Head to Head: Isuzu D-MAX vs Mitsubishi Strada

When it comes to pickup trucks, it’s hard to discount these two Japanese brands. Aside from the brand that starts with a ‘T,’ these models will probably be your next-best options when it comes to reliability and reputation. 

For heavy machinery, Isuzu is top of mind, but they’re looking to take a lot of ground with the D-MAX in the midsize pickup segment. Let’s just say that they’re looking to ‘pickup’ some sales by offering advanced features and premium interior trimmings while still retaining the Isuzu robustness that many fans of the brand have come to love. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi’s been chilling in the front seat with their Strada, one of the market leaders, and a rather underrated choice in the Philippines, currently. So which of the two models will come out on top in this head-to-head? Let’s get into it. 

Note that we will be comparing these trucks in their top-of-the-line configurations, namely the Isuzu D-MAX 3.0 4x4 LS-E, and the Mitsubishi Strada Athlete 4x4. At the time of writing, these are the models on offer, but the specifications for either will be largely the same for the top-of-the-line trims of each nameplate. 

Isuzu D-MAX vs Mitsubishi Strada Front Quarter

When it comes to exterior design, there are a few notes that we’d like to mention first. Number one is that taste can be subjective, so an aggressive or hyper-futuristic look could appeal more to certain tastes compared to our own. We feel that both pickups have subjectively fantastic designs, in which both adhere to their brands' standard design language. So let’s look at more objective things like the lights, the other additional features, and the cargo space. Buckle up because, in terms of being trucks, these guys are quite hefty when it comes to specs. 

First up is the D-MAX. Isuzu is known for its robust chassis, but it appears that enough money has been thrown at the research and development team for the chassis. For this generation of the D-MAX, Isuzu thought that it would be a great idea to toss some dollars at the designers, and the results speak for themselves. We were thrilled with the redesign that the D-MAX got when it was first launched and we’re still pinning it as one of the better-looking trucks in the market today. The all-LED affair is great with headlamps, foglamps, and daytime running lamps all dolled up with white in the LS-E variant. LEDs too on the rear, though with some halogen bulbs, but still, the position lights are a looker albeit still like that of a pickup truck, a bit plain with its vertical orientation. The model also gets 240mm of ground clearance, and aside from that its bed has up to 1,065 L of space and can have a maximum payload weight of 1,070 kg. 

Isuzu D-MAX vs Mitsubishi Strada Bed

Meanwhile, the Strada is still on Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield design language, which to the brand’s credit is still rather modern and not so dated in a way. If this design came out in 2023, it would still be in line with the rest of the brand’s models but also mesh well with the pickup trucks of today. Mitsubishi was rather forward-thinking when they first came out with this model and it holds up so kudos to them for thinking ahead, probably. However, not everyone likes the Dynamic Shield design. Some say that it is a little weird while others are die-hard fans of it. The Strada is not a bad-looking truck by any means, but it’s not amazingly beautiful. For lighting, we get LEDs in the front as well, but foglamps are halogen for that all-important fog-cutting yellow glow hue. DRLs are finished off with diodes (LED), while the taillamps are a combination of halogen and LEDs for the position lights. Just like the Montero that started this Dynamic Shield Design business for the brand, the Strada can also be seen with the “crying” taillights, albeit in a pickup truck format. Love it or hate it on the Montero, it’s a good look on the Strada. Considering that we’re comparing the top-spec model right now, which is the Athlete, the Strada gets a bunch of decals and special trimmings to go along with it. The model at least looks more “athletic” than a standard Strada, so points for extra goodies. You only get 220 mm of ground clearance on the Strada, but that should be more than enough for paved road duty, unless you go offroad, and that metric matters a little bit more. The Strada suffers a bit when it comes to bed volume, however, with only 945 L of space, marking it as one of the smallest haulers in its class. Maximum payload is also equally as small coming in at just 945 kg. 

Isuzu D-MAX vs Mitsubishi Strada Rear Quarter

To be quite honest, Mitsubishi’s Strada is fine and will be fine for most people, but the platform can’t hold a lot of weight and a lot of volume while Isuzu’s D-MAX can. If a pickup truck ain’t that great of a pickup, do we recommend that you pick it up? Basing it on the looks alone, we’d say that it is a tie. The added decals are a bonus to some people, but if you’re looking for a pickup truck to do pickup truck things, then Isuzu’s your brand with the D-MAX. 

