ISUZU MU-X TEST

New Zealand LCV - - CONTENTS - STORY AND PHO­TOS BY DEAN EVANS

Dean and Arna eval­u­ate a dif­fer­ent sort of SUV, Isuzu’s big ute-based 4x4.

STA­BLE­MATE TO THE D-MAX UTE AND SUC­CES­SOR TO THE Mu, Isuzu’s MU-X SUV of­fers a sim­i­lar full-bod­ied ex­pe­ri­ence, which is both good and bad.

The ute-to-suv con­ver­sion is a sound and log­i­cal one. Ford does it with Ranger and Ever­est, Holden does it with Colorado and Trail­blazer, and Isuzu’s D-max ute and MU-X SUV share un­der­pin­nings.

But un­like many ute-to-suv ren­di­tions, Isuzu doesn’t claim its new MU-X is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cle.

While other man­u­fac­tur­ers talk of their utes’ re­fine­ment and com­fort, Isuzu has no qualms about call­ing its D-max a truck.

And it says the MU-X (a mod­ernised X-over – cross­over – ver­sion of the old Isuzu Mu which stood for Mys­te­ri­ous Util­ity) is al­ways ready for hard work, like tow­ing a boat, car­a­van or horse float.

With its 3000kg tow­ing ca­pac­ity and 3.0-litre tur­bod­iesel 4JJ1 engine, we proved the Isuzu engine’s impressive pulling ca­pac­ity a few is­sues back in our tow test of the D-max.

Be­ing 140kg heav­ier than the D-max, the MU-X’S per­for­mance and fuel fig­ures are sim­i­lar, if a lit­tle weaker.

In the MU-X, we man­aged mid-10 litres/100km and 0-100km/h in 10.9 sec­onds. Both are rea­son­able rather than re­mark­able fig­ures, and the fuel con­sump­tion was a lit­tle off Isuzu’s quoted claim of 7.9 litres/100km on the com­bined cy­cle.

Com­par­isons to the D-max aside, it’s fairer for the MU-X to draw closer ex­am­i­na­tion when com­pared to its SUV peers, of which there are many.

Only avail­able in fully-loaded sin­gle-spec seven-seat guise, the MU-X fea­tures a six-speed adap­tive grade logic gear­box, and Ter­rain Com­mand, which al­lows the driver to shift from 2WD to 4WD High at speeds up to 100km/h.

It also has trac­tion con­trol, sta­bil­ity con­trol, 18-inch al­loy wheels, day­light run­ning lights, side steps and roof rails.

Its leather seats can fold flat and there are 60/40 sec­ond row and 50/50 third row split seats, so the MU-X can carry from seven pas­sen­gers down to two.

A host of com­bi­na­tions span from 235 litres of boot space all the way up to a mas­sive 2277 litres, em­pha­sis­ing the ve­hi­cle’s load­car­ry­ing ver­sa­til­ity.

With the MU-X cater­ing to rear pas­sen­gers more than the D-max, it’s good to see there are a range of fea­tures for rear cabin pas­sen­gers.

The kit is head­lined by a flip-down au­dio-vis­ual mon­i­tor. The large 10.2 inch screen is eas­ily viewed by all oc­cu­pants in the rear, both left and right sides.

The rear map lights and vents are much ap­pre­ci­ated by pas­sen­gers, es­pe­cially those in the third row which lacks wind-down win­dows – though the driv­ers do need to ac­ti­vate a fan switch near their left knee.

Four rear cup-hold­ers, two in the flip-down arm­rest in the sec­ond row, and two ei­ther side in the third row, make life a lit­tle nicer, and the left-rear pas­sen­ger gets a bonus of an ex­tra small stor­age bin.

Third row leg-room is, as ex­pected. It’s mainly for kids or smaller grown-ups, but still rea­son­able enough for adults over shorter trips.

The MU-X of­fers de­cent safety as well, with six airbags in­clud­ing ful­l­length cur­tain airbags to pro­vide pro­tec­tion for all pas­sen­gers.

Up front, it’s all very sim­i­lar to the D-max, at least the top-spec LS-T ver­sion of the ute.

The high-rid­ing, high-bod­ied, high seat­ing po­si­tion of­fers a very com­mand­ing view of the road and other ve­hi­cles.

The lack of tele­scopic steer­ing ad­just­ment is a nig­gle, oth­er­wise the cabin is neat, func­tional and clean with a clear dash­board lay­out, mul­ti­page dis­play with trip com­puter, plus phone, sound and cruise con­trols on the steer­ing wheel.

The cli­mate-con­trol air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem has a log­i­cal lay­out with a big set-tem­per­a­ture dis­play.

Isuzu MU-X is based on the D-max ute, but is 468mm shorter and has a 250mm shorter wheel­base.

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