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The view from the back seat

Road Sense

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Sitting as back passenger in a pickup truck is the ideal way to evaluate the comfort features of the utility vehicle that’s become SUV, utility vehicle, and the all-time reliable wheels.

And since I am assigned to be back passenger in most test drive events these days, I suppose because of courtesy (to an old woman), or mistrust (of my skills), I have much more time to enjoy the ride and the view.

Last week, I was passenger in the Isuzu D-Max LS-A where I again discovered the joy of the simple long drive. It was a pleasure that was undisturbed by the expected roughness of the 4×4 variant with the powerful and fuel-efficient 4JJ1-TCX 3.0-liter 4-cylinder In-line Blue Power Diesel engine.

The powerful engine has a VGS turbo intercooler that generates 177 ps at 3,600rpm and maximum torque of 380 Nm at 1,800-2,800rpm.

Perhaps because I was assigned to a D-Max with a 6-speed manual transmission with gear shift indicator, I did not insist to drive after Hermes “Chairman” Canon pretended not to hear my offer after our first driver, Ron de los Reyes, gave up the wheel.

It’s been long since I had driven a manual and I was not sure I could manage to change gears seamlessly without disturbing our VIP passenger, IPC President, Hajime Koso.

I am sure that if we had been assigned to an automatic variant, I would have insisted on being driver for a leg in the Isuzu D-Max LS-A Media Test Drive around Camiguin Island last week.

“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,” Mr. Koso said when he introduced the new D-Max variant to the motoring journalists at the Paras Resort Hotel.

Yes, the ride even at the back seat was comfortable and stable — which Isuzu credits to the independent double wishbone with coil spring and stabilizer for the front suspension, and semi-elliptical leaf spring for the rear.

And the designers had thought of what a road trip will need — there are three USB charging ports, 15 storage compartments and 10 cup holders, and back pockets.

The island provided a perfect backdrop to the test drive — winding roads up the hills leading to Mt. Hibok-Hibok, an active volcano which is the highest peak there, at 1,300 meters above sea level (MASL). The mountain was the site of the recent launch of Climb Camiguin, a project of the local tourism office.

The second smallest island province in the country, Camiguin has mountainous terrain ideal for the Isuzu D-Max. In fact, Governor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo, in his welcome speech, praised the toughness and comfort of the new D-Max LS-A which he experienced during a test drive. He said his wife had already agreed that they would buy one soon.

The D-Max was a reliable and comfortable ride to enjoy the beautiful spots of Camiguin. We had much time to enjoy the ride and the island, starting with a 30-minute drive from the provincial capital Mambajao to Taguines Lagoon, a 40-minute drive to the Tres Marias Hill, and on to the quiet hills below Mount Hibok-Hibok volcano.

Its strong road presence attracted attention — with the aggressive-looking very dark gray radiator grille with engine hood garnish, front bumper guard and one step type black rear bumper, power folding side view mirrors in dark gray finish with LED integrated turn signal, and LED rear combination lamp.

Camiguin is known for its sweet lanzones, a fact we sampled at the Lanzones Farm about half an hour from the falls. The site is also near the Sunken Cemetery where a huge cross marks the center of a graveyard and a town that sunk into the sea after the eruption of Mt. Vulcan in 1870. It is a site you should visit for the magnificent sunset.

The D-Max’s cabin will provide you much information and entertainment during the long road trip – the electroluminescent-type instrument meters with Multi-Information Display (MID), eight-inch full-touch monitor/ CD/DVD/Tuner/Bluetooth and iPod connectivity/Aux-in/USB/MP3 Compatible/AV-in/TPMS ready/USB-link/WiFi display, navigation system, and the steering wheel with hands-free function and audio controls.

Rest easy knowing the safety features in the D-Max –dual SRS airbags, child seat tethers for the second 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.

By Pinky Concha Colmenares

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