ISUZU has taken the D-MAX to a new level in 2021, and nowhere is it more evident than in the range-topping X-TERRAIN. Not only have they given the D-MAX a complete redesign from the ground up, but it’s more than ready to battle the HiLux and Ranger.
The new look, and with it, the new lease on life, has certainly meant a quick jump in the popularity stakes. Having remained relatively unchanged since 2012, the new model brings a fresh exterior, new chassis, improved suspension, transmission, tech and interior.
The only item the remains from the previous generation is it’s heart, but it has had a remap to coax some more ponies out, making it more drivable. The range-topping variant is known as the X-TERRAIN, and it’s packed full of kit.
It actually makes the HiLux and Ranger feel antiquated and behind the times. That’s a big call we know, but let us walk you through it. First of all, the D-MAX is taller and wider than the outgoing generation.
To further emphasis it’s size, while it is shorter overall by 15mm, it’s sitting on a longer wheelbase, up by 30mm. The exterior, and interior for that matter, have been designed to handle the harshest of Australian conditions (little tornadoes known as kids included).
And it’s fitted with everything you require to own your next adventure in style, comfort and safety. Inspired by Japanese culture and integrated the elegant curve of the Katana (a traditional Japanese sword) into the flowing door line on the D-MAX.
But they haven’t stopped there. The X-TERRAIN also grabs sports roof rails, fender flares, LED fog lights, front underbody spoiler, side steps, 18-inch dark grey alloys, an aero sports bar, and a roller tonneau cover. It definitely looks aggressive and assertive.
Inside, the interior is modern, practical and very comfortable. You don’t actually feel as you are sitting in a ute, rather it feels more like a bit of a luxury SUV. There’s plenty of space and storage, including a double glovebox, and multiple cup holders.
Our favourites were the ones that pop out from under the vents in the front. Dual-zone climate control, and a power adjustable driver’s seat with electric lumbar support also feature, along with carpet flooring.
A 9.0-inch multimedia screen (biggest in the segment), with wireless Apple CarPlay (another segment first) and USB connected Android Auto are also crammed into the interior.
Satellite navigation and an eight speaker stereo with surround sound speakers in the roof lining are also strapped in for good measure. Your hands wrap a soft leather steering wheel, while your backside is treated to luxury leather accented seats.
The D-MAX X-TERRAIN also scores keyless entry, push-button start, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, A-pillar assist handles, adaptive cruise, terrain command and rear differential lock.
With a 4.2-inch driver info screen, including a digital speedometer, you will always have the info you need, right in front of you. Buried within are the settings for lane keeping and other safety systems.
There are eight airbags, including a centre airbag between the front seats (first of its kind in this segment), autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assistance, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
We did notice that some of the safety systems can become over-cautious and just over the top. You may want to turn some of these off, but do expect to turn it off every time you start the car, as it doesn’t retain your preferences.
Under the bonnet remains the highly refined 4JJ3-TCX 3.0-litre turbo diesel, generating 140kW and 450Nm. It might not be as powerful as the HiLux or Ranger, but the Isuzu has the highest levels of torque from a low rpm and provides strong take-off and acceleration.
Bolted to a ‘Rev-Tronic’ 6-speed automatic gearbox with sequential sports mode, the transmission will select the most appropriate shift and lock-up points according to the driver’s behaviour, vehicle load and road speed.
The gearbox and engine are perfectly matched, and while the X-TERRAIN is no rocket, it will pull well off the line and revs smoothly. There’s always plenty of grunt on tap, especially if you are utilising the 3.5-tonne towing capacity or 1-tonne payload in the tray.
The D-MAX can pretty much handle anything you can throw at it, and feels solid behind the wheel. The suspension is greatly improved, with independent front suspension and leaf springs at the rear. It’s impressive how the suspension copes on the black top.
It’s strong off road too, and backed by a 6-year/150,000km warranty, and a 7-year capped price servicing plan. Isuzu is rolling into 2021 with a bang and the new D-MAX is hopefully the beginning of a new era for the popular ute.
It’s worth noting that the new Mazda BT-50 shares its architecture with the D-MAX, a sign of just how capable the Isuzu product really is.
The 2021 Isuzu D-MAX X-TERRAIN is currently being offered for a drive away price of $58,990. It’s amazing value for money. The new model is available exclusively in Volcanic Amber Metallic, and shares Magnetic Red Mica and Marble White Pearl with the LS-U.
It can also be had in Cobalt Blue Mica, Mercury Silver Metallic, Obsidian Grey Mica, Basalt Black Mica and Mineral White.
Our 2021 Isuzu D-MAX X-TERRAIN 4×4 Crew Cab was supplied by Isuzu Ute Australia. To find out more, contact your local Isuzu dealer.