NEW FACE MORE REFINEMENT FOR 2017 MU-X
A NEW FACE, A CLEANER-RUNNING ENGINE, A REVAMPED interior with softer-touch materials and redesigned seats are key features of the 2017 MU-X seven-seat SUV introduced to the New Zealand market in May.
It has a new-design chrome grille, headlights that slant down to emphasise the grille’s central horizontal bar, a redesigned bonnet, daylight running lights, and LED headlights.
The windscreen pillars are relatively slender to improve forward quarter vision, and there’s a redesigned and bigger rear rooftop spoiler.
Isuzu doesn’t regard the 2017 model year RF20 MU-X as a new model – nor as a facelift of its predecessor – but as what the Japanese factory calls a “big running change” in which features and componentry are upgraded.
“The Isuzu factory is constantly changing vehicles on the production line, introducing multiple running changes (during the SUVS production life),” says Isuzu Utes NZ’S managing director, Murray Greenhalgh.
Only one MU-X model is being imported, an upscale version that lists at $65,990 which makes it very competitively-priced against the opposition.
Greenhalgh says the New Zealand MU-X is made to a build code that is unique to this market – “this model is not built for any other market.”
The MU-X’S engine is the 4JJ1-T Hi-power 3.0-litre fourcylinder turbodiesel that develops maximum power of 130kw at 3600rom, and 430Nm of peak torque at 2000rpm. The latter is a useful rise over the previous model’s 380Nm.
The engine’s dual overhead camshafts are driven by a chain rather than a cambelt, and the motor meets Euro 5 emission standards. Isuzu quotes combined cycle fuel economy of 7.9 litres/100km.
It’s mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox with a manual over-ride and adaptive grade logic control that holds a gear on varied grade climbs and selects a lower gear on steep descents to keep speed steady.
The selectable four-wheel drive system allows the driver to switch between two- and four-wheel drive on-the-fly at up to 100km/h. It has a high/low ratio transfer case.
The front suspension is by coil-sprung double wishbones, and the coil-sprung solid rear axle is located by a multi-link set-up.
Unlike the D-max ute which has disc/drum front/rear brakes, the MU-X has discs all-round.
The MU-X rides on 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 255/R18 HT tyres, and has a full-sized alloy spare wheel.
There’s the expected suite of safety equipment – the mandatory electronic stability control along with ABS ant-lock braking, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and hill-start assist – along with off-road oriented hill descent control.
The MU-X has solid off-road credentials, with selectable low ratio four-wheel drive, and has an approach angle of 30.1 degrees, a departure angle of 25.1 degrees and a ramp-over angle of 22.6 degrees. Ground clearance is 230mm.
In the cabin, there are redesigned and upgraded front bucket seats – the driver’s is electrically-adjustable in six directions – and the second row can be split-folded 60/40, with the third row offering 50/50 split-folding. The seats are upholstered in charcoal leather highlighted by stitching.
The MU-X gets a redesigned dashboard, chrome and gloss piano black accenting, grips on the A-pillars to help front seat occupants get into and out of the cabin, and climate-control air-conditioning with a separate system for the rear cabin. GPS satellite navigation is standard.
The AM/FM entertainment system includes eight speakers,
can play CDS and DVDS, and is MP3, ipod and Bluetooth hands-free phone compatible. A roof-mounted fold-down video screen can be viewed by second and third row passengers.
There are three USB ports, and three Isofix child seat attachment points.
There’s greater use of soft and padded surfaces in the cabin, and Greenhalgh says Isuzu has worked to reduce noise generated in the bodywork and vehicle undercarriages.
The MU-X is an important part of Isuzu Utes’ New Zealand’s range, making up about 10 percent of total sales.
It’s been part of the local model mix for three years, and Greenhalgh says buyers fall into three main categories.
The first is people who have owned older Isuzu SUVS like the Bighorn and MU, and have wanted to move from their highmileage vehicles into a brand-new SUV capable of handling extreme off-road conditions.
The second is four-wheel drive enthusiasts who want to be able to use their vehicle in the roughest conditions.
The third is people who want an SUV with serious towing ability, and need a vehicle that can tow three tonnes with ease.
Greenhalgh says he has towed extensively with the MU-X, and it will tow “3000kg day in and day out – it enjoys towing.”
Isuzu Utes NZ sold about 254 MU-XS last year, and has sold about 700 since the model entered the market in 2014.
Greenhalgh says he expects sales of the new version will increase in parallel to the growth in D-max ute sales.
He also expects a big uptake of items from the wide range of accessories available for the MU-X, with towbars being especially popular. Eighty percent of the previous model MU-XS were fitted with a towbar, and 90 percent of utes.
Isuzu MU-X gets fresh styling for 2017 with redesigned grille and sleeker headlights.
Above left: Though it shares its engine with the D-max ute, the MU-X is shorter in length and has a unique ladder chassis.
Above: MU-SUV is highly off-road capable and accounts for around 10 percent of the brand’s NZ sales.
Left: MU-X is available in five colours – Havana Brown, Cosmic Black, Titanium Silver, Obsidian Gray and Splash White (pictured).