The Japanese light truck specialist continues with much of the same, with some solid improvements.
Words Sam Purcell

The Isuzu has always been a ute that’s a bit lacking in the bells ’n’ whistles department, but it has sold well because of its solid underpinnings and reputation for good mechanical strength. Current and prospective owners will be glad to know that Isuzu is sticking to the same recipe for 2017, but with some slightly tastier ingredients.

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The five-speed gearboxes now sport an extra cog, with an Isuzu-made manual or an Aisin auto now available. They bolt up to the same 4JJI 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine, but it’s now cranking out an extra 50Nm (430 peak, now) pushing exhaust gases through a diesel particulate filter to ensure compliance with Australian Euro5 emission limits.

Driving the new D-Max is overall a familiar experience. The ride is fairly firm and ute-like, and the steering is meaty and honest. The engine’s extra torque is definitely noticeable. The ute accelerates in the same gutsy, linear manner but with a little more poke than before. The extra gear ratio (which nets you a lower first gear and a higher top gear) makes a good impact on performance as well. We didn’t tow, but I would make a good wager that the 2017 D-Max would be a solid performer with up to three tonnes on the back. Not the fastest, but solid.

The interior of the D-Max has been reworked as well, making a significant improvement over the outgoing model. There are infotainment screens with new functionality; but the rest of the interior is the same rugged, Spartan business as usual.

Is the D-Max a good option as a tow rig? Absolutely. The Ranger, Colorado, Amarok V6 and Navara all have more torque available, and they all pack significantly more tech; but the D-Max has a different kind of appeal. Many prefer the under-stressed nature of the 3.0-litre motor which develops healthy, linear torque at all the right places.

Specifications

Engine: Isuzu 4JJ1-TC Hi Power. 130kW @ 3600rpm, 430Nm @ 2000-2200rpm.
Gearbox: Six-speed Aisin automatic or Isuzu manual gearbox.
Driveline: Part-time 4X4 with shift-on-the-fly and two-speed transfer case.
4X4 weights and payloads: 1731-2026kg kerb weight. 2950kg GVM. 1219-924kg payload.
Dual-cab dimensions: 5295mm long, 1860mm wide, 1855mm high. 1570mm wheel track.
Off-road: 225-235mm ground clearance, 30° approach, 22.7° departure, 22.4° ramp over angles.
Towing: 3500kg braked towing capacity, 350kg towball mass, 5950kg GCM.

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