While celebrating a decade of business in Australia, as well as noting feedback from local customers, Isuzu Ute Australia (IUA) has upgraded its D-Max utility and MU-X seven-seat sports utility vehicle to maintain growth in two of the most competitive market segments – one-tonne ute and large SUV.
The D-Max ute has come in for most work, with cues being taken from its MU-X SUV mate. Both come in LS-M, LS-U and LS-T variants, the ute with an SX strain added.
Manual or automatic versions are on offer with two or all-wheel drive.
Prices start at $42,900, plus on-road costs, for the entry-level MU-X LS-M 4×2 auto and top out at $56,200 for the LS-T 4×4 auto. The latter was on test.
Every Isuzu vehicle is backed by a Service Plus Program which includes five-year warranty, five years roadside assistance and five-year / 75,000 kilometre capped price servicing with a 12-month or 15,000 km interval.
‘Hold the chrome’ appears to be the mantra styling whizzes have worked with, the MU-X bulk far from fleshed out with unnecessary tacky shiny bits. The frontal décor, for example, is limited to simple trapezoidal radiator surrounds with the Isuzu brand mark to the fore.
The latest in hi-tech LED daytime running lights and bi-LED automatic levelling projector headlamps flank the stylish set-up, while out the back, extra-bright LED taillights help to keep the MU-X in plain sight of any other road user day or night.
The LS-T rolls on modern 18-inch Highway Terrain wheels and there’s a full-size spare wheel for back-up.
Occupants settle into leather appointed dark well upholstered seats with contrasting white stitching.
A dual-tone dashboard with soft touch finishes, new chrome and piano-black trimming, and soft touch armrests and console coverings lift the interior into the realms of the premium large SUV costing considerably more than the MU-X.
An eight-speaker audio system with iPod and Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming is standard across the MU-X range.
All MU-X models feature two Sky Sound roof-mounted speakers that provide the ultimate audio experience for all passengers. LS-T also boasts touchscreen satellite navigation back-seat entertainment with a 10 inch monitor to keep even the most disruptive passengers entertained.
A fold-down roof-mounted 10-inch DVD screen can be viewed by both second and third-row occupants and allows DVD and audio functions to be controlled from anywhere in the vehicle.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
With Isuzu being the world’s largest maker of trucks and diesel engines, MU-X models have the benefit of the maker’s exclusive 3-litre turbo diesel 4JJ1-TC engine — generating 130 kW and 430 Nm — mated with the Aisin AWR6B45 six-speed automatic transmission.
The flagship LS-T is available in two drivetrains; two-wheel drive or through Isuzu’s Terrain Command 4WD Select System controlled via a large knob on the centre console.
According to feedback, towing tops the list of activities with half on average of D-Max and MU-X buyers, leading Isuzu engineers to add trailer sway control across all 18MY MU-X models, improving active safety.
Incorporated in the vehicle’s electronic stability control, the TSC system monitors trailer movement through electronic stability control sensors and modulates throttle and brake inputs to individual wheels, bringing the trailer under control if unwanted sway is detected.
All MU-Xs are fitted with six airbags (dual front, side and full-length curtain), while reversing camera and rear park assist sensors come standard.
With the engine, specially designed for Australia only a couple of years ago, little has changed under the bonnet.
Pulling power and fuel economy are to the fore, with 430 Nm or torque on tap across an accessible rev range from 2000 rpm. Combined urban / highway diesel consumption is a claimed 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres. On test we managed 11 litres per 100 kilometres in town and 7.0 litres on motorway cruises.
While turbo lag is limited, the MU-X is no speedster off the mark but compensates with a three-tonne towing capacity, pulling a braked trailer, enough for a decent-size boat or float.
With a large font touchscreen, the infotainment system and in-built satellite navigation system are easily accessible.
With a dozen cup holders and 18 storage options, the MU-X’s cabin offers practical and comfortable surroundings with excellent leg, head and shoulder room for all occupants. Tumbling second-row seats made passenger access to the third-row seating routinely reasonably easy.
With this back row in use, cargo space is cut considerably, a common limitation in seven-seat SUVs. However, with seat backs folded flat there is room for loads of up to 1830 litres.
Bespoke suspension and generous ground clearance mean the MU-X is cut out for serious off-roading, while hill descent control helps the driver maintain a constant low speed when going down steep slopes, or on slippery surfaces.
While it may have come late to the large SUV party, the Isuzu MU-X continues to push its more expensive rivals with the latest upgrades across the range.
Isuzu’s stock-in-trade diesel power and genuine off-road ability round out the advantages.
AT A GLANCE
MU-X LS-M 4×2 auto $42,900
MU-X LS-U 4×2 auto $45,200
MU-X LS-T 4×2 auto $48,900
MU-X LS-M 4×4 auto $50,200
MU-X LS-U 4×4 man $50,400
MU-X LS-U 4×4 auto $52,500
MU-X LS-T 4×4 auto $56,200
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Isuzu Ute dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Isuzu MU-X LS-T 3.0L turbo-diesel 6sp automatic 4×4 SUV)
Capacity: 2.999 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 130 kW @ 3600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 430 Nm @ 2000-2200 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.9 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 209 g / km
DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic, Terrain Command 4×4
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4825 mm
Wheelbase: 2845 mm
Width: 1860 mm
Height: 1860 mm
Turning Circle: 11.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 2157 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 65 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Five years / 130,000 km