DOUBLE TAKER. How does Isuzu’s D-Max Rodeo LS 2.5 fare in 2016? DA MAN’s resident gearheads take the double cabin pickup for a spin to find out
When Isuzu rolled out its D-Max line more than a decade ago, it was hailed as a revolutionary car and a real game-changer in the realm of 4x4s. Nowadays, however, this class of vehicle is getting more and more crowded, and the D-Max finds itself surrounded by rivals. That being said, this particular 4×4 has aged rather well, and still holds its own as a solid workhorse for urban travel and off-road adventures.
The D-Max Rodeo looks big and stands rather tall above most vehicles you pass on the road. Overall, the exterior is dominated by smooth lines that take the edge off the underlying sturdiness and straightforward design. And, of course, there’s the solid grill in front topped by the sturdy curve of the hood. In short, what this car may lack in visual niceties, it more than makes up with a really manly aura and top-notch performance in any condition.
Fittingly, the interior is rather utilitarian—a bit bare bones, even, for today’s standards. You have your usual instruments on the dashboard with a single digital display between the speedometer and tachometer; there’s a simple audio setup in the middle of the cabin (with Bluetooth connectivity, but that’s nothing new today); and then there’s the electronic 4×4 switch in between the seats (another D-Max tradition that was way ahead of its time when it was first introduced, but not exactly innovative anymore now in 2016).
You won’t find any extra trims or paddings on the interior; however, this is quite expected from a car that is designed to be able to go through rough terrains under adverse weather conditions. Getting mud splotches off velvet is not exactly a fun job, see. That being said, the leather seats are quite comfortable. Very comfortable, in fact. And while those unfamiliar with double-cabin models might imagine such a car to be rather cramped inside, the opposite is true. There’s plenty of legroom in the front, and the rearseat area of the cabin can comfortably accommodate up to three passengers.
Put simply, in terms of looks and creature comforts, the D-Max Rodeo won’t win any awards. But, then again, that’s not what this car is designed for.
On The Road
The D-Max Rodeo’s 2.5L turbo-charged diesel engine provides an output of 109 horsepower and 280Nm of torque. Acceleration is, unsurprisingly, a bit on the lower end for this class of vehicle, but overall driving is buttery smooth. Most of the time, you will hardly feel the engine’s vibration, and inside the cabin it’s always nice and quiet. The clutch is also surprisingly light, which means that navigating through Jakarta’s notorious traffic jams won’t be too hard on the driver’s feet. As a side note, the newer 3L variant of the D-Max Rodeo features an automatic transmission.
Speaking of driving through Jakarta, the D-Max Rodeo also offers good ground clearance, which gives it the ability to go through flooded roads with up to half a meter of water. Now, unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to actually take this off-roader through real off-road tracks, but we did go through some rough patches, and the D-Max Rodeo didn’t disappoint. Going through muddy and uneven terrain was a breeze, and this, by the way, was without dedicated off-road tires.
Going up steep inclines is another of the D-Max Rodeo’s strong points. With four-wheel-drive engaged (4L, of course), the car steadily climbed slopes that would have stopped other cars. On the way down, superior engine break means that you don’t have to rely only on the breaks to ensure a steady and safe descent. We have, however, often heard about drivers scrapping the bottom of the car while going over slope crests, which isn’t actually all that surprising considering the D-Max Rodeo’s long wheelbase. Thankfully, we didn’t encounter this particular problem.
“What this car may lack in visual niceties, it more than makes up with a really manly aura and top-notch performance in any condition”
Is it Worth a Buy?
Nowadays, people looking for a city car will lean heavily toward feature-rich models—those with iPhone docks, satnav on touchscreen panels, etc. Isuzu’s D-Max Rodeo certainly fails short when it comes to gadgetry and cutting-edge bells-and-whistles. That being said, this car performs admirably where it really counts: Smooth driving, excellent fuel efficiency and excellent off-road capabilities. Even if you’re not exactly looking to go beyond city limits, the D-Max Rodeo’s ability to maintain your (and your passengers’) comfort while traversing potholed, uneven and flooded roads is a huge plus point. And did we mention just how manly it looks?
And let’s not forget about capacity: Up to five passengers inside the double cabin and up to a ton of payload in the open cargo area. You can easily fit a (small- to medium-sized) ATV in the back and then drive all the way to even the most remote track for a fully off-road weekend. Or you can pack a family of five and all their luggage for a long road trip. What about in-vehicle entertainment, you may ask? Well, that’s what smartphones and tablets are for. So, once again, even if you’re not into off-roading, the Isuzu D-Max Rodeo LS 2.5 is definitely worth looking into.
Isuzu D-Max Rodeo LS 2.5 Specs:
Engine: 2.5 L-turbo charged diesel
Transmission: Manual 5-speed