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Isuzu D-Max


Volkswagen Transporter

Summary

Isuzu D-Max

This has been a long time coming - an all-new Isuzu D-Max. It’s here, and it has changed the game in the ute segment forever. 

Seem like an overstatement? Really, it isn’t. There are elements of the Isuzu D-Max 2021 model which set the pace for the dual cab ute segment. No other pick-up or cab-chassis ute offers as much safety tech, but that’s just the beginning.

In this review we’ll cover off all the important parts of the all-new D-Max, including the cabin space and presentation, safety tech, pricing and specs for the model range, ownership credentials and of course, how it drives - on-road, and off-road. There’s a lot to get through, so let’s get to it.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8L/100km
Seating5 seats

Volkswagen Transporter

The Volkswagen Transporter range has been revised for 2021, with the new T6.1 line-up - as VW calls it - retaining an array of options for business buyers.

There’s the traditional vans in both short and long wheelbase, as well as a Crew Van option, and cab-chassis ute versions.

As has long been the case, VW Australia has gone with a relatively complex line-up of models, but also with a huge array of personalisation options for customers to tailor their vehicle to their specific requirements.

As well as that, the new model offers enhanced safety, technology, and a revised look. Is it enough to keep the mid-size VW van in the mix against the impressive Toyota HiAce, Ford Transit Custom and Peugeot Partner? Let’s find out.

 

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.9L/100km
Seating3 seats

Verdict

Isuzu D-Max8.3/10

The all-new Isuzu D-Max appears to be a massive step forward for the brand - but perhaps more importantly, it also pushes the entire ute segment ahead, with new safety technologies that are often reserved for luxury brands.

The fact Isuzu has democratised safety across its range is worthy of applause, and it therefore makes it a bit hard to choose a sweet spot in the range. But based on the fact that there are drive-away deals being done, and the D-Max X-Terrain - at less than $60k drive-away - undercuts similar offerings from Ford and Toyota by thousands of bucks, makes it our pick of the range.

That may change once we spend some time in the broad-ranging SX trim line, but for now, the X-Terrain seems hard to pass up. Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Volkswagen Transporter7.9/10

There are more affordable vans out there to purchase and own. But not many offer the level of personalisation and quality, not to mention ease-of-use and drivability as the VW T6.1 Transporter range. 

My pick would be a TDI340 DSG van in LWB, but there are several choices that would suit multiple different user cases. 
 

Design

Isuzu D-Max8/10

Say what you will about the vampire grille, there are lots of major changes around the body of the D-Max. It is all-new, and that means it was treated to a clean sheet design that is more modern, more aggressive, more sleek and yet still entirely recognisable as an Isuzu.

It still has smallish headlights, a broad grille, and a recognisable ute silhouette. I think it looks good as a single cab, extra cab or dual cab, and Isuzu has managed to make the D-Max a little bit shorter than it used to be (30mm), but all D-Max models get a longer wheelbase to help settle things down and make it more stable.

Just a word of warning - this part of the review gets heavy on dimensions.

First, here’s a table of the body dimensions:

 

Single cab

Extra cab

Dual cab

Length

5325mm

5265mm-5285mm

5265mm-5280mm

Wheelbase

3125mm

3125mm

3125mm

Width

1870mm

1870mm

1870mm-1880mm

Height

1790mm

1785mm-1800mm

1785mm-1810mm

The dimensions vary depending on the variant and the tray body fitted if it’s a cab chassis. But there’s nothing really out of the ordinary here.

When it comes to load space dimensions, things are also dependent on the tray for cab chassis bodies, but the following figures are for a factory-offered tray. 

 

Single cab-chassis

Extra cab-chassis

Extra cab ute

Dual cab-chassis

Dual cab ute

Cargo floor length

2550mm

2100mm

1835mm

1800mm

1570mm

Width

1777mm

1777mm

1530mm

1777mm

1530mm

Width between wheel arches

-

-

1122mm

-

1122mm

Depth

-

-

490mm

-

490mm

The D-Max isn’t unusual in not offering enough space between the wheel-arches for an Aussie pallet (1165mm by 1165mm), so don’t go buying a pick-up and expect to be able to do the delivery run if it involves pallets.

