2023 Isuzu D-Max review
The reigning Drive Car of the Year Best Dual-Cab Ute gets an update for the 2023 model year. But is the 2023 Isuzu D-Max still the best of the bunch?
- Dependable 3.0-litre engine remains strong against competition
- Functional interior space, loads of storage
- Solid value proposition
- Very little to get excited about between model years
- Jumpy ride comfort
- Dull infotainment system
2023 Isuzu D-Max
What do you do when it comes time to update an already solid product? It’s a tricky conundrum faced by the 2023 Isuzu D-Max, so the Japanese carmaker has opted to issue small tweaks in place of radical change.
It rejoins the popular dual-cab ute segment that welcomed an all-new Ford Ranger in 2022. With the tweaks to one of our Drive Car of the Year Best Dual-Cab Ute favourites, 2023 is shaping up as an interesting year for dual-cab ute competition.
How much does the Isuzu D-Max cost in Australia?
'If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it' seems the theme going into the launch of the 2023 Isuzu D-Max. The car is one of the country’s best-sellers outright, and it remains extremely popular in the ute segment where it’s pitted against the Mitsubishi Triton, Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara, and the new Ford Ranger.
Subtle tweaks in specification changes and cosmetic upgrades round out the majority of updates to the Isuzu D-Max for 2023, most notably with new varying grille trims dependent on model grade.
You’ll also see mild tweaks to the fog light housings that have dark grey surrounds, and the rear end gets dark grey inserts for the tail-lights. Handily, all ute variants of the Isuzu D-Max range score gas struts for the tailgate.
Under the skin there are changes that include the car’s blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert systems automatically turning off when a genuine Isuzu wiring harness connects to a trailer.
No changes are made to the 3.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine that still outputs 140kW/450Nm. However, dual-cab variants in SX spec now receive the option of the entry-level 1.9-litre turbo diesel engine, which comes $2000 more affordable than the 3.0-litre specification. This can come in 4x2 and 4x4 driveline configurations.
No price changes are forthcoming with the new updated D-Max, aside from the aforementioned new model grades with the smaller 1.9-litre engine. That means the range continues to start at $32,200 for cab-chassis variants and extends to $67,500 for the flagship X-Terrain dual-cab ute specification.
However, Isuzu regularly offers drive-away deals for thousands less than the retail price, especially of the X-Terrain model grade. It is currently on offer for $64,990 drive-away. Be sure to look for the deal when shopping at the pointy end of the range.
At launch we spent the most time in that range-topping specification, which this review will focus on. Stand-out exterior additions for 2023 include a new dark grey/dark chrome grille treatment, dark grey metallic sports bar, dark grey metallic side steps and mirrors, and a set of new-design 18-inch wheels.
|Key details||2023 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain|
|Price||$67,500 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Magnetic Red mica|
|Price as tested||$65,640 drive-away|
|Rivals||Toyota HiLux | Mazda BT-50 | Ford Ranger|
How much space does the Isuzu D-Max have inside?
You’ll have to look hard, but there are differences inside the 2023 D-Max’s cabin. Trainspotters will notice a new seating pattern with a tweaked stitching array on the upholstery, while the red stitching remains to signify an X-Terrain model grade.
The seats don’t change in terms of shape, still with broad shoulder support and a plush seat base ideal for longer journeys. There’s a comfy amount of space for driver and passenger in the front row, plus more than enough storage room for odds and ends.
As before there’s a dash-top stowaway cubby, cupholders in the centre console (and slide-out items in front of the air vents), door pockets for bottles, and a dual-open glovebox.
Back seat passengers continue to get a good amount of space, even for taller passengers, with decent head- and legroom. New for 2023 is an extra USB-A port inside the SX dual-cab grade, just above the pre-existing air vents.
|2023 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain|
Does the Isuzu D-Max have Apple CarPlay?
Isuzu fits either a 7.0- or 9.0-inch infotainment screen depending on which model grade D-Max you pick. Both run the same software that presents a little more aftermarket than we’d like to see, but the functionality is simple and there are prominent shortcuts to skip between menus.
It’s very simple to connect up wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (albeit with a wire) for a more familiar look and layout.
A small TFT screen is prominent within the instrument cluster, showing a digital speed readout, fuel information, water temperature, tyre pressures, and so on.
It’d be great to see app-based integration in the future to quickly see key information about the vehicle.
Is the Isuzu D-Max a safe car?
Isuzu first scored a full five-star ANCAP safety rating with the current-generation D-Max in 2020. This new 2023 facelift scores the same after ANCAP refreshed its ratings in September 2022. It achieved an adult occupant protection score of 86 per cent, a child occupant protection score of 89 per cent, and a vulnerable road user score of 69 per cent.
