2022 Isuzu D-Max SX 1.9TD review (video)

The 2022 Isuzu D-Max SX 1.9 turbo-diesel enters the Australian market as the new entry level player from the Japanese brand. While some will kick up a stink about the new engine being not as powerful as the 3.0-litre option, Isuzu says the new-to-Australia offering has “earned its stripes in overseas markets for its supreme fuel efficiency and refined and quieter operation”.

The RZ4E-TC 1.9-litre motor produces 110kW/350Nm and is available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, with 4×2 drive only. It’s not until you step up to the 3.0-litre model where 4×4 is available. The power figure it punches out isn’t shy of what bigger-capacity diesels were making 5-8 years ago.

Obviously the 2022 D-Max SX range extends to other body styles, including space- and crew-cab, however, all these models are equipped with the 3.0-litre 140kW/450Nm engine. As standard the SX single-cab comes in High Ride spec only.

Prices for the D-Max 1.9 SX start from $29,990 drive-away for now, but the regular MLP will be $31,200 for manual and from $33,200 for the auto. The manual 3.0-litre SX 4×2 model is priced from $33,200 (plus on-road costs), up from $32,200 last year.

2022 Isuzu D-Max SX 1.9TD – THE SPECS

Engine: 1.9-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder
Output: 110kW@3600rpm / 350Nm@1800-2600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 17×7.0 steel, 255/65
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 1620kg
Power-to-weight: 14.72:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 7.0L/100km
Economy during test: 9.9L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 76L/Diesel

Power efficiency: 15.71kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.64 seconds*
0-100km/h: 10.85 seconds*
60-110km/h: 8.36 seconds*
1/4 mile: 17.64 seconds at 125.1km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.649g
100-0km/h braking: 3.24 seconds at 40.95 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.082g
Decibel at idle: 47*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 77*
Priced from: $33,200

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2022 Isuzu D-Max SX 1.9TD – THE PACKAGE

The current, third-generation D-Max is a bolder vehicle to look at when sat next to the older gen’ models. One could argue the more macho look and bigger appearance was necessary so that it has some visual fight to go up against the muscular truck-like look of the rivals in this super competitive segment – each generation they all seem to pack more hulk.

While this section of the review won’t go on forever, given this is the entry level SX model, it’s worth starting off by saying just because things are kept simple for base models doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Step inside and it’s a tight fit and finish. The dash and trim is stylish enough for the intentions of such a ute.

While it does seem quite airy inside, the roofline can feel a little close if you’re well into the six-foot range (like bang-your-head-on-the-grab-handle type deal). The seat backrest seems to be a little on the hard side, and for whatever reason you find yourself playing with the angle a lot to find the right level of comfort. Once you do find a good compromise you’ll enjoy the driving position and way the steering wheel falls into your hands. Vision out of the single-cab is a standout, with its raised-up feel and broad glasshouse.

All the plastics feel as if they were made to withstand whatever tradies get up to – sand, cement, nails, dust, whatever. It all feels very hard-wearing yet still nice to touch and even quite modern and well laid out. It’s always a shame when cars in this segment have scratchy plastics that end up looking like trash after 1-2 years of use.

The 7.0-inch touch-screen comes with voice recognition, digital radio, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, and a four-speaker stereo. While the screen is nice to look at, it is slightly on the clunky side to use. As is the dash LCD menu which seems to switch off before you’ve even had a chance to make a decision on what it is you’d like to dive into. And the intuition of the touch-screen just never seems to be as responsive to touch as you’d like – which is important when you’re focusing on driving.

You’ll love the massive rear view mirror, big side mirrors, and the way both your arms are drawn to the window sill and centre armrest for a very relaxed driving experience should you want to chill. With the six-speed auto and decent ride height it is so easy to just hop in and go as well.

Safety in every car is paramount. However, some of the safety features in the D-Max are just way too intrusive. On the lowest setting for things like distance control the warning basically screams at you at the slightest change in distance. And then there’s the lane assist, which pulls you around so much that it’s almost a hindrance to the point you’re fighting with the steering wheel to keep it in line.

