2021 Isuzu D-Max Quick Drive Review: Lightyears ahead

Updated Jul 14, 2021

Editor's: 4.1/5
Deliciously premium and overtly tough.
2021 Isuzu D-Max Quick Drive Review: Lightyears ahead

In this review...

  1. Here’s everything we know
  2. Exterior Review
  3. Interior Review
  4. Engine and Performance
  5. Verdict
  6. Variants & Price

2021 Isuzu D-Max Quick Drive: Here’s everything we know

After seven years in the local market, Isuzu Philippines has finally released the next-generation D-Max. It’s been a long time coming, and in terms of actual improvements, the new pickup truck is lightyears ahead of the previous model. 

To elaborate, no other pickup truck in the local market comes with adaptive cruise control, and only a few have seven airbags. The D-Max’s top-spec LS-E variant even features the largest touchscreen among local pickup trucks.  

With those being the case, the 2021 Isuzu D-Max might just be the most important model for Isuzu Philippines Corporation for this decade. The local pickup truck market after all, is highly competitive. To gain an edge in the market, new truck models like the Toyota Hilux are getting more gadgets and features. In 2020, the Toyota-made truck even became the second best-selling model that year.  

So, can the 2021 Isuzu D-max compare against its rivals in the midsize pickup segment? To know the answer to that, Isuzu PH invited to test drive the 2021 D-Max in Tagaytay. Here’s Philkotse’s 2021 Isuzu D-Max quick drive review. 


Isuzu D-Max 2021 Review

How we do our reviews
  • aesthetics

    Overall exterior & Interior design, build quality, form vs function

  • Safety & Technology

    Number of safety & tech features, consistency during usage

  • Performance

    Power delivery, acceleration, transmission, suspension, handling

  • Comfort & Practicality

    Overall Ride Comfort, Space, Storage Areas

  • Value for Money

    Sticker price vs overall package

2021 Isuzu D-Max Quick Drive: Exterior Review

From the ground up, the 2021 Isuzu D-Max is new. Gone are the softer, curved corners of the previous version, and what we have now is a more aggressive, angular-looking truck that’s sure to turn heads. 

Up front, the D-Max’s familiar fang-like slats on the grille make its return, but everything from the lights down to the wheels are new. Flanking the grille is a pair of automatic Bi-LED projector headlamps that are surrounded by U-shaped LED daytime running lamps. The grille itself is solid-feeling, and is gunmetal gray in color. Further below the grille is the front bumper that houses the LED lights.

A picture of the all-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max on a helipad

The all-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max from the front

With those, the front end of the 2021 Isuzu D-Max looks more beastly and angular. It also helps that the headlights look sharper now giving the truck an aggressive demeanor. And speaking of beastly, we’re glad that Isuzu kept the fang-line slats. It goes well with the more angular corners of the new truck, and it enhances its macho appeal even further.  

Towards the sides, the top-spec D-Max LS-E trim rides on 18-inch alloy wheels. In our opinion, they look great, but some might not like the rather unconventional design. As for the side steps and roof rails though, they seem to add even more to the already macho-looking truck. They also feel solidly built. Case and point are the roof rails, which are rated to handle up to 100 kg of cargo. 

A picture of the 2021 D-max's wheels

A closer look at the Isuzu-made truck's wheels

For some reason though, Isuzu opted for a more conventional antenna, rather than the shark-fin type that’s all the rage these days.

As said by Isuzu, the 2021 D-Max features a more aerodynamic profile. The line running from the hood to the roof is smooth, and the angular character lines on the side are just right. Also, the glossy fender flares add depth to the truck’s design and enhances its stable-looking stance.

A picture of the 2021 D-Max's side profile

The new D-Max from the side

Moving to the rear, the D-Max features a lot of illumination. This is of course helpful for a tough truck built for both work and play. There’s the LED rear taillight cluster with guide lights, the emergency stop signal, and the rear fog lamps.  

As mentioned, the one that we tested is the top-spec LS-E version which comes ready with a bedliner. Sure, it’s made out of the usual plastic, but it is textured for anti-slippage and is stylish to boot.  

A picture of the D-Max's bed

The LS-E variant comes with a bedliner

As a quick drive review, we won’t drone on about millimeters and exact dimension figures. Do note however that the new D-Max is 68 mm shorter in length than the old model. However, it is also 20 mm wider than the previous model. It also comes with more ground clearance at 240 mm, which is 5 mm more compared to the previous model’s non-Boondock variants. 

Overall, we’re of the opinion that the new 2021 Isuzu D-Max looks better than the previous version. It features a more modern look that’s aggressive, and pleasantly angular. Despite that, we also like the fact that it gives a nod to the previous version by using the fang-like slats on its front fascia. 

A picture of the D-Max's rear

The D-Max's rear end


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2021 Isuzu D-Max Quick Drive: Interior Review

While the more modern, more aggressive, angular exterior design is a sight to behold, the interior of the new D-Max is a forward leap in comfort, arrangement, and design. In other words, it looks like the D-Max is now punching up to become one of the most comfortable trucks in the market today. 

Almost everything inside is now clad in soft-touch surfaces and those that aren’t are made out of textured sturdy plastic. The single feature that we feel we can nitpick about though is the gloss piano black pieces surrounding the gear shifter. It catches a lot of dust, which you can see in the photos.  

A picture of the 2021 D-Max's interior featuring the steering wheel and dashboard

The 2021 D-Max's cockpit

As for the dual-zone automatic air-conditioning controls positioned below the touchscreen, Isuzu opted to keep them physical. Suffice to say, these are a joy to fiddle with. The controls are tactile, and like most of the truck, they feel sturdy. The buttons on the steering wheel, and the controls for the door locks and windows also feel great to the touch.

