2 February 2021

Isuzu D-Max 2020 Review

The new Isuzu D-Max has gone all out and transitioned from a cheap, tough work ute to one that’s much more refined, full of the latest tech and safety features, but also more expensive compared to previous generations.

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Isuzu D-Max 2020
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Isuzu D-Max 2020
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Isuzu D-Max 2020
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Isuzu D-Max 2020
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Isuzu D-Max 2020
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Isuzu D-Max 2020

We were given the top-end model to review - the X-Terrain in Splash White with black accents, which turned out to be a trendy combination that made the ute look adventurous without being over the top. With so much model choice (105 combinations/variations) if you are in the Ute market, there is a new D-Max to suit everyone.  

The LX base-spec workhorse is perfect for a rugged, easy-care work vehicle, with a starting price of $49,990 (+ORC). The next step up is the LS-M - a ‘fancier’ workhorse, then the LS mid-spec, and the top-spec X-Terrain (from $75,490 +ORC). The latter is only available as a double cab with 4WD. 

Isuzu’s legendary 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine has been enhanced producing 10kW more power (now at 140kW) and 20Nm more torque (now at 450Nm) across a wider rpm range.

Loaded with safety features

The main reason for the price hike over the previous generations is that this time around the vehicle is built to include and meet the latest safety and crash testing requirements. Features such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Forward Collison Warning (FCW), Lane Support System (automatic models only), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Blind-Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) are all included. These safety features are in addition to a full complement of airbags, including a new segment-first - front seat centre airbag, which protects front occupants in the case of side impacts.

The reward for all this is a five-Star ANCAP rating for the D-Max and for the ute it shares its platform with – the new Mazda BT-50. 

Even the base model LX is fully equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen which includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic lights and wipers, and even adaptive cruise control on the manual variants.

The LS-M is available as a Double Cab 4WD with automatic or manual transmissions. Improvements from the LX include LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels and a more luxurious interior trim. In the mid-spec LS model you’ll find a larger, nine-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and 18” alloy wheels.

The remainder of the bells and whistles are reserved for the top level trim X-Terrain, which include the active safety technology of the other variants plus a power eight-way driver seat, a leather interior trim, smart proximity key with remote engine start, front and rear parking sensors, wheel arch extensions and gun-metal exterior highlights (wheels, grille, mirror caps, door handles and roof rails). On top of all this, you also get a matte black roller tonneau cover and under-rail tray liner.

Off-road wizardry

We were also lucky enough to attend the vehicle launch event where we took various D-Max models through some off-road driving around the back country of a South Island deer hunting station, in which they excelled. This involved hill descents on some steep grass slopes, rock hopping, water wading, driving through mud and up the side of huge hills to see just how comfortable this vehicle is at navigating off-road.

On-road performance

During our latest stint, we spent time in the D-Max as a daily commute to Auckland CBD and family drives out and about on the weekend. This Ute is certainly not small (but none are these days) and has a great road presence so no worries about not being seen on the road. It also does have a pretty good turning circle, which made the vehicle easier to navigate inner-city carpark buildings and doesn’t feel big and cumbersome.


While the new Isuzu D-Max is pricy, you do get an awful lot for your money - all models are well specced, and have the added bonus of an excellent safety rating. This is definitely an attractive ute worth considering for those looking for one.

At a glance


Isuzu D-Max


3.0-litre turbo diesel


From $49,990 

ANCAP safety rating



140kW, 459Nm


Six speed manual (select models), Six speed auto

Fuel economy


Towing capacity

3,500kg (Braked), 750kg (Unbraked)


2WD and 4WD

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

970kg payload

Safety systems

  • Hill Descent, Hill Start Assist
  • Emergency Brake Assist
  • AEB with Turn Assist
  • Post Collision Braking
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Lane Departure Warning, Prevention, Keep Assist
  • Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert

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