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Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2022 review: off-road test

The D-Max X-Terrain is the top-spec variant in Isuzu’s ute range and, as part of a refresh for the entire D-Max range for 2022, this ute has had a few updates.

The new X-Terrain, available from December 1, now has a tow bar receiver as standard and a 50kg increase to its Gross Combination Mass, as well as a switchable Lane Support System, and a few interior styling tweaks.

So, are these new changes on a jazzed-up D-Max deserve your attention? Read on.

The X-Terrain is the top-spec variant D-Max. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) The X-Terrain is the top-spec variant D-Max. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our test vehicle, the 22MY X-Terrain 4x4 auto, is priced at $65,900 but, time of writing, Isuzu was offering this variant at $62,990 as a special drive away price.

It has a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and a part-time four-wheel drive system.

Standard features include a 9.0-inch multimedia display with sat-nav, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, an eight-speaker sound system, remote engine start, smart entry and start as well as roof rails, an under-rail tub liner, a hard roller cover on the tray, sports bar, front and rear underbody spoilers, and 18-inch dark grey metallic alloy wheels with 265/60R18 Bridgestone 684II HT tyres.

Standard features include a 9.0-inch multimedia display. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) Standard features include a 9.0-inch multimedia display. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

Most notable updates to the variant with the 22MY refresh include the 50kg GCM increase (taking its GCM total from 5950kg to 6000kg); a factory-fitted tow bar receiver as standard; Lane Support switch on and off; and styling tweaks inside are leather-accented upholstery with red stitching and black interior touches; as well as auto-dimming mirror and heated front seats.

Our test vehicle’s paint job was Obsidian Grey mica. The standard range of paint finishes include Basalt Black mica, Cobalt Blue mica, Mercury Silver metallic, and Mineral White. Premium exterior paint colours include Marble White Pearl, as well as Magnetic Red Mica and Volcanic Amber metallic. 

Featuring 18-inch dark grey metallic alloy wheels. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) Featuring 18-inch dark grey metallic alloy wheels. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The X-Terrain is 5303mm long (with a 3125mm wheelbase), 1880mm wide and 1810mm high.

This new iteration has a dark grey metallic front grille, 'X' branding, and those aforementioned 18-inch dark grey metallic alloy wheels.

The X-Terrain is 5303mm long. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) The X-Terrain is 5303mm long. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

The bulk of the styling tweaks have been made inside and include a new blacked-out instrument cluster with X-Terrain branding, black accents on the dash, doors, steering wheel and air vents, as well as the nice touch of new red stitching on the leather-accented interior. 

The X-Terrain looks good, and suitably outdoorsy, but it wasn’t hard on the eyes before so these changes, while appealing, especially to D-Max fans, aren’t more icing on the cake than actually being necessary.

The X-Terrain looks good. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) The X-Terrain looks good. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The X-Terrain has a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine – producing 140kW@3600rpm and 450Nm@1600-2600rpm.

Now, before you read any further, I’d like to clarify something: in the video review I say about 450Nm “That's not a whole lot of torque, but it delivers it in such a nice fashion – you’ll see, later when we are on-road and off-road – that it makes up for it.”

The X-Terrain has a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) The X-Terrain has a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

Before all of the passionate D-Max fans frantically post angry comments in response to that statement, what I actually meant to say is that while the D-Max’s engine is not the torquiest 4WD ute engine in the world, it delivers that torque in such a nice fashion that it more than makes up for it, with ample torque available across a wide rev range.

Make sense? No? Keep reading.

The engine is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and this combination is a proven one and works really well. 

The X-Terrain has a part-time 4WD system. It has a dual-range transfer case (with high-and low-range 4WD), an off-road traction control system and a rear diff-lock. The driver is able to shift from 2H (two-wheel drive, high range) to 4H (4WD high range) while on the move, and up to speeds of 100km/h, The diff-lock may only be engaged when the vehicle is in 4L (4WD low range).

How practical is the space inside?

Other than styling tweaks, there are no massive changes inside the new X-terrain.

If you've spent any time in a ute, any time in a D-Max, you should know what to expect in the back row: it’s a functional space, comfortable, with sufficient room, head, leg, and knee, and you get plenty of the usual storage spaces: cup holders in the fold-down arm-rest, map pockets in the backs of the seats, and the moulded receptacles in the doors for water bottles and that sort of thing. 

There are no massive changes inside the new X-terrain. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) There are no massive changes inside the new X-terrain. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

There are air vents and a USB charging point in the back of the centre console, and a pop-out cargo hook in the Bach of the front passenger seat on which to hang a shopping bag.

