2018 Isuzu D-Max AT35 Test Drive: Global Report

AT35 front high II

By Ben Harrington

Editor's note: Ben Harrington is from the United Kingdom and test-drives pickup trucks we don't yet have in the U.S. Here's his take on the 2018 Isuzu D-Max AT35.

So, you thought your Ford Ranger was absolutely massive, or maybe you proudly boasted that your Land Rover Discovery was totally unstoppable. Well, it might be time to look away now, because in both cases the global 2018 Isuzu D-Max thinks otherwise.

What we tested was not just any standard D-Max, though; the one we drove had a thorough working over by Arctic Trucks, which created the Arctic Truck 35 or AT35, a factory-offered extreme off-road package.

By the Numbers

Here are just a few all-important pickup specifications and numbers for the standard D-Max that provides the foundation for the base AT35: It's powered by a 1.9-liter four-cylinder diesel engine producing 161 horsepower and 265 pounds-feet of torque at 2,000-2,500 rpm; it has a curb weight of 4,544 pounds; it delivers almost 2,500 pounds of maximum payload; and the bed is 58 inches long by 60 inches wide and 18 inches deep (with 43 inches between the wheel wells in the bed).

As with all D-Maxes, the AT35's engine can be mated to either a manual or automatic transmission, both of which have six gears. There are both high- and low-axle ratios (our test truck had 4.30:1 gearing) to choose from and locking differentials for when the going gets really rough.

That's the D-Max then, but what do you get in the AT35 to justify its fairly weighty $52,800 price tag? The most obvious upgrades are those massive 315/70R17 tires and the required fender flare extensions that house them. Those tires aren't just any off-road tires though; they're Nokian Rotiivas. Never heard of them? That's probably because they originate in Finland — the most northern tire manufacturer on the planet.

AT35 fox suspension tyre II

In Nokian Rotiivas own words: "We market our products in extreme regions where there is snow, forests and demanding driving conditions caused by changing seasons." You get the idea.

What's Underneath

But it's what's underneath that really sets the AT35 apart from anything else in the mid-size class. Thankfully, when your pickup's this got this much clearance it doesn't take much crouching to sneak a peek at the important bits. Fox Performance Series suspension components (extended coils in front and re-arched leafs in back) have been fitted to the AT35, raising the D-Max 5 inches, which improves both the approach and departure angles, as well as helping to avoid coming into contact with any debris or ridges you may be driving over.

AT35 Fox suspension1 II

Arctic Trucks add-ons aside, the D-Max is a sorted, competent pickup in its own right. A 1.9-liter inline-four diesel engine may sound small for a vehicle of this size, but it actually creates more horsepower than Toyota's 2.4-liter unit found in the popular and athletic Hilux. Not only that, but when mated to the six-speed manual gearbox it returns more 40 mpg in city/highway combined driving, which keeps makes it one of the most economical (and unmodified) pickups on sale today. Opt for the automatic transmission and you can expect to lose around 4 mpg. We're guessing here, but some of this loss must be due to the fact it tends to hang onto lower gears when it really sounds and feels like it should have upshifted sooner. At least, that's been our experience.

AT35 engine II

Interior/Exterior

On the down side, sit inside the D-Max and you'll find it can't compete with class leaders such as Volkswagen's Amarok. As with all top-spec D-Maxes, there is leather upholstery throughout, heated front seat and electric windows but that's about it — there aren't many creature comforts after that. The plastics used are ultimately function-over-form choices and there's not much in the way of ergonomic design. For such a large mid-size truck, the lack of usable cupholders is pronounced and confusing — surely they're a prerequisite for designers nowadays. One feature that excels, however, is the Pioneer multimedia system; it's large, functional and easy to use.

AT35 cabin2 II

Of special note, the D-Max does offer one nice, thoughtful bit in the form of a tailgate with dampened struts; that's not something many competitors offer. Yes, it potentially adds a couple of seconds onto loading time but it looks and feels far more civilized than a big, heavy, clunking tailgate banging down every time you pull the latch.

AT35 loadbed II

Off-Road Capability

The AT35's unique selling point is quite clearly its go-anywhere off-road capability, but what if you spend a fair amount of time on the tarmac? Well, the extra width can be intimidating when negotiating narrow roads. The Fox suspension is clever and despite a little extra rolling around noise, the AT35 will get around aggressive bends when pushed, albeit a bit more slowly and with less refinement than others. The Nokian tires are primarily designed for, as you might guess, seriously rough surfaces, so if you're regularly doing 60 mph, the negative effects on ride quality and noise could prove irritating.

