Nissan Navara vs. Isuzu D-MAX comparo: Which is the better midsize pickup?

Nissan Navara vs. Isuzu D-MAX comparo

Updated on February 22 2024

The Nissan Navara and Isuzu D-MAX are two of the most popular midsize pickup trucks in the Philippines, and I say it with no disrespect to other worthy contenders like the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Strada, and Ford Ranger. Still, the hottest tickets are currently the restyled Nissan Navara (also called the Series II Navara minus the NP300 moniker) and all-new, third-generation Isuzu D-MAX.

Nissan Navara versus Isuzu D-MAX: Tale of the Tape

From the onset, the new Navara and D-MAX are equal contenders. Both are available with two diesel engines, two transmission options, and standard 2WD with optional 4WD.

Also, both the Nissan and Isuzu are available in a double cab body style with four doors and seating for five adults. It seems the Nissan Navara and Isuzu D-MAX are an even match on paper, but it begs the question: Which is the better midsize pickup?

In this Nissan Navara versus Isuzu D-Max Comparo, we dug deep on the spec sheets to figure out which stands out among the two.

Nissan Navara: The Undisputed King of Midsize Pickups?

First off, let it be known that I used to drive a Navara. When the third-gen Nissan Navara NP300 debuted in 2015, many buyers were awe-struck with its macho design, aggressive stance, and powerful diesel engine. The mother-in-law used to own one, and I got the privilege of driving the hottest pickup for a few months before the Navara headed to its permanent residence in the far north.

I’m not the biggest fan of pickup trucks, but the Navara made me appreciate the value of sitting up high in traffic, nestled in a relatively tight yet comfy cabin with superior air-conditioning, and a powerful diesel engine under the command of my twitchy right foot.

The Nissan Navara also came with a novelty feature not found in most pickups: independent rear suspension. Sure, the innovative setup made the Navara ride more sanely over humps and bumps, but it’s still a pickup with a fully-boxed ladder frame chassis. For the Series II Navara unveiled this year, Nissan is updating the rear suspension with new shock absorbers, stiffer springs, and new rebound dampers.

Nissan Navara Dimensions and Payload

The updated 2021 Nissan Navara Series II model remains the same size as before. However,  it now gets cosmetic upgrades like a new front bumper, a larger grille, new headlights, a new tailgate, and redesigned taillights. The VL variant has 18-inch wheels, while the new 4x4 Pro model gets gloss black 17-inch wheels.

The Nissan Navara measures 5,260 mm long, up to 1,875 mm in width, and 1,855 mm high. It still rides on a fully-boxed ladder chassis with a 3,150 mm wheelbase. Meanwhile, the bed measures 1,470 mm x 1,495 mm x 470 mm and has a maximum payload of up to 1,043 kg.

Engine and Transmission

The Nissan Navara remains motivated by a 2.5-liter turbocharged diesel engine with either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic gearbox. The Navara is available in a 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrain with an electronic locking rear differential. The manual version has 161 horsepower and 403 Nm of torque, while the automatic has a more potent version of the diesel engine with 187 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque.

Comfort and Safety Kit

All Navara variants except the base EL 4x2 model have an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto connectivity. It also has a new 7-inch TFT display in the instrument cluster and dual-zone automatic climate control with rear aircon vents.

The Series II Navara is also a safer pickup. It has a more decadent array of Nissan Intelligent Mobility safety features like standard intelligent emergency braking, forward collision warning, and driver attention assist. Meanwhile, higher trim variants get blind post warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and a surround-view monitor. Other features include hill descent control and hill start assist.

Isuzu D-MAX: Next-in-Line to the Pickup Throne?

I still remember when the first-gen Isuzu D-MAX arrived on Philippine shores in 2002. Backed by Isuzu’s reputation for churning out reliable, durable, and rugged workhorses, the D-MAX became an instant hit.

The third-gen 2021 Isuzu D-MAX now has a double-wishbone front suspension with coil springs for better ride comfort. It remains available with two diesel engine options, a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox, and 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrains.

