Article from Drive.com.au.
Long gone are the days when a new year means a whole new model in automotive showrooms.
You could once identify a car’s particular model year at a glance, with sheet metal, lighting and trim elements often completely changing every 12-months.
We’re now a market of refinements, enhancements and perhaps a new colour or two. It’s a process that makes far more economic sense for everyone involved, but it’s often a process where real, meaningful changes have to wait for mid or new-generation updates.
In the case the 2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain it is actually a little of both.
No new colours, sure, but for the MY22 update Isuzu have made some considered changes to the award-winning ute, with one even answering a specific customer grumble.
When launched, the D-Max included a host of driver assistance technology including a lane-keeping aid that was rather enthusiastic at letting you know when you were moving close to (or over) the centre line. The system worked well, but on narrow roads with soft shoulders, where positioning the car toward the middle of the road is actually a safer place to be, the beeps and bells of the lane-keeping system’s alarms could be somewhat annoying.
You could turn the system off by navigating through menu options, but do do so you needed to be parked, which again is not ideal.
Isuzu listened to customer feedback about this and have implemented a shortcut function on the steering wheel which, when you hold the button in for two-seconds, quickly activates or deactivates the lane-keeping assistance features. Easy!
To keep the improvements rolling, the X-Terrain now scores, heated seats, heated mirrors, and some extra interior lighting, along with some revised trim elements and a standard tow-hitch receiver.
It’s not charity though, as at $65,900 (before options and on-road costs) the X-Terrain is now $2000 ahead of its list price at launch ($63,900). That said, you can currently order one at $62,990 drive-away, which is much sharper than a Ford Ranger Wildtrak ($70,272 drive-away) or a Toyota HiLux Rogue ($75,621 drive-away), but like many other vehicles you could be in for a bit of a wait.
Is it worth waiting for? Let’s hit the road and find out…
|Key details||2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain|
|Price (MSRP)||$65,900 plus on-road costs|
$62,900 drive-away (limited offer)
|Colour of test car||Volcanic Amber|
|Options||Metallic paint – $500|
|Price as tested||$66,400 plus on-road costs|
|Rivals||Toyota HiLux | Mazda BT-50 | Ford Ranger|
Style and design
Who would have thought a big orange rectangle would look this cool, aside from Ford who have made orange a bit of a hero colour on the Ranger Wildtrak for the past 10 years or so?
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The double-fanged grille, contrasting arches and sailplane, and generally ‘macho’ nature of the D-Max X-Terrain do a lot to support it in the High Street lifestyle ute stakes. It’s a handsome car, that blends some rugged appeal elements like side steps with more fashionable design choices of a painted rear bar, regardless of how practical either of these are in higher risk off-road environments.
Eight colours are available (black, blue, grey, orange, red, silver, a pearl and solid white) with all but the basic non-metallic Mineral White attracting a $500 premium.
The wheels though, with an almost aero-style dark grey face, are a bit of a low point. Surely we can do better here? Even a set of Sunraysias would be an improvement?
And while we’re being picky, the red stickers on the side of the sail plane are a bit naff. I originally thought they were cut outs and you could see the orange bodywork through them… they are not.
A roll-top hard cover is standard on the X-Terrain, and while easy to operate (like a garage door) the mechanism at the rear of the tub is quite bulky and can make it hard to reach items that slide down under it. Plus it’s not as snazzy as the powered one you get on a HiLux Rogue.
Fundamentally though, although unchanged from when it launched, the new D-Max is a big step up on the previous generation and looks good in any colour. I’d have a blue one.
One of the more mild changes for the MY22 X-Terrain is a change from white stitching to red in the leather-accented interior.
Red is the universal automotive colour of ‘sporty’ and it fits well with the modern and well-presented cabin of the Isuzu.
Your instruments even score some red-motif backgrounds for a bit of extra flair , and there are some more black trim elements.
The front seats are good, but could use a little more lumbar support on longer drives.
As always, storage is excellent with twin gloveboxes plus a dash-top cubby, central cup holders and pop out holders in front of each side air vent on the dashboard. These are great at keeping cold drinks chilled, but kind of pointless for coffee.
Rear room is reasonable, and still comfortable, albeit not as practical or usable for family duties as a wagon is. The MU-X is always a better choice here. A central arm rest provides twin cup holders plus there are vents and a USB charge port too.
Updates also include an automatic dimming rear-view mirror, heated mirrors, lights under the visors and two-stage heated seats.
These in particular weren’t all that handy over our summer months, but will be a welcome addition come winter, or a random Tuesday if you live in Melbourne.
As noted, the nearly square tub (1570mm deep, 1530mm wide) features a rolling hard cover which is housed against the rear of the cabin. It’s a bulky item and can make it tricky to access things that will no-doubt slide under it.
Plus, with this in place you only get two tie-down points near the tailgate.
Given a vehicle like the D-Max X-Terrain is used for ‘life’ as much (or more) as it is for ‘work’, it would be good to see some kind of tub baffle or separator that allows you to place smaller items in the back without having them slide around the entire load area when on the move.
We took the D-Max to visit friends in country Victoria, and placing a box of food and Christmas goodies in the tub elicited icy glares from my passenger-seat companion every time we stopped, started or turned and you heard it sliding across the standard tub-liner.