The Isuzu D-Max is a hugely competent pickup in its own right, both on and off-road. If it's ultimate off-road ability or just an imposing look straight from the main dealer you're after, though, look no further than the Isuzu D-Max AT35.

Cars.com photos by Ben Harrington

AT35 front2 II

AT35 rear low II

AT35 wheel2 II

AT35 mudflap II

AT35 underneath II

Comments

40mpg. Is that Imperial gallons?

Stock control arms. Stock ball joints. No suspension component reinforcement, improvement or upgrade except shocks. It's an otherwise stock truck with a spring lift and 35 inch tires. In 100k miles it will be a huge rattle trap. Worn out, loose and leaking steering rack will wander all over the road. Sacrifice durability for some ground clearance. I guess it is good for getting groceries though.

should be very popular in high-income locales such as Palo Alto and Santa Rosa.

juanfo,
Do you need to modify the components you suggested?

I have a global BT 50 with an ARB, Old Man Emu 50mm lift. I'm using BFG T/A (A/Ts) 265, 75 Series on 17" rims. With that combo I have 3" of usable lift, with lots more rearend articulation. In Australia off road parks grade difficulty similar to white water rafting, based on 5, with 5 the most challenging. I have yet to be recovered or bogged at level 4. 5 I need winches and some jacking at times when I get hung up.

As for the strength of driveline components, why modify them? They are already designed to suit the power and torque of the vehicle. If it doesn't you poorly invested and did little research on your requirements.

The Dmax in Oz has a 3 litre diesel and is a middle player. The diesel crew cab starts around $30k USD.

They are based on the Colorado and there are significant differences, suspension, driveline and engine.

They are regarded as good value and reliable utes. In off road testing they sit near the bottom.

That's nothing!
The 2019 Ford Ranger with a 4 cyl 2.3 Eco-Boost is expected to put out 310 HP and 355 ft lb torque.
....plus there will be an off-road Raptor Ranger
....plus there will be a heavy payload +2400 lbs and towing +8000 lbs option

2019 Ford Ranger

everybody is waiting for it

@Ecoboost Rules--- I think your the one waiting for the ranger.
Then you can trade in your f150

Isn't this the same underneath as the international version of the Colorado, save maybe the engine? I'm reasonably certain that Isuzu and GM share platforms on their trucks overseas (and the Chevy cabovers here are rebadged Isuzu's)

And, yes, I suspect that is 40 MPG Imperial = 33 MPG US.


Isuzu sells 300,000 of their Pickups a year. Toyota the outside NA Global leader 600,000( making it the 4th best Pickup sales including NA)
Ranger sells roughly 100,000. It has a poor exposure to Asia where a lot of growth exists.
Estimate by Mercedes Benz that there will be 2.8-3 million Pickups sold annually outside NA by 2025. Going by the growth rate of a 30% increase per annum, no wonder MB( Daimler) is introducing the XCLass
Still Europe is pretty indifferent too Pickups. Less than 1% are Pickup sales.
SUV’s very very story. They seem to have a huge love affair

@Sportracmind
They share a similar body and that is where it ends. Mazda and Isuzu are working on the next generation of Isuzu and Mazda Pickups

Robert Ryan

nobody cares what pickup is sold in the rest of the world
I pick the F-150 cause it's built by my fellow American Worker and Ford is owned by an American

same way with crude oil, I would ratter pay $7 a gallon for gasoline knowing that gasoline comes from American crude oil and produced by Americans with a drilling-oil company owned by an American

@papajim--Isuzu stopped selling passenger vehicles in the US after 2008 and it is doubtful they will ever re-enter the passenger vehicle market in the US. Isuzu only sells commercial midsize trucks. GM sold their ownership in Isuzu before 2008 and had an agreement to make Isuzu vehicles in their plants which GM ended by 2008. If GM invests in any other foreign car or truck maker it more likely will be a Chinese maker since that is where the large growth is and lower wage workers. It wouldn't surprise me if GM eventually sells of Daewoo especially with the problems with South Korean union auto workers. If I were them I would.

I like my GM made Isuzu and I like this Isuzu but I don't see a compelling reason for Isuzu to reenter the passenger vehicle market in the US.

