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Isuzu D-MAX

Fuel efficiency Ancap rating
$32,200–$67,500 6.7–8.0 L/100km 5

The Isuzu D-Max was initially launched in Australia back in 2008 and has been a consistently strong-selling ute and a firm favourite with both recreational four-wheel-drivers and tradies.

An all-new model in 2020 saw increases in power and safety features, as well as a freshly re-designed interior to bring the D-Max closer in specifications and features to market-leading rivals.

Featured Review

2023 Isuzu D Max Sx 1 9 Litre 4 X 4 11

2023 Isuzu D-Max review: 1.9-litre SX 4x4

Isuzu's new 2023 range refresh includes an intriguing 1.9-litre 4x4 fleet-special dual-cab D-Max. Under-engined? Let's see...

15 Feb 2023

Isuzu Ute Australia has refreshed its range for 2023, with some blacked-out exterior trim, new wheels for higher-end models, functionality improvements across the range – and perhaps most importantly, a new light-sipping budget 4x4 model.

The smaller 1.9-litre turbo-diesel was first introduced on the tradie-focused 4x2 SX D-Max last year, after running the engine in European markets for some time.

It returned frugal fuel figures when we tested it, sipping just 8.9L/100km after fairly lead-footed use, against Isuzu’s claim of 6.9L/100km.

That ute represented a future-proof model for Isuzu, given its 3.0-litre ‘4J’ will inevitably be phased out; not anytime soon, but the trend is of course leaning towards smaller engines.

It didn’t, however, offer a frugal option for off-road-focused buyers wanting 4x4 capability in the same work-spec ute model.

That all changed with the introduction of the base-spec 1.9-litre 4x4 SX option, with more payload than its big brother and a price tag that’s just a yellow note or two over $50,000 before on-road costs.


How much is it, and what do you get?

The new 1.9-litre 4x4 D-Max SX model is priced at $50,200 before on-road costs, which by comparison saves you exactly $2000 over the equivalent 3.0-litre model. For fleet buyers, though, it’s the fuel savings that will make all the difference.

Order books opened in December, and we got the first of the 1.9-litre 4x4 test rigs. How many of these will sell, though, is anyone’s guess this early on.

All of the 2023 range improvements carry over to the 1.9-litre SX, however being a base-spec model the new wheel options are out of reach. Instead, the SX models all get hardy 17-inch steelies and ubiquitous Dunlop Grandtrek AT25 dual-use rubber.

Some small functionality upgrades were added too, the best being a user-friendly tailgate assist feature that utilises gas struts to lighten the lifting and lowering effort. We tested the tailgate weight back-to-back with last year’s model, and it’s a very noticeable improvement.

Base SX models miss out on LED headlights and taillights but, for a hard-working ute, the simple, budget halogen units provide decent illumination at night. They also feature automatic high-beam control and auto-on functionality. Automatic wipers are also included, so despite being a base model it’s all very ‘set and forget’.

The grille has been redesigned for the range update, but it appears to have had a gloss black colour change rather than any significant alterations to its size and shape.

Aside from the new engine, the running gear remains the same with an Aisin-sourced six-speed automatic, and Isuzu’s 4x4 Command off-road system with rear locking diff.

For off-road users, the SX offers 235mm of ground clearance and an 800mm wading depth. The LSU, LSU+ and X-Terrain benefit from an extra 5mm of ground clearance, but that is likely due to the extra ride height their 18-inch wheels afford.

Isuzu offers its Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS) across the entire D-Max range consisting of auto emergency braking with turn assist, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist.

For 2023 the IDAS system was tweaked to automatically disable blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert when a trailer is attached.

Those who tow with the 1.9-litre SX do lose out slightly, with a maximum braked towing capacity of 3000kg down on the 3.0-litre model’s 3500kg limit.

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Interior comfort, space and storage

A gripe with the SX range was the single USB charging point, but Isuzu has added a second 2.1-amp port for the 2023 base models. Aside from that, the wipe-down vinyl interior with simple cloth upholstery remains unchanged for SX models.

The SX features a smaller 7.0-inch infotainment screen than the 9.0-inch unit found in higher-spec models, with voice recognition, wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio and a humble four-speaker audio system.

Hard plastics throughout the cabin, coupled with easy-to-clean vinyl floors, make this a work ute interior that should stand the test of time. Storage is plentiful, too, with large door pockets, a roomy centre console, and two ‘hidden’ storage compartments under the rear seats.

This new 1.9-litre model may not be capable of towing as much as its big brother, but it can carry more in the tray. Payload comes in at 1150kg, 85kg more than the 3.0-litre model, which is a perk for tradies and fleet buyers wanting to fit a canopy.

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What is it like to drive?

I own a 3.0-litre D-Max, for context, so jumping into this 1.9-litre model required an adjustment to my driving style.

The 1.9-litre RZ4E-TC turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine produces 110kW/350Nm which, while ample, is 30kW and 100Nm down on the 3.0-litre engine. It’s noticeable.

Although the 1.9's transmission holds gears for longer, the engine still has a very usable torque spread, making all 350Nm from 1800 to 2600rpm. This is a budget option people will buy for its fuel economy benefit, so less performance is just part of that compromise.

While slower to accelerate off the line, in-gear, and just about everywhere other than off-road where it feels like it has plenty of grunt, this engine is the smoothest to feature in an Isuzu.

