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Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 review


Isuzu has launched its MY23 update for its D-Max X-Terrain ute. We find out if the next tweaks bring extra substance to the popular flagship dual-cab.  

Good points

  • Looks tough
  • Punchy 3.0-litre engine
  • Well equipped
  • Good safety credentials
  • Solid cabin execution

Needs work

  • Needs more performance hardware
  • Manual-only tonneau cover
  • Pricing is getting up there
  • Engine gets breathless when pushed
  • Can’t match Ford Ranger’s ride comfort

The dual-cab ute. Who would have thought that after all these years, and even after the demise of Holden and Ford, that the most popular vehicle type on Australian shores would be the ute.

While the incredibly popular Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger continue to battle it out at the very top of the sales charts, other utes such as the Mitsubishi Triton and Mazda BT-50 follow behind in the wheel tracks.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 rear 3/4 2

Then there’s the Isuzu D-Max, once the hard-working also-ran of its segment treated to major revamping and revitalisation in its current generation, launched in 2020.

This ‘new’ Isuzu D-Max would quickly become one of Australia’s most popular and best-selling utes.

Today’s D-Max has much going for it. There’s its fetching, touch truck styling and a newfound contemporary flair almost totally lacking in its forebear.

But its appeal is also largely due to the retention of its truck-sourced heartbeat, boosted in power and torque at launch, as well as heavily updated safety and in-cabin tech.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 dirt

And it’s the flagship X-Terrain model that gets the best of everything.

So far in 2022, Isuzu has sold 18,744 4×4 versions of its D-Max ute, making it the fourth best-selling dual-cab in Australia, behind Hilux, Ranger and Triton.

The new MY23 version gets a few key updates to keep the shine on the D-Max X-Terrain halo. But does it bolster its fortunes against tough competition from Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6 or a Toyota Hilux Rogue? That’s what we are here to find out.

What are the D-Max X-Terrain’s features and options for the price?

The 2023 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain is the pinnacle of the D-Max ute range, but that also means it comes at quite the cost.

At $67,500 before on-road costs, the X-Terrain is by no means a cheap ute, but it does look competitively priced against the $70,190 Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6 and the $70,200 Toyota Hilux Rogue.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 front 3/4 red

The 2023 X-Terrain sets itself apart from the rest of its D-Max relatives thanks to an aero sports bar, remote engine start, a matte-black manual roller tonneau cover, a new redesigned two-part grille and new 18-inch dark grey alloy wheels.

The X-Terrain is certainly the toughest looking D-Max yet to be produced, sporting dark grey metallic finishes for the side steps, mirrors, door and tailgate handles, roof rails, sports bar and fender flares.

Isuzu has also added for the first time a gas-strut-assisted tailgate that makes loading and unloading much easier. The struts take the weight out of the tailgate, an operation that can now be done with one hand.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 front 3/4

While tyre pressure monitoring has been added to LS-U and LS-U+ variants for the very first time, this feature has been standard on the X-Terrain model since its launch in late 2020.

Combine these features with the smorgasbord of standard safety technologies and the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain shapes up to be a good value for the money – although some more off-road focused features would be a nice addition in the future.

How does the D-Max X-Terrain drive?

We were lucky enough to drive the new 2023 D-Max X-Terrain on some of Queensland’s most picturesque beaches, as well as mountain roads, highways and city streets – an accurate representation of how Australians really use their utes.

Hopping into the X-Terrain and firing up the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine for the first time, the ute awakened with a rumble I’ve become familiar with. Chasing Cars took an LS-U D-Max all the way out to Broken Hill earlier in the year, so I am very well versed with this powertrain.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 rear 3/4 driving

Despite the various MY23 updates, the D-Max turbo-diesel engine does not gain any power or torque increases. Outputs remain at 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque.

And while that might be down on Ford’s 184kW/600Nm turbo-diesel V6, the 4JJ3 unit in the D-Max is a strong, reliable unit.

Taking the flagship Isuzu through some mountain roads north of Brisbane, we were able to test how the X-Terrain could cope with steep ascents (and descents) – and it handled it with ease.

Just don’t expect the X-Terrain to be a corner carver. At 2175kg, it’s no lightweight. And it does have a tendency to roll about on its suspension on its way into and out of corners.

Although we didn’t get to do a tow test with the updated X-Terrain, the ute has a rated braked towing capacity of 3500kg, much like many of its dual-cab competitors available on the market today.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 towing

On bitumen surfaces, the X-Terrain displayed a decent ride, however there is no hiding the jiggly nature of the rear leaf-spring suspension.

Compliance is, on balance, fairly decent for a dual-cab – not as cushy as Ranger, if somewhat nicer than Hilux – and engagement is quite good given the chassis format and the mud-kicking tyres.

The engine and six-speed automatic transmission pair well, and at highway speeds, the 3.0-litre powertrain can become refined and quiet.

It’s only when you plant the throttle that the turbo-diesel can become a little loud and thrashy. It certainly does not play the same tune as Ford’s new turbo-diesel V6 engine.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 side driving

As part of the Isuzu drive experience, we also got the opportunity to drive the X-Terrain off-road at Double Island Point, north of Noosa. I hadn’t driven up this beach for several years, the last time being in my Mum’s 2007 D40 Nissan Navara.