Okay, so what about payload capacity for the different body styles in the range? Only one dips below the one-tonne expectation, as you’ll seen below - and remember, cab-chassis models will be affected by the weight of the tray body fitted, and these figures are:

 

Single cab-chassis

Extra cab-chassis

Extra cab ute

Dual cab-chassis

Dual cab ute

Payload capacity

1300-1320kg

1240-1250kg

1090-1100kg

1175kg-1200kg

970kg-1080kg

Gross vehicle mass (GVM)

3000kg (4x2) / 3100kg (4x4)

Gross combination mass (GCM)

5850kg (4x2) / 5950kg (4x4)

Towing capacity

750kg unbraked / 3500kg braked

 

You will no doubt want to know the off road dimensions and angles, too. And because there’s no low-riding model any more, even the 4x2 versions - which have the High-Ride chassis - are more accommodating to drivers who wish to jump gutters or need to deal with gravel tracks and potholes.

But to keep it within the realms of use, we’re just covering off the 4x4 models in terms of off-road specs below:

 

Single cab-chassis

Extra cab-chassis

Extra cab ute

Dual cab-chassis

Dual cab ute

Ground clearance mm

235mm

235mm

240mm

235mm

235mm (LS-M),  240mm (LS-U / X Terrain)

Approach angle 

29.6

30.0

30.5

30.0

30.0 (LS-M), 30.5 (LS-U / X Terrain)

Break over/ramp over angle

23.9

23.9

23.8

23.9

23.3 (SX / LS-M), 23.8 (LS-U / X Terrain)

Departure angle

28.9

27.0

24.2

27.0

23.9 (SX / LS-M), 24.2 (LS-U / X Terrain)

Wading depth

800mm

That’s a lot of numerical data to take in. But rest assured, we’ll cover off how the D-Max’s off-road dimensions translate to its ability when we get to the driving section. 


Volkswagen Transporter8/10

There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter. You mightn’t be able to tell them if you’re not looking closely, but that’s only going to help resale values of the existing model…



But the distinct little lines that run back from the headlights (like mascara, I’m told) that say “Transporter” in them are a nice touch, and it’s overall a really neat design. Always has been.



Now, let’s consider some of the other implications of design, namely on the vehicle’s dimensions. Here’s a table to make it easier to digest.

 

SWB Van

LWB Van

LWB High roof 

Single Cab Chassis

Dual Cab Chassis

Length

4904mm

5304mm

5304mm

5500mm

5500mm

Wheelbase

3000mm

3400mm

3400mm

3400mm

3400mm

Width

1904mm

1904mm

1904mm

1994mm

1994mm

Height

1990mm

1990mm

2477mm

1948mm

1948mm

As you can see, there’s a lot of precision measurements there.

What about the cargo area, then? Here’s a rundown of those figures.
 

 

SWB Van

LWB Van

LWB High roof 

Single Cab Chassis

Dual Cab Chassis

Cargo length

2572mm (without partition)

 

2975mm (without partition)

2939mm

2169mm

Cargo width

1700mm

1700mm

1940mm

1940mm

Width between arches

1244mm

1244mm

N/A

N/A

Cargo height

1410mm

1410mm

1940mm

392mm (tray depth)

392mm (tray depth)

Cargo volume

5.8m3

6.7m3

9.3m3

N/A

N/A

The Crewvan versions have a second row in the back, so load length is lessened - there’s 1600mm in the SWB and 1967mm in the LWB. SWB models have six tie-down lashings, while LWB models get eight. The cargo volume for the normal roof SWB Crewvan is 3.5m3, and the LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m3 of cargo space. 



That’s all the dimensions taken care of, but you might also be interested in some ‘off road dimensions’ especially if you’re going for a 4Motion version. The vans range between 201mm and 202mm of ground clearance, while Cab Chassis models run 202mm unladen.

There are also optional off road suspension setups available with revised shocks and springs, and even stabilizer bar upgrades if needed. No changes to ride height or approach, departure and breakover angles, though.

What about payload capabilities? Here’s a rundown of load capacity for the vans and cab chassis models, including towing capacity.

 

Van (SWB, LWB, Crewvan)

Cab-chassis

Payload capacity

951kg to 1220kg

853kg to 1056kg

Gross vehicle mass (GVM)

2800kg (TDI250), 3000kg (all others)

Gross combination mass (GCM)

5500kg (all variants)

Towing capacity

750kg unbraked / 2500kg braked

Next, let’s take a look inside the revised cabin of the T6.1 Transporter.

Practicality

Isuzu D-Max8/10

The first impression you get in higher grade D-Max models is that it has made more than a stride in the right direction - it has looked over its shoulder at the existing interior, and run for the hills to start a new life.

