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Isuzu D-Max LS-T 2012 Review

Isuzu D-Max LS-T
EXPERT RATING
7

When you've only got one vehicle on sale, it better be a good one. If off-road ability rates ahead of cabin ambience, the Isuzu D-Max has just that. In terms of solidity and reliability it has the credentials to make life tough for the the established four-wheel drive utes.

Its four-cylinder engine gives away torque to its rivals but makes up for it with a ruggedness that is hard to argue with.

VALUE

At $50,700 the Isuzu LS-T is relying on reputation and build quality rather than discount pricing to win sales. The top-spec BT-50 is $51,140 and the XLT Ranger is $53,390. Both have a more car-like interior and more torque.

Closer to home, the Holden Colorado shares the Isuzu's platform and interior styling and its 2.8-litre donk brings a 3.5-tonne tow rating against 3.0-tonnes for the Isuzu's 3.0-litre turbodiesel four. It doesn't have the features or off-road cred of the Isuzu, though. The LS-T's advantages include leather seats, a reversing camera and satnav on the 6.5-inch touchscreen, comfier rear seats and hill ascent/descent control.

TECHNOLOGY

As a truck builder and long-term ute builder, Isuzu knows a bit about body-on-frame chassis. Software to help with horrendous off-road conditions is a smart move, as is the fitment of the Clarion-sourced touchscreen.

The downside of that screen is the fact audio controls aren't on the steering wheel, meaning the driver's eyes are momentarily off the road when changing volume or stations. There is a remote control for the passenger to play with, though and a USB connection is secreted in the glovebox.

DESIGN

Much like the Ford/Mazda duo, the Isuzu has the edge in looks over the Colorado in the eyes of this beholder. It looks tough, if not as slab-sided as the Ranger. The rear pews slope backwards so passengers are at least semi-comfortable.

It needs some weight in the tray to avoid jolting through the rear leaf springs and the interior is looking dated compared to the class leaders. Hard plastics and a lack of glossy highlights are great for the workhorse models but don't give the high-end LS-T a quality look.

SAFETY

Six airbags ensure occupant protection but the D-Max only earned a four-star rating by EuroNCAP, which says chest and leg protection is marginal in a frontal crash. The side impact crash caused no damage to the dummy but passenger protection - like most vehicles in this class - isn't great.

DRIVING

Competent on road, capable off it. That sums up the Isuzu and points to it being a smart choice for owners who want a genuine 4x4 ute without owning something as big as the Ranger. The ride is a touch jittery in the rear when the tray is unloaded but settles down with 200kg of cement.

Direct steering helps when driving on narrow lanes and in carparks and it's backed by a decent amount of feedback when the D-Max is cornering. The electric-powered driver's seat is a bonus but the wheel can't be adjusted for reach.  On paper, the four-cylinder engine lacks torque compared to its rivals but on the road that won't be felt unless owners are approaching the tow limit.

The five-speed auto lacks a cog compared to the class leaders but still has great fuel use at 8.1 litres over 100km. Engine noise is also a touch louder than the leaders, with muted clatter at idle and on full throttle.

VERDICT

The Isuzu is a serious 4WD but that comes at the expense of cabin civility at a time when the class leaders are getting soft and citifed at least on the inside. For that reason I'd spend the extra $700 and garage the Mazda as a tradies' runabout, but if I was looking for a purposeful off-roader, it'd be hard to go past the D-Max.

Isuzu D-Max LS-T Crewcab
Price: $50,700
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Service intervals: Six months/10,000km
Safety: Six airbas, ABS, TC, ESC, hill ascent/descent
Engine: 3.0-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder, 130kW/363Nm
Transmission: Five-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Dimensions: 5.3m (L), 1.86m (W), 1.8m (H)
Weight: 2950kg
Thirst: 8.1L/100km (diesel), 214g/km CO2
Spare: Full-size

Pricing guides

$25,452
Based on 96 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$11,950
Highest Price
$36,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
EX (4X4) 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $10,600 – 15,510 2012 Isuzu D-Max 2012 EX (4X4) Pricing and Specs
EX (4x4) Farm Mate 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $11,800 – 17,270 2012 Isuzu D-Max 2012 EX (4x4) Farm Mate Pricing and Specs
LE 111 3.0L, Diesel, 4 SP AUTO $17,400 – 24,200 2012 Isuzu D-Max 2012 LE 111 Pricing and Specs
LS (4X2) 3.0L, Diesel, 4 SP AUTO $13,000 – 18,810 2012 Isuzu D-Max 2012 LS (4X2) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
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.