Isuzu UTE Australia has announced full Australian pricing and specifications for its all-new 2021 D-Max, with our market the first outside Thailand, where it’s built, to receive this third-generation model.

Set to go on sale in Australia on September 1, 2020, the new model has been completely redesigned and modernised from the ground up, with a range that is unique in specification for us Down Under and packing class-leading standard active safety technology.

Based on a new platform and also packing a new engine for the Australian market, the new model looks to not only improve upon its working credentials that traditional ute buyers demand, but also introduce features that will make it a more capable vehicle for family use given many Aussies are defaulting to utes as an all-rounder family vehicle.

This update is also important news not only because it looks to propel the D-Max from one of the oldest utes in the class to one of the newest and most advanced, but because its underpinnings form the basis for the next-generation Mazda BT-50 that’s set to arrive later this year.

Technical specifications

Sitting on a brand new chassis constructed using 46 percent 440MPa high tensile steel, along with extensive use of 980MPa ultra-high tensile steel throughout the structural shell, the new body weighs in 8kg lighter and boasts a 20 percent improvement in torsional rigidity and 26 percent improvement to longitudinal rigidity compared to the outgoing model.

Additionally, the roof has also been strengthened to support a 100kg load, corrosion-preventative coating and sealants have been utilised on the underbody, and Ethyl Vinyl Acetate foam has been used extensively throughout the body to reduce NVH levels.

Although 30mm shorter than the model it replaces thanks to its reduced front and rear overhangs, it boasts increased cabin space and load area dimensions with all models now riding on a longer 3125mm wheelbase.

At 1870mm (1880mm for the X-Terrain variant) it’s wider than the model it replaces and also has a lower roofline, while its off-roading capabilities have been improved with increases to its ground clearance (235-240mm) and approach (29.6-30.5 degrees), ramp-over (23.3-23.9 degrees), and departure (23.9-28.9 degrees) angles.

As for tray space, Cab Chassis models now feature longer trays with 150mm extra length for both Crew Cab and Space Cab models, now taking it up to 1800mm and 2100mm respectively, while the Single Cab Chassis tray measures in at 2550mm. For Crew Cab Ute models, the outgoing model’s 1530mm tray width is retained but there is still more usable space with length bumped up slightly to 1570mm, while internal depth is increased by 30mm.

Payload ranges from 970kg for the X-Terrain all the way to 1320kg for the SX Single Cab Chassis 4×4 Manual, with all models bar the X-Terrain boasting a payload of at least 1040kg. Towing capacity is pitted at 3500kg braked and 750kg unbraked with a 350kg maximum tow ball download. All 4×2 models have a GVM of 3000kg and GCM of 5850kg, with 4×4 models adding an extra 100kg on top of those numbers.

All Australian-delivered D-Max models will feature a new Euro 5-compliant 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that is only set to be offered here and in Thailand. Codenamed the 4JJ3-TCX, it’s an evolution of the outgoing model’s famed 4JJ1-TC and features a new block, cylinder head, crankshaft, lightweight aluminium pistons, timing gear set, variable geometry turbocharger, and high-pressure fuel system, all of which aims to improve throttle response, efficiency, longevity, and drivability.

Producing 140kW (188bhp) at 3600rpm and 450Nm from 1600-2600rpm – 400Nm of which is available from 1400rpm-3250rpm, and 300Nm of which is available from 1000rpm – it not only makes 10kW and 20Nm more than the 4JJ1 but has a more usable powerband, too. Combined fuel consumption is pitted at between 7.7-8.0L/100km depending on the variant.

Carried over from the outgoing model are Isuzu’s own six-speed manual and Aisin-built six-speed automatic transmissions, with the manual now featuring a shorter-throw shifter and dual-mass flywheel, while the automatic has been tweaked to deliver shifts that are smoother, more intuitive, and around 0.2 seconds faster.

Driven directly by customer and media feedback, all four-wheel drive D-Max models will now feature an electromagnetic rear differential lock as standard, along with a new electronic actuator for its transfer case that can reduce the shift from 2H to 4H in less than a second at speeds of up to 100km/h. Both 4×2 and 4×4 models also now feature a lighter and stronger one-piece aluminium tailshaft.