That’s because the cabin has been completely overhauled. The LS-U and X-Terrain versions adopt a class-leading 9.0-inch media screen, while in the lower grades there’s a 7.0-inch screen - which, yes, does look a little too small for the surrounding bezel, but still offers wireless Apple CarPlay and USB-connect Android Auto

The screen is let down somewhat by a lack of volume and channel dials/knobs - instead it has buttons underneath, which are slower and more fidgety, especially when you’re driving. Oh, and the D-Max’s default noises that accompanies every button press is certainly not to Aussie tastes - but you can turn it off, thankfully. 

The LS-U and X-Terrain both get inbuilt GPS sat nav, and the media system’s controls and menus are colourful but perhaps a little confusing. You get used to it - I mean, if you could live with the media screen in the old D-Max, this is going to be like finding a bunch of presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

The materials are of a high perceived quality, including soft-touch plastics on the doors and dashtop - plus the LS-U and X-Terrain models get a really pleasant leather-trimmed steering wheel. To get yourself comfy there is height adjustment for the driver’s seat, reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel, steering wheel audio and cruise control buttons, and conventional stalks for lights and wipers. And for what it’s worth, our team reckon the seats are more comfy in the D-Max than plenty of the other utes in the class.

There’s a digital driver info screen with digital speedometer, but - like the main screen - it takes a bit of learning. 

The D-Max’s dashboard design is eye-catching, but still packs in all the smarts you’d expect. There’s still a pair of pop-out cup holders on the edges, there’s still a pop-up opening on top of the dash (which works properly, this time around!), and a double glovebox, too. Plus there are big cupholders between the seats, a decent centre console bin, and bottle holders in the front door pockets.

In the back there is a pair of cup holders in a flip-down armrest in the LS-U and X-Terrain, plus all dual cabs get door pockets with bottle holders, and there are rear seat directional airvents, too. 

Space in the second row is good - with the driver’s seat set for my position (I’m 182cm / 6’0” tall)  there was enough space for me to move my knees and toes, and I had a good amount of headroom, too. 

Three adults will be able to fit across the back, but if you have children, keep in mind there are outboard ISOFIX child seat anchor points and a centre-mount top tether point for two top-tether attachments. You have to loop the restraints through behind the outboard headrests. That means you legally can’t fit three baby seats across the back… but that’s normal for this class of vehicle.


Volkswagen Transporter9/10

The cabin of the VW Transporter has always been a thoughtful place, a suitable workspace for those who don’t just drive places, but also do paperwork in their ‘mobile office’.

That comes down to a clever level of storage, amenities and comfort. 

Let’s start with storage, as there are caddies and cubbies for loose items, documents and more. On the dash top there’s a folder holder, and there’s a shelf section above the glovebox. There are cup holders on top of the edges of the dash, too, and the door pockets have huge storage trenches with bottle holders. 

Seat comfort is excellent, with good adjustment for the driver, and reach/rake adjustment for the leather-lined steering wheel, which is standard in all grades. The only thing missing is a grab handle to haul yourself into the seat if you’re shorter.

There’s a manual handbrake down on the floor to the left of the driver which is a reach for shorties, too (I wonder if the next-gen model might finally get an electric park brake?), and the new dashboard design has repositioned one of the driver’s air-vents a long way from them. The air-conditioning in one of the test vans was also a bit weak for a warm Aussie day.

But the dash design is attractive and certainly more modern than before, with more angular finishes and new media screens across the range. Though they aren’t that new compared to the brand’s non-commercial offerings, with the 6.5-inch touchscreen unit still offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and two USB-C ports (so you’ll need an adaptor or a new phone cable).

In the Crewvan the back seat space was comfortable but lacking a few features. At the very least, for tradie mums and dads there are dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points with two top-tether attachment hooks in the rear door area above the cargo hold. The back seat is removable if you only need it sometimes, too.
 

Price and features

Isuzu D-Max8/10

A lot of pundits out there have claimed the all-new 2021 D-Max range is too expensive. The counter argument goes that you get what you pay for, and nothing comes for free.

I subscribe to the latter school of thought, and while it has to be stated that Isuzu Australia admits it has been seen as a cheap and cheerful brand in years gone by, the new-generation D-Max will see the company push customers into higher price points than they might otherwise have been willing to pay.

But there’s good reason for the increased cost. The price list starts at $32,200 (MSRP/RRP) before on-road costs, and spans through to the flagship model at $62,900 (MSRP/RRP).

Those are the list prices, but Isuzu Australia has already said that it has drive-away deals running on multiple models in the line-up - the entry level SX cab chassis 2WD, for instance, will be available for $29,990 drive-away, while the flagship X-Terrain has promo pricing of $58,990 on the road - essentially a $10,000 discount straight off the bat!

Okay, let’s break it down in terms of the model grades.