That's nothing!
The 2019 Ford Ranger with a 4 cyl 2.3 Eco-Boost is expected to put out 310 HP and 355 ft lb torque.
....plus there will be an off-road Raptor Ranger
....plus there will be a heavy payload +2400 lbs and towing +8000 lbs option

2019 Ford Ranger

everybody is waiting for it


Posted by: Ecoboost Rules | Mar 20, 2018 2:29:19 PM

Nobody is waiting for a crappy 2.3l gaspot in the Ranger. If it offered a Diesel , then it would be more suited for a work truck. The ecoboost is a poor excuse for a truck engine , unless you never yow or haul anything. The Ranger doesn't even offer a long bed like the GM and Tacoma already offer.
I know you want to get rid of your ecoboost F150, but you ate of the very few excited about the Ranger.

I picked the F150 because I like to see mechanics on a regular basis. Before I bought my F150 I hardly ever got to see a mechanic, now that I own a F150 I get to see mechanics on a regular basis, no other pickup requires the service like my F150.

Neat little truck.

With those over sized wheels and tires maybe 40mpg imperial.

Remember, the ecothirst's nickname is well earned.

No thanks. Rather have these. A.E.V. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE4JPp7GEsw&t=134s

@Hemi V8
Tiny payload and doubtful towing ability and a Gas engine of the AEV ,No wonder Artic Trucks sticks with the Isuzu. Yes they have used US Pickups as a basis for some Pickups, but have stuck with the Hilux and Isuzu for for more demanding uses.

@ Ecoboost Rules
“nobody cares what pickup is sold in the rest of the world”
Except Ford, GM and FCA. They care.

@Robert Ryan--Agree and that is why Ford, GM, and FCA are building new sales in China. China is where most of the growth is. Ecoboost Rules is too much of a fan boy to see the bigger picture. Also it is interesting to read about other trucks available around the globe and to get the perspective of an auto writer in another country.

@Jeff S
They very much care as US Pickups have failed to take hold outside NA. They have failed in Australia.
China is not a Pickup market. Only GM selling cars and some smallr SUV' have made an impression.

Robert Ryan,
Pickup development and design is rapidly expanding outside of the US.

Just look at what has occurred in the past 12 months outside of the US.

I read a great article regarding Australia involvement in global pickup design and development. It seems Australia will be at the forefront of designing the best pickups globally.

The reason is we buy "upmarket" pickups and we buy lots of them for our population, ie, more per capita of pickups sold in Australia compared to the US.

So, sooner or later global (Australian) pickups will influence the US market in ever increasing amounts. Look at the Ranger and our input into the Colorado.

The Navara, X Class, Hilux, 70 Series Landcruiser and even China are using Australian pickup design.

I do recall many years ago on this site that I stated this, and US 1/2 ton pickups will get 3 litre turbo diesels and the US will have diesel midsizers. But, you had fools like that DenverMike character and some of these trills still on PUTC destroying intelligent discussion.

PUTC will and should look closer at the global market as it will affect the US market more and more.

Jeff S,
I was discussing the other day on another site why US vehicles are not being bought in huge numbers outside of the US.

You can see why. The Ranger is a fantastic pickup and should be outselling the Hilux globally.

This Izuzu Dmax is just an average midsizer for us. Not the best at anything, but very reliable.

I do hope if Mazda becomes involved with Izuzu they can produce a better pickup than the currenet Izuzu Dmax.

But, Mazda and Izuzu globally have been known to produce reliable daily drivers that are cheaper than the more "premium" pickups, even the Navara was consider more premium than the older Izuzu's and BT50s.

@Big Al from Hoz In Europe the best-selling pickup truck is the Ranger. And pickup sales are increasing due to regulation changes. With that and it's US introduction the gap between the Ranger and the Toyota will be clearly reduced.

Have American trucks failed to take hold outside of North America because foreign customers do not want them or is it because they are taxed, restricted, and regulated highly to the point where they are not easily purchased? I think it’s the latter.

I can attest to the Pioneer head unit being easy to use. Granted, it's not the same model as mine, but it has the same architecture.

I have minor complaint's with the screen mirrored from my Android that keeps the phone display on while in use and must be plugged into the phone for AppRadio features like "I Heart Radio", Navigation etc. I mostly use Bluetooth for music because of this.

It beats the hell out of the 2016 F-150 system I had for a week without getting a grip on it's functions. If it were my truck, I would have invested more time into the learning curve.

BD,
No American pickups are not taxed any different overall than the global midsizers.

Plus I'm talking global Rangers here, not US pickups. The Hilux and Dmax outsell Rangers globally.

Also your view of tax on US fullsize pickups is blown away by the fact US midsizers are virtually non existent unlike the much larger US fullsize greymarket globally. You don't export midsizers. The reason for this could be they don't offer value or not durable.

