For the nth time, Isuzu scaled the slopes of Benguet Province on the way to Mount Pulag, to prove the mettle of its best-selling pick-up truck, the Isuzu D-Max. This time, however, Isuzu used the newly-developed and more powerful 3.0-liter VGS (variable geometry system) turbodiesel engine mated to a 4×4 drivetrain in scaling the rough terrain leading to the country’s third highest mountain peak. Not only did the second-generation D-Max successfully conquer the roads to Mount Pulag, but the top two executives of Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) along with a new batch of motoring journalists did so as well.
On February 22 to 24, a small group of motoring journalist together with IPC executives, president Hajime Koso and executive vice president Takashi Tomita, braved the morning rush to participate in the Isuzu D-MAX 3.0-liter VGS media test drive to Mount Pulag.
With much improved engine power, the Isuzu D-MAX 3.0-liter VGS effortlessly drove from Manila to Baguio City on the first day, passing through the flat highways of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), the Subic-Clark, Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and the new Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) and traversing through the twisty roads of Kennon before capping the night at Le Monet Hotel Baguio in the summer capital of the Philippines.
Driving on the steep incline of Kennon Road was an easy task for the D-Max, thanks to its reliable 4JJ1-TC (HI) engine with Common Rail Direct Injection and VGS turbocharger providing 163 PS (160 horsepower) and 380 Newton-meters of torque.
With the four-hour drive up to Baguio, the passengers were kept comfortable on-board by the D-Max’s luxurious leather seats and spacious cabin plus the new seven-inch touchscreen entertainment system with DVD, Bluetooth, USB and iPod functionality.
Driving around and parking in the congested roads of the City of Pines was made safer by the D-Max’s new tailgate mounted reverse camera, which automatically activates when the driver engages the transmission to reverse.
Following the overnight in Baguio, the group started early the next day and drove right through the off-road path leading to the Ranger’s Station at an elevation of 8,200 feet above sea level (ASL). The group underwent a short briefing from the Park Rangers before starting their initial ascent to Base Camp 2, which was a 9,000 feet ASL.
Much like the drive, the trek going to the camp site was as the participants wore specially designed trekking shoes courtesy of Sandugo Philippines which is the official footwear partner of Isuzu for this adventure trip.
Braving the almost sub-zero temperatures in Mount Pulag, the group starting their assault to the summit of Mount Pulag a couple of hours before dawn. By 5 am, the group reached the summit just in time to catch a glimpse of the glorious sunrise over the sea of clouds over the Pacific. It was there that Koso expressed his utmost appreciation for the natural beauty not just of Mount Pulag but of the country, “The Philippines bears so many beautiful places scattered all over it, which is why we have the Isuzu D-MAX – it is for those adventure junkies so that they can reach these destinations with power and style.”
After securing breathtaking pictures over by the sea of clouds at the summit, the group headed back to the campsite for some final preparations before trekking down back to the Ranger’s Station.
During the lunch stop in Baguio City, Koso attributed the success of the event to the D-Max. “The D-MAX 3.0-liter VGS has never failed to deliver excitement and reliability – and it will never will. This pick-up truck is perfect for thrill-seekers that love the great outdoors,” Koso added.