Isuzu MU-X SUV pumps up

The up­dated Isuzu MU-X might not be the most eye- catch­ing ve­hi­cle on the mar­ket but it’s a solid ad­di­tion to any drive­way

Australian Transport News - - CONTENTS -

The MU-X’s value state­ment as a kiddy hauler, bush bash­ing week­ender and tow ve­hi­cle

The Isuzu MU-X SUV chases re­fine­ment, gears and grunt in this lat­est Euro 5 up­date. Less noise, more torque, and an all new 6-speed trans­mis­sion bring the think­ing per­son’s SUV in line with ma­jor com­peti­tors.

Isuzu Ute Aus­tralia’s lack of pre­ten­sion with its ute and seven-seat SUV of­fer­ing has served it well to date. It’s of­ten seen as the ro­bust, value-driven choice al­beit with a some­what mun­dane im­age.

Since the Isuzu Ute brand launched back in 2008 with just the D-MAX ute on of­fer, it has seen dou­ble-digit growth year on year. The Spirit of Truck tag line has also served it well, cash­ing in the on the solid rep­u­ta­tion of the Isuzu truck busi­ness amongst Aussie pun­ters.

Ac­cord­ing to VFACTS, Isuzu Ute hits above its weight in 4x2 work utes. But it was the 2013 launch of the seven-seat MU-X SUV that ex­panded the ap­peal of the brand out­side of just the work­site.

The Isuzu Ute brand it­self is a sep­a­rate busi­ness en­tity to the truck biz on Aus­tralian shores, be­ing a part of the Mit­subishi Cor­po­ra­tion. As a lean busi­ness with a range com­pris­ing two mod­els, Isuzu Ute has been some­thing of a quiet achiever lo­cally. In fact, Oz is the big­gest ex­port mar­ket for the Thai-built utes and SUVs. Lo­cal sales since 2008 have cracked the 100,000 mark.

Ac­cord­ing to deputy gen­eral man­ager of sales Ben Jaeger, Isuzu Ute has come in se­cond for two years in a row for cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion in polls con­ducted by Roy Mor­gan re­search, with lux­ury brand Lexus in fi rst place.

In the past, the spirit of truck that was

“Isuzu Ute Aus­tralia’s lack of pre­ten­sion with its ute and seven-seat SUV of­fer­ing has served it well to date”

for­merly part of the brand’s mar­ket­ing an­gle cut both ways with the MU-X. The 3-litre 4J en­gine was in­deed a tough, re­li­able cookie with a loyal fol­low­ing. The down­side was that, re­gard­less of trim level, the Isuzu SUV sounded very much like a truck from be­hind the wheel.

This lat­est up­date has added more equip­ment and refi ne­ment across the MU-X range.

Out­wardly, lit­tle has changed with the MU-X. A new face up­dates a fa­mil­iar seven-seat off-road wagon shape. That up­dated nose now fea­tures Bi-LED pro­jec­tor head­lights that also use an auto-level fea­ture to keep the brighter head­light beam off the wind­screens of on­com­ing traf­fic.

A Ha­vana brown colour has been added to the op­tion list, as well as new 18-inch al­loy wheels for LS-U and LS-T mod­els. LS-M mod­els also get new-look 16-inch al­loys. I reckon it’s a prime can­di­date for a mod­ern- day woody wagon – it just needs gold pin­stripes!

The brand’s rather con­ser­va­tive ap­proach to styling and equip­ment means that un­less you ac­tu­ally or­der the new Ha­vana brown colour, you will most likely lose it in a car park.

In­side, the for­merly quite com­mer­cial look of the MU-X cock­pit has had a makeover with the ad­di­tion of soft ma­te­ri­als over much of the dash area. LS-U and LS-T mod­els now get a sat­nav- equipped 8-inch touch­screen mul­ti­me­dia unit, while the LS-M gets a 7-inch screen. All mod­els fea­ture re­vers­ing cam­era, and park­ing sen­sors are stan­dard across the MU-X range.

Un­for­tu­nately, the dated-look­ing ro­tary cli­mate con­trol on the cen­tre stack is still very much present.

