Isuzu D-Max – Just one if not the best turbo diesel dual cabs on the Australian market.
So you want to be a tradesperson (Tradie) – besides the gear, you’re going to need a ute and the Isuzu D-Max is the one.
Hello, Bob Aldons, The Car Guy with my review on the Isuzu D-Max.
Whether you’re new to your trade or have been a tradie for a while, you’ll need your tools, your clothing (think about those fluro oranges and yellow colours) but as importantly you’ll need a vehicle to ply your trade. I’ve seen all types of vehicles used – passenger cars as in wagons, trucks, but arguably the most versatile vehicle on the market is the dual cab utility.
Why a dual cab? Simply it’s how the humble ute was designed in the first place. Take the pigs to market during the week and the wife to church on a Sunday. Things have changed from the time that Lew Brandt first designed the Ford Ute in 1934 From a 3 seater single cab to a more versatile dual cab, seating 5 people available in manual or automatic transmission, Brandt would be amazed at how far his design has come.
And arguably the most successful dual cab ute on the market since 2008 has been the Isuzu D-Max.
I was one of the first Isuzu Ute dealers in Australia 10 years ago. The then managing director of Isuzu Ute Australia, Hitoshi Kono approached me to take the franchise on in North Brisbane. I wasn’t a car broker back then – my dealership, Northstar Isuzu Ute shared my showroom with my Chrisler, Jeep and Dodge brands before moving out to Rothwell in 2012 and now being owned by Inchcape Australia under the Keystar family from 2017.
I’ve just started reviewing Isuzu Ute vehicles and you can read my first review, on the Isuzu MU-X. Isuzu Ute isn’t the biggest seller of dual-cab utes, far from it. But no other company has increased their sales numbers every year since 2008 and arguably with the best customer satisfaction in this segment of the market.
What Is It? The Isuzu D-Max is a 5-seater Dual CAb utility with a 3.0-litre diesel engine and the choice of a 6-Speed Manual or 6-Speed Auto transmission. It’s also available as a single cab or Space cab in 2WD or 4WD. Manufactured by Isuzu in Thailand, it’s a relatively simple design with a lot of the latest technology, but not all. (See below for specifications)
Competition? There’s plenty going on in the light utility market. Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger are the two biggest sellers, but you can add Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara, Mazda BT-50, Great Wall Steed, Tata Xenon, Mercedes-Benz X-Class, Volkswagen Amarok, Mahindra Pik-Up, Ssangyong Musso, Holden Colorado, JMC Vigus, and LDV T60. That’s 15 different brands let alone the plethora of model lines contained within those 15 brands. And if you seriously want to consider EVERYTHING, then you can add in Renault, Ram, Ford as in F-150 and Land Rover too.
Price? And besides having that number of brands to consider, you need to realize that most if not all are ‘on-sale’ almost every month. For January 2019.
The lowest price Isuzu D-max is the 4×2 SX single cab manual for $26,990 drive away. The vehicle, the subject of this review is the Isuzu D-Max 4WD Dual Cab LS-T which retails at $50,990 also drive away. But this months offer provides 2 years free servicing and an extra years warranty and roadside assistance
Around the D-Max
Long, long ago, when I was trained as a salesperson, my boss explained the 6-position walk around. This way of presenting a vehicle covers the important aspects that customers would need information on. So, I’ve attempted to provide this information to my readers, but in simple terms.
Front of the vehicle.
If a salesperson is explaining an unfamiliar vehicle correctly, they’ll start at the front. The Isuzu D-Max produces 130kW of power and 430Nm of Torque. What does this mean? Simply that the power and torque are more than sufficient to take the vehicle off road and not get the prospective customer into any trouble. The Isuzu Ute salesperson will explain that the engine is based on the 3.0-litre engine used in Isuzu trucks and that it’s been the most reliable engine for 4WD’s for ages. They’ll go onto explain that the new transmission is a 6-speed real automatic, not a CVT and is exceptionally well mated to the 3.0 engine.
