Here’s Why the Time Is Right for Isuzu to Bring a Truck Back to the U.S.
It’s time we saw the Isuzu name on the tailgates of new trucks in the U.S. again.
About 20 percent of the vehicles sold today are trucks. Big trucks. However, the growth is in the midsize segment. It seems Ford can’t build enough compact Mavericks to meet demand, the Nissan Frontier sold more than 22,000 Frontiers, while Hyundai is moving Santa Cruzes and Toyota is still selling thousands of Tacomas. But we’re wishing that that Isuzu would bring the D-Max to the U.S.
Isuzu sells the D-Max everywhere but in the US
Many of us should remember the i-series and P’UP truck from the 1980s and 1990s as ubiquitous, cheap, well-built runabouts that seemingly ran forever. That’s what people are still looking for in a small truck. We should also tip our hats to all of those the long-gone Rodeos, Amigos and Hombres.
The market right now seems to be clamoring for trucks, but for smaller trucks that can do 90% of what a full-size Ram 1500 can do, while being friendlier at the pump and easier to park. That’s where Isuzus always fit.
Manufacturers heard that call in the last few years. Honda launched its ridgeline, Ram is launching a new mid-size Dakota, and last year the Maverick came to market. For those that need to haul a few thousand pounds, do a few dump runs, and want to go off road, these are the perfect size.
The Isuzu D-Max truck looks cool
And Isuzu has the D-Max. Unfortunately, it’s not sold in the U.S. But it’s popular around the world. The D-Max comes as a two- or four-door truck, and is about five inches shorter and six inches narrower than a new Ranger. The D-Max comes with either a 3.0-liter V6 or a Diesel engine, and has scored high in European and Southeast Asian safety ratings. It’s popular across the pond as a work truck. The D-Max also comes in a Ranger Raptor-fighting version, the Arctic D-35 version.
Isuzu has a (very long) history of selling trucks in the U.S.
Isuzu has sold light trucks here in the US from 1972 to 2004. What? Yes. 1972. The beloved little Chevrolet LUV truck was actually a rebadged Isuzu truck that was called the Faster in the rest of the world. Most of us remember the P’UP truck, which was also sold in the 1980s and 1990s. P’UP was simply short for “pickup.”
The second-generation S-10, sold from 1980 to 1988, was then sold as the Isuzu Hombre for a few years. The Isuzu Hombre was that was sold here from 1994-2004 was simply a re-badged Chevrolet S-10 or GMC Sonoma. The Hombre did have a slightly different hood, but other than that it did nothing to differentiate itself from GM’s trucks.
Later, Isuzu called its version of the S-10 an i-series. It was launched in 2006 and had a distinctive grille and side molding. But, Isuzu discontinued the i-series here after selling only 1,377 trucks in 2006, which does make it a rare truck. While it did soldier on in the rest of the world, anobody missed it here. The company also faced some PR troubles at the time with a roll-over scandal.
Today, it’s easy to look at the trucks the rest of the world gets (Toyota Hilux, anyone?) and dream about what we could get in America. But, the D-Max looks like it would fill a gap for a truck that is slightly smaller than the Ranger, but with more capability than a Maverick, and it would look cool.
And, while we are it, we would love a new Isuzu Turbo Impulse, too. Please.