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Isuzu MU-X

Isuzu MUXThe original Isuzu MU was one of the early entrants into the SUV market and proved very popular, even if there was some debate on how one was supposed to pronounce it.  Was it “Em You”?  Moo?  Mew?  Was it supposed to be the Greek letter μ?  Now, in 2016, the MU (it’s supposed to be an abbreviation for “Mysterious Utility”) is back in the form of the MU-X.  My guess is that this should be pronounced “Em You Ex” rather than “Mucks”, although “Mucks” is rather tempting, especially given this vehicle’s ability to muck in and do the business – and to handle terrain that is likely to get it dirty.

Of course, the makers of the Isuzu MU-X know that not everybody wants full-time 4WD, so it has all three basic variants (LS-T, LS-U and LS-M) available with 4×4 and 2×4 drivetrains.  Whatever you choose, you get a nice, big seven-seater SUV.  You’ll also get the ability to tow up to 3000 kg (that’s 3 tonnes) braked (unbraked towing capacity: 750 kg).  This is more than enough for just about every towing job that I can think a typical vehicle would be asked to do; any heavier and you’d be calling in an actual truck and you will need a different driver’s licence. (Actually, if you do want to tow as much as the Isuzu MU-X is capable of towing, you technically do need a light truck licence in some parts of Australia, as the maximum gross combination mass of the Isuzu MU-X is 5.75 tonnes: in South Australia, you need an LR truck license for anything with a gross combination mass between 4.5 and 8 tonnes. The rules are worded differently on the official websites for other states. Roads and Maritime, and Vicroads look at the gross vehicle mass, so a Isuzu MU-X towing to capacity can be driven on a regular licence).

As you can imagine, you’re going to need something pretty grunty under the bonnet if you are capable of towing weights that nearly put you into the light truck class. It’s thus surprising that the Isuzu MU-X isn’t fitted out with something absolutely enormous. Considering its ability, the engine’s size is quite small: 3.0 litres.  It is, however, a four-cylinder turbo diesel with DOHC and an intercooled turbo.  You certainly wouldn’t expect to see this sort of towing power with a petrol engine.  Specifically, you’ve got 380 Nm of torque on tap, along with 130 kW of power.  Given these figures, the fuel economy is pleasingly on the low end: 8.3 L/100 km combined, although you need to remember that these figures were obtained in test conditions without a whacking big caravan, horse float or boat out the back.  In real life, your fuel consumption figure will be higher.  Nevertheless, it’s still pretty efficient.

Automatic transmission is the way to go with all Isuzu MU-X variants, although the LS-U 4×4 and the LS-M 4×4 give you a manual option as well.  In the four-paws, you also get the Terrain Command 4×4 system that allows you to select one of three drivetrains: high ratio 2WD, high ratio 4WD and low ratio 4WD.  It looks like Isuzu have kept up the fine offroading tradition that many of us discovered with earlier offerings like the old Bighorns, Troopers and Wizards.  In other words, it’s good!  The Isuzu MU-X has an approach angle of 30.1° and a departure angle of 25.1°, and 220 mm (LS-M) or 230 mm (LS-U and LS-T) of ground clearance.  What’s with the different ground clearance stats for the different variants?  This is down to the wheel size, naturally: the entry-level LS-M has 16-inch alloy wheels but the other two get 17-inch ones.  The difference in wheel size also explains the different ramp-over angles: 21.9° in the LS-M and 22.6° in the other two.

Style-wise, the Isuzu MU-X looks like a proper 4×4 SUV should, with a nice high stance and lots of modern angles and chunky styling.  It doesn’t look “too vulgar big”, to quote Kipling’s leopard, which can be a danger with a seven-seater 4×4.  The front fog lights and the chrome radiator grille on the LS-U and LS-T variants nicely complement the overall lines.  Metal seems to be the name of the game in the LS-U and LS-T variants, as these have chrome door handles and aluminium side steps.  All three variants get under-front skid/splash plates in steel and steel plate guards on the sump and transfer case.  The LS-T gets roof rails and a tailgate spoiler as well.

Many people opt for big SUVs like the Isuzu MU-X for safety reasons, so it’s pleasing to see that even the entry level LS-M has the full shebang of safety features, such as ASB braking, hill start assistance, EBD, electronic stability control, emergency brake assistance and traction control.  All variants also have dual front, curtain and side airbags, and rear park assistance sensors (the LS-U and LS-T throw in a reversing camera as well).  The Isuzu MU-X doesn’t just look tough; it is tough, thanks to the anti-intrusion bars hidden in the sides of the body shell for extra protection.  All seven seats get three-point seat belts (pretensioned and load-limited in the front) and there’s ISOFIX child seat preparation in the second row.  The front seats in all variants have a bucket-style whiplash prevention design; in the LS-T, they’re leather-trimmed as well.  Not that the LS-M and the LS-U miss out on leather completely: they get it on the steering wheel, which also has the audio controls.

Isuzu MUX interior

As the main reason for choosing a vehicle with seven seats is because you have a large family to lug around, it’s good to know that there are plenty of creature comforts inside the Isuzu MU-X. No matter what you choose, you get lots of storage space, comfort grips and cup holders.  In the LS-M, you get a good six-speaker audio system that does the Bluetooth and the streaming thing, as well as having most types of input (CD, radio, MP3, USB, auxiliary and iPod); the LS-U and the LS-T throw in an 8-inch colour touchscreen and an eight-speaker roof-mounted sound system, and the LS-T has a roof-mounted 10-inch DVD screen as standard.  The LS-U and LS-T variants of the Isuzu MU-X both get climate control air-con (you do it manually in the LS-M), and the LS-T also gets passive entry and starting and six-way electric adjustment on the driver’s seat as well.

The way that I’d probably use the Isuzu MU-X would be as an off-road camper.  Fold the second and third rows of seats down and you’ve got lots of sleeping room (1830 L of cargo space), which makes camping a lot easier and a bit more comfortable: no more trying to hammer tent pegs into or sleeping on rocks.  Thanks to the off-roading ability of the four-paws, you can get to some nice out of the way remote places to spend the night, just like you would with tenting.  However, it’s a bit easier to lock your gear (and yourself) away safely inside a stout metal body, meaning that you and your gear are less likely to be visited by wildlife with teeth.  The glampers are probably already shuddering at the very idea but, glampers, don’t forget that the Isuzu MU-X can tow a very respectable caravan with all the bells and whistles (if what’s in the vehicle isn’t enough already).  It would also be a very good vehicle for teaching the teenagers how to drive off-road, making this a good all-round family vehicle.  However, if I did own an Isuzu MU-X, I’d probably see it being used by my tradie husband as a commercial vehicle for his landscaping business.

Current model series include:

  • Isuzu MU-X LS-M 4×2
  • Isuzu MU-X LS-M 4×4 auto
  • Isuzu MU-X LS-M 4×4 manual
  • Isuzu MU-X LS-U 4×2
  • Isuzu MU-X LS-U 4×4 manual
  • Isuzu MU-X LS-U 4×4 auto
  • Isuzu MU-X LS-T 4×2
  • Isuzu MU-X LS-T 4×4

For any more information on the Isuzu MU-X, or for that matter any other new car, contact one of our friendly consultants on 1300 303 181. If you’d like some fleet discount pricing (yes even for private buyers!), we can submit vehicle quotes requests out to our national network of Isuzu dealers and come back with pricing within 24 hours. Private Fleet – car buying made easy!