Browse over 9,000 car reviews

An Isuzu D-Max to rival the Ford Ranger Raptor? 'There is always potential' according to executive

The Isuzu D-Max currently tops out in X-Terrain form in Australia, but overseas there is the Arctic Trucks AT35 available.

Isuzu is open to building its own flagship D-Max ute to take on the Ford Ranger Raptor, although it doesn’t look like the Japanese brand has anything cooking at the moment.

Speaking to CarsGuide at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show last month, Isuzu Motors Limited Vice-President of Corporate Strategy Division, Konstantin Kriegelsteiner, said the brand likes to keep its finger on the pulse when it comes to customer needs.

“We agree there is always potential to make it [D-Max] a little more heavy duty and so on,” he said.

“But for the time being, we look at the main markets – which is as you know, bigger markets like Australia, England, Thailand – and what do the customers want?

“They want a reliable and strong, but economical, workhorse.

“We’re trying to give the customers what they need, of course.”

As a reminder, the Isuzu D-Max currently tops out with the X-Terrain variant for $67,500 before on-road costs in Australia, and is powered by a 140kW/450Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine.

The Ford Ranger Raptor meanwhile, is positioned at $87,990, but features a fire-breathing 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 with 292kW/583Nm at its disposal, leaving a large gulf between it and the flagship Isuzu D-Max.

Kriegelsteiner pointed towards the Arctic Trucks-tuned D-Max models as a potential signifier of a hardcore D-Max, but it is unclear if Isuzu would borrow design inspirations or try and copy the capabilities of the AT35.

While Isuzu Ute Australia does not offer the Arctic Trucks AT35, UK customers have access to the more aggressively-styled ute for £50,000 or AUD$96,235 when directly converted.

With a more butch exterior thanks to wider fenders, a jacked-up ride height and chunky all-terrain tyres, the Arctic Trucks AT35 looks every bit a match for the Ford Ranger Raptor, but power-hungry customers might be left wanting.

Under the bonnet is the smaller 1.9-litre-litre turbo-diesel engine with outputs reaching just 121kW/360Nm, resulting in a 0-100km/h acceleration time of around 13 seconds.

Isuzu’s D-Max is due for a moderate refresh next year that will update styling and equipment levels, but we’ll likely have to wait a bit longer to see if the brand can deliver on its appetite to build a halo ute.