A redesigned engine air intake now allows it to wade through water up to 800mm deep, along with a pre-fabricated pathway in the internal wheelhouse panel unique to Australian-delivered models allowing for easy installation of a snorkel.

Also worth noting is that with the 3.0-litre engine reserved for this part of the world, those in the UK where the D-Max is set to go on sale in early 2021 can expect to see the Euro 6-compliant 1.9-litre twin-turbo diesel with AdBlue carried over, which in the current model makes makes 122kW (164bhp) and 360Nm.

With the new chassis, it has allowed Isuzu to heavily redesign the suspension to improve its ride and handling, too, with new double wishbone suspension up front with high-mounted upper control arms to reduce body roll and a thicker 34mm anti-roll bar.

As for the leaf-sprung rear axle, all models now switch to a three-leaf setup – something previously only offered on higher-spec’d examples of the outgoing model, with entry-level variants still using a firmer five-leaf setup – that is lighter and stronger, along with being seven degrees closer to being perpendicular with the chassis and allowing for 30mm of additional axle travel.

The hydraulic power steering of the old model now makes way for newer electric power steering that improves low-speed manoeuvrability. The front brakes have also been upgraded significantly to new ventilated discs measuring in at 320mm in diameter and 30mm in width – making them the largest fitted to any one-tonne ute – with two-piston floating calipers, while drum brakes remain at the rear.

Range and standard features

The new D-Max range has been pared back slightly to 20 individual variants from the outgoing model’s 22, with the most notable omission from the lineup being a low-ride variant.

However, it will still be offered in three distinct high-ride body styles – single, space, and crew cab – with the entry-level model available with both a regular ute tub or as a cab chassis.

Carrying over from before are the SX, LS-M, and LS-U grades, while the big increases in standard specification across the range have seen the previously range-topping LS-T culled, in favour of the tougher-looking and even more upmarket X-Terrain variant that now sits at the top of the range.

Every variant in the range including even the base SX will feature what Isuzu has dubbed its Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS) which is an umbrella term for the variety of passive and active safety technology on offer in the ute, with the aim of delivering enough to both lead the class and get the highest possible safety rating against ANCAP criteria, although it is yet to be crash tested locally.

In terms of passive safety technology within the IDAS suite, there are eight airbags including a class-first centre airbag, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, with the LS-U also adding rear parking sensors and the X-Terrain both front and rear parking sensors, and Crew Cab models featuring ISOFIX child seat mounts.

But it’s the list of active safety technology – most of which runs off a Hitachi 3D Stereo Camera system – that’s most important to note when it comes to the new D-Max as every single model will feature Autonomous Emergency Braking, Turn Assist with AEB, Pre-Collision Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition with an Intelligent Speed Limiter that corresponds to changing speed limits, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Emergency Lane Keeping, Driver Attention Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Trailer Sway Control, and Roll Over Mitigation all as standard. Automatic models add Misacceleration Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Keep Assist, too, although manual models do miss out on all three.

Although Isuzu is looking to make the D-Max feel more premium on the inside in models higher up in the range, the SX is as utilitarian and durable as they come with a urethane steering wheel and shift knob, ‘hose-out’ vinyl flooring, cloth seat upholstery, manual air conditioning controls with rear air vents on Crew Cab models, power windows, a four-speaker audio system, a new 4.2-inch Multi-Information Display in the gauge cluster that includes a digital speedo, and reflector-beam halogen headlights. It rides on tougher 17-inch steel wheels, too.

Stepping up to the LS-M – which is aimed at what Isuzu describes as “savvy adventure seekers who require a no-nonsense, tough ute for work and play” – the vinyl flooring remains but higher-grade cloth upholstery, two additional cup holders, two more speakers, one extra USB port, auto-levelling Bi-LED headlights with LED daytime running lights and fog lights, and 17-inch alloy wheels are added into the mix.

