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2020 Qingling Isuzu Taga 4×2: Driving The Other Prototype

At the time the government imposed an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to control the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, we were just about to conduct a test drive of a prototype 4×4 pickup truck that is based on the Isuzu D-Max. Back in March 2020, we were about to evaluate a Qingling Isuzu Taga 4×4, which is made by Qingling Motors Co., Ltd., the manufacturer of Isuzu commercial vehicles in Chongqing, China, when the lockdown was enforced. For our own safety, we weren’t allowed to go out and test drive vehicles.

We had the blue 2020 Qingling Isuzu Taga 4×4 prototype from March to May 2020 during ECQ.

Mrs. Rosita Sy, the lady boss of Kingling Motors Philippines, the distributor of Qingling Isuzu commercial vehicles in the country, told us to keep the blue Taga 4×4 while Metro Manila is under lockdown so we can evaluate it more thoroughly. We submitted our observations to Mrs. Sy within a few weeks and then posted our review in this website before we returned the Taga 4×4 two months later in May. Mrs. Sy must have been impressed with our report that she offered to lend us the other pickup truck prototype in their company’s inventory – the 2020 Qingling Isuzu Taga 4×2.

We had the red 2020 Qingling Isuzu Taga 4×2 prototype from August to September 2020 during MECQ and GCQ.

It’s Not a Ranger

Just like the blue Taga 4×4, we got asked a lot about our red Taga 4×2. At first glance, a lot of people thought that it was a Ford Ranger because of the blue oval emblem in the middle of the front grill, which just happens to have a similar shape with the Ranger’s grill. We saw a lot of puzzled looks when people see “Qingling” instead of “Ford” on the blue oval emblem and we had to explain what Qingling is and how it is associated to Isuzu more than Ford.

It looks more like a handsome American pickup truck than Chinese or Japanese, doesn’t it?

Still, a lot of people pictured our Taga 4×2 as a rebadged Ranger more than a Chinese version of the popular Isuzu pickup truck. They only got our truck’s connection to Isuzu when they saw the Isuzu label embossed in the headlight housing and on the engine cover when we opened the hood. Mrs. Sy noted the same observation and she plans to equip her next Taga imports with the new Qingling Isuzu grill emblem that looks like an updated logo of the Japanese truck maker.

It may not be immediately obvious, but the Taga 4×2 carries the same genes as the Isuzu D-Max.

The Taga pickup is quite long and its bed is longer than the ones on most 4-door crew cabs.

My Truck Is Better Than Your Truck

When we visited a friend and parked our Taga 4×2 side-by-side with his recently-acquired pickup truck, he noticed that the cargo bed of our truck was longer than the bed of his truck. He was surprised to learn that the black protective coating came standard with our truck while he had to pay for the lining on his. He felt shortchanged when we told him that the roll bar was not an aftermarket accessory and that it came standard with our truck.

Can anyone translate the meaning of those Chinese characters at the back of our truck?

The pickup bed measures 1.8 m by 1.5 m and allows our Taga 4×2 to carry a variety of cargo!

He compared the interior of the two pickup trucks and found that our Taga 4×2 felt more spacious inside with more legroom and hip room than his truck. He began to blame us for not telling him to delay the purchase of a new pickup truck until the Taga 4×2 was available in the market. He only relaxed when we told him that our truck is just a prototype, one of only two units that were imported into the Philippines for market evaluation purposes. He couldn’t buy one just yet even if he wanted to.

There’s ample leg room, hip room, and head room inside.

Front passengers can enjoy the space inside as well as the comfort of leather seats with red double-stitches.

Driven Much Longer

Unlike our experience with the Taga 4×4, we were able to drive our Taga 4×2 much farther and evaluate it much further in the two months we had it because of the relaxed quarantine regulations. We logged more than 700 kilometers from early August to late September and we’ve gotten used to our pickup truck’s longer length that we didn’t have any difficulties parking it anywhere, not even in our tight two-car garage alongside our family sedan. We enjoyed driving it and shifting gears with its 5-speed manual transmission even in increasingly heavy Metro Manila traffic.

It’s a wee bit longer than what we’ve been driving but we got used to it…

… driving a stick became enjoyable once again, even in heavy traffic.

We’ve become accustomed to jumping into our Taga 4×2 instead of our family car because we were beginning to value the economy of its 3.0-liter CRDI diesel engine, especially with the low prices of diesel fuel. We also enjoyed the exercise that our left leg gets with the clutch pedal. We’ve even learned to ignore jokes about the Chinese emblems at the back of the truck and snide comments about the Chinese characters in the instrument panel and the stickers in and around the truck. We’re simply enjoyed driving around with the red truck, thank you.

The plastic engine cover spells I-S-U-Z-U!

LCD in the instrument panel displays average fuel consumption (8.5 L/100km = 11.76 km/L)…

… as well as real time or instant fuel consumption…

… and range or distance to empty.

Lovelier The Second Time Around  

Like the Taga 4×4, our Taga 4×2 immediately starts up every time we turn the key; it goes where we point it, it stops when we step on the brakes, and does what we require it to do. Unlike the 4×4, where we had to drain some water out of the diesel fuel filter/water separator, we didn’t experience that problem with our 4×2, perhaps because we were able to drive it more often. We felt that the Taga was designed to be really driven.

