New models - Isuzu - D-Max - Utility range
Isuzu makes minor makeover for Max
D-Max ute gets a workout as Isuzu aims for big things from its workhorse
7 May 2010
By PHILIP LORD
A REFRESHED Isuzu D-Max range has arrived with wider availability of automatic transmission and cruise control, increased versatility for the Space Cab and minor price increases across the range.
The changes can only help the D-Max to realise its potential, which importer Isuzu Ute Australia (IUA) believes is pretty big. Last year, IUA managing director Hitoshi Kono told GoAuto that the goal was for D-Max to overtake Toyota’s market-leading HiLux.
The D-Max has a long way to go in the sales charts it is still very much a bit player, pipped in 4x2 sales by new Chinese entrant Great Wall Motors’ V240 to the end of April (338 versus the D-Max 4x2’s 336 sales).
In the 4x4 segment, however, the D-Max fares better, with 1130 sales, well ahead of the Great Wall V240 4x4 at 329 sales year to date.
As for reaching the market penetration of HiLux, D-Max has an Everest to climb.
At 1.7 per cent of 4x2 sales and 1.9 per cent of 4x4 sales to the end of April, the D-Max is a long way from the HiLux 4x2’s 27.3 per cent share and the HiLux 4x4’s 28.5 per cent share.
The most obvious change to the range-topping D-Max LS-U 4x4 and LS 4x2 crew utes is a new chrome grille with a central cross bar and prominent vertical bars. They also get new-design double-spoke alloy wheels.
A more significant change has been made to the SX Crew Cab, which receives standard cruise control and optional automatic transmission.
While the four-speed auto was always offered on LS, LS-M and LS-U, it is now available for the 4x2 and 4x4 SX Crew utes at a $3000 premium for 4x2 and a $2000 premium for 4x4 over the manual versions.
The auto option for 4x2 models also adds the taller suspension from 4x4 models with its 225mm ground clearance, plus wheel arch flares, 16-inch wheels and 245/70R16 tyres.
The 150mm-longer cab/chassis models in entry-level EX (4x4) and SX (4x2 and 4x4) continue with five-speed manual only.
The D-Max SX variants now have five-speed intermittent wipers and silver hubcaps replacing black on the 16-inch steel wheels.
Speedo increments in all D-Max models have become more defined with 2km/h graduations in place of 5km/h increments that will ensure that D-Max drivers in Victoria can keep their speed within the 3km/h tolerance over the speed limit permitted. Larger numerals are also used.
The Space Cab, which continues as an SX 4x4 cab/chassis manual adds two jump seats in the rear increasing seating capacity from two to four.
Under each hinged seat base is a box with a flat load platform lid under which are segmented small tool storage racks.
The two rear seats each have a three-point seatbelt, cup-holder and a storage pocket.
A crimson red mica paint option has been added, which like existing D-Max metallic and mica paint adds $300 to the price.
The prices rises are relatively minor: between $200-$400 on all models except for Space Cab 4x4, which has increased $700.
The D-Max began life in Australia as the RA Holden Rodeo in 2003, when Isuzu built the ute for exclusive use of Holden in the Australian market.
However, as GM announced in mid-2006 that it would sell its remaining 7.9 per cent stake in Isuzu, ending product-sharing arrangement that began in 1971, the net result was that Isuzu would not let Holden continued use of the Rodeo name, for which Isuzu owns the rights.
Holden was forced to rebadge its Rodeo as Colorado, and continues to source the model from the Thai factory where Isuzu builds both utes.
Isuzu entered the ute market with the D-Max – a near identical version of Rodeo/Colorado – in October 2008.
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