The most sig­nif­i­cant changes to the MU-X have taken place out of sight. More in­su­la­tion has been added in an eff ort to min­imise driv­e­line chat­ter. Isuzu Ute claims that the MU-X is 5 per cent qui­eter than be­fore.

The now Euro 5 3-litre turbo-diesel en­gine still makes 130kW (174hp) of power but also de­liv­ers 430Nm of torque thanks in part to the ad­di­tion of a vari­able noz­zle turbo.

Trans­mis­sion choice is be­tween a 6-speed

“This lat­est up­date has added more equip­ment and rene­ment across the MU-X range”

man­aged to get in some heavy tow­ing as well as some off-road and on-road driv­ing to put the MU-X through its paces.

As an au­to­matic propo­si­tion, the new 6-speed Aisin auto is a solid per­former. This gear­box makes the most of the rel­a­tively large en­gine out front when tow­ing in hilly coun­try yet re­mains a smooth if un­so­phis­ti­cated per­former around town.

In­ter­est­ingly, you can still opt for a 6-speed man­ual if you’re keen to swap your own cogs. auto or 6-speed man­ual. Emis­sions are taken care of by EGR and, like its D-MAX sta­ble­mate, an ac­tive re­gen DPF burns off the nas­ties.

The al­most bul­let­proof 3-litre en­gine used in both the MU-X SUV and the D-MAX ute has plenty of runs on the board lo­cally in terms of re­li­a­bil­ity. It’s also been suc­cess­fully used in the Aus­tralian Isuzu truck lineup since 2011.

At the launch of the up­dated fourby, we

On long down­hill runs the 4J donk does a good job of hold­ing the speed back with the auto in man­ual mode.

Some seven lay­ers of in­su­la­tion have been added to the in­te­rior yet it still sounds like a truck. Where other man­u­fac­tur­ers in this seg­ment of­fer smaller, me­chan­i­cally so­phis­ti­cated driv­e­lines, the MU-X can sound and feel a bit old-school on the road.

A re­spectable list of stan­dard equip­ment sees the MU-X equipped with hill-start as­sist, hill-de­scent con­trol (even on 2WD mod­els), re­v­erse cam­era and park­ing sen­sors re­gard­less of trim level.

Hill-de­scent con­trol came in very handy off road, where the MU-X is no slouch ei­ther.

Over the years there have been con­stant com­par­isons be­tween the MU-X and the Holden Colorado 7/Trail­blazer. While the two share a ba­sic plat­form, they are me­chan­i­cally com­pletely dif­fer­ent.

The best way to look at it is that the MU-X is the kid that stud­ied hard and got an en­gi­neer­ing de­gree and a re­spectable job. The Trail­blazer is the kid that joined a rock band, got a drug habit, went to re­hab, and now sells soy can­dles at the lo­cal craft mar­ket.

Isuzu Ute also of­fers 5+5+5 Ser­vice Plus, which con­sists of fi ve-year/130,000km war­ranty, five-year capped price ser­vic­ing (ser­vice in­ter­vals are 12 months/10,000km), and five years road­side as­sist.

At $51,990 drive away for the top-ofthe-range LS-T, the MU-X makes a pretty con­vinc­ing value state­ment as a kiddy hauler, bush bash­ing week­ender, and tow ve­hi­cle.

Just buy a brown one.

With a fairly hefty 3-tonne off-road car­a­van on the back, the Isuzu did ex­tremely well. The coil-sprung rear end proved very sta­ble on the open road and the ex­tra torque from the re­vamped 4J en­gine and its new vari­able noz­zle turbo saw it haul very well.

More torque from lower revs makes the MU-X an easy, un­stressed drive even with a heavy trailer on board.

Hav­ing three litres un­der the bon­net also helps in the en­gine brak­ing de­part­ment.

“The MU-X is the kid that stud­ied hard and got an en­gi­neer­ing de­gree and a re­spectable job”

Top right: The LS-T in­te­rior dash

Top left: Eight-inch dis­play with sat­nav

Top: It’s a solid per­former on hills and when tow­ing Op­po­site page: The 18-inch al­loys and fog light

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