2021 Isuzu D-MAX Review
Contents

There is a certain contradiction in the market, it’s called the 2021 Isuzu D-MAX. We’ve come to know Isuzu as a rugged and durable brand that lasts a long time. Whenever Isuzu comes to mind, we always think of not-so-fancy interiors, good engine performance, and reliability beyond the standard. 

However, how do we rate the D-MAX? Why is it a contradiction? You could say that the newest Isuzu pickup is a cut above its predecessor, so much so that it sort of turns away from the identity of the Isuzu brand thanks to remarkable improvements made, but how do we rate it? Spoiler alert, pretty-pretty high. 

4.1 / 5
2021 Isuzu D-MAX LS-E Review
Performance
Engine Output (HP), Acceleration, Transmission, Handling
4.0/5
Design
Exterior & Interior Design, Quality, Fit and Finish, Ergonomics
4.5/5
Ride Comfort
Cabin Comfort, Suspension, NVH Insulation
4.0/5
Safety and Technology
Convenience Technologies, Active and Passive Safety Features
4.5/5
Value for Money
Amount of the vehicle you get for the price, Fuel Efficiency
3.5/5
What You Will Like
  • Amazing interior
  • 10.1-inch infotainment screen
  • Awesome safety features
What You Won't Like
  • Bumpy ride
  • Weird wheel design
  • Not so affordable
How We Do Our Reviews

We’re extremely impressed with the work done to the exterior of the D-MAX. It’s a real improvement over the outgoing model. It’s not overly-aggressive nor is it overstyled. The D-MAX isn’t too different from the prior generation on the exterior. You still have sharp lines, but everything is more defined. You get LED headlights with fog lamps in this LS-E trim. 

Although, we’re not too fond of the wheels. They look like something off an electric vehicle. Yes, it’s futuristic, but it doesn’t suit the overall aesthetic of the truck. However, you do get 240 mm of ground clearance. You even get full under chassis protection in case you find yourself on the trails. 

Other than that, there are no real gripes really. Just a few nitpicks like how the gate itself opens rather noisily. Either way, it’s hard to pick at one of your favorite kids, and the D-MAX is definitely a great car to look at after you’ve swapped out the 18-inch wheels for something that you can take seriously. 

Rugged reliability isn’t the only part of Isuzu’s brand anymore. Apparently, luxury and interior comfort became part of the brand’s vocabulary. Ever since we feasted our eyes on the press photos of the D-MAX’s launch in other countries. We were a bit skeptical. Following that, Mazda threw their hat in the ring and used Isuzu’s platform for the all-new BT-50. Now that we got time with the unit, we’re thoroughly impressed by the design and the improvements made by Isuzu. 

However, some of the panels feel like they’re a bit flimsy. Not as solid as a Mazda, but you do feel there is some give to some of the parts with leather on them, especially if you try and tug on the trim pieces. That being said, however, it’s still a gorgeous interior. The brown leather really makes it feel like you’re not in a pickup truck. The leather itself is plush and supple, while the interior design is leagues ahead of the competition. Who knew that Isuzu could make something as amazing as this? 

Apart from that, interior space is pretty on-par with the rest of the industry. We’re happy to report that it doesn’t feel as cramped as the Toyota Hilux. It also gets toys in the rear in the form of rear air vents, a USB port, and a center armrest and even some overhead speakers. Onto the driver’s seat and you get motorized seats even. 

2021 Isuzu D-MAX LS-E Philippines rear

For a pickup truck that claims it has softer suspension, it has a so-so ride. On smoother roads, the suspension is acceptably damped, and the ride isn’t that bouncy. Once you get on EDSA or concrete, however, that becomes a little problematic. You may feel like you’re bouncing around a little too much in the cabin. Rear passengers will feel this the most, but front passengers will feel slightly more comfortable. It’s still a workhorse, and its ride quality really contradicts the interior’s design. 

However, NVH is just about average. Vibration is one thing because of the chassis, but the road noise that creeps into the cabin is not that apparent. Engine noise and wind noise do tend to be on the louder side as per our testing. 