It’s amazing how car-like Isuzu has made the D-Max across the really soft stuff. The X-Terrain had no problems driving on the beach at speeds up to 80km/h, always feeling quite planted, well-controlled and stable. Entering and exiting the beach in very soft sand was a breeze, too, with none of our convoy getting bogged.

The X-Terrain really is a strong reminder about how accessible and easy off-roading is in a modern dual-cab ute. These types of vehicles have surely come a long way in a short amount of time.

What is the D-Max X-Terrain’s interior and tech like?

Inside the 2023 X-Terrain ute, you’re immediately greeted by updated black leather seats that now feature sport-orientated red stitching. These are comfortable pews and would be ideal for longer distance touring.

The driver’s seat is electric, too, which certainly came in handy as we were in and out of cars quickly during the trip. The steering wheel is a leather item, too, and feels quality and well constructed.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 interior

I like how easy it is to find switches inside the X-Terrain. Every button and toggle has a sense of tactile quality to it, from the steering wheel controls right through to the terrain mode dial.

The central 9.0-inch touchscreen works well and supports both wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The X-Terrain gains the uprated ‘sky sound’ eight-speaker sound system, as well as the ‘smart HID’ driver interface.

Key analogue dials remain – unlike the Ford Ranger’s new fully digital instrument cluster – though it is nice to have a mix of both digital and analog for the driver. A digital speedo, fuel economy figures, range and trip information are all displayed through the small central HID screen.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 screens

For rear occupants, there is a central air vent as well as USB ports to keep the kid’s tablets charged up. Space in the rear section is somewhat restricted and would be better for the little ones rather than a group of full-grown adults.

There is plenty of room to put shopping bags behind the front seats, though, if you’re not wanting to put your items in the tray.

Speaking of space, the rear-tray offers plenty of room for a variety of different items. The roller tonneau (not electric like the Hilux Rogue) would really come in handy if the heavens happened to open.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 interior back

The rear tray for the X-Terrain measures in at 1570mm long by 1530mm wide. The aforementioned damped tailgate is a nice premium touch.

On a whole, the interior is nicely put together, functional, yet not over-the-top in terms of technology. This is undoubtedly the most comfortable D-Max yet. I guess it should be for the $70k price sticker.

Is the D-Max X-Terrain a safe car?

Back in 2020, when Isuzu released the current D-Max, one of the big changes to the model was safety. And with the 2023 D-Max X-Terrain, the flagship variant is no different and very well equipped.

The D-Max X-Terrain features a diverse range of safety technologies including:

  • Eight airbags
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • AEB with turn assist
  • Post-collision braking
  • Forward collision warning
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning and prevention
  • Lane-keep assist and emergency lane keeping
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Hill descent control.

Isuzu D-Max crash 2022

These features not only apply to the flagship X-Terrain, but the entire range of D-Max models for 2023.

The D-Max was tested by safety agency ANCAP in 2022, with all models scoring a five star safety rating. The D-Max scored well across all four areas of testing.

What are the D-Max X-Terrain’s ownership costs?

How does the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain stack up when it comes to actually running the vehicle day-to-day? Isuzu claims that the combined fuel economy of the X-Terrain automatic is 8.0L/100km, with urban use rated at 9.6L/100km and extra urban (highway) rated at 6.9L/100km.

In our short drive of the X-Terrain, we managed around 9.0L/100km, so not too bad considering its official claim. That being said, driving on the beach can certainly push those fuel economy figures up, especially when driving in gruelling soft sand.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 towing 2

Servicing the X-Terrain over five years will cost you $2435, however you are also covered by Isuzu’s six-year, 150,000km warranty.

With diesel prices still high in Australia, you can expect that a fill up will cost you roughly $150-$170 (based on current Sydney fuel prices) at the bowser.

The honest verdict on the D-Max X-Terrain

The 2023 Isuzu D-Max in top-tier X-Terrain form does so much right. It’s a safe yet reliable workhorse that not only does the day-to-day well, but won’t be phased if the going gets tough.

While its 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine won’t win awards for character or charm, it’s a hard working unit and will, most importantly, get you where you need to go.

But the X-Terrain is also comfortable and the most livable D-Max yet thanks to its 2023 updates. It really ticks the boxes if you are after a ute for work or play, or something to pull your caravan or boat.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 2023 front driving beach close

What would I change, then? Things like a fully-digital instrument cluster, a more gusty engine, more off-road focused parts or more space in the back for adults could make this dual-cab even better.

The numbers all make sense to me now. The D-Max is the fourth best-selling ute on the market. People love these things. For me, I have always loved utes, back when they were two-wheel drive and had V8 engines.

But the X-Terrain might just be the next best thing. A tool for every use – a workhorse and a plaything, both rolled into one.

Correction, 16/12/22: an earlier iteration of this review stated that tyre pressure monitoring had been added to the X-Terrain at the 2023 update. In fact, it was already fitted to the X-Terrain, and has been added to the LS-U and LS-U+ variants.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs

Variant tested X-TERRAIN (4x4)

Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

2999 cc
Diesel Turbo
140kW at 3600rpm
450Nm at 1600rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
76 litres
8L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
950km (claimed)
5303 mm
1880 mm
1810 mm
Unoccupied weight
2175 kg

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