Isuzu Dmax

Isuzu Dmax.

| Pool | Nation Media Group

Isuzu DMAX, a hardy vehicle, but you are looking at a decade-old car

What you need to know:

  • The Isuzu DMAX is a very hardy vehicle, rugged as the day is long.
  • The only downside from a first-impressions angle is the lack of refinement that its competitors discovered some time ago.

Hello Baraza,

Thanks for the good work you are continually doing on Car Clinic. Kindly review the Isuzu DMAX double cab 2010/2011 diesel local assembly model that I wish to acquire as my first car. Are there specific things about engine failures or common problems I should be careful about?

Hello Jilo,

The Isuzu DMAX is a very hardy vehicle, rugged as the day is long. The only downside from a first-impressions angle is the lack of refinement that its competitors discovered some time ago. That agricultural feel is part of the reason why the vehicle is so resilient.

That said, you are looking at buying a vehicle that is 10 or 11 years old. Being a commercial vehicle of sorts, a decade is more than enough time to rack up the miles, and they will show through no fault of the vehicle.

The DMAX doesn't have any inherent engineering faults, but 10 years of unproven ownership can introduce faults.

Check for full service history and watch out for the turbo. These are the biggest mechanical weak points of turbodiesel engines, hardy or not, and previous usage will heavily influence future events. Other than that? Good workhorse.

Sh3.5 million Land Cruiser is not a unicorn, it actually exists, but…

Dear Mr Baraza,

I enjoyed your article in the Sunday Nation. I am wondering where you found a Land Cruiser for Sh3.5 million. Please let me know. Thank you.



Toyota Landcruiser

Toyota Landcruiser. 

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

Hi Victoria,

I'm glad you enjoyed my eulogy of the OG. I hope you read the one I did on the old Defender some years back as well.

Anyway, the Sh3.5 million Landcruiser is not a unicorn, it exists, but there is something you have to be aware of first. A vehicle that has dropped around 80 percent in value is not exactly good value, especially when discussing V8 engines. And speaking of V8s, at that price range you will be limited to exactly one choice: the 4.7-liter 2UZ engine.

Let me explain...

Cheap is expensive. There is a reason Landcruisers are expensive, and that is because they have earned their stripes over the years, therefore a cheap Landcruiser is a fossil-powered red flag that should be approached with extreme caution, extreme commitment or a mix of both.

There will be plenty wrong under the skin, and putting it right will tax your finances heavily, which is why I said I'd get one as a company car rather than for personal use. It is easier to say sorry than to say please, so I will need to explain to my shareholders why the company's new name is Motoring Press Bankruptcy, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

It's not just under the skin where issues lie, sometimes the skin itself has problems. I have seen a few 200s in the range of Sh3.5-3.8 million and they don't present very well. They look untidy and somewhat out of their depth, so to your list of mounting expenses, add cosmetic surgery.

That's not all. For the vehicle to be that cheap, that means the specification levels are also unimpressive to the point of being underwhelming. Forget sunroofs, forget fancy air suspension, forget KDSS and definitely forget diesel power, which is the sweet spot of any Landcruiser.

What you will have to put up with is the archaic and very thirsty 4.7-liter petrol V8 which looks massive on paper but comes from another era and in true Toyota fashion, is massively detuned to ensure longevity. It will struggle with that body, meaning performance will be a letdown and it will sacrifice fuel economy while being overtaken by other cars.

Despite all this, I still intend to get one as a company car, and you can too. Most car-selling sites have ambitiously priced units with chains of brokers hiking up the prices so I wouldn't recommend looking there.

Join a dedicated Landcruiser forum - I am in one actually, and that is where I saw these “affordable” 200s - and make regular peeks every so often. A private sale will show up, with the owner wanting to just get rid of his vehicle so he will price it attractively, and there will be no middlemen.

There is the added bonus of the comments section whereby you can learn more about the vehicle. The cheap Landcruiser 200. I wouldn't quite recommend them, but they exist.

I am beginning to repeat myself, but since you asked...

Hello JM,

Thank you for your informative column about cars.I am looking forward to buying my first one, but I am unable to choose among the Subaru legacy Wagon (fifth generation) non-turbo, Toyota Mark X 250G (second generation), and the Mazda Atenza, starting from the second generation.

