Headlining the changes for 2017 is the arrival of a new 3.0 litre turbo-diesel engine for both the ute and seven-seat SUV.
Isuzu tell us the new engine has been tuned especially for the Australian market and a large amount of local testing has been carried out to get it just right.
While Isuzu Ute also asked existing owners about how the Isuzu product should perform.
The end result is an engine that is Euro 5 compliant and offers more torque – 430Nm, a total that is up from the previous 380Nm.
Power remains the same for the D-MAX/MU-X in 2017 – 130kW.
For the record, here’s how 430Nm compares to diesel rivals:
- Toyota Fortuner/HiLux – 450Nm (auto) and 420Nm (manual)
- Mitsubishi Pajero Sport/Triton – 430Nm
- Nissan Navara – 450Nm
- Ford Ranger/Everest – 470Nm
- Holden Colorado/Trailblazer – 500Nm
To go with the new engine, Isuzu Ute has also introduced a new six-speed manual transmission and an updated version of the six-speed auto.
The auto gearbox boasting an ‘Adaptive Learning’ function that senses the way you’re driving and alters the shift patterns to match.
To help the diesel engine meet those Euro 5 standards, Isuzu has fitted the engine with a Diesel Particulate Filter.
This stores and then burns-off the soot that would have otherwise gone into the atmosphere via the exhaust system.
All that happens automatically and when the burn-off cycle happens it doesn’t affect the performance of the engine.
Having sampled both vehicles a number of times over the years I am pleased to say that the extra torque really does help ’round out’ the Isuzu products.
They were always adequate, now they feel that bit stronger and more capable, both on-road and off.
Aside from the extra grunt and cleaner engine, efficiency is also improved for 2017 – on average by about 5%.
Not dramatic, but a welcome reduction, especially for those users clocking up big kilometres on fleets, or touring around the nation with a caravan on back.
The other welcome improvement for 2017 is an upgrade to the MU-X/D-MAX cabin sound absorption.
This helps make the cabin a more pleasant place to be – although the diesel engine is certainly not ‘whisper quiet’ and while not overly noisy, the familiar diesel engine sound is almost always there.
Off-road credentials are completely unquestioned.
A great addition to the Isuzu Ute products for 2017 is the standard fitment of Hill Descent Control – a technology that only adds to the ability in the rough stuff of both these vehicles.
Check out the 2017 Isuzu D-MAX/MU-X in action, off-road:
From there the changes are cosmetic. Tweaks come to D-MAX bonnet and headlights, as well as the grille and bumpers.
While both offerings enjoy refreshed (and more attractive) alloy wheel designs.
Inside the cabin, really the only changes are an updated (and improved) infotainment system and a more attractive driver-info screen.
There were a couple of things that I felt could help boast the Isuzu siblings up just that little bit more.
Firstly, reverse cameras should be standard across the range – they aren’t.
A much-needed safety feature, Isuzu tell us some buyers don’t want a camera, we say that shouldn’t matter where safety is concerned.
The somewhat good news on this front is that the model grades that don’t have a reverse camera standard can have one fitted, talk to your Isuzu dealer.
As noted each time I have driven the Isuzu ute/SUV – the centre arm-rest could be softer. Quite hard plastic, this becomes fairly uncomfortable after a period of time.
This issue is even more evident in the updated models because the on-door arm-rests are actually quite soft and comfy.
Both models are expected to continue to boast a full five-star ANCAP safety rating in the updated versions.
Summing it up; The Isuzu D-MAX has always been a good value and honest ute with very good off-road ability (4×4 models), good load carrying capacity and nice-enough driving characteristics.
The 2017 update only adds to all that with the extra torque a very welcome addition.
The Isuzu MU-X remains a great value seven-seat SUV. It continues to offer very good off-road ability (4×4 models) and better than you might expect on-road manners.
Again, that extra torque is welcome and helps make a very good offering one of the best-value family vehicles available in 2017.
Overall, Isuzu Ute had two pleasing, good value offerings – now they’re just better!
The 2017 Isuzu D-MAX is priced from $39,990 drive-away, the 2017 Isuzu MU-X can be yours from $41,990 drive-away.