You find yourself looking to turn it off, which is a long process if you go through the dash menus. Fortunately, the 2022 model update brings in a shortcut button on the steering wheel to turn the lane systems off (hold down the steering wheel icon for three seconds or so). But should you really want to turn safety systems off? In this case, yes, because it is just so overbearing you feel more in control without them. A better calibration wouldn’t hurt.

The air-con is a little bit hard to get to your face. Instead, it hits the steering wheel and gets deflected which is annoying on a hot day. This could be the result of the largish centre screen taking up most of the width with not much room left for anything else. Storage isn’t huge inside, with no top centre glove box on the SX, only a shallow centre console, skinny door pockets and the main glove box. Cup holders are a must in a car like this, and they’re spot on. They’re deep and ready for an extra large coffee.

2022 Isuzu D-Max SX 1.9TD – THE DRIVE

The RZ4E-TC 1.9-litre motor produces 110kW/350Nm and is ample for a single-cab ute. It’s not until large hills in freeway scenarios that you lust for more grunt. It is punchy off the lights and around town, especially from down low. It’s also very quiet and smooth. There’s no intrusive rattle-rattle diesel noise going on at all really, especially at higher speeds.

The six-speed automatic equipped to our test D-Max SX is great if you don’t ask too much from it. If you’re hard on the throttle and demand some pace it’s not horrible but it does hunt around and get a bit confused and indecisive.

Put it this way, if you’re going to have the tray full all of the time or load up huge tool kits you’d probably want to look at the 3.0-litre model for the extra torque. The 1.9 will do every task you ask of it, but extra grunt makes things feel more effortless.

The SX’s ride is bobbly on rough roads, especially if the tray is empty. The steering does feel a little vague at times, but comes alive if you start to get busy with the wheel – it’s actually quite fun and enjoyable to drive when you’re in a runabout type of situation.

Here’s where the 1.9-litre motor doesn’t make as much sense in our opinion. Fuel consumption for this model is rated under ADR at 7.0L/100km. And given it has a 76L fuel tank, that translates to a potential 1086km range between fills, which is time saved if you’re a very busy tradesman (950km theoretical range in the 3.0L auto SX).

During this test we averaged 9.9L/100km, which is more than what we saw in the 3.0-litre model in the real-world, in similar conditions in fact. Our 2020 test of the SX 3.0L single-cab, albeit manual, returned an average of 9.1L/100km (official average is 8.0L/100km for manual and auto 3.0L).

While that’s disappointing, this new test vehicle was literally brand new during our test. So perhaps if tested again once fully run-in the figure could be different. And perhaps the extra consumption could be down to us being slightly heavier with the right foot due to having a smaller capacity motor but expecting 3.0L pace.

All the driving aspects overall feel good. It’s a confident little ute that seems well made and very in-tune with its customer expectations. While it is good to have an alternative and theoretically more fuel efficient engine option with the 1.9, we’d go for the 3.0L.

2022 Isuzu D-Max SX 1.9TD – THE VIDEO

2022 Isuzu D-Max SX 1.9TD – THE VERDICT

What a great car as a little commuter. If you’re a single person, own a small business, this is a dependable option to pop around the place with the added benefit of being able to carry up to 1380kg of cargo in the back.

This reviewer would want the bigger motor simply because can you ever have enough torque? Fuel consumption sat around 9.9L/100km during our test, which is quite a bit above the official claim of 7L. I think because we’re now used to that bit more grunt from the 3.0L we tend to lean on the go pedal a bit more.

If you’re in the market for a single-cab ute, definitely test drive the 1.9 D-Max. Yeah, you might want more power, and if so the option is there, but you might also like the smoothness and runabout poke of the 1.9. The emissions average of 184g/km over 207g in the 3.0L auto might also be a persuasive argument for some, especially fleet buyers.

PROS:
– High Ride and all-terrain tyres offer rugged go-anywhere dependability
– New 1.9TD engine is quiet and smooth
– Comprehensive touch-screen even on base SX
– Lane-keep assist now much easier to switch off
– 6-year/150,000km warranty

CONS:
– Need to push the 1.9 to keep up with brisk traffic
– Difficult to get near 7.0L/100km official fuel average in real world
– Bouncy ride when unladen

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