Isuzu listens to customers
ISUZU is the Australian car market’s specialisation wunderkind.
Walk into an Isuzu Ute dealership and you’re met with just two models: the D-Max ute and MU-X seven-seat SUV.
The mighty MU-X was Australia’s best-selling ute-based SUV of 2016, ahead of the likes of Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest and Holden Colorado7/Trailblazer.
There are revisions to the 2017 Isuzu MU-X which have specifically addressed Aussie customer feedback. Namely, less of the harsh plastics in the cabin and a reduction in noise from its 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine. In short, we want it less truck-like but still with the truck-tough engine and chassis.
These facelifted MU-X cabins now have classier dual-tone dashboards, new chrome and piano-black trimming and soft armrest and console coverings where before they were utilitarian hard.
Exterior design has been freshened too with brighter Bi-LED projection headlights, new grille, fog lights and alloy wheel designs.
Prices are up about $1000 for the three grades, with RRPs from $42,800, $45,100 and $48,800 respectively, before on-roads, for 4x2 variants. All-wheel-drives with auto gearbox (unpopular manuals are $2100 cheaper) are from $50,100, $52,400 and $56,100.
Getting expensive? Good news is you’ll never pay these prices. Isuzu does permanent drive away deals, and its adverts show the range-topping new 17MY MU-X LS-T 4x4 is $52,990 drive away.
A five-year/130,000km warranty and five-year capped price servicing plan also trumps most competition.
The 3.0-litre diesel engine offers 130kW and 430Nm and an impressive 7.9l/100km economy when mated to Isuzu’s new six-speed automatic transmission.
Judging by the MU-X’s popularity with those favouring old-school larger displacement engines, reliability and towing grunt (3000kg is your limit here), the diesel’s power and peak torque available from a low 1700rpm is ample.
Standard gear on all MU-X variants include seven seats, touchscreen audio system (7-inch for LS-M, 8-inch the top two), reverse camera, parking sensors and LED daytime running lights.
LS-U grades bring sat nav, chrome exterior styling, side steps, climate control air con and rear cabin cooling vents. Halo LS-T adds leather accented seats, passive entry and start, electric driver’s seat, roof rails, spoiler and a 10-inch rear DVD monitor.
The MU-X is a giant inside. Those demanding a true seven-seater won’t be disappointed, as the third row can accommodate six-foot adults in respectable comfort.
We wanted a plusher cabin and we’ve got it here, but the Isuzu still doesn’t feel on a par with a lot of the competition. Yes there are softer touch surfaces and a less truck-like dash which are good improvements, but slightly flimsy door trim, switchgear and dash-top storage bin remain.
Leather accents for the top grade MU-X boosts the luxe, and combined with the rear DVD monitor, it’s the one to aim for as the family favourite, not least with the LS-T’s reduced drive away price.
The 3.0-litre feels very unstressed, the ride comfortable and less wallowy than some ute-based seven-seaters.
Yes the steering is vague and the body leans in the turns, but that’s hardly unusual for the segment.
Sales leader among its ute-based seven-seat rivals, Isuzu is doing plenty right with the MU-X and has smartly addressed owners’ few grumbles with this 2017 model.
A better if not class-leading cabin and quieter ride improves the breed, and with Isuzu’s bulletproof 3.0-litre turbo diesel and reluctance to add in-vogue but costly driver assistance systems the MU-X remains a rugged, value proposition.
You can check out the new model at this year’s CRT FarmFest.
DUAL PURPOSE: The 17MY Isuzu MU-X offers comfort and durability.