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Isuzu D-Max’s safety tech could be a killer blow to rivals

Monstrous performance makes way for Isuzu’s safe approach to sales success.

Of all the things most speculated about when a new ute rumour begins to circulate is that it’ll be a bush busting monster truck and pack some sort of holy-grail V6 turbo-diesel power. Maybe even a petrol V8. And oh how wrong that has usually been.

To some, this is the formula to building the most successful ute (or to bait clicks…).

But while there’s no doubt a flagship such as the Raptor has done plenty to build on the Ranger’s reputation, if anything it is a bit underpowered.

So if we look at the top three selling models in Australia – the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, and Mitsubishi Triton, they all have something in common: none of them has more to offer than you’d normally expect from a four-pot diesel, but all have AEB and a five-star ANCAP rating.

It’s with interest then that we see Isuzu lob it’s all-new D-Max into the gruelling fight for ute sales. Indeed, it has an all-new engine but sensibly Isuzu has simply improved on its 3.0-litre four-cylinder diesel turbo configuration (note: it is an all-new engine) that has proven to be a very reliable motor. It’s smoother, refined, and stronger if we are to believe what the Japanese car brand tells us.

It also brings AEB, just like the top-three utes, and then a whole lot more.

If we compare Isuzu’s effort with the D-Max to the others, there is a night and day difference. True, Toyota, Ford and Mitsubishi are sure to improve safety in the next generations too, but with the departure of the Holden Colorado, which took up fourth-spot on the sales ladder regularly, timing is of the essence for Isuzu.

We expect the new D-Max will achieve a five-star ANCAP rating (yet to be announced), which is impressive given it will be 2020 rated. Testing requirements have become much stricter over the last five years and things like lane-keeping assist, AEB and further active safety technology are requirements for the full-star rating. Isuzu has them all, and from the sub-$30k SX cab chassis up.

That could well prove key for the brand to snatch lucrative fleet deals. We’ve been talking with Isuzu about its new D-Max for a couple of years now – without any knowledge of what they were planning – though executives kept telling us that a five-star ANCAP rating was integral to land big deals in mining companies and worksites with fleets.

Toyota has that market pretty well stitched up, and parts supply and servicing in remote areas is its strength. But Isuzu will surely bring negotiating power with its full range all fitted with the new Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS) from thirty grand upwards. It is the most advanced and comprehensive safety suite fitted to any ute available on the market.

It is also the only ute with eight airbags, and that includes a front centre unit which helps mitigate collision between the front passenger that would otherwise potentially bang into each other if in an accident. 

The full capabilities of safety systems include:


  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Turn Assist with AEB
  • Post-Collision Braking
  • Forward Collision Warning 
  • Misacceleration Mitigation
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Traffic Sign Recognition
  • Intelligent Speed Limiter
  • Manual Speed Limiter
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Lane Departure Prevention
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Emergency Lane Keeping
  • Driver Attention Assist
  • Blind Spot Monitoring 
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Automatic High Beam
  • Anti-lock Braking System
  • Electronic Brake force Distribution
  • Electronic Stability Control 
  • Emergency Brake Assist 
  • Traction Control System 
  • Hill Start Assist 
  • Hill Descent Control
  • Trailer Sway Control 
  • Roll Over Mitigation
  • Rear Park Sensors
  • Front Park Sensors
  • LED Daytime Running Lights DRL
  • Automatic headlights
  • Automatic Windshield Wipers
  • Crash Door Unlock

Beyond a list of credentials is that there is a full factory accessories catalogue that’s tailored for both private and commercial use, and many of these are safety requirements on sites such as the fire extinguisher and cargo protection systems. Not only that but features such as bullbars, no matter what design, will work with the full suite of safety systems (like AEB and adaptive cruise control) thanks to the unique twin-camera system.

Mounted high on the windshield, the Hitachi-sourced 3D cameras substitute the usual radar sensors which mount lower in the vehicle and can be easily fouled by mud, dirt and bumper bars. In some instances, AEB must be disabled if a bar affects performance, but Isuzu guarantees this won’t be the case with its new ute.

It all sounds a bit wax lyrical, but it’s positive to see Isuzu which has always impressed with a solid offering that has an unquestionable loyal fan base add features that should give it a chance of impressing on the sales ladder. And pressure from the bottom will only force the top to improve, or risk being kayoed. 

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3 years ago

Great they have all those very important safety features-way ahead of the other brands.People who care about their families will certainly consider them. Isuzu’s claim that it “has proven to be a very reliable engine” was preceded by “it’s an all new engine”! If it IS “all new”,it would not have been around long enough to claim it IS very reliable, despite Isuzu’s generally being reliable. Just marketing hype, as usual, but they really have improved them.

Alex Rae

Alex Rae