The Isuzu MU-X has often been described as a robust wagon capable of off-road excursions with up to seven people on board. It is only available in rear-wheel or front-wheel drive iterations. The MU-X is quite popular for work purposes, considering the chassis deals well with weight on the tow ball. It also has excellent fuel efficiency under towing conditions.
As a work wagon, the 2020 MU-X seems like it can handle anything. It has a large, bullish front end and a squarish back end. The vehicle appears to be very functional, so aesthetics are not the first thought when looking at it.
To its credit, it is well proportioned as it follows the styling of the D-Max. It also seems a bit smaller than it is in reality. That should not fool anyone into thinking it is not a true-blue four-wheel drive. The side steps, alloy wheels, electronic fold in mirrors, and fog lights are part of the complements that are available with the stylish exterior.
The interior is a bit more stylish though one still feels that it was built for the off-road experience. There are plastic finishes around the doors and the dash and the leather seats, which are going to wipe clean the console area. The cabin is generally quite roomy with a simple control layout. The seating in front supports the shoulders and upper back of the occupants. The power-adjusted and quilted leather seating is much better within the LS-T.
The steering would adjust for height only, and it can significantly limit one's ability to have some comfort. The middle row seating is more comfortable for two occupants than three with a fold-down armrest with cupholders. They happen to be flat but sufficient for long distances. There is a good head, shoulder, and foot room for average-sized adults.
The third row is also easily accessible with deep footwells. If the rear seating is in use, the boot has 235 litres of space, sufficient to fit a few grocery bags. It is not on par with other seven-seater SUVs that also increase the boot space to make up for the passengers. On a positive note, though, the three-person middle row of seats allows for a 60/40 fold, and the third row facilitates a 50/50 fold.
The MU-X relies on the multimedia system of Isuzu, so it is not possible to find Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as part of the packages. It will be possible to connect the device through Bluetooth, and satellite navigation is clear enough. Other tech packages on board the Isuzu MU-X include Bluetooth connectivity, audio streaming, compatible sound system with an AM/FM radio, CD & DVD player, and micro USB input.
Cruise control is also available with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. The 2020 MU-X, too, affords a leather-wrapped steering wheel with buttons that operate the cruise control, sound system, and phone systems.
Self-aiming headlights which utilise bright and long-lasting LED bulbs are available as daytime running lamps. Hill-start assist and hill descent control look after the braking as one negotiates steep hills are also included in the package. Electronic traction control enables the all-wheel-drive models to go further off-road. It can also assist the rear-wheel-drive options on slippery places.
There is only one option available for the powertrain, and that is a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel. It is the same one used in the D-Max Ute. Isuzu claims it is the same size and structure as the unit it replaced, though the driver feels the thrust a bit sooner. It is rated at an output of 130 kW and 430 Nm of torque. The engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission, and the brand claims the fuel economy is 7.9 litres per 100 km. The towing capacity is 3000 kg.
It has the advantage of car-like ride and handling despite the spartan setup. It is from the new suspension structure designed for the MU-X, which has front double independent wishbone suspension with gas shocks, stabiliser bar, and coil springs. These allow positive driver feedback and steering control despite the nature of the terrain. There are also rear link suspension structures with coil springs.
Some airbags cover the driver and the front passenger and side curtain airbags, which would extend to the rear seats. It is possible to add blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as an extra cost package. The MU-X got a score of five stars when it was tested seven years ago. It would not achieve the same ratings at present, considering it lacks some essential safety packages like automatic emergency braking. There is no forward-collision warning as well or lane-departure warning.
The MU-X is priced at $54,990, which is somewhat high, considering the high-spec attributes that are found within competitors at the same rate. It does afford a 150,000 km warranty and a six-year roadside assistance plan. The service intervals have been estimated at 15,000 km per 12 months, and they would cost an average of $549 per year.
The Isuzu MU-X's reputation and reliability have served the brand well in several markets. The LS-X is a top trim and allows comfort and stability while driving. The performance is excellent, although the tech packages are not impressive. There are not enough of them, and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is an issue.
The ride is pleasant, though, and the handling is unexpectedly proper due to the customised suspension. This would be a great buy for those who are focused on off-road work rather than urban cruising. Its platform makes it more suited to the farm than the concrete jungle despite being able to function in both. Check out Carpart.com.au again next week for another review!