Isuzu Ute knows buyers are keen on factory-backed pickup flagships like the Ford Ranger Raptor or Nissan Navara Warrior, but has no plans in place for its own D-Max equivalent.
The company’s Australian division this week revealed the third-generation D-Max, which retains a trademark (reworked) 3.0-litre diesel engine but adds substantially more cabin mod-cons and cutting-edge active safety features.
Australia is the second country to get the new D-Max, after Thailand where it is built. We are the principal export market, and so the tastes of this market significantly shape what Isuzu ute chooses to do with its product.
The halo product at launch is called the D-Max X-Terrain, which replaces the old LS-T badge.
It gets a body add-ons reminiscent of the Ranger Wildtrak and features more common to SUVs, but no changes to the existing double-wishbone/three-leaf front/rear suspension, rear drum brakes, off-road angles, or wading depth (an already excellent 800mm thanks to a higher intake point).
Given the runaway sales success of the aforementioned competitors, which run rejigged springs and shocks (and a fair bit more, in the Raptor’s case), and given the healthy aftermarket industry, there’s clearly demand for something even more hardcore.
We put that to Isuzu Ute’s director Koichiro Yoshida.
“We see the competitors, like Warrior or Raptor, and some customers really like those vehicles. We keep monitoring those demands and we are studying if that kind of vehicle is really appreciated by the market,” he replied.
“Yes we are having that study internally, but at this moment there is still no clear plan to introduce a model at this moment.”
It’s worth noting that the Navara Warrior is modified on a separate production line by Premcar in Melbourne, with Nissan’s direct involvement.
Another competitor to flag is the also-Australian-modified Toyota HiLux Rugged-X, which gets its 4×4 add-ons at the local docks.
Our two cents? Isuzu Ute Australia should be talking to a local engineering firm or 4×4 specialist and working on an OEM-standard halo model sold through dealerships, like Nissan and Toyota.
Do you agree? Or would you rather do your own research and hit up the likes of ARB or Ironman?