Nature’s call: Driving the 2018 Isuzu D-Max and mu-X in Bohol
In pursuit of eco-friendly diesel technology, Isuzu engineers pursued four main objectives that make Blue Power technology stand out: maximum engine output, low emissions, best fuel economy, and durability.
At the heart of the 2018 mu-X and D-Max is the 4JJ1-TCX. Now compliant with revised provisions of the Philippine Clean Air Act, the 3.0-liter 4-cylinder engine now has 177 horsepower and 380 Nm of torque. Mated to this engine is a new 6-speed automatic on the mu-X, while the D-Max retains the services of a carryover 5-speed automatic.
Starting off from the Tagbilaran Airport, the Blue Power engines made its difference felt almost immediately, especially if the human nose was the judge. They weren’t emitting the telltale whiff of diesel; instead, thanks to a diesel particulate filter, they’re now much friendlier even to passersby.
From there, the convoy drove dropped by Isuzu Bohol on the way to the island’s most famous landmark: the Chocolate Hills. After a quick photo op at the lookout point, the fleet of mu-X and D-Max charged their way through the man-made forest. Through the sweeping, hilly roads, the Blue Powerequipped vehicles felt willing and relaxed. It offered a clean, smooth response along with a broad band of pull that extends past 4,000 rpm. And even at higher speeds, the engine never felt taxed or stressed. Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) is also remarkably improved from its pre-Euro 4 days.
The next day mandated a switch to different vehicles: those in the D-Max, were given the opportunity to drive the mu-X and vice-versa. Because of this, the difference between the carryover 5-speed automatic of the D-Max and the new 6-speed automatic of the mu-X was made even more discernable. While the D-Max’s automatic felt much better suited to the engine with smoother shifts, the mu-X’s is even better. Shifts are quicker, enabling the engine to operate at lower RPMs thus improving fuel mileage by as much as 20 percent.
As one would expect out of a body-onframe vehicle, the ride is firm on both the mu-X and D-Max. Yet, they both exhibit great qualities that exceeds the expectations in this class. The D-Max had no unwanted bucking even over choppy surfaces, and the handling was sorted. The mu-X is even better. With extensive work concentrated on lowering unwanted Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH), this 7-seater SUV has become a truly comfortable and capable family cruiser. Therefore, it’s no surprise that 40 percent of mu-X buyers are family-oriented women.
Aesthetically, the D-Max remains unchanged—no problem since it was just refreshed last year. Meanwhile, the mu-X receives a plethora of changes including a revised front fascia with new headlights, bumpers, and grille. Continuing Isuzu’s penchant for taking inspiration from nature, the mu-X’s bi-beam LED headlights and integrated LED daytime running lights (DRLs) are reminiscent of a bald eagle. At the back, it gets a reshaped rear bumper along with an LED lighting signature that look like eagle’s wings. Capping off the changes are larger, sportier looking 18-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the 2018 mu-X gets slight tweaks with more soft-touch material and upgraded seating material. A new instrument cluster completes the changes. In terms of comfort and convenience, the mu-X adds more features such as auto-leveling for the headlights, Hill Descent Control, and a re-designed 8-inch infotainment system with USB smartphone link and GPS navigation. Meanwhile, Isuzu’s venerable pickup gets soft padding on the armrests and piano black accents on the dashboard. It also gets Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control. Both models also benefit from the addition of multiple USB charging ports.
The space is quite generous for all occupants. The seats, be it the front or back, are comfortable even for long drives. Storage is abundant and well thought out with twin gloveboxes, a deep center console bin, cup holders on both sides of the dash, and another storage spot at the center of the top of the dash. The mu-X is even available with an optional storage box that fits knick-knacks like tools and an Early Warning Device (EWD) while also making the loading area flat.
While the 2018 Isuzu D-Max and mu-X are not breaking any molds, the addition of the new Euro 4-compliant Blue Power engine is a welcome update to this well-sorted, wellthought of package. It remains true to Isuzu’s promise of being “your responsible partner” while also being able to handling anything life throws at it: work, play, or adventure. More than anything, it’s Isuzu Philippines Corporation’s most visible answer to heed the calls for more environmentally-friendly motoring. It’s all the power, efficiency, and durability you need without the guilt.
IPC’s VP for Sales Yasuhiko Oyama (left) and President Hajime Kose pose beside the 2017 D-Max and mu-X.