Dressed to impress: 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 4x4 LS-E AT

Dressed to impress: 2021 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 4x4 LS-E AT

Before, whenever the Isuzu D-Max was compared with the rest of the competition, you would never hear the words "sporty," "sleek" or
"powerful." The D-Max, as we knew it, had been synonymous with reliable and rugged workhorses and would more likely be your dad or uncle’s dream car.

The Isuzu D-Max has always been about blue-collar reliability. No matter the iteration or trim, being fashionable and lifestyle-oriented was the last thing Isuzu wanted the D-Max to be.

2021 Isuzu D-Max rear quarter

But the writing has long been on the wall for Isuzu, as the new wave of the local truck wars has anything but cooled down. The brand needed a change and while the no-nonsense character may have worked for Isuzu in the past, offerings from the rest have stepped their game up — offering buyers with amazing eye-watering features and technology as well as performance and new levels of ruggedness.

Enter the 2021 Isuzu D-Max it's now dressed to impress, while still having all the ruggedness fans look for in an Isuzu.

2021 Isuzu D-Max front facia


Beginning with the exterior, the biggest change that you will find is that imposing front grill. Whatever you think of the "vampire grille," the D-Max body has also undergone a number of significant changes. It's all-new, which means it's got a fresh look that's more modern, macho-looking, and streamlined while still being instantly recognizable as an Isuzu.

2021 Isuzu D-Max headlamps

It now has angry, bi-LED headlamps with integrated daytime running lights on this top trim to give it a sense of character never before seen on a D-Max. Isuzu has managed to shorten the length of the D-Max by 30mm, but amazingly D-Max models now have a longer wheelbase to help give them more stability. Not much can be said about the side profile of the 2021 D-Max apart from the more modern character lines that run across the door handles and the lower part that give it a more modern look. 

2021 Isuzu D-Max grill

What’s creating much of a stir are those 18-inch alloy wheels shod in 265/60/R18 all-terrain tires. It is as polarizing as you can get with multi-spoke accents that augment the more dominant six spokes. I wouldn’t call them unattractive; just different. On this top-of-the-line LS-E model in Isuzu’s signature Onyx Black color, it does fit it perfectly. 

2021 Isuzu D-Max side mags

It rides pretty high with a ground clearance of 240mm, making it capable of wading through 800mm of flood water. I wouldn’t try that out myself, but I’m glad that in a pinch, the Isuzu D-Max will not let you down.

2021 Isuzu D-Max side profile

I’d say that on the outside, the 2021 Isuzu D-Max is an absolute beast of a machine. It certainly looks quite imposing and fits the modern macho look it aims to achieve.


Isuzu was able to refresh the 2021 Isuzu D-Max looks on the outside, but how does it fair on the inside? If you’re looking for Isuzu to ditch its spartan charm for something more modern, then, I am happy to report that the brand has taken strides in their interior game.

2021 Isuzu D-Max Front Cabin

In fact, the 2021 Isuzu D-Max gives the impression that it has taken more than a step in the right direction. The design engineers must have taken a look at the previous model’s interior and decided to trash it and go in a completely different direction. The entire cabin, especially on this top of the line LS-E model, has been completely overhauled and reworked with proper leather seats that are much more aggressively bolstered than any other truck I’ve seen in the market.

The driver side has power-adjustable settings up to eight ways, and finding your perfect driving position is easy thanks to the fully adjustable steering wheel.

2021 Isuzu D-Max Gauge Cluster

Speaking of the steering wheel, the design has also been reworked and is uncharacteristically youthful for the brand. It has all the control buttons for you to power your media without taking your hand off the wheels as well as others to set various safety and driving settings. 

2021 Isuzu D-Max Steering Wheel

The dashboard of the D-Max is eye-catching with soft-touch materials as well as on the door panels. You will certainly find a few tricks up its sleeve for convenience. For example, there are two pop-out cup holders on the edges to keep your drinks cool by blowing cold air on them, a pop-up opening on the top of the dash to stash anything in there as a double glove box. 
2021 Isuzu D-Max overhead speaker

The instrument cluster is also plenty sporty but is pretty recessed, far away from the steering wheel and the thing white font might take some getting used to. At least the needles are red, because, well, you gotta have the red to be sporty.

2021 Isuzu D-Max rear ac vents

Passengers at the back can also enjoy their own separate air vents for those hot summer days. There is plenty of space all around and Isuzu claims that each door can each fit a 1.5-liter bottle of your choice of beverage. 

2021 Isuzu D-Max ac vent

What really takes the cake is this massive, almost iPad-like 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It is very intuitive and responsive with little lag as it should be and has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for you to access various driving apps from your phone. This powers an impressive eight-speaker array that surrounds the cabin with theater-like quality sound. There are even speakers on the dome right above the driver and front passenger to complete the surround experience.

2021 Isuzu D-Max Touchscreen

What I don't particularly love about the center stack is the lack of physical buttons to control the infotainment system. Instead, you get these capacitive buttons which is certainly not ideal. At least the dual-zone automatic climate control switches are there to provide satisfying feedback.

2021 Isuzu D-Max AC Control


If there is one thing that the 2021 D-Max has improved upon over the previous generation is safety. With a total of seven airbags, the top-of-the-line LS-E trim also has what Isuzu calls Advanced Driver Assist System, highlighted by a Smart 3D Duo Cam mounted on the base of the rearview mirror.

2021 Isuzu D-Max Glovebox

This allows the 2021 Isuzu D-Max to have various advanced safety systems like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high beam, parking assist and blind spot monitoring.  The most notable of these features is auto emergency braking (AEB) that operates at speeds above 10kph. There's also mis-acceleration monitoring to prevent lower-speed collisions. The AEB system includes pedestrian and bicycle tracking at all speeds, as well as forward crash warning.