This time, we were able to go “rough it out” with our Taga 4×2 around Tagaytay…

… but it was easy to see and navigate around obstacles with the reverse camera…

… which has guidelines that move with your steering inputs…

… plus this blindside camera and proximity sensors that beep an annoying alarm when something is near the pickup truck.

Smile! You’re on candid cam… err, built-in dash cam! Just add SD card and it’s ready to record.

Like the Taga 4×4, our Taga 4×2 proved to be economical to operate. We filled the tank when we got it in early August and only added P500 worth of diesel fuel in mid-September when we drove it to Tagaytay and further south. On the toll ways, the ride was a bit choppy, which we can attribute to the stiff rear suspension that was designed to carry five occupants plus heavy loads on the cargo bed instead of just two people and an empty bed. But we enjoyed the long drive, nevertheless. It was nice to get our of the city after 6 months of lockdown.

3 passengers can sit comfortably at the back of our Taga 4×2.

The infotainment system can keep everyone entertained throughout the trip…

… especially when you have a huge musical selection stored in your USB.

Not Automatically Available Yet

A female friend, who was in the market for a pickup truck, was visibly impressed with the standard equipment of our Taga 4×2 including the large touchscreen/monitor, reverse camera, blind spot cameras, built-in dash cam, and the leather seats with sporty red stitching. She was particularly pleased its overall masculine appearance and its overall build quality. She was beginning to lean towards purchasing a Qingling Isuzu Taga but was disappointed to learn that an automatic transmission is not immediately available. She and her business needed a new pickup truck pronto so she just can’t wait.

The Taga 4×2 is available only with a smooth shifting 5-speed stick, for now.

To the left of the driver are controls to adjust the headlight beam height, to adjust the illumination level of the instrument panel, and to heat up the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), which helps the lower emissions.

Everything starts with the twist of this switchblade-style ignition key. Sorry, no Push Button Auto Start/Stop available yet.

We showed our truck to another friend, who’s in the construction business, and after a short test drive, he said that he’ll consider buying a Taga 4×2 when the time comes to replace his 2-year-old pickup truck, which is in another 3 years, after he’s finished paying the monthly installments. We’re hoping that his construction business survives and even thrives during this pandemic economy and we’re confident that he’ll be happy to have a Taga 4×2 as his next workhorse.

The Taga 4×2 pickup truck can be the perfect workhorse for SME businesses, like our friend’s construction company.

Taga 4×4 is equipped with the same 12-spoke 17-inch wheels and 245/70R17 tires as the 4×4 variant.

Long Term Tests

Our confidence in the Taga 4×2 grew after we spent the better part of two months with it. While our red pickup truck is just a prototype used to evaluate the local market, we’re beginning to wish that we can conduct our series of long term tests on it for a year or two. We would like to closely measure its actual fuel mileage when driven in real-world everyday scenarios, compare it to its inboard computer readouts, and come up with fuel costs per kilometer. We’d like to monitor its maintenance and repair expenses and come up with total ownership costs per kilometer. And then ultimately, we’d like to chronicle it here in our website so that you, our dear readers, can decide for yourself if the Qingling isuzu Taga is good enough for you.

LED DRLs, halogen projector headlamps, and halogen fog lamps make a bright swath at the darkness.

We’d like to know how our fully-loaded and attractive Chinese pickup truck would look like and perform after a year or two. However, our long term test wishes will depend mostly on how Kingling Motors Philippines will be able to navigate through this pandemic economy and how they could be able to price the Taga 4×2 in today’s increasingly difficult and increasingly competitive automotive market.

Our Taga 4×2 got a well-deserved bath after its forays.

Like what we did with the other prototype, we sent our recommendations to change the rear emblems and reprogram the warning messages, displays and touchscreen messages from Chinese to English for the better appreciation of the customers. We’d be interested to see how creative the good people at Kingling Motors Philippines will be in marketing this Chinese-made Isuzu pickup truck. Hopefully, with the right price and marketing position, we’re confident that the Qingling Isuzu Taga 4×2 will appeal to buyers who are looking for a reliable, robust and right workhorse. Color ours red.


Suggested Retail Price: To Be Announced

Classification: 4-door double cab pickup truck

Engine model: 4KH1CT5H1

Engine type: Liquid-cooled inline-4 turbocharged common rail diesel (CRDI) Euro 5 compliant

Capacity: 2999 cc

Maximum power: 130 hp

Maximum torque: 280 Nm @ 1800 rpm

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Length: 5660 mm

Width:  1885 mm

Height: 1825 mm

Wheelbase: 3406 mm

Curb weight: 2050 kg

Ground clearance: 215 mm

Tire size: 245/70R17

Approach angle: 33°

Departure angle: 26°

Fuel tank capacity: 76 liters

Maximum speed: 140 km/h

Cargo Box / Pickup Bed Dimensions

Length: 1800 mm

Width: 1540 mm

Height: 480 mm

Contact Details

Kingling Motors Philippines, Inc.

Kingling Isuzu Showroom

786 A. Bonifacio Avenue, Balintawak, Quezon City

Telephone numbers:

(Globe) 0917 898 3836

(Smart) 0922 898 3555