Upfront, is a little bit snazzier with more piano-black inserts, leather-accented upholstery and red stitching, as well as the 9.0-inch multimedia touch screen, plenty of storage spaces and it's all pretty easy to use and access. 

The X-Terrain cabin is a nice mix of functionality with a premium feel to everything. 

The back row is a functional space. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) The back row is a functional space. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

What's it like as a daily driver?

Just to give you a general idea of what it’s like to steer around, the X-Terrain had a listed kerb weight of 2165kg and a turning circle of 12.5m. 

Because there are no mechanical changes to this iteration, the X-Terrain remains quite a low-key revelation because it's nowhere near as ordinary on road as people might wrongly assume. It’s actually pretty good on-road – for a ute.

Steering is nice and light, but retains a keen balance about it when you're on the blacktop.

Throttle response is good, with smooth acceleration from a standing start and when you need to gently overtake someone on the highway.

Steering is nice and light. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) Steering is nice and light. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

The engine and transmission remain quite a standout in the D-Max and make this ute a real no-stress performer. 

Ride and handling are well-controlled characteristics, with the suspension set-up – wishbones and coil springs at the front, leaf springs at the rear – working well to subdue the impact of most surface imperfections.

Sure, this ute is still a little bit tractor-like, a little bit truck-like, but Isuzu has worked to smooth out those rough edges and – you know what? – I’m fond of it just the way it is anyway. It may not be quite as refined as something like the Ford Ranger or the VW Amarok, but it's still pretty good. 

There is a little bit of diesel clatter in the background, but otherwise in-cabin NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels are kept to a minimum.

Adding to the D-Max’s positives as a daily driver is the fact that the seats are comfortable, even if you have to spend lots of time in it, either driving or as a passenger. 

This ute is still a little bit tractor-like. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) This ute is still a little bit tractor-like. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

What's it like for touring?

On dirt tracks and gravel roads on the way to our unofficial 4WD proving and testing ground, the X-Terrain has a nice way of just trucking along, with the engine and transmission working so well together that it has an almost lazy quality about it, making it a relaxing drive.

The transmission’s never searching up and down for the sweet spot; it’s always right where it needs to be.

The X-Terrain has a nice way of just trucking along. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) The X-Terrain has a nice way of just trucking along. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

The issue of the suspension set-up on utes is always a bit of an elephant in the room because it's never going to be as well sorted as a wagon or a strictly road-going vehicle. Having said that, the D-Max’s suspension does a good job of keeping everything settled and controlled on-road and even when the road gets rougher. 

Just a gentle reminder that there are no mechanical or off-road driver-assist tech changes to this D-Max, which is fine because it’s a rock-solid 4WD in stock standard form. 

The X-Terrain has a claimed 240mm of ground clearance, a wading depth of 800mm and approach, departure and ramp-over angles of 30.5 degrees, 19.0 degrees, and 23.8 degrees, respectively. That's all pretty standard for an unmodified dual-cab ute of this kind.

The X-Terrain has a claimed wading depth of 800mm. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) The X-Terrain has a claimed wading depth of 800mm. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

The engine and transmission work really well on-road and are really good off-road when it’s time for low-speed, low-range 4WDing as well. 

There’s a lot to like about this engine: it never feels stressed, you can keep revs nice and low and there’s never any need to rev the hell out of it because it ticks along nicely. 

There is plenty of torque accessible across a wide rev range, and that means a lot when you're 4WDing.

There is plenty of torque accessible across a wide rev range. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) There is plenty of torque accessible across a wide rev range. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

Low-range gearing is good, throttle response is sound – with a pedal that’s not too sensitive to bouncing and bumping – and traction control is effective. While I have praised the tweaked off-road traction control in recent reviews, I've since re-evaluated my opinion of it somewhat and the Isuzu ute’s traction control just doesn't quite feel as refined as the systems in some of its rivals. It is good, it is effective, but it just lacks that tiny bit of quiet efficacy that some of the other systems exhibit.

Adding to the D-Max’s off-road weapons systems, the rear diff lock can be engaged at speeds up to 8km/h and only when you're in four-wheel drive low-range (4L). It will disengage when you hit 30km/h or more. Note: when you engage the diff lock, off-road traction control is disengaged.

It’s a great addition and one that’ll help to keep you moving along off-road on traction-compromised terrain and ultimately give you more peace of mind on the tracks.

Hill descent control is impressive, holding us to a controlled 3-4km/h while driving down some steep set-pieces. 

