The second-generation Isuzu D-Max is due in September 2020 and takes Isuzu to the next level in terms of comfort and refinement. Adding a whole host of new technology and a drastically-improved ride to its traditional strengths of build quality and reliability, the new D-Max offers a wide range of benefits to pickup truck buyers.
Professional Pickup & 4×4 fly to Thailand to become the first European publication to test the new 2020 Isuzu D-Max.
For the past 30 years, Isuzu has teamed up with General Motors for pickup truck projects and their vehicles were therefore also rebadged as Vauxhall, Holden and Chevrolet. However, for this latest pickup, Isuzu has partnered with Mazda and this new pickup will also be badged as the Mazda BT-50 who have played a key role in implementing many of the new technologies.
It’s unclear, however, if Mazda will mark a return to the European pickup market.
Isuzu D-Max 2020 details
We’ll start with the outside. Despite its vaguely familiar look, the 2020 Isuzu D-Max has new body panels all-round and, with its larger, boxier grille and thinner U-shaped LED headlights and LED lights incorporated into the rear tailgate, the Isuzu sports a more ‘aggressive’ and ‘powerful’ appearance.
The Isuzu also has a completely new interior and a new chassis, which is around 80kg lighter than the outgoing model. This has been achieved by using an aluminium prop shaft and higher tense steel plates (980mPa), which also increases the chassis rigidity by 20%.
Interior and technology
In terms of design, the Isuzu’s cab is now the most advanced in the pickup segment, with its mixture of hard and soft-touch leather, gigantic 9-inch touchscreen display, and the hexagonal feature casings.
One thing that has been carried forward from the previous generation, however, is the abundance of storage spaces. There are small compartments for things like keys, wallets and phone directly in front of the gear lever and a flip down above the windscreen and two large compartments in the dashboard, a glovebox and a fairly modest-sized central cubby.
There is a wide range of technology onboard including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice recognition and in terms of safety, the Isuzu features rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring, as well as hill start assist, brake assist and hill descent control, although it lacks autonomous braking.
Engine and driveline
For the Thai market, Isuzu offers two engines on the 2020 D-Max; the 1.9-litre RZ4E (150hp/350Nm) and the recently-updated 3.0-litre 4JJ3 (190hp/450Nm) engine. However, Isuzu may homologate different ECU settings for Europe on the 1.9 which could result in different outputs, and it is unlikely the 3.0-litre to make it to Europe altogether.
We don’t usually associate Isuzu with refinement but there is no better word to describe the new engines. The deep roars of old have been supressed to a faint groan and they’re more responsive with peak torque cutting in slightly sooner at just 1,800rpm on the 1.9.
There will be a choice of either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic engine. Both versions don’t fail to impress, with the manual far smoother and with less throw while the new ‘RevTronic’ automatic provides almost seamless changes and there is an overdrive on the fifth and sixth gears to boost fuel efficiency – but still not quite to VW’s ZF standard.
Fuel economy is expected to be ‘towards the best in the segment’ and Isuzu has also stated that the chassis has been developed to house large lithium-ion batteries, meaning it could introduce hybrid or EV versions in the near future.
Ride and handling
The ride height is slightly higher than the previous model (there is now up to 240mm of ground clearance – one of the highest in the class) which provides great all-round vision but, surprisingly, it feels more responsive and connected to the road.
The steering wheel is smaller and turning requires less effort, and there is relatively little body roll going into the corners which has been attributed to the 80kg lighter chassis and the new 3-leaf suspension arrangement. As with engine noise, the amount of road noise perforating into the cab is minimal.
Isuzu has introduced an electromagnetic diff-lock (the diff-lock has been absent from Isuzu’s since 2012) and the shift-on-the-fly system makes it quicker now to shift between 2WD and 4WD. The wading depth has increased to 800mm – top of the class with the Ford Ranger.
Isuzu D-Max 2020 weights and dimensions
The new D-Max double-cab is slightly shorter in length and stature (5,265mm long and 1,790mm tall), although slightly wider (1,870mm) wider than its predecessor although it retains exactly the same bed width as its predecessor (1,530mm), but it is slightly longer (1,495mm – still one of the shortest in this segment though) and a lot deeper (490mm).
Isuzu hasn’t confirmed the European-homologated weights yet but its expected to retain the one-tonne payload and 3.5t towing capacity.
As with the Mitsubishi L200, bringing a vehicle into Europe is getting tougher these days because of the emissions and Isuzu UK says it will arrive into UK dealerships in around September 2020 as they have to go for additional testing and homologation. They have said European models will be fitted with an AdBlue tank.