You’ll see that the headlights are the projector lens type with LED daytime running lights and front fog light. And a salesperson with a bit of nous will also tell you that Isuzu Ute has available a factory authorised and designed bull bar or nudge bar designed purposefully to fit the D-Max, along with other accessories such as driving lights, led light bar, bonnet and headlight protectors and snorkel.
D-Max comes standard with a series of bash plates – underbody protection for the sump and transfer case – just in case you’re getting a bit rough.
The Isuzu D-Max sports a ‘Terrain Command’ 4×4 system with 2WD, 4WD High and importantly 4WD low all available by ‘wheel’ selection. 4WD high can be selected on the fly, meaning you don’t have to stop to engage 4WD
Down the Side of Isuzu D-Max.
When presenting the side of the vehicle, I also list the safety and security features. Items such as
ABS Brakes – Anti Lock Braking system assists in keeping the vehicle under control when the vehicle brakes hard
Electronic Stability Control – Electronic stability control (ESC), also referred to as electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC), is a computerized technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction (skidding).
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution – Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD or EBFD) or electronic brakeforce limitation (EBL) is an automobile brake technology that automatically varies the amount of force applied to each of a vehicle’s wheels, based on road conditions, speed, loading, etc.
Traction Control – Traction Control systems optimise grip and stability of the car on the road during acceleration by measuring wheel rotation. It stops wheel spin by reducing engine power or temporarily applying the brakes to that wheel, allowing the car to accelerate smoothly, even on slippery surfaces.
Emergency Brake Assist – Emergency brake assist (EBA) or brake assist (BA or BAS) is a generic term for an automobile braking technology that increases braking pressure in an emergency.
Trailer Sway Control – VSC helps to control the vehicle on slippery road surfaces or in a sudden turn. It is in place to help the driver control skidding. Trailer-sway control is a subset of this system that focuses on trailer sway. … The idea behind TSC is that it helps to lessen the swaying of the trailer to keep the driver and trailer safe.
Hill Start Assist – Aids the driver to move forward on a hill. Keeps the brakes on until forward movement is detected
Hill Descent Control – Hill descent control (HDC, or hill mode descent control) is a driver-assistance system. It allows a controlled hill descent in rough terrain without any brake input from the driver.
6 SRS Airbags – Dual Front, Side and Curtain Air Bags protect the driver and passengers from serious injury in the event of an accident
Reverse Camera – Provides rear vision when reversing the vehicle. For those towing also aids the alignment of the tow bar/ball and gooseneck of the towed unit.
Side Anti-Intrusion Beams in the doors – Reduces the potential of injury for a side impact.
Engine Immobilizer – Stops your vehicle from being taken by unauthorized people. No Key, No Start and this will also assist with reduced comprehensive insurance premiums with some insurers
Rear Of The Vehicle
Isuzu D-Max has a rear step bumper to assist with entry to the tub area. The tub has 4 tiedown points to secure a load and LED rear tail lights to alert following drivers. The rear tub can be fitted with a tonneau cover (both soft and hard) as well as a canopy. It’s recommended that genuine Isuzu Ute accessories are fitted. A heavy duty tow bar is also available as an accessory.
Isuzu D-Max achieves a 3500Kg towing capacity with electric brakes fitted and a towball download capacity of 350Kg.
D-Max gets the luxury of wide opening rear doors to allow easy access to the passenger compartment. There’s plenty of head and shoulder room for 3 people. When fitted to the standard roof rails, the roof bars can carry up to 60Kg.
