VALUE is a key sales pitch for the MU-X, something that makes it a popular choice for outback travellers. Its three rivals here required mid-spec models to get near our $60,000 target, but for the MU-X we went straight to the top of the tree, the LS-T. And even then, at $54,000, it left plenty in the pocket for accessories.
For that price, there’s plenty of extra kit such as leather seats, a powered driver’s seat, and a rear DVD screen to keep the kids content. Plus, it matches the Fortuner with smart key entry, while things such as the chrome doorhandles add a rare touch of bling.
On the inside it’s more about function than luxury and there’s nothing flashy about the presentation. The plastics and finishes look old school, although some streaks of silver help break up the dark greys. The storage binnacle atop the dash is a win for maps and other odds and ends, while the circular temperature selector is a snip to use on the move. Speaking of which, the MU-X’S seating position is quite high and its seats could do with more lateral support. On the cruise out of Perth, the MU-X felt the least composed of our assembled quartet.
Tipping into slower stuff, though, the seating position gives great vision, although we still wish there was reach adjustment for the steering wheel. Still, the MU-X began to thrive on the more challenging terrain, instantly feeling more in its comfort zone.
Its 230mm of ground clearance is the highest here and it was rarely caught out, while the part-time 4x4 system is
no-fuss and effective, albeit without the addition of a rear diff lock (something the Everest and Fortuner get).
The MU-X somehow felt better on more challenging terrain, and its suspension deals admirably with big hits and corrugations; put that down partially to the ample articulation and relatively supple springs. Our shock temperature measurements (see ‘Shocking Stuff’ sidebar on page 58) showed they soaked up the least amount of heat.
The 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine is a gruff unit, always reminding you it’s chugging away, but the payoff is decent response. Its 380Nm peak is the lowest here by some margin, yet it’s easily accessible and quickly on-tap. And despite being down a ratio – it’s a five-speeder versus six for the rest – it never feels wanting once off-road, where slower speeds are the norm.
Its lithe weight no doubt played a part in helping it feel relatively sprightly. At 2075kg, the Isuzu carries less than its rivals. That also helps with fuel use and, despite a mediocre 65-litre tank, the MU-X returned impressive fuel figures. Its average consumption of 11.4L/100km made it one of the more frugal vehicles on this test.
No differential lock? No worries!
Has the CSR claimed yet another victim?