Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: Remapped 165BHP [34K Kms Crossed]


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As some of you know, I was in a dilemma to sell the XUV after 5+ years of trouble free ownership - the dilemma was whether to sell it now or never at all as subsequently the resale wouldn't be that great. I have always had people who wanted to purchase my used cars since the perception they have is our upkeep is very very good. I am always glad to hear that but selling a car is like parting with a piece of yourself, you have to be pragmatic but at the same time there is some heart burn.

Anyways long story short, the XUV got sold a few weeks back, and i was back in the market to replace it with something - after buying the pajero sport, my penchant and bar for bulletproof reliability has gone up several notches - so much so, its becoming hard for me to even consider anything apart from japanese makes. However I decided ill try to be unbiased and list out a few vehicles that could fit my need.

My needs were :- Bulletproof reliability, unparalleled durability, comfortable highway cruiser, basic comfort features like AC/ACC, 4WD with Low ratio. Atleast a 5 seater , best would be a 7 seater.

The following were the vehicles i considered in no specific order :-

1) Tata Safari Storme :- I didn't honestly consider this very seriously. There and thereabouts in some corner of my mind.

2) XUV 500 New :- Naa, didn't appeal - i wanted to try out something else though, no point buying the same brands/vehicles, in life you have to try out newer adventures, mahindra did try to sweeten some exchange offers.

3) Tata Hexa :- In my view the best Tata effort so far - nice design, very well laid out european interiors - but its an MUV though no matter what Tata tries to market it as. I didn't find the model and feature spread appealing though, the top end was expensive - but most importantly i don't want to be an early guinea pig, if i was in the market an year later and if this turned out as promising in real life vs on paper - this would have been a very strong contender.

4) Force Gurkha - Its quintessentially on my list to buy - but they didn't have a 5 door version with 4x4(x4) and i couldn't wait infinitely to purchase.

5) Mahindra Thar - Err does appeal the heart with the new locker on the rear and all that, but the soft top and atrocious pricing is a turn off.

6) Duster AWD :- Very briefly considered in thoughts, but felt it is too small for my choice.

7) Ford Endeavour/ New Fortuner - Err, Ahem needed to check the ongoing prices for kidney and liver - but then wasn't sure if anyone would want to buy mine, also it would be very similar territory or upgraded territory compared to the PS at home. These will remain still on the list.

8) Isuzu Vmax Dcross :- This was a wild card entry, though i have driven a lot of trucks in US and Europe including the Chevy Colorado - it wasn't something normal in India - who wants normal anyways [:D]. I was also very familiar of the Isuzu history, just about every automobile maker has had or is having a tie up with them except the europeans probably, Mitsubishi used to be key stake holder at one point of time. Its goes under various names like Yukon, Chevy Colorado, Holden , KB etc etc

Even though i had known the pedigreed of this, i decided to do a full unbiased pragmatic TD leaving aside all preconceived notions. I ended up doing several TDs including heavy off-road bashing. The pedigreed was absolutely intact, Isuzus are known for their indestructible diesel engines and build quality and this was no different. During one of the TD , i even went flying over New Mumbai and crash landed - no damage , not even a squeak except for co occupants raising their eyebrows - to which i had to say err just testing. In my head I was convinced and sold already - this thing ticks all my requirements barring a few luxury ones and may be the 7 seater thing. But the vehicle can be built upon as an expedition vehicle , it could sit 5 and sleep 2 comfortably [:D]. The after market mod capability in this is infinite. Also i was under no qualms of this being an extreme offroader, something with 5.3 metre length(longer than S Class) can only do so much with just 2 axles - but that's fine, this can still do very decent offroading and go to hell and even come back in one piece.

I finally plonked in the booking amount at Viiraj Isuzu, Pune , I must say the entire staff including the CEO Sumit M were extremely professional and helpful - Sanjog D who manages the western region for Isuzu was exceptional ensuring all my questions were patiently heard and answered. The vehicle was handed over with much fanfare - felt like a mini wedding of sorts with the entire staff out in front. I would strongly recommend them, anyone can reach out to me if they need any help at Pune especially!



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Since we already have a very good official review from Vipul , i wouldn't attempt to do an official review but rather share my thoughts as an owner. I did discuss with Vipul too during my purchase process and sought his opinion as he had beat the hell out of this vehicle during his TD.