Winner: D-MAX 

Isuzu D-MAX vs Mitsubishi Strada Interior Dashboard

When talking about the interiors of pickup trucks, we’d forgive a more spartan cabin as is the case with pickup trucks back then. Now, however, it seems that brands are catering more and more to lifestyle consumers, fielding trucks that have luxurious trimmings that seem a little out of place on a workhorse. However, since the market has evolved to love pickup trucks here in the Philippines, we see no problem with the premium cabins that most top-of-the-line trucks are getting nowadays. Although, it seems that only one of the two trucks is leaning into the premium end of things well, while the other is trying to play a bit of catch-up, with middling results. 

The D-MAX has one of our favorite interiors in the segment. When it first came out, the two-tone brown and black interior wowed us with its well-executed panels and its well-placed layout back when it was first launched. However, the 2023 rendition now comes in all black, matching the utilitarian appeal of the D-MAX. The shape of the dashboard is pretty spot-on when it comes to what we like as the infotainment system is framed well, the steering wheel has a very inviting shape, and the ergonomic package is great with the leather seats being nicely bolstered. Meanwhile, there are soft-touch points everywhere throughout the cabin, allowing the D-MAX to appeal to picky pickup buyers. We’re unsure why Isuzu, the brand known for robust and reliable vehicles, decided to class up the D-MAX to this extent. It’s so unlike Isuzu for them to do so and we love it, even if it's in all black. 

Isuzu D-MAX vs Mitsubishi Strada Front Seats

Meanwhile, the Strada seems more Isuzu than the Isuzu, if that makes sense, at least for baser trims. Keeping in line with the trend of lifestyle pickup trucks, the Strada in its Athlete trim gets a bit of an upgrade over the other models. While leather seats in brown almost always make us swoon, the execution in the Strada isn’t so great. For starters, it’s a very bright brown that Mitsubishi has opted for, and in some cases, it actually looks orange in the right light. Of course, this “issue” is fixed if you opt for the all-black interior. The Strada Athlete’s interior isn’t also too cohesive with the color. You still get a predominantly plastic dashboard with only the center tunnel sidings clad in the same leather that the seats’ side bolsters get. We also feel a little unwelcome while looking at and gripping the steering wheel of the Strada, but one high point of the driving ergonomics is that the paddles are column-mounted and an absolute pleasure to use. 

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that the Strada isn’t too great, unfortunately. Once upon a time, the model would have slayed the Isuzu, but the D-MAX has evolved and that’s great to see. Truthfully, Mitsubishi’s attempt at making a brown and black interior is only so-so, while Isuzu did well. We won’t say that the Strada’s interior is bad, but it’s definitely not going to outshine what Isuzu has done. Bravo D-MAX, bravo Isuzu, this category is yours. 

Winner: D-MAX 

Isuzu D-MAX vs Mitsubishi Strada Infotainment

To preface this segment, let’s take note that one model’s well-equipped, but the other is better equipped. Let’s dive in. 

The D-MAX has all the latest and greatest features that some of the other class-leading pickups have. Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) are everywhere now, and they include items like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, low-speed follow, autonomous emergency braking and so much more. On top of that, you get a 10.1-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto paired with an eight-speaker audio system in the LS-E trim, and you also get a sizeable Multi-information display in the gauge cluster. These two screens alone are pretty, informative, and did we mention pretty? High resolution and a respectable refresh rate coupled with responsive input make these info systems a blast to use. In terms of tech, the D-MAX is one of the better trucks out there, and the spec sheet alone is quite long. 

Isuzu D-MAX vs Mitsubishi Strada Steering Wheels

Meanwhile, it’s a shorter spiel when it comes to the Mitsubishi Strada. There is no ADAS onboard here so most of the features we get are the standard ABS with EBD for the brakes, hill-start, traction control, hill-descent control, and a full suite of airbags, all of which can also be found on the D-MAX. There is blind-spot detection, however, and Mitsubishi’s sonic anti-misacceleration system, but that’s parred for the course, but not quite there when talking about high-end pickups. Frankly, the Strada is lagging behind on the safety front and also on the other pieces of technology in the cabin. The gauge cluster is still the same as before and the infotainment screen hasn’t gotten Android Auto and Apple CarPlay since we last reviewed it. In fact, it’s the same head unit that was first fielded with the initial batch of units. 

