The Isuzu D-Max is a pickup truck manufactured since 2002 by Isuzu Motors. A successor of the Isuzu Faster/KB, the first and second-generation model shares its platform with the Chevrolet Colorado. The third-generation model shares its platform with the third-generation Mazda BT-50, which is produced in the same Isuzu plant in Thailand.
In Australasia between 2003 and 2008, the D-Max was marketed as the Holden Rodeo, but then it was relaunched as the Holden Colorado. The Isuzu D-Max itself was also introduced during 2008, selling alongside the Holden-badged offering.
The D-Max also has an SUV counterpart based on the same platform, which is the MU-7 for the first-generation model, and the MU-X for the succeeding generations.
The D-Max pickup truck received its 2002 world premiere in Thailand. This location was chosen because GM-Isuzu had recently decided to close their small truck assembly plant in Japan and move their joint operation to Thailand. The D-Max was available in various models. The Spark (single cab) (EX) was available only as a 4×2, with three configurations between cab chassis, long bed with power steering and without. SpaceCabs (extended cab), and Cab4s (double cab) can be divided into two major configurations: standard height 4x2s (SL, SX, SLX), and 4x4s (S and LS) with the “Rodeo” name instead of SpaceCab. Crew cabs were all sold with the same Cab4 name (Cab4 models became available late in last quarter). All are built and sold alongside the almost identical Chevrolet Colorado which had debuted in the late first quarter of 2004.
Engine choices for that year until the end of third quarter of 2004 derived from its direct predecessor: 4JH1-T 3.0 and 4JA1-T 2.5.
Hi-Lander 3.0 (lifted 4×2), the trim style became available in late 2003, and ground clearance equals that of the 4×4 models. There were only two cab styles to choose between. This makes Isuzu the third manufacturer in Thailand to begin selling lifted 4×2 pickups (after Toyota and Ford).
In October 2004, Isuzu introduced the DDi iTEQ common-rail diesel engine family for the D-Max. The first engine to appear was the 3.0 4JJ1-TC 146 PS (107 kW; 144 hp), however, since then, a mid-cycle refresh brought many models fitted with a new front bumper that incorporated an “instant spoiler” underneath. Additionally, new MUA-5H five-speed manual transmission was also introduced.
During the first quarter of 2005, a 2.5 4JK1-TC 116 PS (85 kW; 114 hp), the second DDi iTEQ engine, was introduced and offered as an economical choice to replace its aging predecessor (4JA1-T was concurrently available for that year only). 4×4 models and Hi-Lander’s suspensions were raised up 25 millimeters extra.
Facelift (United Kingdom)
In the third quarter of 2006, the D-Max received a major facelift and the introduction of a third DDi iTEQ engine, 3.0 4JJ1-TCX. This engine is a modified 4JJ1-TC, incorporating a new Variable Valve Geometry Turbo (VGS). The extra power warranted an introduction of new transmissions as well: the MUX 5-Speed manual and MaxMatic-III automatic transmission. All models equipped with Xenon headlamps were changed to projector headlamps instead. Also introduced was the new “Hexapod-plot” interior. Other DDi iTEQ engines were also tweaked a bit for extra power and efficiency.
In 2007, Isuzu celebrated its 50th anniversary in Thailand with “Gold Series” models sold for the 2008 model year. The Hi-Lander Cab4 model with the VGS turbodiesel engine became available for the first time. The 4×4 models get a new front bumper design with chrome accents. Also added was the choice of a 2.5l 4-cylinder engine in LS 4×4 and Hi-Lander models.
During the middle of the first quarter of 2008, the Rodeo LS and Hi-Lander SpaceCab were also fitted with the 3.0-litre VGS Turbodiesel engine to fill all the remaining gaps in the lineup.
In the early fourth quarter of 2008, Isuzu introduced D-Max Platinum models for 2009 to replace the outgoing Gold Series. LS 4×4 and Hi-Lander received a new front grille design; chrome on the LS 4×4 grade and semi platinum-silver on the Hi-Lander grade. Minor-modified headlamps and new fog lamps for a platinum look. 4×2 SLX and SX derived fascias from 4×4/Hi-Lander (before Platinum’s fascia). Chrome fascia for 3.0 SLX models and color-keyed fascia for SX. Top heads of 3 DDi iTEQ engines changed from gold to platinum. Some models dropped the 4JJ1-TC 3.0l engine. All retooled to be acceptable with Biodiesel B5. All SpaceCab models featured new middle pillars called Safety Pillar Cab; pillars and door beam larger and thicker. Not all Cab4 models received retooled rear suspension called Super Flex Plus suspension. Spark EX also received new gauge and indicator. D-Max Platinum models commenced on sale from 15 October.
Pre-facelift Chevrolet D-MAX (Chile)
Facelift Chevrolet D-Max LS (Chile)
In the middle of September 2009, Isuzu introduced the D-Max Super Platinum models. SL model was dropped. Highline SLX 4×2 models received same fascia and front bumper as Hi-Lander / LS 4×4 style, new 16″ wheels and newer styles of alloy wheels for SLX / Hi-Lander / LS 4×4, newer rear bumper, and new “Super Platinum” marque at the tailgate. LS 4×4 models received skid plate attached under the bumper in brighter silver, newer sidestep. Highline Hi-Lander / LS 4×4 models have newer style blind spot rear view mirrors, and new short-plot antenna.
Every year since late 2005 until now, there are several special D-Max & MU-7 models. Available exclusively only for a period during Thailand’s 2 largest auto shows and also other special Isuzu occasions. They were all unique yet never the same in each presentation. D-Max Smart models are such one remarkably special model set. Available in several occasions during 2008. This edition modifies SpaceCab 4×2 2.5 by special white pearl exterior color and optional equipment such as immobilizer key.
Ever since Platinum models introduced, D-Max Smart models expanded up to 3 choices: SpaceCab 4×2, Cab4 4×2, and Hi-Lander 2-Door. These 3 models also updated as new Super Platinum models.
In 2009, a sport version of the D-Max named the X-Series was introduced, aimed especially for a target group of young people normally not interested in using pickup trucks. It was marketed as a “Lifestyle Pickup” and equipped with additional skirts and prominent red Isuzu letters at front grille. The wheels remain unchanged from the normal model but came with gunmetal paint finish. Available in two-door SpaceCab and four-door Cab4 body variants with a manual transmission.
In 2010, D-Max and MU-7 Super Titanium models were introduced. It featured a frontal camera, usually found in luxury cars, first time ever in a Thai pickup, and are the last model in this generation.