Less than two months after its launch, the ruggedly handsome Isuzu D-MAX LS-A was making trails through the country’s second smallest island province, Camiguin. 

Camiguin may be small (it’s bigger only than Batanes), but it’s indisputably one of the most picturesque — and for two days last week, the local motoring media marveled at both the scenic locale and the amazingly capable workhorse that is the Isuzu D-MAX LS-A. 

Dubbed the “New Isuzu D-MAX LS-A Media Test Drive,” the event brought together 20 motoring scribes, Isuzu Philippines Corporation executives and officers, plus representatives from Isuzu Cagayan de Oro, for a memorable tour of the island’s well-known and most picturesque spots on board the new D-MAX LS-A pickups.

Camiguin proved to be an ideal driving venue for a utility workhorse to showcase its “tough-enough-for-anything” functionality. Camiguin also offers a rich mix of natural attractions and cultural treasures, which perfectly complements the Isuzu pickup’s unique combination of modern design, proven heritage, and world-class engineering.  

The first day saw the participants take a 30-minute drive from the provincial capital, Mambajao, to Taguines Lagoon, followed by a sumptuous seafood lunch at the nearby J&A Fishpen Resort and Restaurant. From there, a 40-minute drive to the island’s interior brought the group to the Tres Marias Hill, a trio of domes dotting the island’s most prominent geological feature, the towering and still active Mount Hibok-Hibok. A 10-minute drive on unpaved roads then led to the cold yet refreshing Tuasan Falls.

Merienda time for the group was well spent, gorging on the province’s most popular fruit at the Lanzones Farm 25 minutes from the falls, and a mere two minutes from the next stop in the itinerary, the Sunken Cemetery, where the remnants of a graveyard and a town destroyed and sunk into the sea by the explosion of nearby Mt. Vulcan in the 1870s provided the solemn foreground to a magnificent sunset. 

Day Two of the trip saw the group spend the morning on the powder white Sand Bar, a mere 15-minute speedboat ride on the clear blue Bohol Sea.

IPC president Hajime Koso, in his welcome remarks at the Paras Beach Resort, proudly introduced the new Isuzu D-MAX LS-A: “The Isuzu D-MAX LS-A with Blue Power Diesel engine is our answer to the clamor of our customers for reliable, hardworking but fuel-efficient vehicles. This represents nearly a century of Isuzu’s experience and innovation in the design, engineering, and workmanship of diesel-powered utility vehicles. The D-MAX LS-A is infused, as well, with features that address the demands of a market that value both hard work and play, business with leisure.”

Robert Carlos, IPC Product Planning Department Head, then enumerated the highlights of the D-MAX LS-A. 

The driving conditions, which varied from easy driving on smooth, paved roads to technically challenging dirt roads, enabled us to try out the power and capability of the D-MAX LS-A. We were never short on power, thanks to the torquey and fuel-efficient 4JJ1-TCX 3.0-liter 4-cylinder Blue Power diesel engine with VGS turbo intercooler that generates 177ps and 380Nm of torque. Available in the 4×2 and 4×4 MT and AT variants, the D-MAX LS-A drivetrain consists of either the 6-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift or the 6-speed manual transmission with gear shift indicator.

Stable and confident handling is achieved with the rack-and-pinion power assist and tilt-adjust steering, independent double wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer for the front suspension, and leaf springs for the rear. 

The D-MAX LS-A stands out, thanks to its aggressive-looking dark gray radiator grille with engine hood garnish, front bumper guard and one-step black rear bumper, power-folding dark gray side view mirrors with LED turn signals, and LED taillamps. An under-rail bedliner, cargo extender, roof rail, fender lip-type over fender, and side molding come standard.

Inside, you’ll find state-of-the-art electroluminescent instrument meters with Multi-Information Display (MID), an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with CD/DVD/tuner/Bluetooth/iPod/Aux-in/USB/MP3/AV/TPMS /USB /WiFi connectivity, a navigation system, and a three-spoke leather steering wheel with hands-free function and audio controls. The bucket seats with adjustable headrest, back pockets and convenience hook and the 60/40 split cushion rear seats with adjustable headrests and center armrest are all wrapped in leather.

The D-MAX LS-A boasts numerous safety features: dual airbags, child seat tethers for the 2nd row, side door impact beams, Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Brake Override System (BOS), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control (HDC), child-proof rear door locks and reverse camera.

It’s equipped with an automatic climate control system, passive entry/push start-stop system, 12V accessory socket, three USB charging ports, 15 storage compartments, 10 cupholders, and three tow hooks (two for the front and one at the rear, for the LS-A 4×4 variant).