The SX is the broadest reaching badge in the D-Max line-up. You can have it in single-cab, extra-cab and dual-cab body styles, as well as in 2WD/RWD/4x2 (but there is no low-ride model anymore) or 4WD/4x4. All D-Max models come with the same engine, but there’s a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Here’s a table to make it easier to understand the SX line-up.

ISUZU D-MAX SX RANGE

Drivetrain

Body type

Transmission

RRP



 

4x2

 

Single cab-chassis

Manual

$32,200

Automatic

$34,200

Extra cab ute

Automatic

$38,900

Dual cab-chassis

Automatic

$40,700

Crew cab ute

Automatic

$41,900







 

4x4

 

Single cab-chassis

Manual

$40,200

Automatic

$42,200

 

Extra cab-chassis

Manual

$43,700

Automatic

$45,700

 

Dual cab-chassis 

Manual

$46,700

Automatic

$48,700

 

Dual cab ute

Manual

$47,900

Automatic

$49,900

In terms of standard equipment for the SX, the list comprises: manual air-conditioning, power windows, power mirrors, automatic wipers, a 4.2-inch customisable driver display, a 7.0-inch multimedia screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, a four-speaker sound system and voice commands, cloth interior trim, rubber flooring, tilt and telescoping multi-function steering wheel, 17-inch steel wheels and a matte grey front grille. Dual cab models have rear seat directional air vents, too.

How many seats in the D-Max? Single cab and space cab/extra cab models have two seats only, while dual cab variants have five seats.

The second tier up the D-Max range is the LS-M. Here are the parameters of this variant: 

ISUZU D-MAX LS-M RANGE

Drivetrain

Body type

Transmission

RRP

 

4x4

 

Dual cab ute

Manual

$51,000

Automatic

$53,000

Considering the step up from the SX to the LS-M? For the extra outlay you’ll score 17-inch alloy wheels, body colour door handles and mirror caps, as well as LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lights, and inside the sound system gains two additional speakers (for a total of six) while the rear seat occupants get a USB port. 

Above the LS-M sits the LS-U variant, which is more easily differentiated due to a number of exterior changes. First, here are the LS-U options available:

ISUZU D-MAX LS-U RANGE

Drivetrain

Body type

Transmission

RRP

4x2

Dual cab ute

Automatic

$48,900

 

4x4

Extra cab ute

Automatic

$53,900

 

Dual cab ute

Manual

$54,900

Automatic

$56,900

That’s right, you can get a high-grade 4x2 LS-U, or the 4x4 in a few different configurations. As for standard equipment, there’s a decent jump up in terms of spec: 18-inch alloys, a chrome grille, chrome mirror caps and door handles, blacked-out B-pillars, dual-zone climate control, electronic lumbar adjust for the driver’s seat, carpet flooring, a 9.0-inch multimedia screen with satellite navigation, and leather steering wheel. The LS-U dual cab gets an eight-speaker stereo, while the two-seat Space Cab has six speakers - yep, only two seats for the extra cab models this time around.

And the new range topping model is the X-Terrain, and boy do you get some kit for your cash here.

ISUZU D-MAX X-TERRAIN RANGE

Drivetrain

Body type

Transmission

RRP

4x4

Dual cab ute

Automatic

$62,900

The X-Terrain has been to the same finishing school as the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, that’s for sure - so it’s no surprise that there are a bunch of additional sporty extras fitted to this model, including: dark-grey-coloured aero sports bar, side steps, front grille, door and tailgate handles, and side mirrors, dark grey 18-inch wheels, a roller tonneau cover, an under rail tub liner, front and rear underbody spoilers.

Plus the spec list adds keyless entry, push-button start, a leather-accented interior, driver’s electric seat adjustment, and remote engine start over all the LS-U gear.

What’s missing from the entire D-Max range? There is no auto dimming rearview mirror, no seat heating or seat cooling, and no passenger seat electric adjustment. 

And if you’re wondering about accessories, there are more than 50 genuine items in the Isuzu D-Max accessories catalog, including: bull bar and nudge bar options, roof rack, roof box, canopy, tub liner, window tint, headlight protector, bonnet protector, snorkel, side steps, and - of course - floor mats. 

Trying to figure out which colour you’ll choose? There are eight options, but 'Marble White pearl' and 'Magnetic Red mica' are exclusive to LS-U and X-Terrain grades, while the X-Terrain grade has exclusive access to 'Volcanic Amber metallic'. The others are: Mineral White, Cobalt Blue mica, Basalt Black mica, Mercury Silver metallic, and Obsidian Grey mica. All the metallic paint choices add $500.


