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Isuzu D-Max LS (2009)
"Wot's in a name?" she sez. "Struth, I dunno. Billo is just as good as Romeo." So penned C.J. Dennis in The Sentimental Bloke back in about 1915. But it seems that some of today's light commercial buyers should be asking the same question.
With financially troubled GM selling off Isuzu to the Mitsubishi Corporation (not Mitsubishi Motors), Holden have lost the use of the Rodeo name. The Rodeo, fresh from a facelift, is now sold by Holden as the Colorado. But Isuzu Ute Australia, with head office in Queensland, has also entered the fray selling Rodeo under the Isuzu D-Max nameplate. So what's in a name indeed?
Under the skin, D-Max features a ladder-frame chassis and essentially the same mechanical package as the Holden product, though unlike Holden, Isuzu has adopted a diesel-only philosophy.
We drove the manual LS two-wheel-drive crew cab. Its 3.0-litre diesel engine with latest variable geometry system turbo offers pleasingly flexible and robust performance for its workhorse duties. It's also clearly discernable as a diesel, courtesy of some telltale clatter. Most versions, including 4x4 models, offer a five-speed manual or four-speed auto gearbox.
Ride is more supple than some light trucks but, unsurprisingly, its high-ride suspension still shows its bias for load carrying duties when unladen. Steering and dynamics prove sufficiently competent, but similarly limited by vehicle design intent. Rear seats are better than many crewcabs, but the fronts are soft and lack support.
Comparing the LS's list price with its closest diesel Colorado offering gives the Holden an $800 odd advantage. But D-Max regains supreme thanks to added standard features including anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic brake distribution ($1000 option on the Holden), 16" alloys, cruise control, carpets (instead of vinyl matting), side steps and rear step bumper, leather-trim steering wheel and gear-knob, plus two extra speakers.
Our D-Max LS also lands blows on major competitor Hilux for price and features. Toyota's SR Dual Cab 4x2 diesel lists for nearly $900 more, but lacks airconditioning, ABS, LSD and alloy wheels in its standard equipment repertoire. There's no auto option, only a lap, centre, rear seatbelt and 250 kg less tow capacity.
The D-Max is an honest workhorse sold through more than 40 dealers nationally.
Standard features and pricing, performance, fuel consumption
Front seat comfort, lower crash rating than some
Airconditioning, 16" alloys, cruise control, side and rear steps, carpets, leather trim steering wheel and gear knob, CD
Dual front airbags, ABS, EBD, lap-sash seatbelts all positions
|Price when new
|Current price range
$ - $
|ANCAP crash rating
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||3.0-litre, DOHC, 16-valve, 4-cyl. turbo intercooled common-rail diesel
||120kW @ 3600 rpm
||360Nm @ 1800 - 2800 rpm (manual)
|Acceleration to 100 km/h
|Braking from 80 km/h
||8.4 litres/100 km
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This review is based on road testing conducted by The Road Ahead. Further vehicle reviews, in-depth comparisons and coverage of consumer motoring issues can be found in the Club's magazine. Prices listed were current at the time of review and are manufacturers list prices and do not include statutory and delivery charges. Prices can vary from time to time and dealer to dealer.