When (as legend has it) a Gippsland farmer’s wife wrote to Ford Australia suggesting that they consider building a car that could “take them to church on Sundays and the pigs to market on Mondays” I doubt that the farmer or his wife would have pictured the pick-up / light truck market that we have today.

Well beyond what we would call the humble “ute” is now a category that contains vehicles that have six figure prices and an array of features and options that boggles the mind.

For anyone looking at for a strong, robust crew-cab pick-up that’s well-engineered and will last a lifetime, the 2020 Isuzu D-MAX LST must be on your shopping list.

The DMAX LS-T is a 3 tonne, crew-cab ute with a 3 litre, 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine under the bonnet pumping out 130kW and 430Nm of torque from 2,000rpm.

It’s got a 6-speed auto gearbox (no manual) in the Cobalt Blue version we tested.

Highlights

PriceFuel EconomyLooksComfort
$54,800
(plus on-roads)
8.2
litres/100km
6.5/107/10
Life StyleLife StageSafetyOn The Road
Tradie / FarmerWorking hard!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
ANCAP
7/10

Interior

It’s rather difficult to be objective of the interior of these large, heavy crew-cab utes that are increasingly present on our roads. They are made to work hard and be very reliable.

That said, the interior of the DMAX LS-T is nothing to be sneezed at.

The driving position is high and the view is excellent at almost any angle – apart from some minor blind spotting in through the thick A-pillars.

Comfortably accommodating 5 people, the interior is a nice blend of leather-trimmed seats, plenty of head and shoulder room as well as lots of creature comforts.

The seats pack a lot of comfort but not quite enough to soften what can at times be a choppy ride. A few hours on undulating bush tracks would be tough going.

From the driver’s seat, the steering wheel is tilt adjustable (no reach adjustment) however, the steering wheel is finished nicely with leather and adorned with audio and cruise control buttons.

The 8-inch touchscreen houses the rather good audio unit with USB input and Bluetooth audio streaming. Live Surround Sound “Sky Sound” speakers are housed in the roof giving the cabin a great sound at almost any volume. Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility would be welcome additions in future models.

As it has to be said would be a volume control knob. These head-units that have the +/- volume buttons without an explicit MUTE button are really annoying. The buttons to change stations and volume were often laggy and would over-run if you held them down.

The rest of the cabin is very utilitarian with lots of storage spaces, drink holders and grab handles.

There are 12V sockets galore including in the glove box as well as a USB port (in the absence of air-conditioning vents) in the rear.

Exterior

Step outside of the Isuzu DMAX LS-T and you get a much better sense of what this behemoth is all about.

Unlike the Nissan Navara we tested back in February, I think the DMAX is a better-proportioned truck. To the naked eye there’s not much in it, but on closer inspection there’s a lot more bang for your buck in the DMAX.

The shorter wheelbase and wider track mean the DMAX looks better on the road. The ground clearance is a little lower too.

The DMAX is to my eye a better looking machine due in part to the trim features and additions that look right at home and ensure that the LS-T looks like a $55,000 ute at the top of the DMAX tree.

Very good projector lens halogen headlights with daytime running lights and excellent high-beam throw are a very good start. Black trimming on the roll-bar and roof bars work really well with this striking blue colour even though the garish red 4×4 decals aren’t really necessary.

Whilst we’re back here it’s worth noting that the rear tub of the DMAX LS-T is right up there with the class leaders.

Measuring 1.48m long and 1.53m wide and 1.15m between the wheel arches, this is a very generously proportioned carry space. The depth of 0.46m means there is very little that won’t fit back here.

A hard and lockable retractable locking cover is another nice option specified on this version. The unlocking mechanism was a bit fiddly, but with a handy strap, closing the cover is very easy.

On The Road

As I said at the beginning of the article, this doesn’t have to be a refined vehicle. It’s designed to be practical and efficient and long-lasting.

I found the road-presence of the DMAX LS-T really good. Visibility is excellent and with a rear-mounted camera, parking was a lot easier than I expected.

The steering is very heavy at slow speeds (and parking) but once you get the speedo moving closer to 100km/h the weight comes off the wheel and the DMAX is really solid on the road.

I’m still amazed that the front disc / rear drum braking system is acceptable in 2020, however, the 300mm discs with twin-pot callipers up front certainly earn their keep. There must be a lot of work for the Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD) to do when there’s a substantial load in the tray.

The wheel and tyre package on the LS-T version is more than adequate and make the overall drive experience quite comfortable on good bitumen and well-travelled gravel roads. Sporting 18″ x 7″ alloy wheels with 255 / 60 R18 “Highway Terrain” spec Toyo Open Country tyres, the DMAX has a great grip on planet earth that is enhanced with 4 channel ABS, Traction Control, Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC). The DMAX even has a feature called Trailer Sway Control (TSC) that will help keep in check anything that you’re towing. The full-sized alloy spare wheel is a very nice touch.

The engine in the DMAX LS-T isn’t a rocket ship and it does struggle from time to time with the mass it has to move along. Towing a trailer or anything heavy over the Great Dividing Range would be tough.

As a result the fuel consumption isn’t great around town (~10 litres/100km). Out of town that’s quite easy to get back down to ~7.7 litres/100km but it doesn’t take much to push it back up.

You had also brush up on your three point turning as the turning circle at 12.6m is also on the high side.

In terms of the 4×4 off-road capabilities of the DMAX LS-T, this machine is quite impressive. You can move between 2H and 4H at speeds up to 100km/h and the low range gearing is at an impressive ratio of 2.482 which will get you out of most spots of bother. Other features like Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist work their magic to keep you out of trouble.

You have got to get this car out on the road to really experience it for what it is.

Who Will Love This Car?

The Isuzu DMAX LS-T is a really capable 4×4 that has plenty of grunt and offers a lot of value for money. I’m inclined to say that it’s better than the Ranger or the BT-50 but not quite at the Amarok or HiLux Rugged X level (which is a lot at nearly $70K!)

This is going to suit the Weekend Warrior who wants to drag dirt-bikes or jet skis across the city or out to the farm.

It’s not as capable an off-roader than the HiLux or the Amarok, but it’s better to live with every day than the Navara N-Trek.

Pricing

The Isuzu DMAX LS-T in Cobalt Blue mica as tested is $54,800 plus on-road costs.