Volkswagen Transporter7/10

This is going to be complicated.

There are so many ways to build your VW Transporter T6.1 that you almost need a maths degree to ascertain the number of possible combinations and permutations.

Suffice to say, though, that the range starts under forty grand for a basic, low-powered manual front-wheel drive (FWD) short wheelbase (SWB), through to a high grade 4Motion all-wheel drive (4WD) long wheelbase (LWB) with a dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission.



To make it easier - we hope! - here is a table to break down the Transporter van line-up for you. All Transporter vans come with a two-seat layout as standard, but you can option a bench front passenger seat (pushing accommodation to three seats) for $610 more. The cab-chassis single-cab and dual-cab versions both have a three-seat front setup (so, total three seats in single cab, six in dual cab).

VW TRANSPORTER T6.1 VAN RANGE

Body type

Engine 

Drivetrain

Price (MSRP)







 

SWB Van

TDI250

5-sp manual FWD

$38,990

 

TDI340

6-sp manual FWD

$41,990

7-sp DSG FWD

$44,990

7-sp DSG AWD

$47,990

 

TDI450

7-sp DSG FWD

$50,990

7-sp DSG AWD

$53,990



 

LWB Van

 

TDI340

6-sp manual FWD

$44,990

7-sp DSG FWD

$47,990

7-sp DSG AWD

$50,990

 

TDI450

7-sp DSG FWD

$53,990

7-sp DSG AWD

$56,990

There’s also the Transporter Crew Van range, with those versions getting a five-seat layout with a removable second-row bench. The bench has dual ISOFIX points built into the outboard positions, and there are top-tether restraints in the rear roof.

 

VW TRANSPORTER T6.1 CREW VAN RANGE

Body type

Engine 

Drivetrain

Price (MSRP)

 

SWB Crewvan

 

TDI340

7-sp DSG FWD

$51,490

7-sp DSG AWD

$54,490

 

LWB Crewvan

 

TDI340

7-sp DSG FWD

$54,490

7-sp DSG AWD

$57,490

You may have noted that the entry-level and higher-spec powertrains aren’t available in the Crew Van, but they are the go-to options for the cab-chassis versions of the Transporter.

Below is a price list of the Transporter Single Cab and Transporter Dual Cab models, all of which come with a factory fit tray.
 

VW TRANSPORTER T6.1 CAB CHASSIS RANGE

Body type

Engine 

Drivetrain

Price (MSRP)

 

LWB Single Cab

 

TDI450

7-sp DSG FWD

$55,490

7-sp DSG AWD

$58,490

 

LWB Double Cab

 

TDI450

7-sp DSG FWD

$57,490

7-sp DSG AWD

$60,490

Okay, so what about standard equipment for the Transporter range? All grades have standard halogen headlights and daytime running lights, and 16- or 17-inch steel wheels (with optional alloys for the TD340 and TDI450), cloth interior trim, LED interior lighting for cabin and cargo area, rubber floors in the cabin, a multimedia system with a 6.5-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two USB-C ports and Bluetooth connectivity. You can option navigation for $1600, but there’s a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto headlights, and auto wipers.



Standard safety tech is improved compared to the previous version - a full rundown can be found in the safety section below - but there’s a reversing camera on all van models (if not equipped with barn doors), while the cab-chassis versions miss out on this important technology.

VW has long forged a position of “build it the way you want it” in the van market, and the T6.1 range is no different. There are hundreds of potential variations on the theme, though note that the standard layout for van models is a kerb-side sliding door and a tailgate. You can option a driver’s side slider ($1300; with power latching - $1520), a kerb-side power latching sliding door ($290), fully electric doors ($860 kerb only, $3600 kerb and driver), side windows ($420 per), sliding side windows ($920 per side), a fixed partition with window ($710), rear airconditioning setup ($1220) or the Transport Package, with a fixed partition (no window), full side plywood trim, two additional tie-downs and side lashing points ($1690).



Choose a van and want the High Roof pack, and you must have barn doors at the back, which deletes the availability of a reversing camera, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. And it’ll cost you between $1790 and $2090, depending on the variant.

A lot of vans may be white, but colours are important for business buyers. There are multiple colour options, including five solid paint options at no cost: Candy White, Ascot Grey, Cherry Red, Luminous Orange and Pure Grey. If you’re willing to pay $1300 you can have your vehicle coated in any of the following hues: Reflex Silver, Indium Grey, Starlight Blue, Ravenna Blue, Deep Black, Mojave Beige, Copper Bronze, Fortana Red or Bay Leaf Green.