Edit 1 :- 3M 1080 series Custom Carbon Fibre Wrap job

Edit 2 : - LED Upgrade

Edit 3 : - 1st Service - 5K Kms report

Edit 4 :- Full Box from Carry Boy fitted

Edit 5 :- Black/ Carbon fibre look alike Decals

Edit 6 : - Stepney replaced to standard alloy from original steel wheel

Edit 7 :- Cruise Control installation in detail

Edit : - Bumper and Winch Install

Edit 9 : - Old man Emu Suspension Upgrade and Sliders

Edit 10 :- 2nd Service - 10k kms Service Report

Edit 11: - JS1 Lift Shackles, GTPro Rear tail gate Strut , Aeroklas Aviator Lid installation

Edit 12: - 20k Service Report

Edit 13: - Custom Upper Arms - Overland Plateau
 
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Thread Starter #2
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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: Japanese Samurai

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Exterior & Design :- What Design ? This is a truck no such thing as aesthetics and aerodynamics - this thing weighs 2 tons! It does scream attitude though, nothing on the road matches for its sheer brute presence and hold on we haven't even given it a lift kit yet. Its an absolute head turner everywhere it goes and best part is how some people ask what this is and how they end up pronouncing it . Build quality is phenomenal and smack in the 25-35L territory, paint quality is probably better than the Pajero Sport. Plenty of chrome given already and i didn't opt for any chrome accessories per se - the bed liner is a minimum must have and the dealer threw it in at a discount along with seat covers and some basic matting. The truck is nearly 5.3 metres long - something that puts a entry level tempo traveller to shame! Careful when reversing and negotiating tight areas!

Interior :- The interiors are very nicely laid out and have all the basic functions - well built interiors that would last and will not rattle ! Black and beige to suit the indian taste. Power Windows on the driver side only have a auto down but not an auto up function. However astonishingly it misses out on a Audio head unit as a standard accessory though steering controls are provided - this is a sore miss on a 15L+ vehicle. I had to research for a after market unit which gels well with the steering controls. More on this later.
The AC comes with climate control and is an absolute chiller, the rear only gets foot vents on either sides of the central arm rest - these rear vents will only work with the AC mode in any of foot position. Driver and passenger seats are very comfortable with a commanding view. The rear seats were surprisingly decent for a dual cab - i was expecting this to be a deal breaker initially - but the clever contours done for the door side seats make it adequately comfortable - though people used to luxury will miss the recliner. The centre seat is a bit upright due to arm rest and also the centre hump makes it a tad uncomfortable - but definitely not a deal breaker. Overall the cabin feels extremely airy with plenty of leg space , fit and finish and importantly durability matches a segment above though luxuries are limited. Entry in to the vehicle is especially fun, if you have a grandmother who travels with you regularly make sure you invest in a small custom built lift

Suspension/Ride/Handling :- Well a truck is a truck is a truck afterall, the suspension is built to last , front being double wishbone and rear is leaf - some might debate why leaf, but then remember this is a bare bones truck meant to carry the occasional ton! Plenty of after market options are available to suit different purposes from comfort to loading to overloading to offroading! Practically though the ride is very decent, i have always believed different vehicle show very different suspension characteristics right from a XUV to a Storme to a PS and on different surface type each have a pro or a con ! Finding the right balance for the purpose is the key - the isuzu for that matter does extremely well when laden - it can simply smash potholes and you can rally offroad, its built to take extreme abuse. On tarred road, its smooth as silk, however on our concrete expressways it does tend to be bit bouncy/wobbly especially with no passengers, you can clearly feel the concrete undulations - nothing alarming but thats how it is. Abrupt speed breakers when taken on with speed can bounce the rear, the leaf springs love pot holes but hate bad speed breakers for obvious physics reasons on how torsion works on a curved metal! The front DWB can handle anything thrown at it and so does the rear with some after effects! Handling is surprise factor here - body roll is very well managed, steering is precise, after the pajero any steering feels so light. However as its a very long vehicle and tail is light, be careful as tail can spit and bark in fast or abrupt fast turns.