On both the SX and LS-M, a smaller 7.0-inch touchscreen is fitted as standard, but it does feature wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, and DAB+ digital radio connectivity all as standard, while new JVC Kenwood speakers are used for the audio system in all models, too.

The LS-U – favoured by travellers, caravaners, and families who look for increased levels of comfort and convenience – is where the real upgrades come, with it adding a carpeted floor, a leather steering wheel and shift knob, power-adjustable lumbar support for the driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, ‘wet’ wiper blades with an integrated washer fluid jet, LED taillights, chrome exterior highlights including the door handles and grille, an eight-speaker stereo for Crew Cab models, and 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels. Additionally, it adds a 9.0-inch touchscreen with integrated Here Maps satellite navigation, along with the aforementioned smartphone mirroring tech.

Finally, the all-new X-Terrain grade that sits at the top of the range is being presented as the best-equipped Isuzu ute ever built. Leather-accented upholstery with piano black and satin silver trim, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, keyless entry with a ‘walk away’ auto-lock function and remote engine start, dark grey metallic external highlights including 10mm wider fender flares and front grille, a matte black roller tonneau cover, aero sports bar, underbody front and rear spoilers, and 18-inch dark grey metallic alloy wheels are all added as standard on top of the LS-U’s list of features.

A choice of five colours are available across the range – Mineral White, Basalt Black mica, Cobalt Blue mica, Mercury Silver metallic, and Obsidian Grey metallic – while the LS-U and X-Terrain models are also available in Marble White pearl and Magnetic Red mica, and the hero colour of Volcanic Amber metallic is exclusive to the X-Terrain.

Warranty and running costs

To coincide with the new model’s release, Isuzu UTE Australia has upgraded its ownership care package program, dubbed Service Plus 6-7-7, by adding an extra year of complimentary roadside assistance now taking it up to seven years, along with reducing the cost of the seven-year/105,000km capped price servicing plan to $3373, marking a 12 percent saving.

The six-year/150,000km warranty introduced in 2019 carries over as before, with only the Mitsubishi Triton and SsangYong Musso offering a longer warranty in terms of time with seven years of coverage for both, although other manufacturers do offer unlimited mileage.

Worth mentioning as well is that the full range of Isuzu genuine accessories for the new D-Max – which includes IDAS-compatible bullbars and nudge bars, tonneau covers, canopies, tow kits, and trays – is covered by a three-year/100,000km warranty.

Australian pricing

Compared with the model it replaces, the significant increases in standard equipment have driven list prices for the new D-Max up between around $5000-10,000 on many variants equivalent to those in the old range.

However, in addition to the recommended retail prices (RRP) noted below, a selected range of models are set to be offered with introductory drive-away pricing deals, with the two confirmed thus far being the base SX Single Cab Chassis 4×2 Manual for $29,990 and the range-topping X-Terrain Crew Cab 4×4 Auto for $58,990.

4×2 variants:

  • SX Single Cab Chassis Manual – $32,200
  • SX Single Cab Chassis Auto – $34,200
  • SX Space Cab Ute Auto – $38,900
  • SX Crew Cab Chassis Auto – $40,700
  • SX Crew Cab Ute Auto – $41,900
  • LS-U Crew Cab Ute Auto – $48,900

4×4 variants:

  • SX Single Cab Chassis Manual – $40,200
  • SX Single Cab Chassis Auto – $42,200
  • SX Space Cab Chassis Manual – $43,700
  • SX Space Cab Chassis Auto – $45,700
  • SX Crew Cab Chassis Manual – $46,700
  • SX Crew Cab Ute Manual – $47,900
  • SX Crew Cab Chassis Auto – $48,700
  • SX Crew Cab Ute Auto – $49,900
  • LS-M Crew Cab Ute Manual – $51,000
  • LS-M Crew Cab Ute Auto – $53,000
  • LS-U Space Cab Ute Auto – $53,900
  • LS-U Crew Cab Ute Manual – $54,900
  • LS-U Crew Cab Ute Auto – $56,900
  • X-Terrain Crew Cab Ute Auto – $62,900

Stay tuned for our first drive review towards the end of this month!

Patrick Jackson
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