Building the Isuzu D-Max 2020: How the success of the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux in Australia helped shape new ute

If you’re in the market for the new Isuzu D-Max, you can thank the success of its key rivals for the extra kit you’ll get when the vehicle arrives in Australia next year.

For Isuzu, Australia is considered an “advanced” ute market, with our customers apparently more demanding when it comes to equipment and safety gear expected to arrive as standard.

And Isuzu has made no secret of the fact it’s been monitoring the success of the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger in Australia when it came to specifying its new vehicle for our market.

As reported in CarsGuide last week, the new D-Max was benchmarked against both the HiLux (for its off-road ability) and the Ranger (for its passenger comfort) in an effort to create a ute that best appeals to all markets.

“The Toyota HiLux, and also Ford Vehicles, were the benchmark for this car,” says Isuzu global spokesperson Eiji Mitsuhashi to CarsGuide.

But while the D-Max was never tested or tuned in Australia – not for its suspension nor for hot-weather testing – customers here were front and centre when specifying the vehicle for international markets.

In terms of safety, and ANCAP five-star rating is more important here than in our Asia-Pacific markets, so while AEB isn’t offered in Thailand, for example, it is understood the life-saving tech will be offered as standard for Australian-delivered vehicles.

According to Isuzu, it was the demands of Australia and markets like ours, that inspired the brand’s product planners to offer the tech for the first time in its history, with executives confirming they took our demands “into consideration” when planning the new D-Max.

“Australia is one of the advanced countries when it comes to things like safety features. We can say that we took into considerations the demands and requirements for countries like Australia,” Mr Mitsuhashi told CarsGuide.

And it’s not just AEB, with the car’s general passenger comfort, as well as tech like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and 360-degree parking sensors added to the standard kit.

In fact, the 2020 D-Max will be offered with different suspension tunes, depending on its purpose. According to Isuzu Thailand, four-door models will be tuned for “gentle, comfortable seating suitable for passengers” while two-door versions will be “multi-purpose, and support the load very well.”

The new D-Max marks the ute’s first full update in eight years. The brand in Australia is confident the changes will elevate the D-Max onto the country’s best-seller podium.

It’s understood to be at least 12 months away from an Australian debut, with the updated 3.0-litre diesel to be the only engine offered locally, only now with a power boost to 140kW and 450Nm.