The 1.9-litre is a refined unit that produces less noise and vibration than the 3.0-litre engine, which is something that became very evident after jumping back into my personal D-Max.

Steering has been a strong point in D-Max models since Isuzu moved to an electronic system in 2020, and less weight over the front axle has helped make it even better in this model. The 1.9 SX feels slightly more agile than other 4x4 D-Max models.

The basic but dependable Dunlop Grandtrek AT25 tyres are quiet on-road, but they are limiting off-road. Given this model makes most sense as a fleet or work ute though, they’re a suitable all-rounder.

We had a factory hardcover fitted to this tester, which was linked up with the central locking (no more carrying a separate hardcover key), but it was noisy over rough surfaces. Some foam or rubber damping could easily fix this, but it rattled more than we’d like for a factory-fitted option.

Off-road, the 1.9-litre engine got us up and over some steep climbs with only ground clearance limiting us (the norm for stock ride height dual-cab utes). With low range engaged, the lower torque figure was also less noticeable.

During day-to-day use, we quickly adapted to the smaller engine. As an all-out workhorse, especially if towing, the larger engine is a more effortless experience, but this 1.9-litre does get the job done.

This is a proven engine too, having served in D-Max models in overseas markets for quite some time, so reliability can be vouched for.

On the plus side, owners will be less likely to accidentally speed in this model.

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How is it on fuel?

Isuzu claims combined fuel use of 6.9L/100km for this model, against the 3.0-litre model’s claimed 8.0L/100km.

We achieved fuel use of 8.8L/100km after a mix of urban and off-road driving, including low-range use. This D-Max wasn’t babied or driven gently across our 1000 kilometres of testing so, after its run-in period and if driven more sedately, the number will undoubtedly drop.

This engine does need to be worked hard at times, but the fuel savings compared with the 3.0-litre engine option are evident.

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How safe is it?

The full range of D-Max models received a five-star ANCAP safety rating after being retested recently. The entire range also features eight airbags.

Isuzu offers its Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS) across the entire range, so the full suite of safety tech puts this model ahead of other work-ready ute options.

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Warranty and running costs

The entire Isuzu D-Max range comes with a six-year, 150,000km warranty, as well as capped-price servicing and roadside assist for seven years.

Services are taken care of every 15,000km or 12 months, and pricing is capped for the first 105,000km across all models and engine variants.

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This isn’t likely to be a ute the general public rushes to buy when you can snag an equivalent 3.0-litre model for just $2000 more, but it would appeal to tradies and fleet buyers with an eye on total cost of ownership.

Across a fleet of vehicles, one or two saved litres of diesel every 100 kilometres offers a significant saving. From a corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standpoint, it also means reduced tailpipe emissions.

For $50,200 before on-road costs with a comprehensive safety suite, good payload rating and impressive fuel use figures from an engine that is smoother and quieter – while working harder – than its big-bore sibling, the D-Max SX 4x4 1.9 looks like good value as a business vehicle.

The good news is, it's still not a huge leap in sticker price to get the gruntier three-litre version if you need it.

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Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling

Things we like

  • Light-sipping engine
  • Cheaper than 3.0-litre sibling
  • Blacked-out grille is an improvement visually
  • Second charging point a smart addition

Not so much

  • Sluggish compared to larger engine option
  • Six-speed gearbox feels under-cogged with this engine
  • Factory hardcover rattles over rough roads
  • Steel wheels would look better in black (like the HiLux)

More Reviews

Isuzu D-MAX Specifications and Prices

VariantTransmissionBodyFuel TypeDrivetrainPrice
LS-M6 SP Manual, 6 SP AutomaticUte, Cab ChassisDiesel4x4$53,300–$55,300
LS-U6 SP Automatic, 6 SP ManualUte, Cab ChassisDieselrear, 4x4$53,000–$61,000
LS-U+6 SP AutomaticUteDiesel4x4$63,500
SX6 SP Manual, 6 SP AutomaticCab Chassis, UteDieselrear, 4x4$32,200–$52,200
X-TERRAIN6 SP AutomaticUteDiesel4x4$67,500

*Pricing excludes stamp duty, other government charges and options. Prices subject to change.


More News

Frequently Asked Questions

The Isuzu D-MAX ranges in price from $32,200* for the 1.9 SX Cab Chassis, and $67,500* for the 3.0 X-TERRAIN Crew Cab 4WD Auto

*Pricing excludes stamp duty, other government charges and options. Prices subject to change.

The Isuzu D-MAX was built in Thailand.

The Isuzu D-MAX has a 5 ANCAP crash safety rating.

The Isuzu D-MAX is available in diesel fuel types.

The Isuzu D-MAX is available in 4 and 2 door models.

About the Isuzu D-MAX

The Isuzu D-Max was initially launched in Australia back in 2008 and has been a consistently strong-selling ute and a firm favourite with both recreational four-wheel-drivers and tradies.

An all-new model in 2020 saw increases in power and safety features, as well as a freshly re-designed interior to bring the D-Max closer in specifications and features to market-leading rivals.

The latest Isuzu D-Max also saw for the first time a much-needed inclusion of a factory-fitted rear differential lock, greatly improving the ute’s off-road capabilities.

There was also a much revised 3.0L turbo diesel engine, known as the 4JJ3-TCX, which produces 140kW and 450Nm. There is also a 1.9L turbo diesel engine available, but only in the 4x2 single-cab model.