2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain review

Isuzu has introduced a few running tweaks to its wildly successful D-Max range, which has become the clear number-three ute in the sales race behind the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger.

While hardly amounting to wholesale changes, it justifies us taking another look at this dual-cab in its big-selling flagship spec grade, still called X-Terrain.

The X-Terrain is Isuzu’s answer to the Ranger Wildtrak, in other words a load-lugger with all the fruit and some styling add-ons, designed for the lifestyle crowd rather than those who want a no-frills workhorse.

In summary, the enhancements include a 50kg GCM upgrade; the fitment of a shut-off shortcut for the lane-keeping aids; a standard tow bar receiver; and new interior bits including heated seating, vanity mirror lighting, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and heated side mirrors.

Oh, and there’s new red cabin stitching and more shiny piano black plastic trims too. Stop the presses!

How much does the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain cost?

This 2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain is $62,990 drive-away at present, though that’s because Isuzu is doing deals on this variant. Its recommended retail price, before on-road costs, is actually $65,900.

When the current-shape D-Max X-Terrain hit the market on September 1 2020, it cost $58,990 drive-away based on a $62,900 RRP. Both figures were subsequently increased by $1000 last April.

With stock shortages leaving supply short of demand, a $4000 price increase inside 18 months feels opportunistic frankly. And as we’ve seen already, Isuzu could remove the deal price if supply tightens further. There’s precedent for just that.

That being said, it’s no outlier, since a top-selling HiLux SR5 is $65,000 drive-away using Toyota’s pricing calculator, while the related Mazda BT-50 SP is $66,990 on the road.

All paint bar the base white costs an additional $500, including our Magnetic Red.

What do you get?

Outside:

  • 18-inch dark grey metallic alloy wheels 
  • 265/60R18 Bridgestone highway tyres
  • Automatic wipers 
  • Heated door mirrors
  • Remote engine start
  • Proximity keyless entry
  • Walk-away locking
  • Automatic Bi-LED headlights 
  • Auto-levelling and automatic high beam 
  • LED daytime running lights
  • LED fog lights
  • LED combination tail lights
  • Under-rail tub liner
  • Tow bar receiver
  • Matte black roller tonneau cover
  • Aero sports bar/sailplane
  • Front and rear underbody spoilers
  • Front and rear parking sensors

Inside:

  • Leather-accented seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Power adjustable driver’s seat, lumbar support
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Vanity mirror lights
  • 9.0-inch touchscreen display 
  • Digital radio
  • Satellite-navigation
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay
  • Wired Android Auto
  • Eight speakers, roof included
  • Voice recognition via phone
  • Dual-zone climate control

Is the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain safe?

The Isuzu D-Max was tested by ANCAP in 2020 and earned a five-star rating. The D-Max and its Mazda BT-50 twin were the first utes to get the top score against ANCAP’s latest, hardest 2020-22 test procedures.

That rating was based on an adult occupant protection score of 83 per cent, a child occupant protection score of 89 per cent and a safety assist score of 81 per cent. Vulnerable road user protection testing yielded a score of 69 per cent.

Dual cameras mounted near the rear-view mirror provide information to power the active safety systems, so just be mindful of that if you get the screen covered in mud or dust.

All variants come standard with the following safety features:

  • AEB with junction assist
  • Forward collision warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Driver attention monitoring
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane-keep assist with centring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Automatic high-beam
  • Reversing camera
  • Wrong-pedal acceleration warning
  • Adaptive cruise control

Eight airbags are standard, including a central airbag designed to mitigate the passenger and driver’s arms and heads crashing into each other in a serious side-impact crash.

What is the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain like on the inside?

Highlights first. The D-Max has fantastically supportive front seats with ample bolstering, as well as heating and power adjustment (only for the driver, this lattermost feature). The absence of seat ventilation was felt over Christmas, though.

The steering wheel now has piano black inserts rather than silver plastic as before, and red stitching, but is otherwise unchanged. It’s trimmed in quality leather, moves forwards and backwards as well as up and down, and has easy-to-understand button shortcuts on it.

Of most interest is a new function for the little button on the right-hand spoke with a steering wheel icon on it.

