ISUZU KB 3.0 D TEQ 4x4 Review

Isuzu Review

Improved from the previous model, tough as nails, but still off the mark in terms of comfort and spec from the competition, meet the Isuzu KB 3.0 D TEQ 4x4.

Isuzu KB 3.0 D-TEQ 4x4 reviewed by John Beale

March finally saw the arrival of the new ISUZU KB range to a very competitive bakkie market. On test was the KB 3.0 D-TEQ 4x4 EXTRA CAB, (cab and a half) which now ads two extra suicide doors that aid access to the half cabin behind the front seats. The Extra Cab range consists of 3 diesel units in three trim levels: Base, LE & LX. New look shiny chrome grille and larger overall size and stance takes after the rest of the competition. The only directly competing “Extra-Cab” units are the Ford Ranger, Hilux and BT-50.

On the inside

A slight change in materials and dials, but otherwise the exact same dash used in the Trailblazer, which is a good thing. Harder plastics are used, but functional spaces for goods in and around the KB are welcome additions. The round-startrek-looking climate control (only one of competitors to feature auto climate control) unit from the Trailblazer is used here, which works well except when in direct sunlight you can’t read the digital dial. Steering wheel controls with cruise-control is standard.

In binnacle on-board computer displays all the necessary fuel consumption averages etc. Seats are cloth covered with a lockable load-box behind drivers seat. The interior is an upgrade from previous model, but not as much of a jump as I expected. Thankfully the vibrating gear-lever from previous KB is all but gone as the gearlever sits right above the gearbox, negating larger linkages.

Engine Performance

Under the bonnet is the updated diesel D-TEQ unit, which now pushes out 130kW and 380NM from 1800RPM. It’s still a noisy unit that sounds rough and requires a lot more work than competitor units to keep on the boil, feeling a lot more agricultural than them too. I averaged just over 11l/100km on the 80litre tank, which is reasonable.

On dust roads I had to switch to full time 4-wheel drive, as the torque would kick the rear out way too easily, leaving some pretty interesting fishtailing happening. A very simple rotary knob in between the seats is used to switch between 4Hi & 4LOW and can be done at high speeds with no fuss.

A lockable diff-lock is switched out using a button on the dash. Sadly, it has the lowest ground clearance of the competitors at 220mm, and the running boards didn’t help break-over angle at all. It does however have the highest rated towing ability (heavy duty towbar fitted) at 3500kg.

Off road the engine seems very willing with a lot of muscle in low range, which means there was very little wheelspin. Off-road enthusiasts will be happy to hear traction control or stability control is not available… It’s old school select diff (unlike the limited slip unit in the Trailblazer), with no electronic gadgetry. It definitely shows the tough off-road focus ISUZU has put on the vehicle. (5yr/120 000km best-in-class warranty is standard here).

Ride and handling

It is in town where the ride and handling is not up to the high standards set by the Ranger. It is still surprisingly rigid and stiff, even though steering has lightened up a bit, there is no disguising the utilitarian focus of the new Isuzu KB. For old KB drivers there are definite improvements, but in terms of ride comfort it seems it has caught up to a pack that has just run away again.

When you start to compare spec to spec, you’ll see the Ford trumps all on standard safety and equipment, sporting 7 airbags, stability and traction control, and highest ground clearance (same as the BT-50). The Hilux sports auto lights and wipers as well as a touch screen multimedia unit with Bluetooth audio. The Ford / BT-50 has the largest and deepest load-bed, with the ISUZU and Hilux battling it out for second place. The ISUZU did not have standard rubberized load-bed or tonneau cover hooks, which is standard on other units.

Isuzu KB 3.0 D-TEQ 4x4 - Conclusion

An improvement on the previous model, but not as much of a jump as you’d expect. Tough as nails, and is probably the only Extra Cab of all to go toe-to-toe against the Hilux on reliability. That said, with the highest price in category it is tough to justify the additional R15 000 for less specifications than the Ford.

Isuzu KB - Price

Isuzu KB 3.0 D-TEQ 4x4 EXTRA CAB - R412 300 (130kW / 380NM)