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What did our Isuzu Dmax build cost, and was it worth it?

Back in 2017, we picked up a demo Isuzu Dmax SX, with 32km on the clock, and set about modifying it to be a comfortable, reliable and reasonably capable touring vehicle for this amazing country, and a daily family vehicle. In this post, we check out what was fitted, and how much it cost.

If you want full details on the build, you’ll find them here – Isuzu Dmax build for touring Australia.

We’ve also done a 5 year total cost for the Dmax, which you might be interested in.

Dmax beach driving

Our Isuzu Dmax, built for touring this epic country

After spending a small fortune on our 80 Series Land Cruiser, it was time for something different, and the Dmax has been exactly that. The build focus was on using decent quality components (but not the best) and keeping the expenses down as much as possible.

There are some very, very fancy 4WD’s out there, but we’d rather spend the money on travelling, than having an Instagram worthy vehicle. If you want to know how the Dmax has performed over the last 4.5 years, you can check it out here – Isuzu Dmax Review.

Dmax review

The finished product; our 2016 Isuzu Dmax Tourer

On another note, this vehicle was taken out on a 5 year Novated Lease. We then paid for all of the accessories outside of the lease.

In just under half a year the lease will finish, and we will own the vehicle completely. If anyone is interested, I will write a post comparing a novated lease to a car loan, personal loan, cash or money from your house (equity/offset account etc). See the link just above.

Vehicle cost ($40,601)

Our Isuzu Dmax was $40,601 including GST, delivery to our door (from the Eastern States) and includes 12 months registration and stamp duty here (it came with no plates). The Dmax came with a tow bar, genuine aluminium bull bar, reversing camera and tub. This was the SX, and base model, in automatic.

At the time, there was only one other non DPF model Dmax available in Perth, and it was older with the dealer chasing silly money for it.

Our new Dmax

Our bog stock Isuzu Dmax, with under 100km on the clock


AFN Bull Bar ($1900)

I purchased this from Ultimate 4WD, and installed this with the help of my brother

Isuzu Dmax AFN Bar

The AFN Bull Bar on our Isuzu Dmax

Runva Winch ($900)

The winch also came from Ultimate 4WD, and was installed by myself mechanically, and our mobile auto electrician did the electrical side of it.

Bushskinz bash plates ($430)

I opted for 4mm steel bash plates from Bushskinz, and installed them myself.

Roadsafe diff drop ($250)

After noticing the CV angle was average, I purchased a diff drop kit from Coastal 4×4, and installed it myself.

Dmax diff drop difference

The diff drop on the Dmax (before and after)

Old Man EMU suspension and GVM upgrade ($3000)

ARB in Canning vale swapped the suspension out with ARB’s Old Man Emu gear, and a GVM upgrade was signed off for extra capacity.

OME GVM Upgrade

Old Man Emu Suspension and GVM Upgrade

Safari Snorkel ($800)

Whilst at ARB, they installed a Safari snorkel to ensure that we don’t suck any water in, and it gives cleaner air when driving on gravel roads.

Bull Motor Bodies Canopy ($3700)

I searched for months, and eventually picked up a second hand Hilux Bull Motor Bodies Canopy from an extra cap for $3700, and cut the end off, then installed it on our Dmax.

This came with a 50L water tank, 12V pump, Solar PWM regulator, and some other bits and pieces that I sold.

Chassis mount canopy

The Bull Motor Bodies Canopy

Isuzu Dmax canopy

Lots of secure room in a light weight and bullet proof canopy

Amaron cranking battery ($192)

After reading the instructions of the Runva Winch, and noticing the minimum CCA required (and knowing the factory Dmax battery couldn’t deliver this) I replaced the battery with a new Amaron. I put the (still relatively new) Dmax battery into my Corolla!

Stedi 42 inch ST4K light bar ($350)

Stedi was an obvious choice for some cheap, but decent lighting, and with the new regulations in WA I fitted it to the roof rack. Our sparky wired it up.

150ah Bosch AGM battery ($400)

Goodchild Enterprises is the best place to buy vehicle batteries south of Perth, and I committed to a 150aH Bosch AGM and installed it myself, in the canopy.