Rear Passenger Compartment
Carrying 5 to the job site? D-Max allows the whole crew to travel in comfort. Height adjustable headrests for the front seat belts allows the driver to keep control. Rear seatbelts are lap/sash. The rear seat is a split-fold system with a centre armrest when only 2 are in the back. Rear seat passengers get 2 good size cup holders
Drivers Seat and Front Passenger Compartment
The driver’s area of the vehicle is specifically designed to provide maximum comfort on and off road. The 8″ infotainment system on the LS-T provides important information, an inbuilt navigation system and was as Bluetooth streaming. The driver’s seat is supportive, providing a comfortable environment for long distance driving. The climate control air conditioning works a treat and the cabin is also fitted with a fine-particle pollen filter, very handy for off-road dusty conditions.
No more using your key to enter and start this truck. A ‘Passive Entry and Start System’ allows you to tuck your key away safely.
The driver’s seat is a 6-way adjustable unit with a tilt adjustable steering wheel – comfortable seating position is achievable for most any driver and the seat facings are leather accented in the LS-T
On the Road – Isuzu D-Max LS-T 4wd Dual Cab
Ok, so it’s not the smoothest dual cab on the road, but it’s not uncomfortable either. D-Max sports independent, high-ride coil springs, gas shock absorbers with upper and lower wishbones and a stabilizer bar. The rear suspension has alloy-steel long-span semi-elliptical springs with gas shocks. So unless you’re a ‘girly-boy’ (Thanks to Arnold Scharwzenegger) you’ll enjoy the ride. An off-road situation is where D-Max really shines. Sufficient travel in the suspension gives the driver extra confidence off-road.
And you’ll think that D-max can go just about anywhere with an approach angle of 30 degrees, a ramp-over angle of 22.3 degrees and a departure angle of 22.7 degrees.
What’s wrong with you ANCAP? I’m continually amazed at the lack of attention to the use of ANCAP ratings by manufacturers. The Isuzu D-Max was tested 6 years ago in 2012 and still carries a 4-star ANCAP safety rating even though this 2018 vehicle doesn’t have the latest safety tech I mentioned earlier.
Green Vehicle Guide
Take real care when you’re reviewing these published numbers. Laboratory testing is way off the mark when it comes to fuel economy. Neither of the results above uses real-time data nor do they include a ‘load’ of people or equipment. So how do you find out what sort of economy you’ll get in your particular circumstance? Ask someone that’s already using a D-Max or MU-X. You’ll find plenty of them online – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram people will happily provide their experience with not only fuel consumption, but the history with their own car.
Isuzu D-Max LS-T 4×4 Dual Cab Ute. I use RACQ Insurance to give you a guide as to what you’ll pay for your annual comprehensive car insurance. Conditions precedent for this cover are:
- A male driver over 60 years of age, having held a license for over 10 years
- Bronze member of RACQ with 2 other insurance policies
- Has financed the car for business use. The car is parked in a driveway overnight.
- The driver resides in postcode 4017
- The car is fitted with an engine immobilizer
- 1 at fault claim in the last 3 years, with no license suspensions
- Rating 1 currently, having held that rating 1 for 10 years or more
- No driver under 25 will use the vehicle.
The premium quoted online by RACQ Insurance for Business Use – $1262.66 with a $750 excess. Variations from the information above may result in different outcomes. Check online with RACQ Insurance for your own particular quote.
Service Costs and Warranty
Isuzu D-Max comes with a 5-year warranty and roadside assistance package normally, but this has been upgraded to 6 years this month.
Capped Price Servicing is available through the Isuzu Ute network of dealers. According to the Isuzu Ute website, for 5 years or 75,000km, you can expect to pay about $2090 or around $418 per service on average. Isuzu Ute now have 15,000km service intervals rather than the previous 10,000km
Given that this is a 3.0 turbo diesel engine with a 6-speed automatic, $418 per service is very reasonable
If I was using this vehicle during the week as my work vehicle, and/or towing a large caravan or boat on holidays or the weekend, Isuzu D-Max would certainly be on the short list if not top of the list. My decision would reflect the excellent reputation that both Isuzu models carry. Keeping your new vehicle out of the service driveway is important when it comes to maximizing time on the road. Isuzu Ute has recently changed to 15,000km service intervals which I think is industry standard, or should be.
Would I buy? Yes I would – there are few other vehicles available in this class with the reputation and reliability of the Isuzu D-Max.
Where to Buy – Dealers
My test vehicle was supplied by Isuzu Ute Australia. No financial incentives were paid to me by Isuzu for this review.
If you’re in the market to buy a D-Max or MU-X for that matter, pick your dealer carefully. When I want to check out the ‘worthiness’ of a dealer, I Google ‘Isuzu Ute Dealers Brisbane” where the city is the one that you live in or around and the brand is that particular one you’re interested in.
I only list dealers who have achieved a minimum of 15 reviews with Google and then only those with 4 stars or higher.
From a South East Queensland perspective here are the dealers I’d visit:
Northside Nundah Isuzu Ute 4.7 Stars from 70 Reviews
Southside Keema Isuzu Ute 4.0 Stars from 13 Reviews
Eastside Keema Isuzu Ute 4.7 Stars from 80 Reviews
Westside Westpoint Isuzu Ute 4.8 Stars from 16 Reviews
Gold Coast Gold Coast Isuzu Ute 4.1 Stars from 50 Reviews
Sunshine Coast Pacific Isuzu Ute 4.4 Stars from 21 Reviews
(Google Stars and review numbers effective 17th December 2018)
- Smooth power delivery and economical
- Lots of interior space
- Tub area is more than sufficient for all those loads.
- Disappointed at the lack of Adaptive Cruise Control and Auto Emergency Braking
- Lane Departure feature is necessary for mid-week use.
So, in conclusion – Isuzu D-Max is a ute that you should consider if you’re about to purchase for work or play. And if you are, give me a call on 0418 748 498 to discuss. My affiliated company, Car Business can assist you to save your hard earned money, and it’s a simple process. Call now 0418 748 498
I’ve spent the last forty-one years immersed in the automotive industry from salesman to the owner of a 7 brand multi-franchise dealership. I know cars.
If you’re hunting around for a great price on your next new car, you should call me, the auto expert, from Car Business.
My company, a Brisbane Car Broker, Car Buyers Agent or Car Buyers Advocate based on the north side of Brisbane, will return your inquiry within 24 hours and make the process of buying a new car easy and stress-free.
Are you tired of salesperson tricks? I protect you from the pressure exerted by car dealer’s salespeople. There isn’t any obligation – just a pretty significant saving.
You’re where? Seriously, my services are available for you in any Australian state and territory: from Darwin to Hobart, Cairns to Perth. Car Broker Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, and Darwin – I’m available when you need me to be.
Whether you’re a retail customer, a small company or a large national fleet, I’ll go to work and get that price down. Lower new car prices are my goal. So you’ll get the best prices from me rather than hoping you can do it by yourself.
If I can’t get you the best new car price, better than you can get yourself from a car dealer, I won’t charge you any fee. No Saving, No Fee. – that’s what you should expect from a car buying expert.
Car Business WILL save you money on your next new car purchase – guaranteed
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People Also Ask
Car Buyers always seem to need answers on a vast number of topics about their cars. There are a few questions that I seem to be asked regularly, so to save you a phone call, make sure you check out our People Also Ask questions below. If your answer is not listed, I’m more than happy for you to call. My number is 0418 748 498 or you can email it to [email protected] Free advice – no obligation – how can you go wrong?
Q: Why Should I deal with a Car Broker rather than just going to a dealer?
A: It’s the goal and actually the job of a car salesperson to make as much money for his dealership as he possibly can. And that applies to the car, finance (finance and insurance), and aftermarket sales (tint, paint, interior, rust).
It’s the role of a car broker or car buyer’s agent to buy the same car at the lowest possible price. Your broker will get prices from at least 5 dealers or more, get independent finance and insurance quotes and then only recommend the car protection you actually need rather than the products the dealer wants to sell you. Dealers, on average, make around $3800 on a car sale. An astute broker will get that margin down to around $1800, saving you about $2000 on your vehicle purchase
Q: Should I take Finance and Insurance through a car dealer?
A: Generally no. An average car dealer relies on the car buyer to be exhausted after the trauma and stress of actually buying a car. They depend on their finance manager to make an average profit of $1100 for EVERY car buyer coming into their dealership. The income per finance contract rests around $3000 per contract. In recent times, the ACCC (Australian Consumer and Competition Commission) has looked closely at the way that finance companies and their dealers sell to consumers. Recently, on a voluntary basis, finance companies have reduced the flex rate (the maximum rate allowed to be charged over the base rate for particular consumers) to 4%, down from 8%.
There is still need to be wary of some of the non-standard lenders. For those in our community who have fallen on hard times, have bad credit or are on Centrelink benefits, some lenders are still allowed to charge exorbitant interest rates, upwards of 25%.
Q: It’s a fact that dealers, forced by their manufacturers charge very high prices for genuine spare parts. Recently I needed to purchase a set of head bolts for a 2008 Alfa Romeo Sedan. Price quoted by my local dealer was $294. I picked them up from the UK for $115 including freight to Australia. I expect to receive them in the same time as the local dealer would take to get them from Melbourne.
A: It’s not the dealer’s fault on this occasion. Typically a dealer makes around 20% profit on genuine spare parts sales. It’s the manufacturer/Importer who is charged prices higher than dealers in overseas markets can buy at. Shop around. To determine whether you can buy the part you need, you’ll first need the part number. Get your VIN, ring the local dealer and ask for the part number. They may oblige and if they do, just search on the net through Google. You’ll be amazed. There’ll even be local suppliers who are able to provide a genuine part for you at around overseas prices. For Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Isuzu Ute and Volkswagen, visit my site www.genuinespares.com.au
Q: If you have a larger vehicle, with a lot of glass area, the chances are that you’ll want or need window tinting. At the point of sale, dealers will want to charge you up to $795 to tint the windows of your car. Again, you’ll want to avoid the stress and pressure of negotiating anymore and just sign where you’re asked.
A: Window tinting can be obtained for around $400 through Car Business. My company has arrangements with local tint shops to do just that price – $400. Don’t be overcharged. $400 is the price to pay for the average vehicle
Q: How do I pick the right car for my needs?
A: Typically, car buyers will have a general idea of what sort of car they want to buy. However, in a market like ours with nearly 60 brands and thousands of models, historical ownership doesn’t have to be maintained. Find an honest buyer’s agent and have a chat to them about your requirements. My company, Car Business, offers this service to our customers without any obligation. You can fill out the lifestyle form, by clicking and a representative of Car Business will contact you to discuss your needs. We use the R J Pound Comparative new Vehicle Price Guide to assist buyers to understand the alternatives. It may not be the one you’re thinking about right now.
Q: I need some accessories for my new car, but I’m not sure that I’m getting the best price from the dealer
A: Accessories are another area that dealers make a lot of their profit. Apart from the window tinting, paint and interior protection and rust proofing, a typical salesperson will run through a long list of accessories. Even the manufacturer has copious amounts of accessories in their new car brochure.
Don’t feel obligated to buy any accessories you want through the dealer. I suggest to a lot of my customers to phone the spare parts department of the same dealer and ask for a quote on the accessories they want. You might be surprised at a price. The other way is to search on the internet. There are lots of retailers who buy the same parts you want from overseas suppliers (even ones that supply the manufacturer directly) and will offer them at a substantially better price. All you have to do it fit them up, but generally it’s a pretty easy thing to do for the home handyman
Q: If I sell my car privately will I get a better price?
A: It is sometimes possible to achieve a higher price with a private sale however this reduces significantly if your vehicle is not presented correctly and is no longer under warranty. The private buyer today is looking to receive the same benefits they would by purchasing from a Dealer and expect huge reductions in price if they believe they are disadvantaged. Add to this the cost of preparing your vehicle to the same standards as Motor Dealers. Look at such items as Safety Certificates, Service, Tyres, Windscreen, Chips and Scratches, Detailing, and Advertising along with the need to be accessible and available at all times including weekends when prospective buyers will want to inspect your vehicle. It may not be the wise choice to have people you do not know, coming to your home.
Once the costs and time involved are assessed, most people choose to trade their present vehicle or to use a professional Car Buying Service to ensure they get a good price without the expense or hassle.
Q: Do you allow and/or recommend RACQ Inspections on second-hand cars?
A: Yes, we welcome the RACQ Inspection Process in our business and recognize the need for such an independent examination. Once completed we will discuss the report with you and facilitate any repairs that are deemed necessary. You can arrange for the RACQ to visit our business. We can arrange for them to inspect your choice of vehicle and have them send the report directly to you if you prefer.
Q: Why are dealers so expensive for service in comparison to other service centres?
A: Dealers service and maintain vehicles as set out by the manufacturer’s recommendations to protect your new car warranty. They will generally be willing to match other service providers as long as they are comparing “like for like”.
Your individual circumstances can be taken into account regarding changing some filters and coolants etc. They also have factory trained technicians and have the support of specialized equipment and of course the proper factory support. There are many other reasons such as resale value, and when it comes to trade-in price, car retailers always look at maintained service books and especially if a dealer has serviced them.
On the other hand, if you’re carefully managing your money, we can arrange a log book service at one of our preferred providers.
Do I need to return my vehicle to the selling dealer for service?
The simple answer is NO!
Whilst dealers may suggest or insist that your new car is brought back to their service department, the reality is:
- You can take your car to any of the brand’s service centres for routine or warranty service. Brand X warranty is covered by the manufacturer, not by the dealer. So if there’s a more convenient location to have your car serviced, take it there.
- Dealers may suggest that you have to have your car serviced at the franchised dealer to maintain your warranty. Again that’s a falsehood. You can have your car serviced by any qualified mechanic or technician, provided that they follow the service guidelines for your vehicle as specified by the manufacturer
- They should use as a minimum the oil grade specified by the manufacturer and also parts that are of the same quality standard. You shouldn’t use inferior parts. Whilst I would suggest using the manufacturer’s parts, there are similarly high-quality non-genuine parts available on the market. Things like brake pads, brake rotors, air and oil filters, spark plugs and the like are often cheaper and as good quality as those supplied but the manufacturer
How often should I check my Tyre Pressures?
Personally, I check my tyre pressures monthly. I have a tyre gauge purchased from Repco that I rely on to check the pressures in my tyres. Arguably, it’s probably better to check your tyre pressures every second time that you fill your fuel tank. High volume petrol centres have good quality air pumps and it only takes a few minutes to do that after you’ve got your fill.
What should I do if my car breaks down at night?
Firstly, I’m suggesting that you be in a roadside assistance program such as provided by the RACQ.
If you’ve purchased a new car, you’ll have coverage under your new car warranty. Kia Motors Australia provides 7 years of roadside assistance in coordination with their warranty. Hyundai and Ford have a 5-year program.
Mitsubishi only provides roadside assistance after the first year provided you’re having your services done at one of their dealerships.
If you run out of roadside assistance, best sign up with RACQ or your state motoring body. (NRMA, RACV, etc.) It’s far from sensible to break down on a dark or unit road and then have to do repairs yourself. This is particularly for younger drivers.
A phone call from inside a locked car is preferable to having to find a phone booth or a ‘friendly neighbour’ to call for help
If you’d like to discuss anything to do with purchase, trade-in, private sale, service, warranty issues or just have a conversation about the motor industry in Australia, please give me a call on 0418 748 498 or email to [email protected]