Note, for full colour coding it will cost you an additional $1130 (bumpers, mirrors, handles, grille) for vans, and a little less for the cab chassis models to have colour-matched bumpers ($800).

Engine & trans

Isuzu D-Max7/10

For an all-new engine with a bigger capacity than most other motors offered in this part of the market, it is a little disappointing to see the horsepower figure for the new 4JJ3-TCX unit isn’t a bit higher.

With the power output pegged at 140kW (at 3600rpm) and a torque rating of 450Nm (from 1600-2600rpm), the 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine is aiming for a less strained approach than some of its more highly strung four-pot rivals (with up to 157kW and 500Nm).

In practice the engine is a willing thing - more on that in the driving section below.

The motor is paired to the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, and there’s the choice of rear-wheel drive (RWD/2WD), or selectable four-wheel drive (4WD/4x4) with high range (2H and 4H) and low range (4L). 

All D-Max models come with the highest possible towing capacity. The towing rating is 750kg for an unbraked trailer and up to 3500kg for a braked trailer. Tow ball down load - when fitted with the genuine Isuzu towing kit - is 350kg across all variants.


Volkswagen Transporter8/10

Plenty of options here.

You guessed it - it’s easier to show you in the below table.

 

TDI250

TDI340

TDI450

Engine configuration

2.0L turbo-diesel four-cylinder

2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder

2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder

Power output

81kW at 3500rpm

110kW at 3250-3750rpm

146kW at 4000rpm

Torque output

250Nm at 1250-3100rpm

340Nm at 1500-3000rpm

450Nm at 1400-2400rpm

Transmission

5-sp man

6-sp man/7-sp DSG

7-sp DSG

Having three different outputs to choose from could be a compelling argument for some. If you know you’re okay with a low output manual, then why spend up to a more powerful unit? 

Fuel consumption

Isuzu D-Max8/10

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure varies depending on the transmission - but there’s not much in it.

The variance is between 7.7 litres and 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres, across the entire range of engine, transmission, body style and drivetrain configurations.

On test - in a pair of 4x4 automatic utes - we saw a real world consumption figure of 8.9L/100km, which is better than acceptable considering that included urban, highway, country road, gravel track and serious off-road driving.

Fuel tank capacity is 76 litres for all models. There is no long range fuel tank option.

The D-Max range is specced to Euro 5 emissions levels, with between 200g/km and 207g/km CO2 emissions. There is a diesel particulate filter as part of the powertrain, but no Adblue after treatment.

Wondering about a petrol, LPG, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric version of the D-Max? There’s not much on the radar just yet, but the brand has stated it wants to offer a hybrid and/or a downsized engine, if the market demands it. 


Volkswagen Transporter8/10

The fuel consumption figures for the different models in the range vary depending on the application. 

Again, rather than run though it all van by van, here’s a breakdown in a table.
 

 

TDI250

TDI340

TDI450

Combined cycle fuel consumption - van models 

6.9L/100km (FWD man)

7.5L/100km (FWD man)

8.3L/100km (FWD/AWD DSG)

7.3L/100km (FWD DSG)
8.0L/100km (AWD DSG)

Combined cycle fuel consumption - cab-chassis models (FWD)

  

7.6L/100km (single cab FWD DSG)

7.5L/100km (dual cab FWD DSG)

Combined cycle fuel consumption - cab-chassis models (AWD)

  

8.4L/100km (single cab AWD DSG)

8.3L/100k m (dual cab AWD DSG)

Fuel tank capacity for the base model TDI250 is 70L, while the rest of the range has 80L fuel tank size.

The TDI250 has engine start stop-technology, but doesn’t have AdBlue. The manual TDI340 and 4Motion TDI340 and TDI450 models doesn’t have either of those efficiency measures. The TDI340 DSG FWD is the only one with AdBlue and start-stop.

Driving

Isuzu D-Max8/10

When a ute is a ute, it's hard to hide its ute-ness. That was evident in the previous generation version of the D-Max, and - truth be told - still is to a degree in the MU-X SUV.

But the new-generation D-Max is a big step up. It is not only more refined, it’s also easier to drive, more comfortable, and gutsier, too.

In our previous reviews of the D-Max the driving portion - on-road or off - has reflected that the company specialises in trucks. Big trucks. Ones that are more agricultural than amazing. But the new D-Max changes that.

During my time driving the new D-Max (and I had a palate cleansing experience in the existing MU-X between loans!), the thing I noticed most was the improved steering.