Dmax dual battery

150aH Bosch AGM at the front of the canopy

Rear Diff breather ($50)

As of right now, we’ve only run a rear diff breather to the engine bay. The rest of them run to about a metre off the ground from factory, and I’m happy enough with that. I just used some oil/fuel line and a silencer on the end

200W Solar panel ($200)

We’ve run a number of Low Energy Development panels before, and been impressed with them. This was shipped from the Eastern States, and I attached it to our roof racks, with the sparky wiring it up.

Permanent solar on our 4WD

A 200W solar panel from Low Energy Developments on our Dmax

Toyo AT2 Tyres ($1200)

After a heap of research, I went out and purchased 8 Toyo AT2 tyres. These were to match our camper trailer, and were supplied and fitted by Tyrepower in Cannington. 5 of them were $1200.

Automatic Transmission Cooler ($600)

After towing for some time, and seeing regular transmission temperatures of 100 degrees, I had Isuzu in Bibra Lake fit a Davies Craig external Transmission Cooler, which makes the automatic gearbox much happier.

Davies Craig cooler

The external transmission cooler on our Dmax

Isuzu Dmax aluminium rims ($500)

Keen to get rid of the heavy, and ugly looking steel rims I picked up two sets of 4 genuine Isuzu Dmax LSM aluminium rims for $100 each rim.

Projecta IDC25 ($275)

Tying the 12V system together is a Projecta IDC25, which has been OK, but not brilliant. You can read the full review here – Projecta DCDC Review. This was also wired up by Stephen.

Projecta IDC25 in our Dmax

The Projecta IDC25 DCDC battery charger and electrical box

55L Evakool ($800)

I kept the 55L Evakool Fridge Freezer from our 80 Series Land Cruiser, and put it in the back of the Dmax. This was originally a seconds, but has been going well!

EDIT – we recently sold the Evakool, and moved to an 85L Bushman Upright fridge. You can read more about this here (Upright vs chest fridge), but we paid $1200, and sold the Evakool for around $500.

Drawer system ($600)

Our Dmax drawer system was built over a number of days using two 1000mm 220kg drawer slides that were left over for the fridge slide, 12mm marine ply (2 sheets) and 6 Oates drawers from Bunnings.

Evakool Fridge Freezer

Our kitchen, fridge and drawer system

Wiring and electrical work ($1200)

Stephen did a huge amount of electrical work on our Dmax. Nothing is overly complicated or fancy looking, but he would have spent at least 25 hours doing everything.

I supplied everything, except for the wiring, circuit breakers, terminal boxes, Anderson plugs and general consumables.

Cable for our Dmax build

The electrical install being done on our Dmax

Ultragauge ($170)

Keen to keep an eye on how the Dmax was actually performing, I ordered an Ultra gauge online, from the genuine Ultra gauge website. 

Ultra Gauge Isuzu

The Ultra Gauge on a windscreen mount

HPD Catch Can – Now a Provent 200 ($385, then $360)

Originally, we went with a HPD Catch Can. After finding out they don’t perform well, I got a Provent 200, and did my own testing (which proved it was much better – HPD vs Provent). The HPD was $385, and I sold it for $200, and bought the Provent 200

Fuel manager 30 Micron Pre filter ($275)

Knowing we’d be getting fuel from some less than ideal service stations in the middle of no where, I went with a 30 micron pre filter to catch any water or nasties prior to them getting to the main filter. 

Provent 200 install

The pre filter and Provent 200 on a dual bracket

Icom UHF and RFI antenna ($441)

We ran this exact setup on our 80 Series, and were extremely pleased with it. The only difference on the Dmax was the remote mount UHF unit, which tucks away under the dash and just the hand piece plugs in.

Redarc Towpro Elite ($250)

Towing our Reconn R2 (and originally our soft floor camper) meant we needed a Redarc Tow Pro, which I purchased and Stephen installed (along with an Anderson plug for charging)

What’s the total then?

If you add it all up then, it comes just to shy of 60k. That’s with none of my labour accounted for, and about $1500 of gear that I sold, with about $1000 in gear we already had. Call it around 58k total, and it would be close enough.

