First drive: Isuzu D-Max and MU-X 2019 review

A red Isuzu MU-X next to a blue D-Max surrounded by dust clouds in a desert landscape

Tim Nicholson

Posted May 05, 2019

Tim Nicholson drives the updated 2019 Isuzu D-Max and MU-X.

First impressions:
Not much has changed with the Isuzu D-Max and MU-X, but they remain honest, reliable offerings. 

Isuzu Ute is one of the more interesting brands in the Australian automotive landscape. It has just two model lines – the mechanically related D-Max ute and the MU-X SUV – yet it outsells brands like Audi, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Suzuki. Not a bad effort for a truck manufacturer with a pair of ageing models in its line-up.

A reputation for reliability that has spread largely through word of mouth, as well as a clever ‘Go Your Own Way’ marketing campaign, has ensured consistent growth.

Now, Isuzu has introduced a model year 2019 update for the D-Max and MU-X that comes late in each model’s life cycle. The changes are relatively minor, but they follow more extensive upgrades released early in 2017 and then again in April last year.

Pricing has changed only marginally on some variants, but Isuzu has upped its warranty offering, from five years/130,000 kilometres to six years/150,000 kilometres, while roadside assistance lasts for six years and capped-price servicing for seven.

There are no changes to the powertrain, with both models continuing with the Isuzu-made 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit that delivers 130kW/430Nm. While the D-Max is available with a six-speed manual and six-speed auto, the SUV only has the auto.

Styling wise, the updated D-Max gains new 18-inch matte-black aluminium wheels on the LS-T, wrapped in highway-terrain tyres. Higher-grade variants gain more durable side steps, and the LS-T gets matte-black roof rails. Some variants get more matte black on the B-pillars and grille.


Keyless entry and start is now standard on LS-T 4x2 variants. Front parking sensors are now available as an option, and Isuzu is offering to retrofit the system (for $545) to all model year 2017 D-Max and MU-X models that don’t have it.

The MU-X upgrades include a freshly designed front grille, 18-inch gloss-black aluminium wheels on the higher grades, more premium cabin materials, ambient lighting and the option of blind-spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic alert.

Isuzu has tweaked the hydraulic steering rack on the MU-X for a smoother and lighter experience, which was evident in our launch-day driving.

The MU-X is still more agricultural than rivals including the Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Toyota Fortuner and Holden Trailblazer. But the engine has plenty of grunt and it has an excellent reputation as a solid family vehicle that can tow a boat or a van.

Even the third row of seats is reasonably comfortable for an adult, for a brief drive at least. Touches like third-row air vents help. The MU-X has a quieter cabin than the D-Max but the ute is still a trusty workhorse.


The MU-X SUV has enough grunt to tow a boat or van.
Inside the Isuzu MU-X.
The Isuzu D-Max ute.

A brief stint in both vehicles on a dedicated four-wheel-drive course proved that both models are also capable off-roaders.

Isuzu has also re-introduced the limited-edition D-Max X-Runner, limited to 645 units and priced at $54,990 driveaway. Based on the top-spec D-Max 4x4 LS-T, the X-Runner adds red Isuzu badging, X-Runner branding on the bonnet, doors, tailgate and rear quarter, matte-grey grille, red and black leather upholstery with red stitching, a matte-black sports bar, a tub liner and scuff plates.





Model range: $28,600 to $54,800 before on-road costs.

Model range: $42,900 to $56,400 before on-road costs.


3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, six-speed manual or automatic, rear- and four-wheel drive.
Power: 130kW@3600rpm.
Torque: 430Nm@2000-2200rpm.
Tyres: 255/65 R17 Highway Terrain for LS-U, 255/60 R18 Highway Terrain for LS-T.

3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, six-speed automatic, rear- and four-wheel drive.
Power: 130kW@3600rpm.
Torque: 430Nm@2000-2200rpm.
Tyres: 245/70 R16 All Terrain to 255/60 R18 Highway Terrain.


Diesel, 76-litre tank.
7.2 to 8.1 litres/100km (government test).
Emissions: 190-213g/km CO2.

Diesel, 65-litre tank.
7.9 to 8.1 litres/100km (government test).
Emissions: 209-214g/km CO2.

Standard safety

Six airbags, trailer-sway control, hill-descent control, hill-start assist.

Six airbags, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, hill-descent control, hill-start assist.

Standard features

Keyless entry, power-adjustable door mirrors, 7.0-inch (8.0-inch in higher grades) infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB port, leather-wrapped steering wheel, multi-function display.

Keyless entry, cruise control, multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable door mirrors, electric windows, 7.0-inch (8.0-inch in higher grades) infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB port.


Six-year/150,000km warranty.
Seven-year/105,000km capped-price servicing with service intervals every 12 months or 15,000km.

Six-year/150,000km warranty.
Seven-year/105,000km. Capped-price servicing with service intervals every 12 months or 15,000km.