Isuzu has officially unveiled its all-new 2020 D-Max in Thailand – the country where it is manufactured. The Isuzu D-Max 2020 has been developed in conjunction with Mazda (which will sell rebadged versions as the ‘BT50’ from 2021) and has been spied testing in both Sweden and Germany.
Isuzu D-Max 2020 announcement
Professional Pickup received word of the new pickup from an Isuzu official working out of the company’s Thailand headquarters back in 2018 and we were the first to break the story in Europe. Isuzu has rapidly upped its game in terms of refinement and technology (two traditional weak points of Isuzu) with the new model, and much of its testing took place in Europe.
The biggest surprise of this announcement is that Isuzu will no longer be cooperating with General Motors (the previous owners of Vauxhall) on pickups. The two companies have been cooperating on pickup trucks and 4×4 together since the 1980’s, however General Motors decided to ‘go it alone’ and develop its new one-tonne pickup in-house.
At the same time, the Mazda and Ford collaboration on pickup – another long-running relationship – was coming to an end. Isuzu and Mazda announced their partnership on the next-generation of pickups in 2017, with the first models to be launched in 2020 and 2021 respectively. It’s unclear, however, if Mazda will mark a return to the European pickup market.
We’ll start with the outside. Despite its 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, the Isuzu sports a more ‘aggressive’ and ‘powerful’ appearance.
Isuzu D-Max 2020 details
The Isuzu also has a completely new interior and a new chassis, which is 20% more rigid than the outgoing model. It does, however, retain the 3-leaf spring suspension that was fitted at the end of 2018 – which worked wonders on the refinement.
Comfort, styling and technology are three areas that Isuzu highlighted for improvement for the new model and, judging by the pictures and press releases, the engineers certainly haven’t failed to deliver.
The redesigned console takes Isuzu from dead last in terms of interior aesthetics to the top of the class, and it houses an all-new infotainment system featuring a 9-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and voice recognition.
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.
Engine and driveline
At the launch in Thailand, Isuzu announced it will offer two engines on the 2020 D-Max; the 1.9-litre RZ42 (150hp/350kW) and the recently-updated 3.0-litre RJJ3 (188hp/450Nm) engine – although the latter is unlikely to make it to Europe. There will be a choice of either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic engine. 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.
As with the Mitsubishi L200, bringing a vehicle into Europe is getting tougher these days because of the emissions and Isuzu UK says it could be as long as next summer before they arrive in our dealerships, as they have to go for additional testing and homologation.