Hill descent control is impressive. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) Hill descent control is impressive. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

And while the X-Terrain is generally an impressive off-roader in stock-standard guise, there are a few trade offs – and one of those is something that I’ve noted before in a lot of contemporary utes and the same goes for the D-Max. As mentioned, it has a listed 240mm ground clearance, but it feels vulnerable to scrubbing dirt with its undercarriage and side steps. This is the way of most modern utes though. The new D-Max does have a longer wheelbase and shorter body than before and the fact it has pronounced side steps doesn’t help either, but this low-riding sensation can be negated with slower, more considered driving, but should be resolved with an aftermarket suspension / lift if you want to use your D-Max as an off-road tourer for destinations beyond the beaten tracks.

The other trade-off is its showroom tyres. It’s entirely understandable that a vehicle manufacturer puts road-biased rubber on their lifestyle vehicles because that rubber is going to yield a quiet, comfortable ride on-road, but the weaknesses of such tyres are quickly exposed when you’re off-road; they’re just not suited for 4WDing. But this is a minor problem easily fixed by sourcing a set of decent all-terrain tyres.

If you’re planning to use your X-Terrain as a platform for your off-road adventures, you’ll be interested in its load-carrying capacities, so here they are: payload is listed as 935kg, unbraked towing capacity is 750kg and braked towing capacity is 3500kg.

The tray has a robust tub liner, with two tie-down points (not enough) near the rear and the hard tonneau roller-cover that is manually opened and closed and, when opened, retracts into a roller drum at the cabin end of the tray.

The tray has a robust tub liner. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) The tray has a robust tub liner. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

The tray itself is 1570mm long (at floor height), 1530mm wide (1122mm wide between wheel arches) and the load-space is 490mm deep.

The X-Terrain's roller-top cover over its tray affords whatever is stowed in the back some protection from the weather and thieves, but we’ve experienced minor issues with its operation on previous tests. It looks stylish but on our most recent long-term test, the roller top’s rails became gummed up with bush debris (leaves, dirt and grit) on several bush trips and opening/closing it became increasingly difficult.

This time? No such strife. But, keep in mind, we didn’t take this X-Terrain on anywhere near as many bush trips as we did in the long-termer. Food for thought.

Featuring a roller-top cover. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) Featuring a roller-top cover. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

Some of the news of substance with this range refresh is the increase in the X-Terrain’s gross combined mass by 50 kilograms, from 5950kg to 6000kg. That may not seem like a huge amount of weight but every little bit helps when it comes to packing for off-road trips. In practical terms, that 50kg increase means you are given a little bit more leeway with how much you can take away with you, onboard and towing (GCM).

How much fuel does it consume?

Official fuel consumption is 8.0L/100km on a combined cycle.

On this test I recorded actual fuel consumption of 9.8L/100km. 

The D-Max has a 76-litre fuel tank, so, going by those fuel-consumption figures, I’d expect an effective touring in range of about 745km, but remember that it’s a good idea to take about 30km-50km* off any calculated touring-range figure to give it a built-in safe-distance buffer. (Opt for the higher or lower figure depending on how risk-averse you are.)

That's a fair travelling distance for a contemporary dual-cab ute, but keep in mind that your fuel-consumption will no doubt be higher than that because you'll be carrying a lot more gear than we were on test (vehicle-recovery equipment, portable air compressor, tool bag, puncture-repair kit, tyre deflator, food and water).

The D-Max has a 76-litre fuel tank. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) The D-Max has a 76-litre fuel tank. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The D-Max has a six-year/150,000km warranty and seven years of roadside assistance. 

That’s good in terms of years, and adequate if you’re not covering huge distances, but some rivals, including much cheaper Chinese-built utes, are covered by unlimited km warranties.

The D-Max has a six-year/150,000km warranty. (image credit: Glen Sullivan) The D-Max has a six-year/150,000km warranty. (image credit: Glen Sullivan)

Service intervals are scheduled for every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs soonest. 

Capped Price Servicing covers the first seven scheduled services. The cost per service is $409 at 15,000km, $429 at 30,000km, $629 at 45,000km, $529 at 60,000km, $319 at 75,000km, $769 at 90,000km, and $429 at 105,000km – for a total cost of $3513, according to Isuzu.

This refreshed D-Max X-Terrain is the just the latest in a long line of utes to have received the vehicular equivalent of a nip-and-tuck, which it doesn't actually need, but that the vehicle manufacturer believes the punters will want.

The tow bar receiver as standard and GCM increase are nice practical touches, but the other mostly cosmetic changes don’t add any meat to the bones of what is already a pretty good ute.

Overall, the D-Max is an impressive example of good old-fashioned grunt backed by driver-assist tech to deliver a safe and stress-free driving experience. And the meaningful changes to this update – not the styling kind – have simply added to the appeal of a very comfortable and very capable all-rounder.

$65,900

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Adventure score

4/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide

$65,900

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.