Hold for a few seconds and all the lane-assist systems switch off, which is a far easier process than before, when you had to file though trip computer menus every time you started the car if you didn’t want the functions engaged. It’s also retro-fit-ready for 2021 models.

The analogue gauges behind the wheel comprise two analogue dials with cheesy ‘X’ branding, and a central screen controlled by arrows on the steering wheel. This screen shows you speed and trip data, but also the 4×4 system’s status, active safety system home menus, and more.

The Isuzu is brimming with clever storage areas, which is something you really come to appreciate. There are cupholder drawers in the dash next to the outer air vents, a lidded console atop the dash, two stacked gloveboxes, 1.5-litre bottle-friendly door bins, central cupholders (sans teeth), a phone area under the fascia, and a sunglasses holder in the roof.

Most of the plastic trims in your eyeline and that you’ll touch are padded, while the harder plastics used throughout are easier to keep clean – this is a workhorse ultimately. This interior doesn’t feel like some sort of primo SUV as some claim, but by ute standards it’s pretty nice.

I can’t understand the logic of Isuzu adding more piano black trims though. These just draw dust, smudges, fingerprints and sun glare. We’ve railed against this annoying trend already.

The centre touchscreen has a landscape orientation and is slightly bigger than most (HiLux and outgoing Ranger use 8.0-inch screens) and has helpful shortcut buttons running below to head straight to the home screen or the embedded navigation.

I found the wireless Apple CarPlay bug-free, though it takes about 20 seconds to pair up and does override the radio until you switch it back. I did get briefly grumpy when it cut out the ABC’s cricket commentary for all of 5 seconds, the horror!

One feature I’d really like to see added is a 360-degree camera, with an overhead view, which would make this big beast easier to park in the city. Such a feature is not uncommon.

The series of rocker switches to control the climate control are all highly intuitive and fool-proof.

The Isuzu has one of the better back seats in the dual-cab ute market, with headroom and legroom for my 194cm frame behind my own driving position, wearing steel-caps. The bench is flat and unsupportive, but the space is ready for burly mates and kid-seats alike.

Amenities include solid B-pillar grab handles, a bag hook, seatback map pockets, a pull-down centre armrest, a USB-A point and air vents. There are two ISOFIX anchor points and top-tethers.

The tailgate isn’t counterbalanced like a Ranger’s, so it’s heftier to lift, but the tub itself has an excellent plastic bed liner fitted as standard.

If you actually use your ute to carry big things, the X-Terrain probably isn’t the best choice, since the (rather fiddly latch) sliding solid tonneau’s stowage area robs you of space, and the plasticky sailplane and cosmetic tub toppers look pretty easy to scuff.

However, having a lockable sliding hard cover is godsend for someone carrying valuable power tools or what have you. It’s horses for courses.

Length 5303mm
Width 1880mm
Height 1810mm
Wheelbase 3125mm
Tub floor length 1570mm
Tub depth 490mm
Tub width max 1530mm
Between wheel houses 1122mm

What’s under the bonnet?

No changes over the 2021 model here. A 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel codenamed 4JJ3-TCX producing 140kW of power at 3600rpm and 450Nm torque between 1600 and 2600rpm.

It’s mated as standard in X-Terrain form with a standard six-speed automatic transmission made by Aisin, and has a part-time 4×4 system with low-range gearing.

Isuzu claims a braked towing capacity of 3500kg, equal to the class best. It also claims combined-cycle fuel consumption of 8.0L/100km, which is in fact achievable in the real world.

I eked out an average of 8.8L/100km, dipping to 7.5L/100km at constant highway speeds, with a few hundred kilos on board and the AC cranking. It’s a fairly honest donk, that does what it claims to on the sticker for the most part.

Based on previous experiences towing and carrying close to full (935kg) payload, the D-Max offers above-average efficiency throughout. The uprated 6000kg GCM means you can tow 2900kg while laden at the maximum 3100kg GVM (vehicle weight plus peak payload).

Engine 3.0-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel
Power 140kW @ 3600rpm
Torque 450Nm @ 1600-2600rpm
Transmission Aisin 6AT
4×4 system Part-time (2H/4H/4L)
ADR fuel economy 8.0L/100km
Fuel tank size 76 litres
Estimated driving range 850-950kg when not towing
Braked towing capacity 3500kg

How does the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain drive?