Engine/ Gearbox :- The engine is a peach given its a Isuzu diesel that's expected, its under tuned for India though - a 2.5 can produce a lot more, but then that gives the tuners and chip makers business a big boost! NVH wise this is one of the best i have seen, at idle you can barely hear the engine inside, put the music system on and you wont realize its a diesel. The engine just feels a tad slow if you are coming from a XUV or a fortuner - the gearbox feels very mushy(especially first to second), but i hear with running in it gets better. The clutch is a show piece, absolutely astonishingly light, it can put some small cars to shame, the pajero clutch is an elephant in comparison. Steering is adequately balanced too not as light as Rexton but at the same time not as heavy as Pajero. The engine is happy to run at 100-120 all day. at 90kmph its just under 2000rpm. The brakes even though rear is drum has adequate stopping power. You have to be in the right gears or the engine can lose steam in a steep incline. City driving is a breeze though thanks to the light clutch - however mind that size. U turns can be fun!

4WD :- The Isuzu comes with the shift on the fly 4WD, but no centre differential, so you can't drive with 4H on normal roads(unlike the old fortuner or pajero sport) - you can use them on low traction surfaces only, say gravel roads or wet slippery surfaces. 4L is also provided for that extra grunt and crawl power. Too early for me to comment on the effectiveness of the 4WD, but initial impression of the crawl is very good and slow though probably not slow enough for extreme rock crawling - but then you wouldnt use such a long wheel base vehicle for extreme stuff. It engages very easily too. A rear diff locker would have done wonders for this, i wish Isuzu provided the the traction control feature in India - its available abroad and the brake traction control gives it much more capability than the LSD. However nothing can beat a diff lock, wish we had Eaton selling the e locker for the isuzu in India. ARB options are available in India already. Approach angle is very decent, departure angle might not be that great thanks to the long rear, break-over is tricky due to the wheel base.



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In my books what works for the Isuzu is :-

1) Build quality and ability to take extreme abuse - build quality on par with a segment above.
2) Phenomenal durability and reliability - very well proven pedigreed.
3) Absolute head turner and unmatched road presence.
4) An ideal expedition/adventure vehicle
5) Refined engine for a truck at cruising speeds!
6) Super light clutch and well balanced steering, though steering personally i would prefer it to be more taut
7) Surprisingly comfortable for a dual cab as a 5 seater.
8) Infinite Mod options and for a relatively new car a great set of accessories available in india already!

What could have been better :-

1) Traction control should have been provided, UK has a twin turbo version on the same engine which could have been provided as a higher model, right now just one model with 4x4 available as default.
2) Cruise control should have been provided or should have been an option atleast
3) Not even a audio head unit in a 15+ lakh vehicle is not good!
4) Rear diff lock should have been optionally available.
5) Service and Spare availability can be a pain - 6 month/5k service interval is a pain - even though its minor and check up only. EDIT :- This has now been changed to 10k service interval (irrespective of time) after the first 5k service i.e 5,10,20,30,40...
6) Rear bounciness as its leaf spring needs to be factored in
7) 55 litre Diesel tank is a joke!
8) Stock low end becomes tricky in steep inclines as there is no anti stall, but solved largely through remaps.
 
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Thread Starter #3
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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: Japanese Samurai



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A first change i wanted to do was obviously the tyres and the best time to do it is immediate. I was looking for BFG KO2 but unfortunately availability of that in India is a pain, so i went for a cheaper imitation the maxxis bravo AT980 at 275/70R16 on the same alloys (after some research). The tyres surely would be noisier than the stock ones, the stock at 245/70/16 is too puny for a truck this size.

Thanks to Pavan fron jeepkart - this exchange turned out to be breeze , i also had to make a bombay run from pune just for this! These tyres now give me now a whopping theoretical GC of 268mm up from 225mm on the stock Isuzu.



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Getting the coupler connections right and making the steering controls work require some knowledge

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Integrated camera and sensor, compact single piece unit easier to install as well

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Fitted right over the number plate

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The reverse camera shows the distance too in metres for either side

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Remote for the blaupunkt unit

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The second add on done was a blaupunkt san diego 540 kit that went in along with a reverse camera and sensors - for a vehicle this size reverse camera/sensors is a must - however putting in sensors can be a pain in this as the bumper is solid iron and drilling wont come that easy compared the fibre drilling which most accessories guys are used to. I also wanted to put in a system that works with the default steering controls providing and this was a good match. So in went the double DIN system with latest mapmyindia maps and also the reverse camera/sensor with a beeper unit.

