The 2022 Isuzu D-Max LS-M specification is the most affordable way into a dual-cab body style, and 4×4 variant, with the larger 3.0-litre diesel engine. But does it represent the best value in the line-up?





What we love
  • Robust 3.0-litre engine and impressive outputs
  • Great level of standard safety gear
  • Functional cabin space with neat storage

What we don’t
  • Too much black plastic inside
  • Questionable value equation over higher-specified variants
  • Jittery ride over minor road imperfections

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Introduction

As the reigning champ of the 2022 Drive Car of the Year Best Dual-Cab Ute, it should come as no surprise that we have a lot of time for the 2022 Isuzu D-Max. Taking top honours – alongside its Mazda BT-50 joint winner – in the popular category is no easy feat with judges considering a full gamut of factors in handing down the prestigious category win.

It’s praise that top-specification variants like the D-Max X-Terrain eat up, but model grades such as the low-to-mid-tier D-Max LS-M deserve their time in limelight too.

The 2022 Isuzu D-Max LS-M is the most affordable way into a D-Max with the desirable 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine, a 4×4 driveline, and with a Crew Cab (dual-cab) body style. In effect, it’s the most affordable way into the kind of dual-cab style that makes the most sense with lifestyle buyers and families, as opposed to fleet buyers and trade workers.



It uses the 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine Isuzu fans love, whose outputs are sent through a six-speed automatic transmission to a switchable four-wheel-drive system. With the automatic transmission it costs $55,300 before on-road costs, but a drive-away price based on delivery in Melbourne is $60,437. before options and accessories.

Add on pieces such as the manual roller tonneau cover ($2983), tow bar kit ($1075), tub-liner ($670), and electronic brake controller ($820), and it starts to look scarily close to higher-specified model grades in the D-Max line-up.

Let’s see whether the D-Max still shines as brightly when taking a magnifying glass to the lower end of the line-up.



Key details 2022 Isuzu D-Max LS-M 4×4
Price (MSRP) $55,300 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Mineral White
Options and accessories Towbar and tongue kit – $1075
Electronic brake controller – $820
Tow bar waring harness (7-pin flat) – $249
Tub liner – under rail – $670
Manual roller tonneau cover – $2983
Rubber floor mats – $190
Price as tested $60,848 plus on-road costs
$66,724 drive-away incl. accessories (Melbourne)
Rivals Nissan Navara | Mazda BT-50 | Ford Ranger

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This LS-M is a step up from the entry-level SX, but looking at the interior it’s immediately clear that it’s a small step. What you’re really paying for is a standard-fit 3.0-litre engine.

The space is filled with the same hard-wearing plastics and a polyurethane steering wheel as the fleet-spec SX, which would hurt when paying over $60K on the road. Particularly painful is the hard centre console lid that ‘s uncomfortable as an elbow-rest on longer drives.

The floor is wash-out vinyl that – although easy to clean – feels a bit ordinary. That said, our tester scored a set of rubber floor mats that dramatically lifted the appearance and feel of the cabin.



It’s a no-frills affair in terms of presentation, but as a space to use, the D-Max’s interior is comfortable. I’m a particular fan of the broad-shouldered seats that provide great lateral support and a comfy base.

There is good adjustability between the driver’s seat and steering wheel to get a nice perch, while storage space is well catered to. The latter includes a tray in front of the shifter and nice large door pockets for big bottles.

There’s also a two-part glovebox with space inside the dashboard as well as underneath it.

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Back seat passengers have enough headroom (even for taller passengers) and even decent knee room. The dash features an old-school single-zone air-conditioning system, where outlets also extend to the second row. It’s nice and quick to start up and blow cool air on a hot day.

2022 Isuzu D-Max LS-M 4×4
Seats Five
Length 5265mm
Width 1870mm
Height 1785mm
Wheelbase 3125mm

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Infotainment and Connectivity

Embedded within the dash is a smaller-sized 7.0-inch infotainment system that is shared with low grade Mazda BT-50 models. Functionality of the system is simple with prominent shortcuts along the bottom of the screen, though it’s a little basic in terms of content and design.

Users can connect up Apple CarPlay or Android Auto-equipped phones if that system is preferred – Apple CarPlay can be accessed via a wireless or wired connection, but Android users must carry a cord to use their software. As standard, there is an annoying beep played through the speakers every time you make a screen selection, but this is easily turned off in the settings.

A small TFT screen is found within the instrument cluster, which shows a digital speed readout and other pertinent drive information.

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Safety and Technology

ANCAP last tested the Isuzu D-Max range in 2020 where it achieved a full five-star rating.

The D-Max fares impressively when it comes to standard safety equipment, with items including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and prevention, lane-follow assist, rear cross-traffic alert, speed assist (linking traffic sign recognition to the speed limiter), rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, and a reversing camera.



