WHAT’S IN A NAME? PLENTY

EX­TREME MULTI UTIL­ITY LIVES UP TO ITS PROM­ISE

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Bill Buys

MULTI Util­ity – Ex­treme; that's what MU-X stands for in Isuzus­peak.

We al­ways won­der how the names orig­i­nate and how they trans­late to the par­tic­u­lar model.

In this case, the hand­some SUV can carry up to seven peo­ple or a lot of equip­ment, which cov­ers the multi util­ity bit, and they won their class in last year's aw­fully pun­ish­ing Aus­tralasian Sa­fari, which was one of the world's ex­treme mo­tor­sport events.

The oddly-named Isuzus come in two 2WD and three 4WD vari­ants, rang­ing in price from $37,000 drive­away to $53,500 for the top-rank­ing LS-T 4X4.

Our test­mo­bile was a 4X4 LS-U, one down from the top in the peck­ing or­der, at a pro­mo­tional drive­away price of $45,990.

It's pow­ered by a 130kW/380Nm 3.0- litre four­cylin­der turbo-diesel, mated with a five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Stan­dard fare in­cludes 17-inch al­loy wheels, fog­lights, chrome grille and mir­rors and alu­minium side-steps. In­side, there's cli­mate con­trol, a six-speaker pre­mium au­dio sys­tem with iPod and Blue­tooth phone con­nec­tiv­ity.

The dash is neat, the di­als easy to read.

It also gets Hill De­scent and Hil­lAs­cent modes in its Ter­rain Com­mand, a part-time 4x4 sys­tem with a ro­tary con­trol on the con­sole to switch be­tween two- and four-wheel drive, high- or lowrange.

Built on the un­der­pin­nings of the D-Max ute, the MU-X is a very ca­pa­ble off-roader, its un­der­body pro­tected by ar­mour plat­ing.

Ground clear­ance is 230mm and it has short ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles.

How­ever, with its good looks, chromed mir­rors and other glam bits, few are likely to be sub­jected to rough work.

It has six airbags, a plethora of elec­tronic safety sys­tems and a high-ten­sile steel pas­sen­ger safety cell, which helped it earn a fives­tar crash safety rat­ing.

Seat­ing is very good, like­wise visibility, but although the LS- U has rear park­ing sen­sors, there's no re­vers­ing cam­era or Sat­nav.

For that bit of gear, com­mon in sub-$20K hatches, you need to go to the LS-T, which also has a fancier juke­box, a DVD screen and that sort of stuff.

There are three rows of seats in theatre-style. The back row folds flat to the floor, while the mid­dle 60:40 seats tum­ble for­ward to greatly ex­tend cargo space.

The MU-X is easy to get in and out of, has loads of head, shoul­der and leg room and it's a pleas­ant thing to drive. Rather big turn­ing cir­cle though.

The auto shifter has se­quen­tial sports mode for keen driv­ers and the very able pow­er­train doesn't use much fuel. Of­fi­cial av­er­age use is 8.1litres/100km.

Ver­dict: A fine pack­age for folks need­ing lots of seats and of­froad ca­pa­bil­ity. Big on style and safety too, but it re­ally needs a re­vers­ing cam­era.

Isuzu's stylish MU-X has a lot go­ing for it.

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