Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck?

Sanjay · Apr 21, 2021 01:00 PM

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 01

We'll give it to you straight - the all-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max is an utter script-flipper. To the long-standing, comfortably-leading monarchs of the Malaysian pick-up truck arena - you lot have plenty to be afraid of.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 02

And what is the script that the D-Max rips and chucks into the bin? That it's the 'forgotten' one, the one that just couldn't quite share the same 'lifestyle pick-up truck' pedestal with the Toyota Hilux Rogue, Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, and Ford Ranger Wildtrak.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 03

In this page today is the X-Terrain, the range-topper among 7 D-Max variants. Priced from RM 141,938.40, it sits on the lower-end of the aforementioned rivals' sub-RM 150k price tag.

Also read: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max in Malaysia - priced from RM 89k, new 3.0L engine, ADAS!

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 04

To give you a brief idea of how closely-matched the current arena is

Exterior - Familiar, but evolved

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 05

Isuzu has thrown the kitchen sink at the D-Max and it shows. In X-Terrain guise, it's a truck that looks just at home on the shiny floors of Pavilion as it does on the mud trails of Pos Lenjang, Pahang.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 06

Projector LED headlamps only available on upper variants

The front fascia now has more pronounced fangs, flanked by LED projector headlamps. It certainly makes for an imposing sight as it hurtles down the right lane.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 07

There's a bit of functional showboating to it as well as the X-Terrain gets a set of automatic aerofoil wipers with integrated windshield washers.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 08

Also, did you know that the D-Max was shaped in the same wind tunnel as the one that did the Shinkansen bullet train?

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 09

The Premium and X-Terrain variants share these 18-inch, futuristic-looking wheels. It draws mixed feelings here in the office - some of us think it looks cool, some of us think something more traditional could've worked better.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 10

Looks aside, proportions have changed a bit, and the all-new D-Max is now slightly bigger than the last iteration:

D-Max old vs new comparison
Dimension/Model Outgoing D-Max All-new D-Max
Length (mm) 5,295 5,265 (-30)
Width (mm) 1,860 1,870 (+10)
Height (mm) 1,795 1,810 (+15)
Wheelbase (mm) 3,095 3,125 (+30)

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 11

With the change of dimensions come some practical improvements too. There's increased minimum ground clearance (240 mm, up from the last-gen's 235 mm) and better water wading depth. 

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 12

Highlighted is the new intake position, the reason for the D-Max's improved water wading capabilities

At 800 mm, the D-Max equals the Ranger's water wading depth, beating both the Hilux and Triton's 700 mm. 

Interior - Feels like a premium SUV

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 13

And no, that's not a bad thing - it means this is an interior you willingly want to be in. 

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 14

Throughout our day with it, we like how the leather seats are supple and well-supportive, with splendid thigh and side supports.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 15

Speaking of seats, the breathable material means your back won't sweat, and the "Anti Vibration Elastic Comfort Foam" padding may sound gimmicky but trust us - it works. More on that in a bit.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 16

Unfortunately brown interior is limited only to the X-Terrain

Other than that, we appreciate the generous use of soft-touch materials on the dashboard and door trim, and touchpoints feel fittingly solid.

The cabin feels good, is well put-together, and feels closer to a premium SUV than it is to a pick-up truck.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 17

Bottom right: MID could've been better. The cut-in-half display makes it look cheap

Other nice creature comforts in the X-Terrain variant are the auto-dimming rear view mirror, e-LUMAX analogue instrument cluster with 4.2-inch multi-info display (MID), and the 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system. 

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 18

We'll run a more thorough inspection during our instrumented testing, but initial impressions of the headunit are good - sound through the 8 speakers is satisfactory, the UI is snappy, and it also has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support.

Also read: Why your next car should come with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 19

Dampers on the tailgate makes for easy operation. Sliding cargo tray is a nice touch

Performance - New engine is quiet, powerful

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 20

3.0-litre engine pictured. We didn't get to sample the 1.9-litre 

Superseding the previous-gen’s 4JJ1 3.0-litre turbodiesel is the new 4JJ3-TCX mill. Displacement and cylinder count is still the same, but improvements now see it making a peak power figure of 190 PS and 450 Nm of torque, 13 PS and 70 Nm more than its predecessor.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 21

The engine feels light, smooth, and very responsive. Boost kicks in early, which means you get instant throttle response even below 1,600 rpm. Don’t mistake it for being rough though - power is immediate, but it won’t forcefully pin your head to the headrest.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 22

It’s also notable how quiet it is. Throughout our day with it, between trundling along small towns and dropping the hammer on the highways, the engine was quiet enough - but not as quiet as the Triton - a model which still is the gold standard for pick-up truck refinement. 

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 23

The 6-speed automatic transmission is excellent too, with buttery smooth gear changes that doesn't elicit shift shock. Sadly though, the D-Max makes do without paddle shifters.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 24

Also netting more points for the D-Max (but only in this variant) is the rear differential lock, a rather important addition when offroading.

Ride and handling - Can rival Triton

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 25

Never mind the powertrain, Isuzu has also properly reworked the suspension. It’s supremely comfortable, so much so that we daresay it’s the class’ new yardstick.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 26

There's also a greater proportion of high-tensile steel used - over 46% of the body is now made of that, increasing rigidity by 20%, strengthening the roof area, and reducing weight. 

Combine this with a refined chassis that includes additional crossmembers, and you have a truck that rides solid yet comfortable. 

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 27

Remember how earlier on we talked about the comfort foam in the seats? This is where you feel the effects - the foam tunes out harsh vibrations, resulting in a more forgiving, less tiring drive.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 28

Steering response is miles better than last time, even if it doesn't feel as direct as the Hilux or Triton. At the very least, it's not vague, but you do have to exert a little bit more when taking corners.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 29

Turning radius is 6.25 meters, better than the Hilux's 6.4 meters but loses out to the Triton (5.9 meters)

Brake pedal feel is nothing extraordinary, with a progressive, gentle modulation. To sum it up, lots of the D-Max’s driving elements suit relaxed driving styles - and there's nothing wrong with that, as this will probably trawl busy streets more than dense forests anyway.

Safety features - ADAS is good, but...

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 30

Moving on to the ADAS features, the forward collision warning (FCW) function is rather sensitive and beeps loudly. It's either annoyingly beepy, or you turn the sound off completely (which you'll have to do every time you restart the car) - no middle ground.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 31

And then there’s no 360-degree camera - only a reverse camera. Not very nice, cars of this stature need surround-view as much as possible to help with getting in and out of parking.

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 32

Those notwithstanding, other ADAS features that we managed to try like autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (LDW), automatic high beams (AHB), and adaptive cruise control with stop and go (ACC) worked perfectly.

Conclusion - A real contender now

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 33

If older D-Maxes were just trucks owners never thought much of other than just a means to get from A to B, then this is the model that changes that. This is the D-Max you'll baby. 

Quick Review: All-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain, Malaysia's new best pick-up truck? 34

This isn’t the ‘old D-Max’ in more ways than one. Isuzu has taken meticulous steps to improve every aspect of it, resulting in an excellent product that makes contemporaries of the Hilux, Triton, and Ranger - rather than just longingly looking up to them.

Also read: 

All-new Isuzu D-Max vs Triton vs Hilux - which is Malaysia's best-value pick-up truck?

Want to buy a 2021 Isuzu D-Max? Here’s the minimum salary required

Comments

Up to 20% higher than average trade-in price

2019 Isuzu D-MAX 1.9L 4x2 MT Low-Ride

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