What safety technology does the Isuzu D-Max have?
There’s a host of active safety kit included, even on the base variant Isuzu D-Max. The safety array includes autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and lane-keep assist.
The D-Max also gets eight airbags.
New for 2023 is the provision for the rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring systems to turn themselves off if a genuine Isuzu towing harness is plugged in.
How much does the Isuzu D-Max cost to maintain?
Given Isuzu brings a trickle of new equipment with the same pricing structure as its predecessor, the 2023 D-Max doesn’t sound all too bad in the value stakes. At a time where plenty of its rivals are hiking the prices on their respective model lines, it’s great to see Isuzu holding strong, and even offering strong drive-away discounts in the case of some variants.
Comparing the mid-to-high-spec $61,000 before on-road costs LS-U model grade (with 4x4, tub, and a 3.0-litre engine) against its rough equivalent Toyota HiLux SR5, which begins at $61,930 plus on-road costs, the Isuzu sneaks in under the best-selling rival on price.
Isuzu offers a six-year/150,000km warranty on its vehicles. Service intervals take place at every 15,000km interval or every 12 months, whichever occurs sooner.
Isuzu also provides seven years of roadside assistance and seven years of capped-price servicing. Based on the 3.0-litre variants, three years of servicing costs $1545 and five years costs $2435.
The Isuzu D-Max LS-U will cost $1880.66 to insure per year based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.
|At a glance||2023 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1545 (3 years)
$2435 (5 years)
Is the Isuzu D-Max fuel-efficient?
Isuzu claims the 3.0-litre automatic-spec D-Max uses 8.0L/100km on a combined cycle and 9.8L/100km around town. While we didn’t get a fuel recording out of our launch drive, past experience tells us that you can expect to see fuel use around 8.7L/100km in a combined setting.
Fuel Consumption - brought to you by bp
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||8.0L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||76L|
What is the Isuzu D-Max like to drive?
New for 2023 is the option of a 1.9-litre diesel engine inside dual-cab versions of the D-Max SX. Though it’s frugal in comparison to the larger-capacity alternative, the outputs feel meek inside a utility vehicle.
The engine you really want (and is standard on all versions above SX, including X-Terrain) is the 3.0-litre diesel that outputs 140kW/450Nm to a part-time four-wheel-drive system. Power to the ground is more than adequate and a helpful shove of torque serves up quick overtakes. Of course, those outputs also afford a 3500kg tow rating, which is right up there among the best ratings in the segment.
For a dual-cab ute, refinement is decent too. Rolling on the throttle doesn’t result in overly gruff or trashy vibrations sent through to the cabin. The six-speed auto transmission responds without delay to serve up appropriate ratios depending on what situation you’re in. But neither is it too sensitive, which is appreciated once you’re driving around stop/start suburbia.
Over larger road impacts such as speed humps and train tracks, the D-Max’s suspension absorbs much of the energy. Although when rolling over with the rear axle, the back end can buck about, especially with an unladen tub. Over smaller road imperfections and road joins, it does tend to jump about.
At launch, Isuzu set us upon the open beaches of Noosa’s North Shore to see how the part-time four-wheel-drive system coped with trickier terrain. Though it wasn’t much of a challenge, past experience with the D-Max has been good. A locking differential is included, but there are no selectable drive modes.
The steering is light across the board, which makes the D-Max simple to manoeuvre whether you’re placing it through a set of rutted tracks or reverse-parking the ute in town.
|Key details||2023 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain|
|Engine||3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel|
|Power||140kW @ 3600rpm|
|Torque||450Nm @ 1600–2600rpm|
|Drive type||Part-time four-wheel drive, low-range transfer case|
|Transmission||Six-speed torque converter automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||64kW/t|
|Tow rating||3500kg braked
Should I buy an Isuzu D-Max?
An array of small tweaks they may be, but the 2023 Isuzu D-Max is an incrementally better car for them. Consider too that the price has remained unchanged between model years – there is nothing wrong with having more things for the same amount of money, especially when rival utes are getting more expensive.
However, if it turns out that the wait time for a 2023 D-Max is unbearable and the option of a 2022 model is available – you’re unlikely to be left wanting. Both cars feature dependable, powerful drivelines, and stock a comfortable amount of gear for the price.
Whether it still stacks up against newer competition like the Ford Ranger is a tricky one, because it certainly continues to trump the upper-spec Rangers on value. We look forward to conducting a comparison in the new year.