IT IS NOT the force in this market that it is overseas, but Isuzu’s D-Max ute has chipped out a small but growing foothold in the competitive 4X4 and 4X2 light truck market.
Carrying a brand that has dominated truck sales in Australia for more than 20 years, and one synonymous with strength and durability – Isuzu – the D-Max is now finding traction among its target ‘trade’ and farm buyers.
Since its launch in October 2008, Isuzu Ute Australia (IUA) has sold over 5000 units - its market share peaking at 4.3 percent and continuing to grow.
From a standing start (notwithstanding Holden’s Colorado which is also built by Isuzu), this is a fair result after just eighteen months in a tough and well-represented market segment.
Strong, a gutsy 3.0 litre diesel under the bonnet and with purposeful if conservative lines, the D-Max holds a price advantage over most of its direct competitors, including the dominant HiLux.
For its part, IUA is content with its progress, working on expanding its dealer footprint as it works on growing the brand. Launched with 40 dealers in 2008, there are now 62 Isuzu Ute dealerships across Australia.
“By the end of this year (2010), my goal is to increase to 70 dealers,” Managing Director, IUA, Mr Hitoshi Kono said.
To help things along, the D-Max now comes with an update. For 2010 it scores a mildly (very mildly) refreshed frontal treatment, an auto option and the addition of standard cruise control for its mid-spec SX 4X2 and 4X4 crew utes, some interior refinements, and the addition of twin ‘jump-seats’ to the space cab.
The new rear seats, good for small minors or short trips only, come with three-point seatbelts, cup-holder and side-pocket as well as clever integrated tool storage boxes.
Offering three tonne (braked) towing capacity in the 4X4 range, and 2.5 tonne in the 2X4 variants, the D-Max range is built for work.
Helping underscore those work credentials is an ultra-low low range first gear (for paddock crawling) and high ground clearance, but with a low rear loading height (thanks to underslung rear springs).
An extra 150mm of wheelbase in cab chassis variants also allows a longer bed.
The 4X4 variants account for nearly 70 percent of Isuzu Ute sales. Overall, the brand is doing better among private buyers than it is with the Government and fleet market.
Of Isuzu Ute sales, private buyers account for 60 percent – or eight percent market share among these buyers (bettering the Navara, for instance, among private buyers).
Click to read TMR's review of the 2009 Isuzu D-Max LS-U 4x4 Crew Cab Ute.
Pricing and Availability
Isuzu D-Max recommended retail pricing, as of May 1 2010
- $25,100 SX single cab/chassis manual
- $30,700 SX crew cab manual
- $33,700 SX crew cab auto (with high-ride suspension pack)
- $36,300 LS crew cab manual (high ride)
- $38,600 LS crew cab auto (high ride)
- $30,400 EX single cab/chassis manual
- $34,000 SX single cab/chassis manual
- $36,500 SX space cab/chassis manual
- $38,700 SX crew cab/chassis manual
- $38,600 SX crew cab manual
- $40,600 SX crew cab auto
- $40,800 LS-M crew cab manual
- $42,800 LS-M crew cab auto
- $42,500 LS-U crew cab manual
- $44,500 LS-U crew cab auto