Working class hero

Isuzu D-Max, the darling of the pickup masses, just got more lovable with common-rail direct-injection technology
Feb 12, 2009

If there's one word that can sum up the entire history of Isuzu vehicles in the Philippines, it's ‘indestructible'. Isuzu auto-motive products - particularly their diesel engines - are legendary for their durability, reliability and all-around bad-ass toughness.

Another Isuzu product that has attained legendary status is, of course, the D-Max pickup truck. Loved all around the world, the D-Max is the embodiment of the Pinoy working man: tough, reliable, thrifty on fuel, strong as a carabao, and can go anywhere to get the job done. And, of course, looking pretty good while at it.

July 2007 saw the D-Max finally making a definite move against its contemporaries, with the introduction of a new 3.0-liter I-TEQ intercooled turbo common-rail diesel engine. This engine, found in the LS and LX variants, is identical to the one powering the upscale Alterra SUV, and produces 144hp and 294Nm of torque at a very real-world range of 1,400-3,400rpm. The budget variant LT gets the 2.5-liter direct-injection diesel that makes 81hp and 177Nm.

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So enough of the technical blabber - how does it drive? Isuzu lent us a 4x2 LS with manual transmission, and the first thing we noticed was, "Damn, it's tall!" Even with the 16-inch wheels, the wheel well gap is huge. It's a bit of a chore getting into the truck, me being on the short-legged side of 5'6". But it's worth the trouble, because the driver is rewarded with a very well laid-out cockpit. Everything necessary is within easy reach, and the Optitron-style gauges are quite readable and pleasant on the eyes. And the Pioneer CD receiver is iPod- and USB MP3 player-ready (woohoo!).

The D-Max pulls so powerfully that a heavy right foot will pin your body to the back of the seat. Power is on tap from sub-1,000rpm, but the D-Max truly comes alive at around 1,800rpm. And I have to say it again - it pulls like a mofo!

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So maybe it's not a super-refined ride, but if that's what you wanted, get a sedan. The Isuzu D-Max didn't earn its international legend status by being cushy anyway. It's an honest, rough ‘n' ready working machine with decent looks and no pretensions.

Now, with the 4x2 LS powered by the 3.0-liter common-rail engine, it looks like the best just got even better.
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