Also new for the D-MAX are redesigned headlights (with LED or halogen lighting depending on the variant), unique 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in chunky all-terrain tires (smaller 17-inch wheels are standard), and a new front bumper with relocated fog lights and turn signals.

Dimensions and Payload

The new Isuzu D-MAX is marginally bigger than the outgoing model and has a longer wheelbase. It now sits on Isuzu’s revised body-on-frame Dynamic Drive platform that’s 23-percent stiffer than before. The D-MAX double cab version measures 5,265 mm long, 1,870 mm wide, and 1,790 mm tall – almost the same as Navara.

However, the D-MAX has a slightly larger bed than Navara measuring 1,495 mm x 1,530 mm x 490 mm. Isuzu Philippines has yet to confirm the all-new D-Max’s maximum payload. But our research indicates it beats the Navara with a payload rating of 1,070 kg for the D-Max double cab variant, proof that the D-Max remains the genuine workhorse of the two.

Also, Nissan updated the rear suspension of the Navara for a reason. Sure, it rode better over tarmac, but the tail tends to squat when towing or fully laden with cargo. In the Isuzu D-MAX, you still get those trusted long-span semi-elliptical soft ride leaf springs for the rear suspension, which are better for towing and transporting cargo.

Isuzu D-MAX Engine and Transmission

The Isuzu D-MAX is available with two diesel engine options. Base models get a 1.9-liter RZ4E four-cylinder turbo diesel with 148 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque, while higher trim models have a 3.0-liter turbodiesel with 187 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque. Both engines can be mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox in 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrains.

Interestingly, both the Navara and D-MAX have the same power outputs if you go for the higher trim variants. Still, the Nissan’s base 2.5-liter diesel engine has more power and torque than Isuzu’s RZ4E 1.9-liter diesel motor, so keep this in mind when choosing between Navara and D-MAX.

Comfort and Safety Kit

The new Isuzu D-MAX has a more upscale interior than the old model. It has a new dashboard design and a new steering wheel with better materials and soft-touch plastics. Meanwhile, LS models get a new 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment display with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth connectivity. It also has a 4.2-inch multi-information digital display in the instrument cluster.

The Isuzu D-MAX is also home to a bevy of advanced driving aids. It has a Smart Duo Cam feature to detect road obstacles. It also has adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, active turn assist, automatic high beams, and rear parking sonars.

What’s more, the Isuzu D-MAX got a five-star rating from the ASEAN NCAP, making it one of the safest midsize pickups you can buy. On the other hand, the Series I Nissan Navara got a 4-star rating (ASEAN NCAP has yet to unveil the crash test results of the Series II Navara).

Nissan Navara versus Isuzu Hilux comparo: The Verdict

It’s hard to choose between Navara and D-MAX, but I found an answer to this conundrum. If you want a lifestyle truck to accompany your active and adventurous lifestyle, the Nissan Navara is as good as it gets. But if you want a do-it-all workhorse, the Isuzu D-MAX takes the crown.

Both Navara and D-MAX are great for everyday driving, although Navara has a slight edge on ride comfort with its independent five-link rear suspension.

But then again, it’s hard to deny the Isuzu D-MAX with its rugged DNA. And even though the new D-MAX is more refined than the old model, it remains as tough as nails for farm duty and hauling cargo.

Pricing

The Nissan Navara EL M/T 4x4 starts at P1,149,000, while the range-topping Navara Pro-4X AT 4x4 is at P1,849,000. Automart prices for a low-mileage, repossessed Nissan Navara starts from as low as P700,000.

Meanwhile, the Isuzu D-MAX RZ4E 4x4 Single Cab M/T starts at P857,000, while the top-of-the-line D-MAX 3.0 4x4 LS-E A/T is at P1,825,000. Automart is currently listing the 2020 Isuzu D-MAX from as low as P930,000.

If you shop with Automart, you can enjoy 30 to 50-percent off the MSRP on a used or repossessed Nissan Navara and Isuzu D-MAX. Automart is your gateway to affordable and high-quality repossessed vehicles at bargain prices, including pickup trucks, SUVs, and small compact cars. With Automart, you can drive a better car for less.