The second-generation 2014 Isuzu D-Max was launched in Malaysia last year, with the intention of building on the praises of its predecessor as a very capable and durable workhorse. Also, Isuzu wanted the new D-Max to appeal to not only contractors and off-road enthusiasts, but also regular people – in particular, the average sedan driver. Hence, the Japanese truck was more refined and comfortable for daily usage, making it conform not only to rugged adventurers and transporters, but to those who wish to use it on a daily basis. At the time of its introduction, the second-gen Isuzu D-Max was only offered with a 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine, and after our test drive of the truck last year, we actually quite liked the modern design and overall driving experience it had to offer. Another thing that impressed us was the good fuel consumption that the truck offered, without having to sacrifice performance.
Fast forward to just days ago, and Isuzu Malaysia launches the new 3.0-litre Isuzu D-Max V-Cross model in three variants, and we were invited to sample all three variants of the new 3.0-litre Japanese workhorse. But first, here is quick run-down of the new 4X4’s prices (OTR with insurance): 2014 Isuzu D-Max V-Cross 3.0L Manual – RM101,344 2014 Isuzu D-Max V-Cross 3.0L Auto – RM107,460 2014 Isuzu D-Max V-Cross 3.0L Safari Auto – RM118,486
- Key Specs: 2014 Isuzu D-Max 3.0L
- Engine: 3.0-litre four-cylinder VGS Turbo Intercooler
- Transmission: Five Speed Manual/ Five Speed Automatic With Sequential Shift
- Power: 177hp @ 3,600rpm
- Torque: 380Nm @ 1,800-2,800rpm
So What’s New? The highlight of this new truck is its engine – a new turbocharged inline-four diesel engine featuring VGS turbo and electronic Commonrail direct injection. The 2,999cc diesel mill outputs 177hp and 380Nm of torque, the latter of which comes in at a low 1,800rpm. In order to improve performance and drivability, the gearbox ratios have been tweaked. The underpinnings of the new V-Cross variants however, are exactly same as the 2.5-litre models, including the suspension setup. On the outside the regular 3.0-litre D-Max V-Cross manual and auto look almost identical to the 2.5-litre model apart from a few badges. The flagship V-Cross Safari variant however looks much more aggressive than the rest of Isuzu’s D-Max line-up, thanks to the Venetian Orange Mica paintjob, the dark coloured unique sport rims, cargo bed cover and matt grey coloured claddings that contrasts well with the bright paint.
The only feature that is new on all the V-Cross variants compared to the 2.5-litre models is the automatic air conditioning. Besides that, the auto and manual 3.0L D-Max variants are similar in to its lower displacement siblings in terms of creature comforts, safety and equipment, which includes electronic stability system, two airbags and steering wheel with controls. Reserved for the top of the line V-Cross Safari are the leather seats, and 6.2-inch infotainment system with navigation and reverse camera.
How does it drive? We got the chance to sample the new Isuzu 3.0-litre D-Max V-Cross with both manual and automatic transmissions, as well as the top of the line V-Cross Safari. The engine is very torquey, and power is delivered in a linear way. There is no need to push the engine hard as the power comes in very early in the rev band, which led to a very relaxed and calm driving experience. In traffic jams, it is a breeze to drive, while overtaking at highway speeds is just as easy. Plant your foot to the floor, and as soon as the turbo kicks in, the torque just pulls you away effortlessly. Both the manual and automatic powertrain packages felt very refined and easy to use. We feel this is one of the most refined and powerful diesel powertrains fitted to a pick-up in the market today.
The new 3.0-litre V-Cross model rides just as well as the 2.5-litre models. The suspension deals with road imperfections and potholes in a supple way, resulting in a comfortable drive. During our drive, we felt the V-Cross Safari rode slightly better than the other 3.0-litre models and by discussing this with the people at Isuzu, we came to know this could be due to the added weight of the rear bed lid at the rear, since leaf spring rear suspensions are designed to ride better with added weight. Thanks to the nicely weighted steering, the D-Max handled high speeds very well. We also got the chance to do some slight off-roading, which proved that the pick-up is just as competent as its predecessor.
Should you buy one? Overall, all the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross 3.0-litre variants are very impressive machines. They are well packaged with high performance and good dynamics, along with Isuzu’s praised durability and robustness. This pick-up truck will satisfy all your needs, but considering the 2.5-litre D-Max’s capability to be adequate for almost all purposes, is the higher priced V-Cross the one to get? Not only do the higher displacement V-Cross models carry a higher price tag, but keep in mind that they also increase your yearly roadtax costs. For those of you that don’t mind paying extra for the added performance, this Japanese workhorse must be in your list of trucks to consider. And if you think the regular V-Cross feels too similar to the 2.5-litre model, then the kitted up V-Cross Safari will satisfy your need for uniqueness. *Interested in trying out the new Isuzu D-Max V-Cross? Head over to Isuzu's website to book a test drive.
*This story first appeared on our sister-site Live Life Drive.