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Isuzu D-Max 2022 review: LS-U 4x4 auto - GVM test

The LS-U, like all of its D-Max siblings, rides on a 3125mm wheelbase. (image: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

4.5/5

Tradies score

4.5/5

Isuzu’s popular RG range of D-Max 4x4 dual cab utes comprises four model grades which ascend from the work-focused SX to the better-equipped LS-M, more upmarket LS-U and premium X-Terrain.

Road test reviews often focus on entry-level and top-shelf models. So, we thought it timely to have look at one of the two model grades sandwiched between them, which offers a unique compromise in terms of purchase price and standard features.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our Mercury Silver test vehicle is the LS-U, which is one rung below the premium X-Terrain on the D-Max model ladder. It’s available only with Isuzu’s trusty 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine and either standard six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed torque converter automatic like our example, for a list price of $59,400 plus ORCs.

That’s $6500 less than the X-Terrain yet it combines similar upmarket looks with standard features unique to this model grade, most notably the eye-catching 18-inch machined-face alloy wheels with 265/60R18 tyres and a full-size steel spare. Ours is also fitted with Isuzu’s genuine accessory roller tonneau cover (standard only on X-Terrain), which doesn’t leave much change from $3K but looks sharp.

Our Mercury Silver test vehicle is the LS-U, which is one rung below the premium X-Terrain on the D-Max model ladder. (image: Mark Oastler) Our Mercury Silver test vehicle is the LS-U, which is one rung below the premium X-Terrain on the D-Max model ladder. (image: Mark Oastler)

The MY22 LS-U adds smart keyless entry with push-button start, walk-away automatic door locking, lane support system deactivation switch, auto-dimming rear view mirror, load-tub liner and tow bar receiver. The 4x4 model’s GCM (Gross Combination Mass) has also been boosted to 6000kg.

These upgrades are in addition to the LS-U’s flashy chrome grille, side mirrors, door handles and tailgate handle, aluminium side-steps, automatic Bi-LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, auto-levelling and high beam control, LED fog lights and taillights, premium leather steering wheel and shifter, fabric-trimmed seating with power adjustable lumbar support on the driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, eight-speaker infotainment system with 9.0-inch touchscreen, DAB+ radio, Android Auto/wireless Apple CarPlay and more.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

The LS-U, like all of its D-Max siblings, rides on a 3125mm wheelbase. Combined with its 5270mm length, 1870mm width and 1790mm height, the LS-U is shorter in wheelbase and length than a Ford Ranger XLT equivalent. It's also slightly lower in overall height, but lineball on width and turning circle.

Key off-road credentials include 240mm of ground clearance, 30.5 degrees approach angle, 23.8-degrees ramp-over angle, 19.0 degrees departure angle and Ranger-matching 800mm wading depth.

The LS-U, like all of its D-Max siblings, rides on a 3125mm wheelbase. (image: Mark Oastler) The LS-U, like all of its D-Max siblings, rides on a 3125mm wheelbase. (image: Mark Oastler)

There are side-steps along with handles on both the A and B pillars to ease cabin access and a spacious rear seat offers surprising head and knee room, even for tall people. Adjustable a/c vents in the rear of the centre console add to this comfort, although there should be two USB ports (like the MU-X) rather than one.

Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Euro 5-compliant (no AdBlue required) 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 140kW at 3600rpm and 450Nm between 1600-2600rpm. It has great flexibility, particularly for off-roading and towing, with 300Nm or more than 60 per cent of maximum torque available from as low as 1000rpm and 400Nm or almost 90 per cent served across a broad 1850rpm band width from 1400-3250rpm.

The 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 140kW at 3600rpm and 450Nm between 1600-2600rpm. (image: Mark Oastler) The 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 140kW at 3600rpm and 450Nm between 1600-2600rpm. (image: Mark Oastler)

The smooth and quick-shifting Aisin AWR6B45 II six-speed torque converter automatic has fuel-saving converter lock-up from third to sixth gear, ‘intelligent’ uphill/downhill shift protocols and the option of sequential manual-shifting. The dual-range, part-time 4x4 system includes a rear diff lock.

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

Isuzu states an official combined figure of only 8.0L/100km and the dash display was very close to that, claiming 8.2 at the conclusion of our 306km test which comprised mostly city and suburban driving with light loads of up to four occupants. Our own number calculated from fuel bowser and tripmeter readings was higher again at 9.2, which is still excellent single-digit economy for a two tonne-plus commercial vehicle in urban use. So, based on our figure you could expect a useful driving range of more than 800km from its 76-litre tank.

