Isuzu UTE has gone the extra mile Down Under with its latest seven-seat MU-X, courtesy
of Aussie motorists who had input into what they want from a large SUV. And why not,
after all, Australia is the world’s largest market for the MU-X outside Thailand.
The result for the second-generation SUV is 3.5 tonne braked towing capacity, competent
off-road ability, with family focused seven-seat touring capability.
With research showing 50 per cent of Aussie owners hook up something behind their
Isuzu – a new stronger body-on-frame chassis and heavily re-engineered coil-sprung five-
link independent rear suspension has delivered best-in-class braked towing
Running to three grades – LS-M, LS-U and LS-T – in two-wheel and four-wheel drive, all
new MU-Xs are powered by Isuzu’s new 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine, putting out 140 kW
and 450 Nm, mated with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The MU-X has a six-year / 150,000 km warranty (some rivals have unlimited kays) with up
to seven years roadside assistance and seven years capped-price servicing available.
Tradition is on show here. There is no flashiness or new-order edge to the looks, which is
just what many rusted-on 4×4 fans like. The MU-X generally follows modern design trends
– 20-inch machined two-tone alloy wheels, for example – but in a restrained manner.
The signature front grille features the traditional double-horizontal accents found on
Isuzu’s commercial trucks but also pays its dues to the recently released third-generation
Isuzu D-MAX Ute.
LED projector headlamps incorporate unique arrow-shaped LED daytime running lights,
while similarly characterised angled-recesses in the bumper house LED fog lights.
Bulging front wheels arches and sculptured crease lines running the length of the vehicle
link up with a tailgate, evoking ruggedness, while chrome door accents across the base of
the window frames converge at the rear towards the roof spoiler. Full-length roof rails and
sidesteps, finished in tungsten silver, tie the SUV story together.
The cabin speaks to first-class travel, with quilted leather-accented seven-seat upholstery
with white stitching and quilted leatherette across interior door trims and centre console.
The LS-T now features heated front seats, with improved eight-way power adjustment on
the driver’s side with under-thigh adjustment, power adjustable lumbar support and four-
way power adjustment for the passenger.
LS-T models also benefit from dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, which covers all
three-rows, with roof-mounted controls and directional vents for second and third-row
occupants – not found in all seven-seat SUVs.
A new instrument cluster features analogue dials for tacho and speedo, with a 4.2-inch
Multi-Information Display in between relaying vital vehicle data back to the driver,
alongside a digital speedometer, turn-by-turn navigation instructions, drive modes, fuel
usage and range data.
A new 9-inch centrally mounted screen displays high-definition infotainment via clear, crisp
imagery, connectivity is via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, while eight JVC Kenwood
speakers, mounted around the cabin surround occupants in quality sound.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Standard across the new MU-X range is the 4JJ3-TCX 3.0-litre, common-rail, four-cylinder,
turbo-diesel engine first debuting in the new-generation D-MAX. Power and torque outputs
have been increased to 140 kW at 3600 rpm and 450 Nm between 1600 and 2600 rpm – a
10 kW and 20 Nm improvement, respectively, over the preceding engine.
The new Isuzu MU-X gained a five-star safety rating across all variants via testing in
August 2021 as opposed to rivals such as Fortuner and Everest that rely on tests from
several years ago.
Leading the push is Isuzu’s Intelligent Driver Assistance System, which combines active
and passive safety with driver assistance technology.
Stand-out features include eight-airbags, a centre airbag included, autonomous
emergency braking with turn assist featuring pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keep
assist and adaptive cruise control, among other things.
La Nina weather swamped any chance of serious off-roading in the LS-T, even with its
impressive 800 mm wading depth. However, the vehicle in question had previously been
foraging off road, picking up a tell-tale dent in the sidestep while taming a rocky outcrop.
Engineered for touring vast distances, the unique Australian-spec 3.0-litre, turbo-diesel
engine in the MU-X delivered linear and progressive torque across the entire rev-range.
One notable fact is that the catalytic converter reduces harmful exhaust emissions to Euro
5b standards without the need of additives such as AdBlue.
With fuel range also an important consideration on the road, the fuel tank capacity has
been increased to 80 litres, 23 per cent up on the previous-generation Isuzu MU-X. With
official combined-cycle fuel consumption figures returning 7.8 to 8.3-litres per 100
kilometres across the range, the test MU-X clocked up a little over 9 litres per 100
kilometres in a mix of on-road driving.
The upgraded suspension, plus 20-inch wheels with 265/50R20 Bridgestone 684II HT
rubber, were flexible enough to soak up all but the most uneven stretches of the bitumen.
Sturdy and steadfast going sprung to mind.
Being the early days of many computer-driven driver assist systems, some can throw up
annoying glitches. Not the MU-X package, which is one of the most non-intrusive I have
experienced – firm without being forceful.
All 4×4 MU-X variants feature Rough Terrain Mode, a dial-up off-road electronic aid
tackling the toughest going via an extension of the already improved Traction Control
Third row seating is no-sit-up-and-beg situation for occupants. The backs can be angled
for comfort, while the second-row slides to increase average third-row leg room. Climbing
in and out is good thanks to a couple of outsize grab handles.
Storage ranges from 311 litres, with all seats operable, to 2138 litres without any
passengers. A cavernous 1119 litres of space is on offer with the third row folded away.
Family friendly indeed.
Isuzu Ute opines that cars, increasingly becoming work stations, family catch-up corners,
or quiet spaces of reflection, are no longer just simple methods of transport. The MU-X LS-
T 3.0 turbo-diesel auto 4×4 could make it a happy new year for buyers.
AT A GLANCE
Isuzu MU-X LS-M 3.0 turbo-diesel auto 4×2 $47,900
Isuzu MU-X LS-U 3.0 turbo-diesel auto 4×2 $53,900
Isuzu MU-X LS-T 3.0 turbo-diesel auto 4×2 $59,900
Isuzu MU-X LS-M 3.0 turbo-diesel auto 4×4 $53,900
Isuzu MU-X LS-U 3.0 turbo-diesel auto 4×4 $59,900
Isuzu MU-X LS-T 3.0 turbo-diesel auto 4×4 $65,900 ($63,990, driveaway)
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 4-cylinder, 6sp automatic, AWD
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 140 kW @ 3600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 450 Nm @ 1600-2600 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.3 L/100km
CO2 emissions 206 g / km
DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4850 mm
Wheelbase: 2855 mm
Width: 1870 mm
Height: 1825 mm
Turning Circle: 11.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 2155 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
Six years / 150,000 kilometres