Facts are facts here, and the Strada is behind in terms of technology. Perhaps it’s not as futuristic as its exterior design suggests. Isuzu thought well about the technology package in their newest pickup truck, so the Strada has to—again—play second fiddle to its rival in this head-to-head. 

Winner: D-MAX 

Isuzu D-MAX vs Mitsubishi Strada Engine

Isuzu has come a long way since it first fielded the D-MAX, and Mitsubishi has remained constant throughout the years. Two engine options make up the D-MAX’s lineup, while only one motor is available for all Stradas. 

It’s worth mentioning that a more affordable and less powerful motor is available for the D-MAX, the 1.9-liter RZ4E. With the smaller motor, you get 148 hp and 350 Nm of torque, which is “healthy,” but not quite top-tier. Meanwhile, the 3.0-liter in the lineup gets our nod and our pick because it makes 187 hp and 450 Nm of torque, in line with the leaders in the midsize pickup truck category. Both motors can be mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, with our top-spec LS-E trim level getting the six-speed auto. 

Mitsubishi’s powertrain, on the other hand, sits right in the middle of the Isuzu’s two engine options. Not very powerful, but sizeable enough to put lesser motors to shame, the Strada has a 2.4-liter that’s capable of 179 hp and 430 Nm of torque. These specifications aren’t bad at all, but they’re less than the D-MAX. It’s also worth noting that the Strada is a little bit more frugal than some of its more powerful rivals, D-MAX included. The Strada also gets six gears whether in an automatic variant or a manual variant. It’s a shame we didn’t see the eight-speed automatic found in the Montero Sport, however. 

Alas, power is power, gears are gears, and numbers are numbers. More power on the D-MAX with the same amount of gears, and with a 4x4 system as well with all the important bits needed for an off-road adventure. While the gap in power is close, more is still more, so we gotta hand it to the D-MAX once again. 

Winner: D-MAX 

Isuzu D-MAX vs Mitsubishi Strada Side

Can the Strada pull ahead in any category? Perhaps this is its time to shine. 

The D-MAX in its LS-E trim with the 4x4 system comes in at an eye-watering P1,905,000 at the time of this article’s writing. You’re going to need a sizeable chunk of change to purchase this truck outright. Of course, the price goes down if you forego features, but you also have to bid farewell to the plush interior. 

Strictly speaking, the Strada is cheaper in its top-spec trim. The best Strada you can get will only cost you P1,827,000 which is undoubtedly more affordable than the D-MAX. 

It was only in the dying embers of this match that the Strada came out of nowhere and socked the D-MAX in the jaw. Too bad it’s a little too late, and that the D-MAX can take a beating. Jokes aside, the only round that we will hand to the Strada is the price, though one can argue that you’re getting quite a lot more value with the D-MAX, the Strada in its top-spec form is more affordable. 

Winner: Strada 

Sorry Strada fans, but the winner is obvious. The Mitsubishi Strada isn’t as competitive as it once was back when it first made headlines, but not to worry because there is a new model on the horizon. We’d like to revisit this comparison when Mitsubishi Philippines is finally able to bring the new model into the country. 

For now, however, it’s clear that Isuzu’s time is now, and the D-MAX is the ultimate pickup truck that you can get from the Japanese brand. The current-generation truck represents the best form that Isuzu’s ever been in, offering features left and right, in a package that is well-executed and unexpectedly un-Isuzu in terms of premium features and amenities. This model also marks the first time that Isuzu has gone outside its comfort zone to deliver a very lifestyle-focused product for buyers that are willing to pay extra for a little more (or a lot more in the D-MAX’s case) for a great interior with advanced tech and safety features. You can’t deny that the D-MAX has done well this time around, and you cannot deny that even underneath all of its fluffy and flamboyant fairings, it’s still a friggin’ fighter when it comes to robustness and reliability. Without a doubt, both trucks are reliable, but without a doubt, Isuzu has come a long way and is our winner in this head-to-head comparo. 

Overall Winner: Isuzu D-MAX 

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