Plenty on mods in research phase currently, will keep the thread updated.
 
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350Z

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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai arrives

Note: Thread now live. Big congratulations! The wait was worth it. Great ownership review of an equally interesting car. [thumbswink]

Drive Safe,
350Z
 
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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

Excellent wild pick Amit !! who else can do such amazing feet[:)]

The day I first drove D Max and posted my review, I just thought who could possibly buy this and yes my thought was absolutely perfect...its IR

Wish you many exciting drives with this wagon...and put my hands on it some time in Pune. Congrats man[clap]
 
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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

Hi,
Congratulations on your new ISUZU D Max. Wishes to clock many more miles without issues.
 
Thread Starter #7
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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

Excellent wild pick Amit !! who else can do such amazing feet[:)]

The day I first drove D Max and posted my review, I just thought who could possibly buy this and yes my thought was absolutely perfect...its IR

Wish you many exciting drives with this wagon...and put my hands on it some time in Pune. Congrats man[clap]
Thanks a lot Sir, indeed a wild choice - just couldn't resist it! When are you in Pune ?

Hi,
Congratulations on your new ISUZU D Max. Wishes to clock many more miles without issues.
Thanks a lot sirji, the isuzu also brought back old my memories of that epic 1800ISZ isuzu engine in the Amby!
 

Akash1886

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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

Wonderful looking Truck[:)] and sober and elegant color choice to go with it. I understood now, What the Rock was Cookin! Looking forward to your off-road experiences in this giant. Any off-road mods planned AMIT?

Regards

Akash
 
Thread Starter #9
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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

Wonderful looking Truck[:)] and sober and elegant color choice to go with it. I understood now, What the Rock was Cookin! Looking forward to your off-road experiences in this giant. Any off-road mods planned AMIT?

Regards

Akash
Thank you sir, did some very basic offroading so far, will take it easy till the running in happens - then will explore further. First some essential mods are planned, still evaluating some options on that front, then the off-road ones will follow. Need to cover the rear first - evaluating some options on that regard first.
 
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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

Wow that's a great choice there. Perfect companion to the Pajero Sport!

Are you planning on the rear loading bay cover?
 
Thread Starter #11
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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

Wow that's a great choice there. Perfect companion to the Pajero Sport!

Are you planning on the rear loading bay cover?
Type-r you echoed my thoughts, I think this is the perfect Japanese brother for the Pajero sport. Yes I am planning for one shortly for the rear cover - there are many options and types I am still evaluating
 
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TSIVipul

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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

Congrats Amit, and those who think that who helped Amit reach the decision. Well, we talked 50 minutes over phone - but this guy never lets the credit fell at right place.

Its only me, who told him to get the reversing assistance as first thingy, so that he doesn't kill splendors and scooters while reversing. But not even a word of thanks for me [cry]

Edit: My name is mentioned, but this is less. No thanks note too!! :biggrin:
 
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Akash1886

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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

Its only me, who told him to get the reversing assistance as first thingy, so that he doesn't kill splendors and scooters while reversing. But not even a word of thanks for me
Did you suggest him something to take care of the rats and rodents as well? I would like to know if there will be similar "revenge" taken from rats as earlier?[lol]

Edit: My name is mentioned, but this is less. No thanks note too!!
Bhavnao ko samjho Vipul!![glasses]

Regards

Akash
 
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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

That's a brilliant and Crisp write up mate !! Congrats on your new Kim Kardashian [cheers]

..and this is my first time seeing a White D-Max... and yes it's looks much more stunning and appealing [clap]

Eagerly waiting for the set of mods to follow !
 
Thread Starter #15
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Re: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Ownership Review: The Japanese Samurai Arrives

Congrats Amit, and those who think that who helped Amit reach the decision. Well, we talked 50 minutes over phone
Edit: My name is mentioned, but this is less. No thanks note too!!
Thanks, time to change my mobile number [lol]

That's a brilliant and Crisp write up mate !! Congrats on your new Kim Kardashian [cheers]

..and this is my first time seeing a White D-Max... and yes it's looks much more stunning and appealing

Eagerly waiting for the set of mods to follow !
Thanks Vishnu We have had a few dark colors recently - so went for white this time. i like the name you gave[:D]
 
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