Driven: 2018 Isuzu D-Max

THINK great Aussie pastimes. You know the ones; a barbecue, the beach, going camping, boating or four wheel driving. Now throw in a great truck to get you there. Something like the 2018 Isuzu D-Max.

Officially launched onto the Australian market today (20 April 2018), the new Isuzu D-Max gets new colours, a more refined interior, safety and suspension upgrades, and a new range topping LS-T model, available in 4×4 and 4×2.

The LS-T will change people’s perception of the D-Max. It’s the kind of ute you might call a mix between tough and rugged, and friendly and versatile. We’re talking leather, 18-inch alloys, SatNav, climate controlled air-con, roof rails and reversing camera.

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Exhaust Notes Australia was at the launch of the new D-Max range, and spent two days taking on all sorts of challenges in the vastly improved ute, including hooking up to a boat and a caravan on a technical road course.

Not only that, we loaded it up with 600kg in the tray and drove it around, as well as putting it through its paces on a demanding 4WD course, and even got the chance to play in the Isuzu Team D-Max stunt vehicles, but that’s a whole other story.

Now like you, we know the new Isuzu ute is playing against some big kids in the sandpit, but what you may not know is it’s in the top five selling utility vehicles in Australia, with only the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara selling more.

That means the D-Max has outsold the Holden Colorado, Mazda BT-50, and even the super popular Volkswagen Amarok, mostly thanks to a major face lift in 2017. It’s for this reason the 2018 model has had almost no external changes.

But it’s in its capabilities, as well as inside where the differences have been made. It’s still powered by the same excellent DOHC 4-cylinder 3.0-litre turbo diesel pushing 130kW of power and 430Nm of torque, with that grunt coming on at a low 2,000rpm.

It still has its 3.5-tonne braked towing capacity and 350kg ball weight too, and there’s still the option of a 6-speed manual or the ‘rev-tronic automatic transmission as well. But two things have changed for the better.

GVM is up in both the 4×2 and 4×4, to 2,950kg and 3,050kg respectively, while the five leaf spring suspension system has made way for a brand new three-span leaf spring system that gives an incredibly smooth ride and enhanced driving experience.

Inside, the hard surfaces are gone too, replaced by softer more friendly surfaces, with improvements to the dash, glove box and armrests, while door handles are now finished in chrome, and air vents and window switches are now gloss black.

Enhancements have also made to cabin technology, including the addition of two 2.1-Amp USB charge points; one in the dash, and one in the rear console, along with the addition of SatNav in the high end models, as mentioned earlier.

Aesthetics aside, it’s easy to admire the bullet proof power plant and built tough heritage the Isuzu D-Max has become famous for. Building on that heritage, comes some great new safety features, including trailer sway control (TSC).

Connected to the electronic stability control (ESC) system, the TSC system monitors trailer movement and modulates throttle and brake inputs to individual wheels — bringing the towed trailer under control if unsolicited sway is detected.

So what’s it like on and off the road, and what’s it like when you push it hard. Firstly, the Euro5 compliant motor offers fantastic fuel consumption at 7.2/100km, while low drag and reduced cabin noise further enhance a great ride and power on demand.

Once you leave the black top and head out to rougher stuff, the ‘Terrain Command’ 4WD select system lets to jump from 2WD to 4WD at speeds up to 100km/h, while you can switch to low range from a stationary position for the seriously challenging terrain.

You can be confident the hill start assist and hill descent control will help keep you on the beaten track, rather than off it, while steel under body protection and substantial ground clearance will keep your ride safe.

We saw plenty of brutal treatment of the entire 2018 Isuzu D-Max range during the two days we spent at the launch, and not once did any of the model variants miss a beat, and that says plenty about the quality of these utes.

As we mentioned, there’s new colours, three in fact; Magnetic Red Mica, Cobalt Blue Mica and Graphite Grey Metallic, which go with the existing Cosmic Black Mica, Obsidian Grey Mica, Titanium Silver and Splash White.

There’s a multitude of choices when it comes to grabbing your slice of D-Max, whether it’s for trade, family, or something in-between. The 4×2 single cab chassis starts at $28,600, while the top of the line crew cab ute hits the road at $54,700, plus on-roads.

Pricing includes a five year warranty and five year roadside assist, with capped price servicing for the entire warranty period totalling out at just $2,090 over 60 months.

Our 2018 Isuzu D-Max was provided as part of a two day launch event by Isuzu Ute Australia. To find out more, contact your local Isuzu Ute dealer.


Driving experience
Exterior design
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness


Pros - great towing capability; bullet proof mechanicals; truck heritage.
Cons - technology is pretty average; plain interior; limited creature comforts.
Ben Bonatesta
Ben Bonatesta
Ben Bonatesta is a genuine lover of nice things and quality workmanship. He also has a thing for stuff that isn't practical, but has that wow factor. A frustrated creative writer, Ben has a varied work history that has allowed him to pilot everything from top of the line sports cars to dirty old work trucks, farm equipment, and even trains.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> great towing capability; bullet proof mechanicals; truck heritage.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> technology is pretty average; plain interior; limited creature comforts.Driven: 2018 Isuzu D-Max