The entire range benefits from a new steering wheel switch that allows drivers to simply switch lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning and prevention, and emergency lane-keeping systems off. This was a common complaint with the D-Max of last year.

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Value for Money

All Isuzu cars are backed by a six-year/150,000km warranty, which betters the five-year warranty offered by twin-under-the-skin Mazda BT-50. You also get seven years of roadside assistance – exactly what you want with an adventure-focused ute – and seven years of capped-price servicing.

With regard to the latter, each service should be completed at 12-month or 15,000km intervals (whichever is first). Three years of servicing costs $1467 and five years’ worth will set you back $2315. Isuzu throws in a complimentary 3000km/three-month inspection for free.

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At a glance 2022 Isuzu D-Max LS-M 4×4
Warranty Six years / 150,000km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $1467 (3 years), $2315 (5 years)

The D-Max is officially rated at 6.9L/100km (combined) in terms of fuel consumption, but our recording stands at 8.7L/100km. The D-Max LS-M’s fuel tank fits 76L of diesel fuel.

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 6.9L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 8.7L/100km
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel tank size 76L

It’s not until you get to the LS-M specification in the D-Max range that you receive the fan-favourite 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine as standard. Whereas the entry-level 1.9-litre is meek and underpowered, the larger 3.0-litre engine option is a far better suitor for the 2030kg vehicle.

Outputs totalling 140kW/450Nm feel strong when put to the ground, with a helpful shove of torque making for easy overtakes and effortless towing capability. This ute gets a full 3500kg braked tow capacity, right up there equal-best with other offerings in the segment.



Impressively, it’s not overly thrashy or loud when pressing on the throttle – not from inside the cabin at least. The six-speed automatic transmission has the smarts to pick up a new ratio whenever it’s needed, whether you’re zipping through traffic in town, or going up and down hills further afield. It’s not nearly as sensitive to throttle inputs as its smaller-capacity 1.9-litre alternative, which is especially appreciated in suburbia where a touchy throttle can take some getting used to.

Ride control is a bit jumpy across the board, and the D-Max skips over road imperfections and creases more than you’d expect. Larger impacts are well-damped on initial hit, but the movement does cause the cabin to buck around, especially when there’s nothing in the rear tray.

While we didn’t venture too far off the tarmac with this specific D-Max, past experience with the model has been positive. There’s a locking rear differential included across the range that keeps the car moving along over particularly rough terrain, while the high-riding body articulates well over stubborn mounds and ruts.

Lastly, Isuzu should be praised for its inclusion of standard safety kit, which brings adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. Far be it from being one of the few manufacturers to offer this tech at such a low specification level, it works really well in practice and faithfully follows vehicles ahead.

Key details 2022 Isuzu D-Max LS-M 4×4
Engine 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power 140kW @ 3600rpm
Torque 450Nm @ 1600–2600rpm
Drive type Part-time four-wheel drive, low-range transfer case
Transmission Six-speed torque converter automatic
Power to weight ratio 69.0kW/t
Weight (kerb) 2030kg
Tow rating 3500kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Turning circle 12.5m

Conclusion

Though you do get the most important bits that matter under the skin – a strong 3.0-litre engine, a 4×4 configuration, and a dual-cab body style – the D-Max LS-M doesn’t feel that much nicer than an entry-level model such as the SX.

While it’s nice that Isuzu offers a suite of dealer-fit options to spruce up your low-spec ute, we wonder whether your money is better spent by opting for a higher model grade in the line-up such as the X-Terrain or LS-U+. You can then reap the benefits of extra standard inclusions, as well as capitalising on the common drive-away discounts the manufacturer offers.



With that said, the D-Max LS-M is an impressively competent ute backed by a high-output engine and a strong warranty. There’s little wonder why the Isuzu D-Max has jumped leaps and bounds over its predecessor, while fronting up against its competitors to take out the 2022 Drive Car of the Year Best Dual-Cab Ute award.

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Ratings Breakdown

2022 Isuzu D-MAX LS-M Utility Crew Cab

8.0/ 10

Performance

Handling & Dynamics

Driver Technology

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Fuel Efficiency

Value for Money

Fit for Purpose

Tom started out in the automotive industry by exploiting his photographic skills but quickly learned that journalists got the better end of the deal. He began with CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and WhichCar and subsequently returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 during its transition to Drive. As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers automotive news, car reviews, advice, and holds a special interest in long-form feature stories. He understands that every car buyer is unique and has varying requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but equally, there’s also a loyal subset of Drive audience that loves entertaining enthusiast content. Tom holds a deep respect for all things automotive no matter the model, priding himself on noticing the subtle things that make each car tick. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new in an everchanging industry, which is then imparted to the Drive reader base.

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