We have tested the MUX on a number of occasions previously and even towed a caravan around Tasmania with it but this road test was to put the Isuzu MUX LS-U to the limits of its abilities. We had to move a dead 4WD from the farm back to Sydney as Harold (our mate who owns the farm) had no use for it anymore.
The Isuzu MU-X is well proportioned, follows the D Max styling and looks smaller than it actually is. Don’t however let its good looks fool you it’s a true 4WD. Roof rails, side steps. alloy wheels, shark fin GPS antenna, electronic fold in mirrors and fog lights all complement the stylish exterior.
Internally the immediate impression is value for money. This is the middle model in the range with quality cloth seats, door inserts manually adjustable seats etc.
In front of the driver is the smallish thick leather steering wheel that houses the usual controls. The dash has two lag dials with a MFD between them. The control for this is on the end of the indicator stalk and its spot on for ease of use. Like all these ute based vehicles the wheel is only height adjustable. As a taller driver I would have appreciated a slightly longer seat travel, but at no time was I uncomfortable.
The centre stack houses as standard an audio system with CD/MP3/FM/AM audio unit with iPod® and Bluetooth® audio streaming – 6 speaker system
Internal storage is a feature. All car designers should sit in the MU-X and see just how simple it is to provide an abundance of storage areas. There are door pockets front and back (with bottle holders but small otherwise), two decent sized glove boxes, a storage bin on top of the dash, bottle holders in front of the air vents (great for keeping things cool in summer), a shelf below the steering wheel, a sunglass holder above your head, a door sill recess, cup holders in the centre console and a large centre storage bin. There are 14 cup holders in total. Seriously, all cars should be like this.
The middle row seats are comfortable more for two than three with a fold down arm rest with cup holders. They are a little flat but comfortable enough for long distances. For all but the tallest passenger there is adequate head, shoulder, knee and foot room in the middle row. The third row is easily accessed and with deep foot wells is up there amongst the best of third row seats, better than the Landcruiser.
With the rear seats in use there isn’t a lot of space behind however like most of these type of vehicles it is usually a short drive with all seats in use. Both rear rows of seats benefit from air-conditioning in the roof above them. Importantly all outer seats have grab handles for the rough drives ahead.
Driving the MU-X is the long lasting Isuzu 3.0L diesel. This engine is one tough motor and is renowned for its build tolerances and longevity. The term indestructible comes to mind. The engine produces 130Kw of power @ 3,600rpm and a lazy 380Nm of torque at 1,800rpm. These figures don’t always tell the full story though The transmission is a five speed sequential sports shift auto with an adaptive feature that styles itself on your diving. The engine is refined and quieter than you expect and is economical with a fuel usage rate of just 8.4L/100Km. On the freeway we got that down to a little over 7.5L/100Km.
The MU-X is equipped with Isuzu’s super-easy to use “Terrain command” 4WD select dial and auto versions are fitted with hill-ascent and descent control. The Terrain Command system is shift on the fly style and while simple works brilliantly.
Car-like ride and handling both on and off road is provided by a new suspension geometry custom designed for the MU-X. Front independent double wishbone suspension with coil springs, gas shocks and stabiliser bar allows the driver positive feedback and steering control regardless of the terrain underfoot, and a rear five-link suspension configuration also with coil springs, stabiliser bar and gas shocks provide superior stability when traversing off road or towing.
The Isuzu MU-X LST has a 5 Star ANCAP with a host of safety features including: a high-tensile steel passenger safety cell with side-intrusion bars, comprehensive crash avoidance electronics including 4-channel 4-sensor ABS with EBD and EBA as well as ESC and TCS, six airbags (dual front, curtain and side), reverse camera and rear park assist sensors.
Off road the MU-X auto performed effortlessly. The MU-X is fitted with rugged off-road protection in the form of a front steel plate skid/splash shield as well as steel plate guards to protect the sump and transfer case. Clever engineering ensures there are no low-slung components – the front lower control arms don’t hang too low, and the air intake is hidden within the front fender. In the engine bay, the ECU isn’t exposed, and the alternator sits up nice and high. There is substantial 230mm ground-clearance, 30.1° approach and 25.1° departure angles.
Isuzu have come up with some great styling packs to really stand the vehicle out from the crowd with factory fitted accessories that compete with anything the aftermarket boys can come up with.
We used the Isuzu MU-X LSU to tow the Nissan Patrol back from the farm. This all up was pushing the 3.0T towing capacity and we had to bring it back across the Blue Mountains. So this really tested the capacity and ability to tow in real world situations. While the MUX struggled a touch coming over the mountains (as any vehicle would) it towed the full load with ease.
The remarkable thing was that we averaged 9.8L/100K on the trip. We kept the speed down as the trailer developed sway if we went over 100kmh, and drove within the power band. We filled up a number of times which provided us an opportunity to check these figures and remarkably they were correct. Those figures were just stunning. We also towed a trailer full of gear to storage and again we produced the same figures. That is what I mean by sometimes the figures don’t translate to real world driving. The MU-X performed like it had another 100Nm of torque.
Over all the new Isuzu MU-X is a strong contender in the family 4WD market. It has almost car/wagon like handling, enough power for almost everything you will ask of it, plenty of creature comforts, 5 star ANCAP safety, will seat 7 in relative comfort, is a robust and competent 4WD and all for less than $60,000. That’s pretty good.
What the Isuzu does though is make you really question why you would pay upwards of $80,000 on some of the other ‘family 4WD wagons’ it’s that good. I think it is interesting that you can get an Isuzu MU-X LSU and a decent camper trailer for less than a new top spec Prado and be out there enjoying the Australian bush and not missing a thing. As a tow vehicle that has true 4WD capability its right up there with the best.
What is good:
What is not so good:
No steering reach adjustment
No front seat squab tilt
No rear diff lock
Model Isuzu MU-X LST
Model Price $58,784 RDAP
Engine 3.0L 4 Cyl Turbo Diesel
Drivetrain 4WD 5 Speed Auto
Power 130Kw @ 3,600 rpm
Torque 380 Nm @ 1,800 rpm
Safety 5 Star ANCAP
CO2 Emissions 223 g/km
Green Vehicle Rating 2 1/2 Star
Economy (ADR comb) 8.4 L/100km
Tow Capacity – Max 3000 kg
Tow Ball Rating 300 kg
Servicing $Not Supplied
Warranty 5yr/130,000km with full roadside assist
Overall AnyAuto Rating 91/100
Behind the Wheel 8
Ride & Handling 9
Fit for Purpose 10
Towing Ability 9
Off Road Ability 10
Value for Money 9