2021 Isuzu D-Max front camera

This system can certainly be felt, especially on our congested roads and can be quite jarring at first but it’s nice to know that the system is there to have your back.

2021 Isuzu D-Max rear camera

Performance and fuel economy

The 2021 Isuzu D-Max is really shaping up to be a legitimate contender to the throne with its modern looks, interior design, and safety amenities. The question is, how does it drive? Quite well, in fact.

2021 Isuzu D-Max front quarter

Under the hood of this model, you’ll find a much-improved three-liter diesel engine that makes 187hp at 3,600rpm and 450Nm of torque as early as 1,600rpm. That’s about a 6% increase in power and an 18% increase in torque over the previous model.

2021 Isuzu D-Max Engine

The old hydraulic steering mechanism has been replaced by an electronic steering system, making the action much lighter and more driver-friendly than before.  It no longer feels like a tractor; instead actually feels more car-like.

2021 Isuzu D-Max front cabin 2

In most cases, the suspension is set to be subtle and well-sorted, but there are still some telltale signs of its hard-working roots. Without a load on board, there are some jitters from the rear end, but it's not quite as jarring as the previous one, and it's among the strongest utes in the segment for unladen ride comfort.

2021 Isuzu D-Max rear tail lamp

I was hoping for a bit more grunt off the line from the three-liter common rail direct injection engine with variable geometry turbo but it felt quite lacking at first but once you get to speed though, the 2021 D-Max just advances with much gusto. I lay the blame on the six-speed automatic transmission. It seems to be too eager to keep the car in the torque sweet spot than at city speeds, it seems a bit confused.  At least the NVH levels are good enough, although, being a diesel you still can feel the distinct rattle from the engine from time to time.

2021 Isuzu D-Max Shifter

It has a transfer control switch that works with the rear aluminum drive shaft but only the LS model with a manual comes with an electronic-locking differential which may prove a disadvantage for the LS-E model. I bet that 95% of us never take our trucks off road anyway, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Fuel economy is rated at 7kpl in the city and 12kpl on the highway, which isn’t bad, considering that you’re bringing a big hulking truck around town.


Is the all-new lifestyle oriented D-Max ready to take on the challenge of the likes of the Sport-oriented Ford Ranger Raptor, Rugged Toyota Hilux Conquest, the Gundam-like Nissan Navara as well as competition from the funky Mitsubishi Strada and Chevrolet Colorado?

2021 Isuzu D-Max front profile

Knowing Isuzu, it has its own rabid fanbase similar to those of Honda or even Toyota. If there is one thing that the brand needs is new blood flocking through those dealership doors.

Make and Model Isuzu D-Max 3.0 4x4 LS-E AT
Year Introduced 2021
Vehicle Classification Mid-Sized Pick-up Truck
Warranty 5 years / 200,000 kilometers
Under the Hood
Model 4JJ3-TCX
Type 3-liter inline-4 Turbodiesel with VGS
Power 187 hp @ 3,600 RPM
Torque 450 Nm @ 1,600 - 2,600 RPM
Fuel Capacity 76 Liters
Transmission 6-Speed AT with Sequential Shift
Drive 4WD
Tested Fuel Economy City 7 km/l
Tested Fuel Economy Highway 12 km/l
Brakes F - Ventilated Discs; R - Drum
Front Suspension
F - Double Wishbone Independent Coil Spring; R- Leaf Spring
Wheelbase 3,125 mm
Wheels 18-inch
Tires 265/60/r18 All-Terrain
Length 5,277 mm
Width 1,880 mm
Height 1,810 mm
Ground Clearance 240 mm
Gross Weight 2,600 kg
Headlamps Bi-LED Projector Type
Foglamps Yes; LED
Side Mirrors Power-adjustable and folding with Turn Signals
Daytime Running Lamps Yes
Body Kit Yes; Over fenders, Front Bumper Guard, Roof Rails
Instrument Gauge Cluster Traditional with 4.2-inch multi-display
Infotainment System 10.1-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Adjustable Steering Yes; Tilt and Telescopic
Passengers 5
Power Adjustable Seats Yes - Driver Side
A/C System Dual Zone Automatic Climate Control with rear vents
Steering Controls Yes
Speakers 8
Interior Material Leather
USB ports Yes
Power Sockets Yes; 12V
Airbags Yes; 7 airbags
ABS with EBD and Brake Assist Yes
Traction Control Yes
Stability Control Yes
Hill-Start Assist Yes
Hill-Descent Control Yes
Seatbelts F - 3-point with pre-tensioner; R - 3 point, fixed
Rear Defogger Yes
Remote Start Yes
Immobilizer Yes
Forward Collision Warning Yes
Autonomous Emergency Braking Yes
Adaptive Cruise Control Yes; with speed limiter
Automatic Headlamp Levelling Yes
Lane Departure Warning Yes with Blind-spot monitoring
Rear Cross Traffic Alert Yes
Parking Assist Yes
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Photos by Roy Robles 

Roy Robles

Roy Robles

Roy Robles is a self-professed car nut who can never stop talking about automobiles. After getting his degree in Economics at the Jose Rizal University in 2014 he worked full time as a banker for different financial institutions but never lost sight of his love for cars. He established his own personal brand focused on motoring called Mototelic, featuring different car clubs, builds and and reviews developing a following in both Facebook and YouTube. His first taste of the mainstream was with Maxspeed Autoportal in 2019 as Content Creator and YouTube Host. He is currently the Managing Editor for Zigwheels.ph

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