The Isuzu MU-X has tweaked its engine and gearbox to make it more user-friendly and eke out even more fuel savings as part of a mild makeover of the Toyota Fortuner, Holden Trailblazer and Ford Everest fighter.
The revisions, which include adjusting the 3.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine to meet more strict Euro V emissions standards introduced late last year, also make the off-road wagon more family-friendly.
The big change under the bonnet, though, makes the Isuzu MU-X a better tow vehicle. Torque jumps by 50Nm to 430Nm, moving the MU-X more in line with its competitors’ load-lugging performance, while an all-new six-speed manual gearbox and a significantly different six-speed automatic transmission either match, or even better, rivals. The manual gearbox is linked to a dash-mounted gear shift indicator that shows the driver when to select a higher, or lower, gear.
The automatic gearbox is smarter, locking the torque converter above certain speeds to make the drivetrain more fuel-efficient. It can also adapt, via a “learning” function, to adjust gear changes to suit both the driver’s driving style and the circumstances such as towing, climbing hills or cruising on the highway.
The revisions, classed by Isuzu as a MY16.5 update and suggesting a more significant mid-life change is yet to come, include the addition of a hill descent control function that helps with crawling down long, slippery slopes, but no locking rear diff.
No changes have been made to the MU-X’s exterior. Likewise, the interior carries over from last year’s model but a reversing camera now extends to the entry-level LS-M model. The wagon also gets more soundproofing with insulation added to the firewall and front guards.
Inside, the Isuzu MU-X moves to three USB slots: two on the dash, and one in the rear. The entry-level LS-M model uses a seven-inch screen, while more costly models jump up to an eight-inch unit.
The MU-X wagon is the only other model that Isuzu sells in Australia alongside the Isuzu D-Max ute. The Japanese carmaker’s products, which trade largely on value for money, have been surprisingly popular, with Isuzu regularly featuring in the list of Australia’s top 20 best-selling brands.
The loss of the locally made Ford Territory – the US carmaker pulled out of Australian manufacturing in October last year – opens up even more potential for the brand.
The Isuzu MU-X, introduced to Australia in 2013, was the fifth best-selling large seven-seat SUV in its segment in 2016, outsold only by the Toyota Prado off-roader and Kluger SUV, the Holden Captiva, and the Hyundai Santa Fe.
Isuzu MU-X pricing*
*Before on-road costs