5 things to like about the Isuzu D-Max LS RZ4E

The new RZ4E delivers smooth and silent operation.

The new RZ4E delivers smooth and silent operation.

If you’re the type that spends a lot of time driving on the road alone, carrying big bulky objects regularly, chances are buying a pickup has crossed your mind, if you don’t already own one.

And why wouldn’t you, as today’s pickups boast of refinement, safety and technology once alien to this segment as recently as only a decade ago.

I recently had a go at Isuzu’s latest small displacement turbocharged diesel D-Max LS RZ4E, and left with these impressions on Isuzu’s latest light-heavyweight pickup.

It’s light on your wallet, light on fuel consumption, but a real heavyweight in terms of abilities.

1. Refined and comfortable overall driving experience

The D-Max LS is surprisingly comfortable and refined. I did three out of town trips in the D-Max, and the previous common complaints I had with the older models were gone and replaced with excellent NVH, roomy interior, easy ingress and exit from the low-rider 4×2 model, and a compliant, non-bouncy ride with excellent interior ergonomics.

Additionally, the seats now offer very good thigh and lower back support, something that was missing in all old Isuzu models.

2. The engine is super smooth and quiet.

Previous Isuzu diesels performed admirably, providing excellent power with even more impressive fuel efficiency. This gave them a feeling of lasting forever. No wonder so many Isuzu diesels still roam our roads as the Japanese brand is considered an authority on diesel engines. But this reliability and longevity came at a hefty price: engine noise.

The cockpit is comfortable and refined.

The cockpit is comfortable and refined.

The new RZ4E diesel engine, despite being modestly sized, delivers smooth and silent operation.

It might lack the immediate outright punch from low-ends like its bigger displacement siblings, but the D-Max is a workhorse, not a race car.

3. The chassis is well-balanced.

Balance, handling and the like are not things you look for in a pickup. But the RZ4E 1900cc engine feels light, providing the D-Max LS with better front-to-rear weight balance.

The nose didn’t feel crashy, and the tail didn’t feel like a wild bronco. On winding roads, you could corner aggressively with the D-Max without fear of the nose washing wide, or the rear overtaking the fronts.

4. Efficiency is as impressive as ever: 10 km/liter in the city, 19 km/liter on the highway.

The low-rider 4x2 model gives a compliant, non-bouncy ride.

The low-rider 4×2 model gives a compliant, non-bouncy ride.

Isuzu’s diesel engines have never been about outright power and torque, but a balance of power, reliability, efficiency and emissions. It won’t win any drag races, but on a long-distance run, the D-Max will save you loads of time (and money) because of its miserly diesel fuel consumption.

On a side note, aggressive driving going up Tagaytay saw the fuel efficiency plummet to around 13.8-14 km/liter from a high of 19 km/liter on the highway, but that figure is still very respectable.

5. It’s surprisingly value-packed.

The engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, dual airbags, ABS-EBD brakes, and traction/stability control are things you don’t expect to find in a pickup of this price range (P1.249 million). But it has these, and more.

And with Isuzu’s reputation for being problem-/trouble-free, you will have a very capable, safe, and fuel efficient work-horse for years to come.

Headlamps receive modern styling.

Headlamps receive modern styling.

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