|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Proving that it’s more than just a workhorse or a vehicle built to take on the urban jungle, Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) decided to walk the talk and test the capabilities of the D-Max LS 4x4 by bringing it up to Ilocos Norte, home of the world-famous Paoay sand dunes. A lot hinged on this four-wheel drive adventure because the D-Max is Isuzu’s flagship when it comes to durability, reliability, and go-anywhere capability. Over the soft surface of the sand dunes, the D-Max LS 4x4 scored high marks with its excellent traction and stability as well as its fun-to-drive attitude.
Next to raised, purpose-built sand buggies found in Paoay, the D-Max tackled the same obstacles in stock form, even down to its 32 PSI tire pressure. The tractive secret is found in the D-Max’s advanced electronically-controlled four-wheel drive system called 4WD Terrain Command Select. With both 4x4 High and 4x4 Low modes that can be engaged with a knob conveniently located on the center console, the D-Max overcame conditions which are far worse than anything found in normal driving situations. In addition, it can shift on the fly between 2WD and 4WD High at speeds up to 100 km/h.
Apart from the 4WD Terrain Command Select system, the all-new D-Max boasts of an advanced design that’s built from the get-to with unmatched off-roading prowess. It has one of the highest ground clearances among pick-ups at 235 mm. With an approach angle of 30 degrees and a departure angle of 22.7 degrees, it can take on extreme slopes with little difficulty. Plus, it can be tilted sideways up to a 49-degree slope. A new over-slung rear suspension design also allows more articulation while accommodating a heavier payload capacity and a Limited Slip Differential (LSD) allows the D-Max to crawl out of unsafe situations. Finally a heavy-duty chassis and body constructed from high-strength steel ensure unrivaled long-term durability and reliability.
Off-road enthusiasts also know that a key factor for tackling any terrain is an optimized drivetrain with good, usable power. The D-Max answers that call by having the tried-and-tested 4JJ1-TC iTEQ under the hood of the LS 4x4. With 146 horsepower and 294 Nm of torque from as low as 1,400 rpm, the 3.0-liter powerplant performed beautifully over the sand dunes. In addition, this engine is designed to be durable with its lifetime stainless steel timing chain, anti-friction melt-in cylinder liners, and large-sized intercooler. This engine has also been tested under all sorts of extreme conditions including filling it up with locally-available diesel fuel, ensuring the D-Max’s usability anywhere and everywhere in the Philippines.
Aside from playing in the Paoay sand dunes, the D-Max LS 4x4 also proved its merits as a comfortable vehicle by taking on the winding roads of Ilocos Norte en route to various tourist destinations such as the Marcos Museum, the Malacañang of the North, and the Paoay Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On pavement, the D-Max is amazingly quiet and refined, capable of traveling at speeds above 130 km/h while maintaining a remarkable 16.4 km/L highway fuel mileage. It remained planted and balanced thanks to its 255/65R17 tires and power assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. Moreover, it boasts of a spacious cabin with mahogany-colored leather seats, 15 storage bins, 10 cup holders, and a premium sound system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity and first-in-class ceiling-mounted “exciter” speakers for a feeling of live surround sound.
“The D-Max has always been known for strengths that not only make it a workhorse but also as a vehicle that can provide owners maximum enjoyment,” IPC President Nobuo Izumina said. “In the all-new D-Max 4x4, these traits are enhanced through features that improve performance and convenience, while at the same time guaranteeing durability, reliability and fuel efficiency. The test drive on the sand dunes and the roads of Ilocos Norte should remove doubts regarding this pickup’s capabilities.”
Finally, Isuzu Philippines Corporation revealed that the D-Max 4x4 “Challenge the Terrain” drive serves only as a pilot event in a series of activities which the company has planned throughout 2014. This time though, they’re inviting customers to try the D-Max’s unique 4x4 capabilities. They will stage a series of 4x4 test drive activities starting at Isuzu Pampanga on April 25-27; Isuzu Cebu on May 9-11; Isuzu Bacolod on May 23-25; Isuzu Cagayan de Oro on June 6 to 8; and Isuzu Davao on June 20-22. With this series of test drives, Isuzu hopes that more and more people will be convinced of the D-Max’s on- and off-road capabilities.