Over the years, Isuzu has carved a longstanding reputation of utilitarian durability among motorists. The company's diesel engines are practically bulletproof.
Recently, the brand launched an improved, more environment-friendly version of its hot-selling MU-X, also adding more of the refinement lacking in the midsize SUV before. Let’s see if the improvements worked.
In keeping with the MU-X's previous robust form, not much has changed except for the LED headlights taking on a more assertive look, outlined by daytime running lights. It also sports a handsome set of 18-inch rims and an updated body kit.
The cabin, known for its cargo-friendly spaciousness, is where the improvements are graciously felt. Comfort for all seven occupants is considered. For starters, all three rows provide cushy support and are wrapped in real and synthetic leather with a chic quilt stitch pattern. Even the door's side panels have ergonomic leather bits for your elbows, combined with piano black accents and lines of ambient blue lighting that look pretty cool at night.
From a driver's perspective, the pilot's seat in conjunction with a leather-wrapped center armrest and steering wheel is a nice place to be in. The dash layout, inclusive of the infotainment system, shifter and automatic climate control console is executed quite well. Cooling for rear passengers is provided by an independent control knob and vents located on the ceiling.
I am not too fond of the textured hard plastic used throughout the interior. It feels and looks like it won't age well and catches dirt, hence, one must detail and apply protectant to retain/enhance its look from time to time. You must also take extra care of the piano black bits as they seem to scuff easily. I do wish the third row seats would fold flush into the cargo floor for ease of stowing articles.
Though the mill isn't exactly new, it's been modified from Euro 2 to Euro 4 standards to adhere to stricter government emissions regulations. Power is satisfying when you push the accelerator. And as you go further up the power band, it is evident that the 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine has evolved into a smoother operator showcasing 175hp and 380Nm—a mild gain from the outgoing model.
Figures may not be class-leading, but it shines when tested on the road. It hits around 18km/L on the highway hovering around 90kph, while normal city driving gave 9km/L. Acceleration from 0-100kph was at nine seconds, which is impressive considering its size!
RIDE AND HANDLING
Even with the pickup platform it shares with the D-Max, ride comfort is good and not as stiff as I expected. Honestly, it takes road imperfections better than its famous rival, the Toyota Fortuner. On the other hand, road noise is still noticeable but less than the older version. It's fairly quiet as you cruise along in the lower revs, however the diesel rattling is audible when it downshifts as you open up the throttle.
Steering feel is a bit heavy especially when parking or turning at very low speeds. Even though your macho author likes the weighted feel, some may have difficulty dealing with it.
This unit comes with cruise control, keeping that right foot relaxed on tollways. It is quite basic as it doesn't display what speed you are locked on to, so you'll have to rely on the analog needle of your speedometer to gauge where it’s set.
The MU-X is geared toward keeping the family entertained as you travel. Its infotainment system has pretty much all bases covered, like Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, and playing movies straight out of your USB flash drive onto both the touchscreen and the foldable ceiling-mounted 10-inch monitor facing the second and third rows. You can also charge your devices via USB ports and 12V outlets located in several areas.
It may not have a Bose sound system, but you can adjust audio levels with its EQ interface to make the most out of its six factory speakers. Other features included are smartphone mirroring and Wi-Fi! All in all, it's a very straightforward and easy setup to operate.
Let's not forget helpful technologies such Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control. Both work well and give you that confident edge when taking on roads less traveled.
This midsize SUV was recently awarded the 2WD SUV of the Year by the Car Awards Group, and we can easily see why. It has evolved by polishing those rough edges, and we predict things will keep getting better with the next iteration. With its winning facets and reasonable pricing, the new MU-X with Blue Power can be described as practicality at its best.
Specs: ISUZU MU-X 3.0 LS-A 4X2
Engine: 3.0-liter turbodiesel
Power: 175hp @ 3,500rpm
Torque: 380Nm @ 2,000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic