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Tow vehicle review: Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Ddi Double Cab LS A/T

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VIEWS

Isuzu introduced South Africa to the new D-MAX around mid-2022 at what was probably the biggest vehicle launch of the year – the event even included a visit from the president (of South Africa)!

During the launch I was able to experience a couple of derivatives of the D-Max, from the entry-level 1.9-litre manual single cab to the top of the range 3-litre automatic V-Cross.

We did quite a bit of driving in the new Isuzu’s over that weekend, but is was nothing compared to the 6000km+ I covered on my trip to Namibia. Plus, on the Nam trip I got to tow a Tonga Camping trailer.

Our steed for the cross-border adventure was the 1.9 Double Cab LS.

 

INTERIOR

While the D-Max has always been placed in the market as a workhorse – and boy, does it deliver – the latest release is moving into the hugely popular “leisure” vehicle market.

Isuzu has truly upped the ante in terms of everything from creature comforts to specification and safety.

The D-Max shares its cabin architecture with the MU-X, and compared with its predecessor, the new D-Max looks upmarket, with neat finishes all round and good quality materials. Overall the fascia design has a modern look and feel.

Leather upholstery is standard on LSE-spec D-Maxes, and the driver’s seat offers height adjustment (manual), plus lumbar support. Combined this with the rake- and reach-adjustable steering column, and it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position.

I especially want to mention that there were no rattles or squeaks inside, even on the thousands of kilometres I did on corrugated roads – it’s all very well built. As someone who can’t stand those irritating cabin noises, this ride was a delight.

 

 

The new infotainment system ranges from 7- to 9-inches in size (depending on the trim level) and offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, as well as wi-fi connectivity and USB ports.

The newly-designed seats are extremely comfortable and supportive – a blessing on this trip where we averaged a couple of hundred kilometres a day, often on some bad gravel roads.

There are more than enough storage spaces in the front for things like keys, wallets, phones, documents, sunglasses and all those paraphernalia that always needs a place close at hand.

 

EXTERIOR

The new D-Max is a handsome machine, to say the least. Isuzu didn’t decide to try and reinvent the wheel, as they say, but just made modern design upgrades to bring the look up to date.

With a bold grille and “dragon eye” LED headlight design, the end result is muscular exterior design for a bakkie that lives up to it’s tagline of being their “boldest” yet.

The slimmer and more angular lights include Bi-LED projector headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED edge lighting indicators on the mirror housing (for range-topping models).

The new Isuzu D-Max has boosted it’s bonnet size by 15 mm and the load area by 30 mm, while the wheelbase has also increased by 30 mm. The new load box design offers easier loading thanks to the 1 530 mm wide tailgate.

If the design itself does not catch your eye, our vehicle came in a colour called “desert orange”. It’s a shimmering statement that fits perfectly with our destination: The Namib dunes.

 

ON THE ROAD

The LS features Isuzu’s new 1.9-litre Ddi turbodiesel engine that produces 110kW @ 3 600 power, and 350Nm @ 1800 – 2600 of torque. It is coupled to either a six-speed stick shift or six-speed automatic, as was the case with our vehicle.

As far as towing capability is concerned, the 1.9-litre diesel engine has a maximum braked trailer capacity of 3 100 kg and a payload of 1 000 kg (the 3.0-litre D-Max offers a tow capacity of 3 500 kg and a 1 200 kg payload).

The D-Max made light work of the Tonga caravan we had hitched up. The 1.9-litre engine easily handled pulling a 750 GVM caravan, but I would suggest opting for the 3.0-litre if you are looking at larger caravans.

For the over-6000 km we did on the trip, I got an average fuel efficiency of 10.3 litres per 100km – which is really decent (and very welcome, since diesel was over R25 a litre during our trip).

The D-Max’s ride quality has notably improved over its predecessor, thanks in part to a new 3-blade rear leaf spring suspension (previously 5). This will surely help Isuzu in their mission to break more into the leisure market.

The bakkie is loaded with safety features, including EBD, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control with traction control, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control and Trailer Sway Control.

The safety and stability of the D-Max I can truly attest to – referring specifically to a part of out travels around Helmeringhausen when we got a flat tyre.

I barely felt it, and was mainly aware of the damage thanks to the fwap-fwap-fwap I heard.

The Isuzu stayed as steady as can be despite cruising at about 70km per hour on only three tyres, a caravan in tow, on a gravel road (and a pretty bad on at that).

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

The new Isuzu D-Max has all it needs to make a move into the hugely competitive leisure market. Thanks to the new tech and contemporary styling, it will definitely appeal to a wider audience.

And while Isuzu has made the right updates for the leisure market, they haven’t forgotten about those who still want a good, old fashion bakkie… this D-Max is just as at home in the city on tar roads as it is on the less-travelled backroads and the farm.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience to be able to travel Namibia in the Isuzu D-Max. I’d do it again any day!

 

The new D-Max range has 23 different models to choose from. Pricing ranges from R401 700 for the entry-level 1.9 Ddi Single Cab HR, up to R814 700 for the top-of-the-range 3.0 Ddi Double Cab V-Cross 4×4 A/T.

It comes with a five-year/90 000km service plan and a five-year/120 000km warranty and roadside assistance.

Customers have the option of extending the standard service plan up to a maximum of six years or 200 000km. Alternatively, the service plan can be upgraded to a full maintenance plan that covers the vehicle for planned and unplanned maintenance up to six-years/200 000km.

 


Francois Huysamen

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