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

The LS-U’s 2105kg kerb weight and 3100kg GVM results in a 995kg payload, which is only a bag of potatoes short of 1000kg. That’s close enough to a ‘one tonner’ in the real world.

It’s also rated to tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer, but to do that would require a sizeable 600kg reduction in payload to 395kg to avoid exceeding the 6000kg GCM, which determines how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time. Alternatively, you could reduce the trailer weight by 600kg to 2900kg (most dual cab owners don’t tow more than 3000kg anyway) and retain the maximum 995 kg payload. Either way, this is a useful set of numbers, whichever way you arrange them.

The load tub floor is 1570mm long, 1530mm wide and 490mm deep with 1122mm between the rear wheel housings, so like most dual cab utes you can’t fit either a standard Aussie or Euro pallet between them. There are also four anchorage points for securing loads.

The 70/30 split in the rear seat’s base cushion allows each to be rotated upwards through 90 degrees. (image: Mark Oastler) The 70/30 split in the rear seat’s base cushion allows each to be rotated upwards through 90 degrees. (image: Mark Oastler)

Generous cabin storage includes a large-bottle holder and storage bin in the base of each front door, pop-out cup/small-bottle holders in front of the air vents on each side of the dash, a closable bin to the right of the driver’s knee ideal for small items, overhead glasses holder, another storage bin with ‘clamshell’ type lid in the centre of the dash pad and upper and lower gloveboxes. The centre console has a shallow bin up front, two cup/small-bottle holders in the centre and a lidded box at the rear, with a contoured lid designed to double as a driver’s elbow rest.

Rear seat passengers get a large-bottle holder but hardly any storage room in each rear door. To compensate, there are storage pouches on the backrests of each front seat and a fold-down centre armrest with two cup/small-bottle holders.

The 70/30 split in the rear seat’s base cushion allows each to be rotated upwards through 90 degrees and stored vertically if more internal load space is required. This also reveals two underfloor storage compartments, which are great for hiding valuables when the seat bases are down.

Generous cabin storage includes a large-bottle holder and storage bin in the base of each front door. (image: Mark Oastler) Generous cabin storage includes a large-bottle holder and storage bin in the base of each front door. (image: Mark Oastler)

What’s it like as a daily driver?

There’s spacious entry and exit plus plenty of adjustability between the seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel (with height and reach adjustment) to allow most drivers to find a comfortable position.

The left footrest is well positioned, there’s good all-round vision, instruments are easy to read and driver controls are intuitive to operate. Braking is strong and the electric power-assisted steering is responsive and nicely weighted. Overall, it has good refinement and feels firmly planted on the road.

There’s spacious entry and exit plus plenty of adjustability between the seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel. (image: Mark Oastler) There’s spacious entry and exit plus plenty of adjustability between the seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel. (image: Mark Oastler)

The torquey engine and auto transmission are a nice combination for all driving conditions, with energetic performance for city and suburban work combined with low-stress, fuel-efficient cruising that requires less than 2000rpm to maintain highway speeds.

What’s it like for tradie use?

Like the X-Terrain, the large metal drum required to house the roller tonneau cover when retracted blocks access to the front load anchorage hooks in the load tub.

We weren’t prepared to take the risk of trying to secure 750kg or more of cargo using only the rear anchors, so we could not do our usual payload test. That’s something to consider if you regularly carry heavy or bulky loads, because fitting one of these roller-type covers could restrict your ute’s load-carrying ability. And that applies to all ute brands, not just Isuzu.

The ride quality remained supple yet disciplined. (image: Mark Oastler) The ride quality remained supple yet disciplined. (image: Mark Oastler)

Even so, for what it’s worth we can attest to the D-Max’s heavy load-hauling competence, having previously lugged a 900kg payload with essentially the same vehicle. The ride quality remained supple yet disciplined, floating over large bumps and tracking straight over road irregularities on a notoriously bumpy test route.

Engine performance, braking and steering response were hardly affected and the intelligent auto’s eagerness to assist with engine-braking by downshifting as soon as braking was applied on downhills was always appreciated.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

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

The D-Max is covered by a six years/150,000km warranty and up to seven years of roadside assistance if serviced at a participating Isuzu Ute dealer. Scheduled servicing intervals of 15,000km/12 months whichever occurs first. Total capped-price of $3084 for the first six scheduled services or an average of $514 per service.

We can’t pinpoint any major flaw with the LS-U, which highlights the integrity of its design, safety, practicality and performance. Judging by the D-Max’s ever-increasing sales, more Aussies are also reaching the same conclusion. Worthy of a test drive and serious consideration if you’re wanting a high quality 4x4 dual cab ute.

$58,000

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.5/5

Tradies score

4.5/5
Price Guide

$58,000

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.