Pickup trucks are generally known for off-road capability, cargo versatility, and, sadly, powerful diesel-guzzling air-polluting engines. But as fuel prices soar and emission standards get stricter, car manufacturers are forced to update its respective entries in the segment.
Speaking of updates, Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) was one of the brands that recently launched its refreshed version of their D-Max pickup truck. Now equipped with Blue Power engines, the Japanese car maker says that these new mills are more efficient, durable, and environmentally friendly. And luckily, IPC handed us the keys to its D-Max 3.0 LS AT 4x2 with Blue Power to give us a taste at how much their pickup truck has improved.
At first glance, the exterior has a lot of things going on as such its protruding fender flares and huge 18-inch alloy wheels that give it a masculine demeanor. It also has a rounded front end, chrome embellished grille, and sleek headlights with daytime running lights (DRLs) that give it a stylish upscale look. Combine those with this shade of grey and it’s a pickup truck that says it’s ready for both city roads and the outdoors.
Review: 2018 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 LS 4x2 AT Blue Power
Engine Output (HP), Acceleration, Transmission, Handling
Exterior & Interior Design, Quality, Fit and Finish, Ergonomics
Cabin Comfort, Suspension, NVH Insulation
Safety and Technology
Convenience Technologies, Active and Passive Safety Features
Value for Money
Amount of the vehicle you get for the price, Fuel Efficiency
How We Do Our Reviews
What You Will Like
- Its new Blue Power engine is fuel efficient.
- Cabin looks and feels luxurious
- Power delivery is linear especially on high speeds
What You Won't Like
- Head unit reflects sunlight
- Can't see much on rear view camera display
- Hydraulic power steering is heavy on low speeds
Behind it, well, it does look like the standard pickup truck. We can’t really blame its designers as, sans the rear bumper and taillights, since there’s almost nothing that can be done, that’s not radical, to make it stand out from its rivals.
The interior of the D-Max does look plush thanks to the leather and some hard plastic materials found in its cabin. The seats are all covered in leather and are really comfy to be in even on long trips. But because the front seats aren’t as snug as we would want it to be, you might find yourself leaning side-to-side on twisty roads. At least the driver has power adjusting seats that make it easier to find the perfect seating position.
The rear seats, on the other hand, can fit three grown-ups easily and provide plenty of legroom. Sadly, the D-Max does have a shortage in compartments that you might find some of your items on your lap or on the floor. To be fair, it is a common problem among pickup trucks.
In-cabin comfort is also boosted by its easy to manage automatic climate control thanks to its large buttons and LCD screen, as well as its dial.
For entertainment, this particular variant of the D-Max has an eight-inch touchscreen head unit connected to six speakers. It can play CD, DVD, and VCD formats, as well as play media via USB port, Aux-in, and Bluetooth connectivity. This can be managed by the driver using the steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Occupants can also connect or charge two devices up front as it offers two USB ports.
While the head unit does have an intuitive touchscreen, it does reflect sunlight which can be a hazard especially for drivers. There’s also a big difference in volume when playing media and using the radio that when you switch in between the two, you’ll have to prepare your ears for a sudden blast of sound.
This head unit also doubles as a rear view parking monitor but you wouldn’t really see much because of the way the camera is mounted at the back; it’s almost a literal top-down view, with only the immediate surroundings of the rear bumper present. This could be very dangerous for people who rely solely on the view given by the camera. It also makes this loud annoying beep that you usually hear when container trucks back up.
Its gauge cluster is clear and displays the bare essentials for the everyday driver such as speed, revs, engine temperature, fuel, time, trip meter, and fuel economy. The center LCD display can be customized depending on your preferences.
Meanwhile, one thing I didn’t like about the D-Max’s rear is how the parking sensor looked like someone got a glue gun and stuck it on the door. Surely something could have been done to make it blend in more just take a look at the Ford Ranger’s backside and you’ll know what I mean.
Ride comfort, well, isn’t as car like as the Nissan Navara but is enjoyable on smooth roads as noise and vibrations were kept to a minimum making in-cabin conversations less stressful. But on speed bumps and an empty cargo bed, the rear does jump especially if you’re coming in a bit fast.
Then there’s the hydraulically assisted steering. The D-Max does have a heavy steering wheel that makes maneuvering in tight spots such a pain and make you wish it had Ford’s electronic power-assisted steering. But on highway driving, it is a god-sent feature since you don’t have to keep on correcting the wheel.
This variant of the D-Max is equipped with the latest 3.0L Blue Power engine connected to a five-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift. On paper, it can produce 175 hp and 380 Nm of torque that can easily be felt when stepping on the pedal.
Power delivery can be punchy at low speeds, depending on how aggressive you step on the pedal. On highway driving, on the other hand, the power does fade a bit but then again all you have to do is press on the accelerator more and you’ll get more. Meanwhile, its automatic transmission does produce smooth shifts but it does drag its clutch a bit on launch or slow speeds.
The new Blue Power engine clocked in a fuel economy of 9.7 km/L in the busy city streets, while driving on the open highway at a steady speed of 90 km/h showed 16.2 km/L. Very impressive numbers for a pickup truck, especially when compared to the Ford Ranger.
Even with its higher price tag of P1,390,000 (compared to similar variants of its rivals), the D-Max is a pickup truck that car shoppers should seriously consider. Sure it does have a few kinks here and there but it offers future owners a vehicle with good looks, plush interior, and a powerful yet fuel efficient engine without losing its familiar workhorse capabilities. That should be more than enough for car buyers to include the Isuzu D-Max as one of their top choices.