The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross! It triggered our adventurous streak and we practically did everything the pick-up SUV was capable of. And now we have something new from the range again. It’s the Isuzu D-Max Hi-Lander that has joined the line-up post the BS6 transition. It’s the entry-point to the D-Max range, so basically the base variant which is very rudimentary in nature. And yes! It’s more of a utilitarian machine than a cool, urban lifestyle off-roader.
Well! We understand that it is the base variant but still the Hi-Lander a bit too basic for the D-Max standing. There is no hint of chrome on its face and not even daynight running lights (DRLs) or projector headlights. All you get is a colossal black grille flanked by simple halogen headlights and it rides on 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers shod in tall profile tyres.
Of course, on the fender you get the Hi-Lander badging instead of V-Cross and while we were quite okay with these standard elements, we did miss footstep since it’s quite a trek getting in and that becomes necessary in a SUV this size. Of course, a glaring omission.
Dynamics & Performance
Now quite evidently the Isuzu D-max Hi-Lander will serve better as a heavy-duty transport which is also relatively comfortable. The engine is the same 1.9-litre, four-cylinder diesel powerhouse from the V-Cross belting out 161 bhp at 3600 rpm and 360 Nm of peak torque at 2000 – 2500 rpm mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard.
|Isuzu D-Max Hi-Lander||Specifications|
|Power Output||161 bhp @ 3600 rpm|
|Peak Torque||360 Nm @ 2000-2500 rpm|
Well on the road, it doesn’t feel much different from the V-Cross. The low-end torque is good the mid-range is strong and towards the top-end it feels a bit out breath. Even the gearing ratio are evenly calibrated, so you don’t need too much working with the gear and they are tall, so for highway cruising it’s better suited.
But when it comes to handling, the steering feels a bit cumbersome still and if it would have been a bit lighter, that would have helped in city driving conditions, even while parking that would have been a big benefit. The lateral movements and body rolls are well felt, but that comes to its advantage in the ride quality department especially with that tall-profile 16-inch tyres. The potholes, bumps speed breakers, they don’t feel as sharp.
So getting to the big question! How good it is off the road? Well! Here the Hi-Lander has a different character. The four-wheel-drive system on the V-Cross makes it a proper off-roader. This one, not so! The approach and departure angles will allow taking on any terrain. But tipping the scales at 1835 kg, it’s not light and with all the power going just to the rear wheels, the Hi-Lander struggles getting out of a sticky terrain or climb a steep elevation.
if that deck is loaded up to 225 kg which is the prescribed limit, things will get even more challenging. And this is exactly where the V-Cross shows off its hulk character, hitting it straight out of the park. The shift-on-fly 4×4 transfer case is very dependable, and you don’t worry about getting stuck, pretty much anywhere. Having said that, on a dirt road or with sharp dips and bumps or even where there is no tarmac and the terrain is rough, the Hi-Lander has your back.
The ex-showroom cost for the Isuzu D-Max Hi-Lander is ₹ 16.98 lakh and it will cost you close to ₹ 19.00 lakh on-road. And! You don’t want something this raw and elementary while shelling out that much money, especially on the inside. The cabin is a straight lift from the V-Cross when it comes to layout. But again, it’s the base variant and feels very basic. You don’t even get a stereo option and you’ve manual controls for the AC. Then there’s no control on the steering wheel and even for ORVMs, your muscles will need some work out as you’ll need to reach out and adjust them manually, you don’t even get a knob here on the A-Pillar.
But the good part is it gets basic feature like four-door power windows and even the instrument cluster is the same you have in the V-Cross. It is equally comprehensive and does give you all the information you need on the go. But I really felt the need of that screen for the reverse parking camera, parking this mammoth at tight spots can get on your nerves.
On practical front, it does have few more things in common with the V-Cross, the storage space for instance. So two glove boxes and also the glass holders on the dashboard. In the central console too you’ve got enough space and you’ve got the armrest with storage option and the door pockets too are quite generous. Just like the V-Cross getting in is quite a task as well and so the pillar mounted grab handles too have been retained. Also, you do get basic safety features like front driver and passenger airbags, antilock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and rear parking sensors as standard.
Well! The Isuzu D-Max Hi-Lander is so basic in character that it does not justify that steep price tag. It doesn’t qualify as a lifestyle SUV and for the utilitarian business something like the double-cab Mahindra Bolero Camper Gold will serve you just right and at half the price you spend on the Hi-Lander.