Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain - D Maxed
We take the top D-Max away for the Christmas break. Is the X-Terrain a worthy buy?
It’s a prerequisite to have an eye-catching range topper in your ute line-up, and for Isuzu’s D-Max, that would be the X-Terrain. Somewhat aping the Ranger Wildtrak, the top D-Max has a raft of similar add-ons and enhanced spec, and you can even get it in a Ranger-mimicking orange hue. Like the Ranger top dog, the X-Terrain has a big price tag, this Isuzu ute asking $75,490 (more on that in a bit).
Running through the extras you’ll note this has less chrome, particularly on the grille where a dark grey theme reduces the emphasis of the twin fang look of the LS and LX models. The grey extends to the wheel arch extensions, running boards, roof rails, and to the business end of the ute. Here you’ll find a sailplane sportsbar and a roller door-like tonneau cover. They’ve added a lump of plastic to the corner of the rear bumper too. The wheels on the standard X-Terrain are the same as those on the LS, but the 18s are, you guessed it, dark grey. The example we had was fitted with optional 20-inch black alloys.
The X-Terrain is a 4x4 model, the six-speed auto the only transmission offered. Like the other D-Max variants, it uses the 3.0-litre turbodiesel, the big four cylinder churning out 150kW and 450Nm of torque. The X-Terrain builds on the specification of the $67,990 LS by offering leather-trimmed seating with power adjustment for the driver and a smart key.
So to that price tag then. ‘Are they having a giraffe’ was a typical response when we revealed it to a few interested parties. Yep, it’s firmly on the expensive side of the ledger, especially compared with the $60,990 Mazda asks for its BT-50 Limited which offers the same package minus the cosmetic additions and the tonneau cover. We expect some deal making will be required at this price. But such is the nature of the RRP vs transactional pricing that goes on in the ute market.
We had more time than usual with this D-Max, having it for a few weeks over the Christamas break. That saw us amass more kilometres plying main highways and navigating busy holiday spots. We find a double-cab ute handy around this time of the year; there are few limitations to where you can venture and not so many restraints on what you can pack.
The look people liked, the sail plane on the rear giving it a certain sporty appeal. It does reduce your rearward vision when reversing out of angled car parks, but the rear cross traffic alert system will start beeping if there’s something coming. The sportsbar is purely cosmetic, the book stating you must not attach any load on it whatsoever. And that’s the same for the retractable tonneau cover. It is an easy-to-use solution, however, retracting back with little effort while a lead attached to the handle allows you to pull it back into its closed position. That’s provided you don’t bury that lead under the stuff you’ve just loaded into the tray. These retractable tonneaus reduce the overall load length as the sliding cover rolls up into a receptacle placed behind the cab. It’s not touted as 100 per cent waterproof either and some of the standing water on the cover will make its way into the tray when you retract it, which we found out the hard way. Still, for those ute owners dubbed ‘lifestylers’ we find this solution pretty handy. These provide better security than a vinyl cover and are easily lockable. The tailgate too needs to be locked manually, not being linked to the central locking system. And as the X-Terrain has a smart key, you need to fish out the physical key which lies hidden in the actual fob. The boy thought it quite clever however, as it would surely foil would-be thieves; he reckoned they’d never figure it out.
Do the 20-inch wheels ruin the way this goes? The D-Max doesn’t have much of a ride to ruin as we found out when we compared the LS to the Ranger and Hilux, both competitors offering silkier progress. And this X-Terrain probably does suffer more bumps along the way, a point noted by a few passengers. The tyres give the steering a touch more immediacy but no more sense of the action. We like the light assistance at slower speeds, though we could do without the system’s constant lane keeping input. It’s insistent about keeping you centred which, if you’re trying to keep left, keeps pushing you back toward the centre line. You can switch this off, but only when stopped, and it takes a few moments scrolling through the menus of the trip computer. The other helpers are appreciated though, and help give the D-Max its ‘safest ute’ status. The active cruise is good at keeping speeds in check, slowing on the descents where the speed enforcers often hang out.
We like the aural refinement of this ute, the engine only noisy when pressed harder while the wind and road noise is subdued on the highway. On fuel use, we averaged 8.2L/100km, while a 76L tank lets it range far and wide.
The seats are comforting on the long distance roadie, and there are enough storage spots in the cabin for drinks/snacks/phones/rubbish. Its infotainment system has a big screen, making the sat nav more user friendly as you can see more of the map when you don’t really know where you are. The smart key can be configured to lock the doors when you walk away from the vehicle while the air con blows plenty of cold air to quickly cool a super-heated interior. Most on-board functions are refreshingly easy to perform while the trip computer can be configured to display plenty of info within a small screen.
But is the X-Terrain worth the extra? Probably not; we’d prefer the LS, and pocket the savings.
Model Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain Price $75,490
Engine 2999cc, IL4, TDI, 140kW/450Nm
Transmission 6-speed auto, switchable 4x4
Vitals 9.7sec 0-100km/h, 8.0L/100km, 207g/km, n/a kg