With an over 10-inch touch screen in the middle of the dashboard, the D-MAX promises and delivers a great infotainment experience with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The speakers sound pretty good, but we only tested the sound system through the music on our phones, and not through the FM radio. It also doubles as your display for the reverse camera, and to aid the camera, you also get front and rear parking sensors. 

We’re also quite impressed by the instrument cluster of the D-MAX, otherwise known as the Multi-Information Display (MID). It’s a semi-digital readout with two cylinders flanking a large display down the middle. The font matches the overall aesthetic of the D-MAX, and is legible and clearly read at a glance. The buttons on the steering wheel an the infotainment all feel nice to the touch, and you even get a push start button with a keyless entry and even remote start. 

2021 Isuzu D-MAX LS-E Philippines steering wheel

Apart from its full suite of 7 airbags, which include dual front, curtain, side, and knee airbags, the D-MAX also gets a 5-star ASEAN NCAP rating with an overall score of 83.16. Apart from that it also gets ABS with EBD, electronic stability control, brake assist, brake override system. 

What we were more impressed with is the Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS), which is similar to the Toyota Safety Sense suite, or the system that Mazda has in place with their cars. The contents of this kit include forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, turn to assist, misapplication mitigation, adaptive cruise control, manual speed limiter, auto high beam, among others. . One gripe that we will point out will be with the autonomous emergency braking system. It’s a bit too sensitive, and we’re not the biggest fans of it scaring us while we approach traffic, but it’s there when we need it so we’re not going to complain too much. 

You get a good amount of power from the 3.0-liter turbodiesel motor. You do get 187 hp and 450 Nm of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. This does well for the 2021 model as its figures can now compete with the rest of the industry, but as to how it drives, that’s a slightly different story. 

2021 Isuzu D-MAX LS-E Philippines Exterior front quarter

The engine feels livelier and it seems more willing to rev itself up compared to the prior generation D-MAX. It had the same engine size, but Isuzu uprated the 3.0-liter to be much more exciting to drive. However, comparing its engine performance to the other models in the market, it’s similar to a Navara or a Hilux. It doesn’t deliver power as late as other pickups, instead prioritizing the usable low-down torque that most traditional turbo diesels feature. After you get over the initial kick, there’s a bit more in store toward the end of the rev range. 

2021 Isuzu D-MAX LS-E Philippines Rear taillamp

Turning with the D-MAX is also just as easy. You have a power steering motor that doesn’t require a lot of force in order to turn the wheel lock to lock. That alone allows the truck to drive around the city in tight spots without much effort. As we stated in our video review, it’s a close second to the Ford Ranger’s featherweight steering wheel weight. Handling is also improved, but then it’s still pickup-like at speed in the twisties. Body roll is expected, so don’t commit to corners as much. 

2021 Isuzu D-MAX LS-E Philippines LSE Badge

At the end of our drives with the D-MAX, we were able to crank out 8 km/L in the city. We hit quite a bit of traffic when we got this figure, but once things cleared up we were able to get up to 10.8 km/L at a steady pace of about 60 km/h, and 17 km/L going at 90 km/h on the highway. 

2021 Isuzu D-MAX LS-E Philippines D-MAX Badge

We’ll be honest, we’re impressed and bummed out at the same time by the D-MAX whenever we talk about the price—another contradiction once again. It looks so good and seems worth it, but at P1,825,000, it makes you think. The Toyota Hilux is priced around the same, and the Navara is also available, but we think that the D-MAX is worthy enough to be compared to those two models. 

Back then, we wouldn’t even consider comparing the D-MAX with the Hilux or the Navara, but now, it seems that Isuzu has made a great case. This is the best D-MAX ever, and if you’ve been waiting for the longest time for an Isuzu worth buying, this is the one. 


Specifications

Engine

3.0 L

Fuel Type

Diesel

Performance

187 hp @ 3,600 rpm

Transmission

Automatic

Summary

Name Isuzu D-MAX 3.0 4x4 LS-E AT
Body Type Pickup Truck
Price ₱1,825,000
Transmission Type Automatic

Engine

Performance

Economy & Environment

Dimensions

Safety & Security

Features

Technology


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