Speaking of the steering wheel, this part of the truck is also new. The center-piece is now angular and takes on a hexagonal shape, and the spokes are coated in chrome. The wheel itself is sized just right and is wrapped in non-slippery leather. 

As for the seats, the top-spec LS-E and LS are clad in leather, while the others have fabric. The driver’s seat for the LS-E is equipped with electronic adjustability, so you can easily find your preferred driving position.  

A picture of the 2021 D-Max's steering wheel

The new steering-wheel looks sportier

Bolstering too is pretty good. You don’t feel as if you’re squeezed, and it actually allows for a lot of free movement. The same goes for the rear cabin, which features a lot of head- and leg-room. Indeed, we can say that Isuzu gave a lot of thought to the interior. The arrangement of the controls are logical, and the materials that were used seem to be durable. To sum the interior up, we can say that it is easy on the eyes, and is quite comfortable.  

Moving on, the touchscreen infotainment dominates the dashboard thus offering great legibility. Despite having a hefty 10.1-inch size,  the screen doesn’t impede forward visibility at all.  

For connectivity, the infotainment system gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We also tested the Bluetooth connectivity, and played several minutes of podcasts and music. Connecting your phone to the infotainment is easy, and the sound of the eight-piece speakers is great. Note that we tested it out with the default settings though, so it might sound even better with a bit of fiddling.  

A picture of the 2021 D-Max's headunit

The Isuzu truck's new touchscreen

To aid the driver, the new D-Max also features a push-to-start button, and of course there’s the adaptive cruise control. During testing, we were only able to use it sparingly and in low-traffic areas. So, watch out for our full review of the 2021 Isuzu D-Max for more details on this feature. Suffice to say though, this is the first time that the D-Max is equipped with adaptive cruise control.

2021 Isuzu D-Max Quick Drive: Engine and Performance

During the test drive, we got our hands on the top-spec 2021 Isuzu D-Max LS-E variant that’s powered by the new 4JJ3-TCX engine. It’s a 3.0-liter inline-4 turbodiesel that can make up to 188 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque. Peak horsepower is reached at 3,600 rpm, while peak torque is at 1,600 to 2,600 rpm.  

The new engine is then paired with the revised six-speed transmission that sends power to the rear-wheels in 4x2 mode. On the other hand, its 4x4 mode is easily selected with a dial.  

A picture of the D-max's engine

The 2021 D-Max's new 3.0-liter 4JJ3-TCX engine

While we didn’t get to test the truck’s off-road capabilities that much, it is nimble on the pavement. The steering is light and responsive, and the road and engine noise is barely audible. Opening up the throttle can be relatively heard from the inside, but it doesn’t comprise the overall ride comfort. 

As a heavy 2,600 kg truck however, cornering will still cause body roll. Although for a truck, we feel that the D-Max is stable. Mind you, the 2021 Isuzu D-Max still uses leaf spring suspension for its rear, and a double-wishbone suspension for the front. It does however ride on a new platform, and the aforementioned suspensions also came with improvements themselves. So despite the handling improvements, it can still carry about as much as the outgoing version.  

A picture of the 2021 D-Max's shifter

A closer look at the Isuzu-made truck's shifter

Now, let’s talk about the D-Max's gearbox. Shifting is barely felt in automatic mode, and you won’t get any jerks at whatever speed you’re traveling. The only thing that indicates a shift in gears is the changing hums in varying RPMs. The automatic gearbox is also responsive in relation to throttle inputs and gear change lag is non-existent.  The new D-Max lacks paddle shifters though, but that’s a non-issue since the sequential shift mode is responsive and easy to use.  

As for fuel consumption, we didn’t get to test the D-Max in city traffic nor on a long drive. According to Isuzu Philippines, the new D-Max can return around 12 km/l. For the real-world fuel consumption figures, let’s wait for the full review. 

2021 Isuzu D-Max LS-E Philippines: Verdict

Overall, the Isuzu D-Max is a comfortable, premium-feeling truck. Even Isuzu has said that they are positioning the higher-end variants as a “lifestyle” vehicle more than a work truck. That said though, we feel as if the 2021 D-Max has struck a perfect balance between being a work truck, a comfortable daily, or a fun to drive off-road vehicle. 

With all those said, the new 2021 Isuzu D-Max is versatile and is definitely more feature-rich than its predecessor. As such, the D-Max could indeed hold up against its local rivals. It might even ruffle a few feathers during its tenure in the local pickup truck market.

For the full review of the upcoming 2021 Isuzu D-Max, and other fresh new car reviews, keep it here on Philkotse.com

2021 Isuzu D-Max: Variants & Price

Isuzu D-Max Price & Variants in the Philippines

Isuzu D-Max LS-E 3.0 4x4 AT

Php 1,825,000

Isuzu D-Max LS 3.0 4x4 MT

Php 1,630,000

Isuzu D-Max LS-A 3.0 4x2 AT

Php 1,390,000

Isuzu D-Max 3.0 LS 4x2 MT

Php 1,320,000

Isuzu D-Max RZ4E 1.9 LS 4x2 AT

Php 1,309,000

Isuzu D-Max LT 3.0 4x4 MT

Php 1,288,000

Isuzu D-Max RZ4E 1.9 LS 4x2 MT

Php 1,219,000

Isuzu D-Max LT 1.9 4x2 MT

Php 987,000

Isuzu D-Max 1.9 4x2 Single Cab MT

Php 857,000

Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar G.B. Miguel


Cesar Guiderone B. Miguel was born and raised in Iligan City, Lanao Del Norte. He graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in English degree from Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology. He previously worked as a freelance writer for various websites, as a member of the Iligan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management's training staff, and as a medical sales representative.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/goridus.goridus

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