The old hydraulic system has been ditched in favour of an electric steering setup, which makes the action considerably lighter and more driver-friendly than it was before. No longer does it feel tractor-like - instead, you get an arm-friendly ease of twirling similar to the Ford Ranger, but still with plenty of feel and feedback through the wheel. 

The turning circle is still large at 12.5 metres, but it takes very little effort to perform three- or five-point turns in narrow streets, because the steering is so pliable.

The suspension in the two dual cab models I tested - the LS-U and X-Terrain - is set to be subtle and well sorted in most situations, but there are still some telltale signs of its hard-working origins. There are some jitters from the rear end without a load on board, but it’s not nearly as thumpy as the last model, and indeed is among the best utes in the segment for unladen ride comfort.

With its revised ladder frame chassis, three-leaf rear suspension and independent front suspension, the way the Isuzu team has chosen to tune the new D-Max is a big step forward. At the time of publication we haven’t had a chance to drive one of the D-Max models with the heavy duty suspension - that’s fitted to SX and LS-M models, and is no doubt stiffer for better load carrying ability - but you can rest assured we will cover that off in future reviews.

The engine isn’t as zesty or quiet as you might hope - the Ranger Bi-turbo and even the facelifted HiLux have sizeable advantages in four-cylinder-ute-land, but it still pulls with enough gusto to get away from a line with ease. There’s a fair bit of diesel engine noise, but it’s not nearly as loud as in the previous generation models.

The revised six-speed automatic offers smart, quick and mostly smooth shifts, though it can be a little eager to shift a lot at higher speed. The logic is trying to step between the higher gears to stay in its torque sweet spot - it’s just a bit more eager to use the gearbox than rely on rumbling along in a higher gear. No doubt that’s partly to help save fuel, too. 

The new Isuzu ute has driver aid like active lane keeping assistance, as it uses a camera system to monitor the road to ensure you keep in your lane and adjust the steering if you’re swaying. Plus the blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert systems work really well, and proved handy both at open road speed and when pulling out of parking spots. 

Okay, that’s the on-road part taken care of. What about the off road review? We’ll dive deeper in an Adventure Guide review coming from Crafty soon, but here’s a quick rundown.

Previously, the traction control system could get in the way when you were dipping in and out of ruts, while the lack of a locking rear differential meant the D-Max could be left at a big disadvantage when things got serious. But now the traction control system is much more adaptable, and - in low range - you can engage the standard-on-4WD-models rear diff lock to help you climb treacherous hills.

Compared to before, the D-Max feels more confident off-road. Perhaps not quite as dialled in to the terrain as a HiLux as the steering is a little light in low speed crawling - but that’s a similar criticism of the Ranger, so really, it’s not a huge issue. On test we did note a bit more belly scraping than we expected with 240mm of claimed ground clearance, but that could come down to the extra wheelbase length, and different design elements, too. 


Volkswagen Transporter9/10

The drive experience is very good. 

At the launch event of the new T6.1 Transporter range, I drove a selection of different models some with weight and some without. 

First was a TDI340 Crewvan with 260kgloaded in, and it was a really nicely sorted drive. 

There was very good ride compliance and comfort. The suspension setup didn’t feel fussy or clunky, and it rode very well. The steering was excellent and very easy to judge, and it was easy to park thanks to its rear side glazing and good sized mirrors - though they aren’t dual pane like some rivals but there is blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, as well as a good reversing camera that made reversing into tight spots easier than it probably should be. 



The TDI340 powertrain offers a really sweet combination, with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic allowing quick and clever shifts. There’s not much to complain about here, and the powertrain is easy to judge even at takeoff from a standing start - the engine’s start-stop system, DSG and diesel lag wasn’t too inhibitive. It felt really well sorted and certainly powerful enough for the vast majority of van drivers’ needs. 

One complaint on our 25C degree test day was that the air conditioning was a little weak, not quite as cold as we would’ve thought it should be. 

I also drove the base model TDI250 five-speed manual as well. This one didn’t have any weight in it and that was probably a calculated move on VW’s PR team’s part, as it is perhaps a little bit underdone in terms of grunt. With no load it was adequate in terms of the pulling power on urban streets but I do think it might struggle at payload limit. 

I also tested the LWB TDI340 DSG unladen, which was easy to steer despite the extra length, offered great ride compliance and comfort (thanks to the extra 400mm of wheelbase), and good steering as well. For me, the TDI340 is the sweet spot for engines – you don’t really need the TDI450 as the 340 is perfectly suitable.

If you do want extra everything, or if all-wheel drive is a must for your vehicle, then the twin-turbo TDI450 is the go. VW’s 4Motion system is excellent at helping you pull a lot of mass without fuss. I drove it in the crew cab chassis, which was surprisingly speedy with 500kg in the tray. 

