen greets you in the centre of the dash too.
It features full touch capabilities and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Finished off with a full gloss black surround, it is all very minimalist, but stunning and modern at the same time.
We did however experience some glitches with this system. In our test vehicle, the screen would occasionally shut off, taking some time to come back on (almost like sleep mode on a laptop or PC).
There is ample storage with the small bin within the centre of the dash, and a double glove box with the bottom one able to be locked. A fairly generous centre console and two deep cup holders complete usable space. There are bottle holders in the door pockets too.
The only real downfall in the D-MAX technology department is the fact it requires the key to start it (you’ll need to hit the button on the key to unlock it as well). The push button start seems to have missed the boat.
Safety is definitely very high on Isuzu’s radar though, with the implementation of the new IDAS safety system, which includes autonomous braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring and lane departure monitoring.
Under the hood, Isuzu’s trusted 4 cylinder, 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine remains, pumping out 140kW and 450Nm respectively, and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission (you can of course opt for a manual).
It’ll churn through around 8.0-litres/100km in fuel, and there’s a decent 76-litre tank. The D-MAX is renowned for its tractor like engine noise, and to a degree this has been rectified. There’s a good grunty sound if you give it a boot full too.
Power delivery feels a little like more bark than bite though as it feels a little underdone under heavy acceleration. Granted, it with get you from A-to-B with style and ease, but you may want to make sure you have room to pull out from a side street.
It has a 3500kg braked towing capacity but all the usual GVM rules apply about adding fuel, and load, and accessories like bull bars. The 2021 Isuzu D-MAX LS-U (in the spec we had) is priced at $62,000 drive away.
It’s available in Cobalt Blue, Magnetic Red, Basalt Black, Marble White, Mercury Silver, Obsidian Grey and Mineral White.
Our 2021 Isuzu D-MAX LS-U was provided by Isuzu Ute Australia. To find out more, contact your local Isuzu Ute dealer.