Good idea, no? Lets hope this one gets added to the 2023 D-Max!
|2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain|
|Tub size||1570mm long / 1530mm wide|
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Isuzu’s 9.0-inch multimedia touchscreen and eight-speaker Sky Sound audio system do a solid job, albeit not a standout one.
The system is full-featured with integrated navigation, DAB radio and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it’s not the most intuitve system to use and can experience a delay in reconnecting to your smartphone projection when you start the car.
Audio quality is good rather than great, and tends to top-out in terms of volume level, offering more noise but no additional clarity beyond the halfway mark. I’m sure you aren’t running a full-tilt Master of Puppets air-guitair session every drive, but I just want to set your expectation as to more of a friend’s double-garage jam session vibe, rather than Tushino Airfield.
Once you find your way around, everything works well enough, but we often found it easier just to use the navigation and telephony functions of CarPlay rather than the Isuzu system.
While the system has plenty of deep menu options for settings and configurations, it can be a bit fussy to figure out where you have come from in order to adjust things. It’s not something you’d do often though, and I imagine once owners spend 30 minutes playing with it when taking delivery of the car, most of these features will never need to be touched again.
And for a bit of fun, you can change the Bluetooth ID name. Ours is ‘Vitamin C-Max’.
Safety & Technology
Isuzu’s commitment toward a safer ute was one of the things Drive Car of the Year judges took into account during the 2021 awards, where the D-Max took the Best Dual Cab Ute category win.
With a five-star rating (tested in 2020), front-centre airbag and host of driver assistance systems, the D-Max offers modern car-like safety in a light commercial pickup. In ANCAP testing the D-Max was scored 83 percent for adult occupant protection, 89 per cent for child occupant protection, 69 per cent for vulnerable road user (pedestrians and cyclists) protection, and 84 per cent for safety assist systems.
As noted earlier, the revision to the lane-assist functionality is a welcome inclusion especially when moving between urban and regional areas.
On longer freeway sections (with all the systems turned on) the adaptive cruise control and lane keeping tools worked well, and made for a stress-free drive.
|2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain|
|ANCAP rating||Five stars (tested 2020)|
|Safety report||Link to ANCAP report|
Value for Money
Where it has definitely stepped beyond its once ‘value leading’ market position, the D-Max, despite price rises, is still very fairly priced.
Isuzu have regular drive-away pricing deals on some model in the range the range, so it always pays to check what is on offer before making a decision.
The biggest issue we currently see, and it is not something isolated to Isuzu, are stock levels and delivery times.
We’ll do our best to keep you informed on both.
|At a glance||2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain|
|Warranty||Six years / 150,000km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1467 (3 years), $2315 (5 years)|
Operating costs aren’t low but are reasonable, with 12-month or 15,000km service intervals and capped service prices for seven years ($409, $429, $629, $529, $319, $769, $429) averaging about $500 per year.
Fuel consumption is reasonable too, with the 4JJ performing almost as well loaded and towing as it does when empty.
Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||8.0L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||8.6L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||76L|
You can summarise the base driving appeal of the D-Max in one word. Engine.
The 3.0-litre 4JJ3 four-cylinder turbo diesel isn’t the biggest or baddest on the market, but its probably the most relaxed. Peak power of 140kW is available at 3600rpm, with 450Nm between 1600 and 2600rpm.
Its so laid back in terms of delivery, and offers effortless surge as you need to build or carry speed. There’s no drama or excitement, just muted rattle of acknowledgement as you squeeze the throttle, making the D-Max an excellent and efficient tourer.
We averaged 8.6L/100km against a combined cycle claim of 8.0L/100km, over a 250-odd kilometre loop.
The Bridgestone Dueler highway terrain tyres do a good job of noise suppression and manage basic off roading well, but as soon as the surface gets a little too loose, you’ll be wanting some all terrain rubber, even with low-range engaged.
We took the D-Max up a steep incline, on a loose slate base, and needed to rely on momentum and power delivery more than we’d have liked to get the big ute up the hill. Better tyres would have walked through it.
This is all environmental though, so if paved and basic unsealed surfaces are your mainstay, the factory fitted rubber will serve you well.
Access to the transfer case settings, rear differential lock and hill descent control functions are all easy, but we’ll leave assessment of these to a more dedicated off-road test soon.
Ride quality is almost better on rougher surfaces, with expansion joints on smooth highways causing more notable ‘jiggles’ from the unlaiden rear of the ute more than decade-old coarse-chip C-roads do.
On open and flowing country roads, the D-Max settles in and offers a surefooted touring ability across a range of roads, sealed or not.
The steering is light, adding to the ease of touring but also urban friendliness of the ute, and the six-speed automatic well sorted regardless of city or highway driving conditions.
We expect a lot from our multi-role pickups, and the D-Max delivers a reliable and pleasant environment to chew up the miles.
|Key details||2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain|
|Engine||3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel|
|Power||140kW @ 3600rpm|
|Torque||450Nm @ 1600-2600rpm|
|Drive type||Four-wheel drive with low range|
|Transmission||Six-speed torque convertor automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||64.7kW/t|
|Tow rating||3500kg braked, 750kg unbraked|
Implementing mild improvements and refining to an already strong platform is clearly the smart way forward.
It may not look or drive any differently, but the little tweaks made to the MY22 D-Max X-Terrain make it just as compelling an option in the high-spec double cab stakes as it was at launch.
Isuzu noting that changes were made due to customer feedback should also be commended.
Even if you have to wait for one, we think it’s well worth it.