Isuzu has finally taken the wraps off the all-new third-generation D-Max that will replace the second generation model which was launched more than 8 years ago. The all-new D-MAX pick-up truck has been completely overhauled in terms of exterior and interior design, as well as revamped mechanicals underneath the skin.
Developed under the Efficient and Robust concept, the new D-Max is said to deliver reduced fuel consumption and improved safety, whilst still being versatile enough to suit different needs and conditions. The new D-MAX double cab version measures 5,265 mm long, 1,870 mm wide and 1,790 mm tall, making it 30 mm shorter, 10 mm wider and 5 mm lower than the current generation model. Its 3,125 mm wheelbase is 30 mm longer than the outgoing model.
The new D-Max is much more aggressive than its predecessor, the design is dominated by a massive grille upfront. It continues to feature two fang-like chrome bars along the top edge, flanked by slimmer headlights that are available with bi-LED technology, equipped with U-shaped LED daytime running lights; while the indicators and fog lights are stacked below them. This treatment is only for the range-topping models; other variants get a smaller grille and a more conventional bumper.
The more wedge-shaped side profile is said to be more aerodynamic. Further improving efficiency is a large underbody shield that reduces turbulence underneath the truck. Aesthetically, the new D-Max gets smoother wheel arch bulges and a strong shoulder line that visually links the cab to the bed.
Towards the rear, there are twin-barrel tail lights with clear lenses and LED edge lighting for a more distinctive design, while the rear bumper of higher-end models is now integrated into the bed for a sleeker, more streamlined look. The top 18-inch alloy wheel option is new too, and is more aerodynamically efficient compared to past designs.
The interior gets a massive redesign, moving away from smooth circular elements and adapting sharper and more angular design. Perceived quality has been improved with the use of embossed and textured materials, including what appears to be a stitched soft-touch upper dashboard. There is a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. There are 8 speakers while the center console becomes taller and wider to envelop the driver and front passenger. A simpler and sturdier cabin remains available for commercial versions.
The electrical architecture has been upgraded to prepare for future connected, autonomous, shared, and electrified (CASE) technologies, although the D-Max still isn’t even available with autonomous emergency braking. It is, however, offered with more seat belt reminders and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert for the first time. Like before, there are up to 6 airbags and stability control on offer.
New features include walk-away automatic locking, remote engine start, welcome and follow-me-home lighting, voice control and dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, auto lights and wipers with integrated washers for uninterrupted visibility. As for comfort and ergonomics, there is tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, as well as front seats with standard whiplash protection, low-rebound MDI polyurethane cushions to reduce fatigue on long journeys, and optional 8-way power seat adjustment for the driver. The double cab’s rear seats have also been redesigned to improve ride comfort, while the B-pillars have been moved forward to ease entry and egress for those at the back.
The new D-Max rides on a new Isuzu Dynamic Drive Platform, and while it still utilizes body-on-frame construction, the ladder frame itself has seen a great number of improvements. This has helped Isuzu to lengthen the bed on all cab variants. The suspension has also been comprehensively revamped. The front double wishbones get higher upper link mounts to improve stability, while the rear leaf springs have been manufactured using a process called warm stress shot peening to make it more durable, yet with better flexibility for a more comfortable ride. A wider rear track and a reduced mounting angle for the dampers also aid stability.
The steering unit has been retuned to require less effort to turn the wheel, and the ratio has also been adjusted to presumably make the D-Max feel a trite more agile. The steering angle has also been increased to improve handling, and the turning radius has been reduced as a result. The brake discs are also larger, now measuring 320 mm and clamped by two-piston calipers at the front.
Power comes from the same 1.9 liter and 3.0 liter four-cylinder turbo diesel engines. The smaller, newer RZ4E-TC engine remains unchanged and makes 150 hp and 350 Nm of torque, however it gets optimized gear ratios and control systems for improved acceleration.
The 3.0 liter unit is the new 4JJ3-TCX which includes a reshaped combustion chamber, higher-pressure injectors, a diamond-like carbon coating on the piston pins, an electronic variable geometry turbocharger and a double-scissor timing gear, amongst others. This engine makes 190 hp and 450 Nm of torque which is 13 hp and 70 Nm more than that of the old 4JJ1-TCX.
To improve weight distribution, the engine has also been moved slightly behind the front axle, resulting in what Isuzu calls a “semi-midship” layout. The automatic and manual transmissions now feature 6-speeds across both engines, with the manual getting a pull-ring gearlever to engage reverse.
Related: 50 Years of Toyota Hilux
Four-wheel drive models get a number of additional improvements, including a one-piece aluminum prop-shaft to deliver a significant weight saving, as well as an electromagnetic rear differential lock. This makes it quicker to switch between two- and four-wheel drive and between high and low ratios. Water wading depth has also been increased, now sitting at a massive 800 mm.
The new Isuzu D-Max will go on sale in Thailand on the 19th of October, offered in a wide range of commercial and consumer variants split across single cab, extended cab and double cab body styles.
Images & info: Paultan
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com