Safety

Isuzu D-Max10/10

Updated 17/09/2020: The Isuzu D-Max has scored the maximum five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating - and it's the first commercial vehicle to achieve that accolade under the stricter criteria from the safety watchdog for 2020.

And we've given the D-Max five stars in terms of its tech inclusions - that translates to a 10 out of 10 for this part of the test.

Why so high? Well, it comes comprehensively kitted out, and even offers a few segment firsts.

Standard on all models is a reversing camera, auto emergency braking (AEB) that works at speeds over 10km/h, but there’s also mis-acceleration control to lessen the likelihood of lower speed bingles. There is all-speed pedestrian detection and cyclist detection as part of the AEB system, and forward collision warning, too.

The D-Max also gets lane departure warning, active lane keeping assistance (between 60km/h and 130km/h), a turn assist system that can stop you from turning in front of oncoming traffic (operational between 5km/h and 18km/h), blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and all automatic models get adaptive cruise control (manuals get regular cruise).

Every D-Max also has auto high-beam lights as well as auto lights and wipers, not to mention speed sign recognition and warning, and driver fatigue detection. Rear parking sensors are on LS-U and above, and the X-Terrain gets front sensors, too.

Perhaps one of the most interesting inclusions is a front-centre airbag - to protect those in the front seats in the event of a side impact. That is required for a five-star ANCAP rating under 2020 criteria, but the D-Max is the first ute to get it. And all D-Max models also have driver’s knee, dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags, for a total of eight.

As with most other utes, there are dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points and two loop-style top-tether attachments for baby seats, which hook to a centre mounted brace. This is only applicable to dual cab models.


Volkswagen Transporter7/10

There have been advancements to the Transporter’s safety technology list, but the current generation model doesn’t have an ANCAP crash test safety score, and nor did the pre-facelift vehicle. 

All models now come with low speed (up to 30km/h) autonomous emergency braking (AEB) designed for city driving, though it doesn’t have pedestrian or cyclist detection like some rivals. There is blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a reversing camera on van models with the tailgate fitted (barn doors and cab-chassis models miss out on the camera, blind spot and RCTA).

There’s a driver fatigue detection system, and van models score crosswind assist as part of the traction control and stability control system, while all models get the brand’s electronic differential lock to prevent slippage. There’s also multi-collision braking, which ensures you won’t careen into other vehicles after an impact.

Those who want it can option lane keep assist with lane departure warning, though similarly priced vans from rival makers don’t ask extra money for that.
 
There are dual front, front side and curtain airbags for all models. There is no second-row airbag coverage for Crewvan and dual-cab-chassis models.

If you’re looking for a van with more safety technology, be sure to take a squiz at the Toyota HiAce, Ford Transit Custom and Peugeot Expert. 

Ownership

Isuzu D-Max9/10

Whether you’re spending $30,000 or $70,000 on your new ute, there’s a good chance you want it to be reliable.

Well, while we can’t vouch for reliability per se, if there’s a brand with a good reputation for ownership in the ute segment, Isuzu would be it.

The company backs its products with a six-year/150,000km warranty plan, which is among the best of the best. SsangYong has seven years, and Mitsubishi is constantly dabbling there, too.

But Isuzu offers a seven-year capped price servicing plan, with service intervals set every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. The costs are reasonable, considering you don’t have to take it in twice a year (as you do with a HiLux).

The average cost over seven years/105,000km works out at $481.85 per visit. But if you want a rundown on the interval cost, here you go: 15,000km - $389; 30,000km - $409; 45,000km - $609; 60,000km - $509; 75,000km - $299; 90,000km - $749; 105,000km - $409.

For those that are curious, the previous model had an average service cost of $549 over the seven year plan ($3843).

And Isuzu still gives owners seven years of roadside assistance cover at no cost, too.


Volkswagen Transporter7/10

As with most van sellers in Australia, VW offers a competitive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty

There’s one year of roadside assist included for all new models sold. That can be refreshed if you service with VW, up to 10 years.


The cost of maintenance depends on the drivetrain that you choose in your Transporter. We took an average of the five year Price service plan to give you an idea of annual costs of maintenance, but just remember these are set at 12 month/15,000km intervals. The TDI250 and TDI340 models will cost you $588.40 per annum on average. That’s high. But choose the TDI450 in FWD and the average cost is $636.40 per annum, and the 4Motion model is dearer again at $678.80 (avg). 

Comparatively this is an expensive van to own.