Ba­sic space

Isuzu MU-X LS A 4x4

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Shakedown - Words by Paulo Rafael Su­bido Photography by Vin­cent Coscol­luela

Here’s why it’s the prac­ti­cal Pi­noy’s SUV

There is a cer­tain ca­ma­raderie among Isuzu own­ers. While I was hav­ing this MU-X washed be­fore a pho­to­shoot, I was star­tled when a mid­dleage gen­tle­man opened the pas­sen­ger door and sat down be­side me. “Ah, it’s ex­actly the same as mine,” he said. As it turned out, the man was the owner of a white one as well, and just so hap­pened to be get­ting a wash where I was.

The fel­low ob­vi­ously wasn’t a threat and just wanted to chat, but I must re­mind my­self to keep the doors locked at all times! Any­way, the gen­tle­man told me how he was de­cid­ing be­tween a Toy­ota For­tuner and the MU-X, but chose the lat­ter be­cause he had read a re­view in Top Gear PH. What are the odds of that? I didn’t even in­tro­duce my­self as a mem­ber of the staff, yet.

Re­views aside, the Isuzu badge has that ef­fect. Even in Benguet, any­thing with Isuzu mark­ings has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing tough, re­li­able, and easy to ser­vice. Must be be­cause ma­jor­ity of the trucks that ply the moun­tain routes are Isuzus. This kind of brand cache is price­less.

When this MU-X was de­liv­ered to me I knew that it had al­ready lived a hard life. There were a few dents and dings on it, and even the rear fog light was cracked. I knew im­me­di­ately that this par­tic­u­lar unit was used and abused in the ‘Isuzu 4x4 Ac­tion Play­ground’ event that was held na­tion­wide. It let visi­tors ex­pe­ri­ence what it is like to tra­verse a spe­cial course meant to sim­u­late ex­treme off-road con­di­tions. Por­tions in­cluded the slip­per slope, the ar­tic­u­la­tion ramp, the 40-de­gree trans­verse-an­gle ramp, and the the 30-foot Thrill Hill.

This is the kind of test unit that we love to re­view long term. If there are any de­fects, they will surely sur­face. The more kilo­me­ters there are on a car, bet­ter for us, be­cause that makes it bet­ter for you, our read­ers. Only thing to

re­port is a power-win­dow switch that mal­func­tioned once when it got rained on. And that was to­tally my fault.

It was an event-free, three-and-ahalf week stint be­hind the wheel of the MU-X. It served fam­ily-car du­ties for my sib­lings and I dur­ing my younger brother’s wed­ding in Ta­gay­tay. I must say that the spe­cial ‘Silky White Pearl’ color re­ally fit in with the shindig. And then I had a trip to Los Baños to spend the week­end with my in-laws. And in be­tween that, this SUV hauled kitchen sinks and heavy and bulky con­struc­tion sup­plies for the ren­o­va­tion work I am do­ing for a house in No­valiches. My most note­wor­thy ob­ser­va­tion is how the MU-X sips fuel.

The com­bined high­way/city av­er­age is roughly 10.5km/L, which is pretty amaz­ing if you’re fa­mil­iar with the BGCFairview-BGC roundtrip jour­ney. The traf­fic alone is a killer. No fancy graphs or dis­plays are avail­able when pulling up this data, though. Just push a but­ton on the wiper stalk to see the fuel-econ­omy read-out op­tions on the sim­ple dis­play screen in the mid­dle of the in­stru­ment clus­ter. It’s all you need, re­ally. I pre­fer to keep it in the ‘range’ set­ting. The fig­ure will only in­crease once you get mov­ing and hit cruis­ing speed.

When it comes to ver­sa­til­ity and flex­i­bil­ity , the MU-X’s cabin truly im­presses. Third-row seats fold flat, and even if they don’t com­pletely rest flush into the cabin floor, they hardly take up any ver­ti­cal space when folded down. The mid­dle row folds and tum­bles for­ward, ad­ding even more room for taller items. De­pend­ing on cargo and pas­sen­gers, you can work out what in­te­rior lay­out works best.

The only real draw­back to the MU-X is the acres of plas­tic used on the dash­board and in­te­rior door pan­els. It’s a bit of a throw­back be­cause the com­pe­ti­tion has re­ally stepped up the game when it comes to mod­ern-day de­sign up­dates. Still, the MU-X de­liv­ers where it counts. All of the seats are swathed in classy black leather (as is the three-spoke tiller). The killer fea­ture has to be the ceil­ing-mounted 10in LCD screen. Pop in a movie via the USB port in the glove­box and your rear pas­sen­gers will be en­ter­tained for hours. It’s a great way to while away traf­fic while sit­ting in Metro Manila grid­lock. Plus, it can be op­er­ated us­ing a re­mote.

The other SUV op­tions are the Chevro­let Trail­blazer, Ford Ever­est,

We ap­pre­ci­ate the sim­ple yet ef­fec­tive pack­age

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