The (remote-start-able) diesel engine isn’t the most refined or quiet engine at idle, and sounds rattly if you leave it running. But that’s hardly unsurprising, and it’s far more refined and chilled out at 1500rpm, at 100km/h.

While outputs fall short of either the 150kW/500Nm HiLux or 157kW/500Nm Ranger Bi-Turbo, and only equal the borderline under-powered Nissan Navara, the Isuzu’s engine belies its outputs with ample rolling response and a relatively snappy throttle pickup tune by segment standards.

The transmission’s six forward gears are well spaced, meaning it rarely shows signs of indecision. Keep in mind too that our test car was brand-spanking new and hadn’t been run-in yet, properly. Could’ve fooled me.

A towbar receiver is standard, and Isuzu can sort you out with a towball and electronic brake controller. A number of heavy towers we know rave about the D-Max, though I have found the active safety system’s ocular camera can take a brief moment to recalibrate if the rear suspension is dipped.

The electric-assisted power steering is feather-light at urban speeds, which makes the big beast feel less unwieldy. The only gripe is the active lane-keeping aid, which tends to tug on the wheel a little more than many customers might like, and only picks up road lines some of the time.

Hence why that new shortcut ‘off’ switch is so welcome.

The suspension comprises double wishbones with coils at the front and rear leaf suspension. If you regularly carry heavy loads, then opt for the D-Max SX and LS-M with bouncier but heavier-duty rear leaf springs.

The overall ride quality is really quite good, with supple bump absorption and decent body control at the rear even when unladen and barrelling over corrugations.

The brakes are 320mm ventilated front discs (which do most of the hard stopping work), matched to antiquated but not-uncommon rear drums.

In off-roading terms, the D-Max defaults to 2H (rear-wheel drive), with high-range 4×4 (4H) for unsealed surfaces and low-range (4L) with a switchable rear locking diff to stop an airborne wheel just spinning aimlessly.

Some utes are coming with full-time on-demand AWD on the road with low-range for off it these days, but the D-Max relies on its electronic aids on wet tarmac instead.

In terms of engine braking and traction, the D-Max walks over most mid-level trails and is every bit as talented as most. That said, you’ll need to switch out the highway tyres, and you might expect those side steps to take some damage. Ditto the side flares.

Were it me buying a D-Max, I’d go for a lower grade model and allocate my savings to new tyres, a steel front bar, rock rails on the side, and some additional underbody armour. But buyers looking at the X-Terrain probably know what they’re getting.

It’s curious that Isuzu doesn’t have a readymade, accessorised hardcore offering like the BT-50 Thunder, or the HiLux Rugged X. That would walk out of showrooms.

Ground clearance 240mm
Turning circle 12.5m
Approach angle 30.5 degrees
Departure angle 19 degrees
Ramp-over angle 23.8 degrees

How much does the D-Max X-Terrain cost to run?

The D-Max is backed by a strong six-year, 150,000km warranty, and comes with seven years of roadside assist.

Maintenance for the D-Max is required every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

The first seven years of servicing will cost you a combined $3513, which is $140 more than the MY21’s capped-price plan (each visit is $20 more now).

  • 15,000km: $409
  • 30,000km: $429
  • 45,000km: $629
  • 60,000km: $529
  • 75,000km: $319
  • 90,000km: $769
  • 105,000km: $429

CarExpert’s Take on the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain

Those who want a ‘lifestyle’ pickup should look at this grade, but those who want to head into the bush or worksite might find the cosmetic add-ons don’t cut the mustard. Those buyers should kick the tyres on the new D-Max LS-U+ grade instead, which we’re reviewing shortly.

We really could have recycled our previous conclusions here, given the minor nature of the changes. The D-Max remains one of the best workhorses in its class, and deserves its newfound popularity across the market, even if those price hikes strike me as cheeky at best.

That said, once there are plenty of V6 diesel, full-time-AWD-toting Rangers hitting the road this year with their oversized portrait touchscreens, the D-Max might feel in need of a larger-scale facelift before long. Stay tuned.

Click the images for the full gallery

MORE: Everything Isuzu D-Max