Please comment on reliability, maintenance costs, spare parts availability, performance, fuel consumption, comfortability, and durability. The upper limit for the engine capacity is 2.5L. A suggestion of cars not on the list is welcome. Looking forward to hearing from you.


Subaru wagon

Subaru wagon.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

Hi Kevin,

Why does it feel like I have answered this exact question before, the only difference being the Subaru Legacy involved at that time was a saloon? The Legacy is the winner in this comparison, by the way, based solely on the fact that it is the only longroof in a contest of sedans, so practicality is superior by far.

Let's now dismiss the others:

Mark X: the braking issues that plagued the Mk. 1 Mark X may have been solved with the second generation car but this Mk. 2 model is showing signs of aging like milk. Sayonara!

Mazda Atenza: fine china this one. What does that mean? It is as pretty as it is delicate. Good to drive though, but I still hear lamentations about parts availability, a problem I never encountered back when I owned a Mazda, but that's mostly because my Mazda never broke down, ever. Not once.

Cars not on the list? Try a Mercedes-Benz C Class, W204, in a flashy colour like bright red or something. Silver, black and white C Classes are all over the place, you don't want to lose your car in a parking lot, do you?

Now, your requirements:

Reliability: we could finger the Mark X here on the basis of brand alone (Toyota!), but like I said, it seems to wear out rather fast. The Subaru is a close second because of that silly electric steering that fails and needs a six-figure replacement.

One more thing: the 5th generation Legacy, the BM/BR platform, is chock-full of electronic nonsense that transforms simple operations like wheel alignment into a Blackpool illuminations-type display in your instrument cluster as the sensors on the front axle go berserk wondering why the front wheels are pointing in different directions. They can be annoying.

Maintenance costs:well, the Mark X has six cylinders and flimsy panels, the Mazda's parts are chicken teeth and the Subaru has that electric steering. Feel free to roll the dice on where your fate lies.
Spare parts availability: one is a Toyota (ubiquitous). One is a Subaru (common). One is a Mazda (go back one paragraph). The déjà vu is starting to come back, I am repeating myself here.

Performance: the Mark X may be slightly exciting to drive if it's your first foray into the world beyond four cylinders but that novelty wears out fast. The Atenza is an engaging car to drive but it's hardly fireworks. The Subaru is not turbocharged, why even bother? Interestingly enough, these cars have fire-breathing performance versions, the easiest to find, and probably the cheapest, being the Legacy GT.

Fuel consumption: the Mazda takes it. The Mark X can be thirsty, and so can the Subaru especially in a greenhorn's hands. Their automatics and CVTs don't help matters either. Save the manuals!

Comfortability: this is not a word, where did you learn it? You mean "comfort". Corrections aside, perhaps the Mark X? It is bigger than the Mazda but the Mazda rides better and has a prettier interior.

Durability: Subaru.

What’s ailing my Toyota Rush?

Hello Baraza,
I own a 2012 Toyota Rush 4x4. I noticed it has a defect since I owned from March 2020. 
1) Whenever I make a continuous acceleration and as I approach 100km/hr a loud noise from the engine is heard (like for a car with a speed limiter) this noise goes as speed goes above 100km/hr and reappears again as the speed goes downwards even without acceleration. I have talked to my mechanic and we have changed bearings, gear oil yet no change.

2) When at high speed and I step on the brakes, my RPM goes up and the loud noise on low gear appears and this would go off when I accelerate to change to a high gear.
What is the problem with my car and how do I fix it?

Toyota Rush

Toyota Rush.

Photo credit: Pool Nation Media Group


1. I'm not sure what exactly is going on here because cars with limiters bog down when they hit the limiter rather than making loud noises, so it is a bit of a paradox. Since the noise seems to appear from the engine and only at a specific speed, something is up under the bonnet.

Maybe the engine mounts have discovered their natural frequency (a phenomenon too elaborate to explain here now), maybe the clutch or torque converter has loosened and is shifting position when transmitting a specific amount of torque, maybe... could be a lot of things.

2. This is yet another conundrum: high speeds and low gears? Why? That's bad driving. Or is the loud engine noise the result of over-revving?

There is a lot that is missing for one to make a conclusive diagnosis, and yours is a case of seeing a technician.

One has to test drive your car to hear the noise to determine its nature and location, which would greatly assist in narrowing down possible causes, but words on a screen are not going to cut it.

Sorry. Just visit a garage for a more conclusive diagnosis.


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