Did you know most any place on the planet you can register and drive a US fullsize pickup, but in the US you can't register and drive a global midsizer. That is why you never see them and we see your pickups, socialism and controlling freedom in the US?

@BD

You'll be smart to ignore the man from down under.

He's profoundly confused about global business and trade policy. He also does not prefer to be corrected.

@BD
The last F150 sold in Australia was 1992.Last F250-F350 was sold in 2007
That was by Ford in Australia from Showrooms
Since then importers have sold converted imported cars that cost a lot for the conversions.LHD too RHD Those are sold in the hundreds
Falling demand and as well inability too meet emissions by the Diesel F250-F350’s made Ford drop them.
Not only Fseries, but Broncos, Explorers, F500 series and others made it a vast range of US vehicles.
GM did not sell US Pickups from Showrooms, but a Large SUV they sold for one year in 1998.

@BD
Only restriction for us is they are made in LHD only. Diesels do not meet emission requirements. Falling demand was for other reasons as well

@Robert
They sell only 80,000 too 100,000 Pickups in Europe an extremely insignificant market.
Ford has to try and conquer Asia, that is where vast numbers are sold

@BD
You could buy this from the Ford Showrooms in 1989 RHD at a reasonable price
http://mandurah.australialisted.com/cars/ford-f150-xlt-4x4-nbsp-1989_17268193.html
Chevrolet Suburban sold for one year and that was in 1998

@Big Al--As long as there is a market and there is a large profit in NA the manufacturers will continue to make full size pickups. Eventually things change but for now the full size pickup is selling well and the profit margins are huge. This was true 40 or more years ago for the full size V-8 powered American sedan. Increased Government regulations made full size V-8 powered sedans for the most part obsolete along with the station wagon. Government regulations have favored full size pickups and suvs and those wanting a V-8 powered rear wheel drive body on frame sedan are now buying pickups and suvs. Coupe like sedans with less headroom and little trunks have caused many a car owner to gravitate toward trucks, suvs, and crossovers. This is not an endorsement or criticism just an observation of a market that has changed due to Government regulation and changing consumer demand. The Government Regulators are now focused on pickups because their market share has grown and now have the attention of the regulators. For now trucks are selling but who knows for how long. Will complying with increased Government Regulations make trucks so expensive that they will lose their luster. Things always change and each generation has their own taste and much of this will be determined by affordability and not being your parents.

Eventually trucks will become more global as have cars and vans but even though they will be more global they will still have just enough difference to appeal to differences in each country. Global platforms have become more common place because of the expensive to develop and produce new vehicles.

@ Jeff S
Not Big Al .but BD was asking about lack of sales of US Full size
Pickups outside NA. Full size in the US should do keep doing well

@Robert Ryan--No I was addressing why full size pickups sell in the US. It is more than the Chicken Tax or even the fact that midsize trucks are harder to get in the US. I agree that the Chicken Tax does have an effect in that less expensive imports from China or other lower labor markets can not compete with the tax but it also that as long as fuel prices are stable and people can afford to buy a bigger vehicle such as a full size pickup they will for the most part pick the larger vehicle. Big Al was stating that the Chicken Tax kept less expensive midsize trucks out of the US market which is just one factor but it is not the only factor. As long as the payments are affordable, gas is not too high, and the job market is good then many will choose to buy the larger truck. I am not endorsing or criticizing just giving a reason why people have been buying full size trucks. I do not necessarily endorse buying something larger because I can afford it but it is what many do--it is what it is. I am glad that I do have a choice and the more choice the better.

Expect to see news during the next few days on GM's new 4.2L Twin Turbo V-8 engine.

Some of my fellow commenters recently opined on GM dumping the pushrod V8, which I poo-pooed. Maybe I spoke too soon.

If you Google 4.2L Twin Turbo V-8 you should be able to find some initial info on the new GM V8

@papajim
It is basically a handbuilt unit for the new Cadillac. Not for Pickups or anything else.

@papajim
https://jalopnik.com/this-twin-turbo-v8-is-the-first-cadillac-only-engine-in-1823954491

@Hemi V8
Tiny payload and doubtful towing ability and a Gas engine of the AEV ,No wonder Artic Trucks sticks with the Isuzu. Yes they have used US Pickups as a basis for some Pickups, but have stuck with the Hilux and Isuzu for for more demanding uses.


