Despite it being the flagship of Isuzu Philippines Corporation's (IPC's) vehicle line, the Alterra has always billed itself as a refined rumbler, willing and able to go anywhere and haul cargo (or seven to eight people) too. However, the presence of new units such as the 2009 Toyota Fortuner and the unveiled not-so-long-ago Mitsubishi Montero Sport have somewhat forced the Alterra into the midsize SUV shadows. With that in mind, IPC decided to refine further its flagship product, and unveiled the 2009 Alterra during simple but fun ceremonies at Pasay City's One Esplanade center.

The outside's overall design along with the front and rear fascias - still retains the basic shape of its immediate predecessor, but there are subtle changes. The side mirror housings are now in chrome (along with the door handles), and the tailights have a new cluster arrangement. There's a reverse gear-activated camera, a new design for the singular tailpipe end, newly designed 16-inch rims and four-eye backing sensors at the rear. And although majority of the exterior colorways (Chardonnay Gold, Nautilus Blue, Nebula Gray, Starry Black) are in the two-tone level, the Alterra also comes in a bevy of monotone colors such as the aforementioned Starry Black, Omega White Pearl and Sterling Silver.

Retained also is the 3.0L 4JJ1-TC common rail direct injection turbodiesel engine (which now meets Euro III emissions standards), a choice of either five speed manual or four speed automatic transmissions, Isuzu's Flex Ride Movement suspension, and (for the 4x4-equipped variants) shift-on-the-fly push button part-time four-wheel-drive.

Inside is where the refinements are very much obvious. Seven-inch high resolution monitors now reside within the rear area of the front seat headrests, complementing the Alterra's 5.1-channel surround sound in-car entertainment (ICE). And to make the ICE even more convenient for rear row occupants, there's an integrated console box so that those in the back can plug in external ICE such as MP3 players or even portable gaming consoles. "We at Isuzu believe that customers deserve only the best. So we keep finding ways to improve our vehicles, even if they cost a little bit more. We have long discovered that vehicle buyers appreciate quality and value in the smallest details, and I'm proud to say that the 2009 Alterra is excellence down to the last detail," said IPC president Keiji Takeda.

Alterra 4x2 m/t variants sell for P 1.53 million, save for the P1.54 million pearl-colored model. 4x2 a/t Alterras are pegged at P1.585 million, save for the P1.595 million pearl-colored iteration. Lastly, 4x4 a/t Alterras retail for P1.713 million, and the pearl 4x4 a/t Alterra is at P1.723 million.

Further refinery for a rugged road (and even off-road) rumbler make the Alterra more than just a second tier option in a crowded midsize SUV segment.