It’s certainly not a small chunk of money, but also not nearly as expensive as many other options. If we’d bought a 79 series, a Y62 Patrol, or a 200 Series, we would have paid more off the bat even without a single modification.

Dmax travel

We are very pleased with our setup

Dmax antennas

We’ve had a heap of fun in this 4WD

In hindsight, I should have done this long before dumping the money I did into our 80 series, but you live and learn. 

This 4WD has taken us to so many amazing places, and its only done 56,000km, and has plenty of life yet. We plan on keeping it for at least another 5 years.

We are happy with it overall, and I think the right choice was made for our family in terms of vehicle choice and modifications done, without spending a significantly greater chunk of money on something else.

If you have any questions, let us know; we are happy to answer them!

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12 comments… add one
  • Rolando April 13, 2021, 1:48 PM

    I searched every corner of the internet for a thorough breakdown in build cost on a Dmax so I want to say a big thank you for posting this.

  • Aaron Schubert April 13, 2021, 4:21 PM

    Hey Rolando,

    You are very welcome mate.

    All the best

  • Brodie.W.Oates July 5, 2021, 7:12 PM

    Hi Aaron,

    What a splendid read.

    It really is much appreciated how much time and effort has gone into your breakdown on you Dmax Build.

    I have been looking for quite sometime now for my first family 4×4 have always considered a Dmax of the same year as yours. My biggest fear is not knowing the comfort of a vehicle for young ones in the back currently I have a 2yo and a new one on the way. Would love to know your personal opinion?

    Cheers and all the best,


  • Aaron Schubert July 6, 2021, 11:12 AM

    Hi Brodie,

    Thank you. Your kids will be fine in terms of comfort. Once they are larger (10+) you may have let room issues but they are no less comfortable than any other dual cab.

    A wagon would be more comfortable but that’s a big change and not a huge increase in comfort for your kids.

    All the best

  • Shelley U’Ren September 17, 2021, 8:12 PM

    Am interested to know how much it cost to remove the tub & replace with a tray ready for the canopy please?

  • Aaron Schubert September 17, 2021, 8:27 PM

    Hi Shelley,

    The setup we purchased is a chassis mount canopy, so it doesn’t have a tray. The canopy literally bolts to the chassis.

    I removed the tub, and sold it for about $200. I purchased the Bull Motor Bodies canopy for about $3700, so $3500 cost.

    If you wanted to find a tray to install, they are anywhere from $500 second hand to about 15k for a high end, light weight and top quality new tray. You can get cheaper ones for a couple of grand new, and the time to swap them is negligible. The vehicle manufacturer will be able to do this along with plenty of other companies

    All the best

  • Jonathon Turton October 6, 2021, 8:03 PM

    Hi there
    I’m interested in your article comparing novated leasing to cash or money from an offset. Cheers.

  • Aaron Schubert October 6, 2021, 8:04 PM

    Hi Jonathon,

    The article is here – https://www.4wdingaustralia.com/4×4/4wd-on-novated-lease/

    All the best

  • Mark October 11, 2021, 1:44 PM

    Hi Araron
    I have a runva winch that I have yet to fit.
    What did you mount your winch onto in your vehicle?
    What bracket did you get and from who, this would be a great help.

  • Aaron Schubert October 11, 2021, 5:56 PM

    Hi Mark,

    Straight into the AFN bar mate; it came with brackets. Most Bull Bars are set up this way.

    All the best

  • Peter June 7, 2022, 1:49 PM

    Hi Aaron,
    You mention that your D-Max was under a 5 year novated lease and you did all the mods afterwards.
    I wanted to do the same but was told by two leasing companies that “any modification that increased the payload beyond 1000kg would not be permitted under the lease”.
    GVM upgrade is a definite must when you’re looking at carrying a Slide-On camper so we had to buy outright from the start, and that was a lot of money to shell out in one go.


  • Aaron Schubert June 11, 2022, 10:35 AM

    Hey Peter,

    I’ve heard that too. I believe if you have permanent accessories that redu e the payload to less than 1000kg you are still OK.

    All the best

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