Posted by: Robert Ryan | Mar 20, 2018 9:08:10 PM

You'll be eating a lot of Hemi dust sand snow and mud. lol

@HEMI V8
“You'll be eating a lot of Hemi dust sand snow and mud. lol”
Artic Trucks do not bother, they go too modified Hiluxes or Isuzu’s
US Pickups cannot cut the tough conditions, they are built primarily for Urban conditions. Artic Trucks have used Rams, Chevies and Fords but not terribly successful.
US Pickup are not that great in Australia Off Road, would be different if they were

Jeff S,
I really dont' think I would of ever stated "only the chicken tax" affected full size pickup sales. I actually have never stated or believed that.

And, I believe you know this, what is your angle here?

Robert Ryan,
Australia used to sell Chev pickups from the Holden showrooms in the 70s.

I know 1998-2001 Thought it was one year
https://www.irvinbullbars.com.au/shop/cars/holden/holden-suburban-bullbar/

I posted a photo of a Suburban not a Silverado. It was in the showroom as well 1998-2001

@Big Al--I have no angle. The Chicken Tax is just one factor. Cheap and no interest loans and extended loan periods are another huge factor along with less expensive gas. Over the long run low interest loans might not be sustainable. Long term I would agree that Global based trucks will have a larger share of the US market. Presently there is no political will to open the truck market up to imports especially with the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Additionally there would need to be more of a price difference between the Global trucks and the American full size trucks for Americans to switch to Global trucks. Most Americans if given a choice between a 50k to 60k Global sized truck and a comparably equipped half ton American truck for the same price or less will pick the half ton American truck even if the Global truck is a more capable truck. Part of this is the American culture and part is the roominess of the interiors of most large American pickups. Also most Americans spend more time on the interstate than off road and because of this a smoother riding and heavier vehicle is preferred. Just some observations. I myself would like a smaller less expensive pickup just for Home Depot runs and running errands but then those are not a common to find even in the Global market. I would settle for a Chinese or Indian truck even it were completely stripped down--without air, roll down windows, manual transmission, no power brakes or power steering, and little if anything else for about 15K. I doubt that will happen but I believe there would be a decent sized market for a truck like that.

Jeff S,
It seems I understand most ALL the controls in place that governs US vehicle manufacture, import and export. You pretty much know this and are rehashing everything I've mentioned in the past.

Again, if you know I have knowledge what is your angle?

Again, you also mention "Americans" prefer "X" qualities. But it isn't only Americans that prefer the qualities you speak of.

Americans are not some different species. We are all human.

@Jeff S
The Mahindra Pikup of the few that are sold here, are used by handyman They have a small Diesel engine but a considerable payload( 2700lb} Not very flash but they seem pretty durable.

@Big Al--The US is a large country compared to Europe and many other countries excluding Australia. Also fuel does not have as high a tax. Many countries have additional taxes on vehicles with larger displacement engines. As a human I am sure that if the US had the same taxes and the US were a smaller sized country then you would see a preference for smaller vehicles. Not looking for an argument but less expensive fuel, longer term loans with low or no interest rates, and a better economy have created an environment that favors the larger trucks. As you have said before large American trucks are not as popular in Australia and that is a difference regardless of us all being human beings. Maybe Australians off road more than Americans in proportion to their populations and maybe fuel is less expensive in the US and larger trucks are less expensive in the US versus the Global trucks in Australia with comparable equipment.

I am not trying to argue with you but there are differences between the US and other countries. For one thing the US does not give tax breaks for diesel powered vehicles and diesel fuel for the most part is more expensive than gasoline. Also there can be a larger price difference between a diesel powered vehicle and one with a gas engine. Also many global cars are not as popular in the US despite the fact that many are very good and capable. GM and Fords that are based on Global vehicles for the most part have not gone over as well as they have in Europe and Asia. Will the US ever change? Yes but change does not happen that quick and even if consumer preferences change there will still be differences between the US and other countries with the exception of Canada which shares a border and has close economic ties with the US.

It is basically a handbuilt unit for the new Cadillac. Not for Pickups or anything else...Posted by: Robert Ryan | Mar 21, 2018

As usual Robert Ryan professes a viewpoint that comes from some mysterious place, unknown to the rest of us mortals.

@Robert

Cadillac is a "brand" of General Motors, a property. The new V8 GM turbo is a sign of things to come in my opinion.

I don't predict that 600 hp 4.2 engines will be the future in GM SUVs and pickups, but I don't discount it either.

Ford's own 3.5 ecoboost engine started out in Lincoln SUVs and Crossovers about 10 years ago.

Thats before it was offered in the F150.

Now Ford is even making ecoboost turbo engines standard equipment in their base compact truck (Ranger). Never say never!

I could see a Sierra Denali getting the Cadillac V-8 eventually. There would be enough Denali buyers that would pay extra for this engine.



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