2017 Isuzu MU-X Quick Review

By Matt Wood, 01 May 2017 Car Reviews

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2017 Isuzu MU-X Quick Review

The Isuzu MU-X chases refinement, gears and grunt in this latest Euro 5 update. Noise is down, torque is up and all new 6-speed transmissions bring the thinking person’s SUV in line with major competitors.

Isuzu Ute Australia’s lack of pretension with its ute and 7-seat SUV offering has served it well to date. Often seen as the robust, value driven choice albeit with a mundane image. 

The spirit of truck tag line that was formerly part of the brands marketing angle cut both ways with the MU-X. The 3 litre 4J engine was indeed a tough, reliable cookie with a loyal following. The downside was that regardless of trim level, the Isuzu SUV sounded very much like a truck from behind the wheel.

This latest update has added more equipment and refinement across the MU-X range.

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Tell Me About This Car

Outwardly little has changed with the MU-X. A new face updates a familiar 7-seat off-road wagon shape. That updated nose now features Bi-LED projector headlights that also use an auto-level feature to keep that brighter headlight beam off the windscreens of oncoming traffic.

A new Havana brown colour has been added to the option list as well as new 18-inch alloy wheels for LS-U and LS-T models. LS-M models also get new look 16-inch alloys.

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Inside, the formerly quite commercial look of the MU-X cockpit has been made- over with the addition of soft materials over much of the dash area. LS-U and LS-T models now get a Satnav equipped 8-inch touch screen multi-media unit while the LS-M gets a 7-inch screen. All models now feature Reversing camera and parking sensors are standard across the MU-X range.  

The most significant changes have taken place out of sight. More insulation has been added in an effort to minimize driveline chatter. The 3 litre turbo diesel engine still makes 130kW of power but now makes 430Nm of torque. Transmission choice is between a 6-speed auto or 6-speed manual.

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Strengths

  • The almost bulletproof 3 litre engine used in both the MU-X SUV and the D-MAX ute has plenty of runs on the board locally in in terms of reliability. It’s also been successfully used in the Australian Isuzu truck line up since 2011.
  • As an automatic proposition the new 6-speed Aisin auto is a solid performer. This gearbox makes the most of the relatively large engine out front when towing in hilly country yet remains a smooth if unsophisticated performer around town.
  • More torque from lower revs makes the MU-X an easy, unstressed drive even with a heavy trailer on board.
  • Isuzu Ute consistently tops the charts in terms of customer satisfaction. This is nothing to be sneezed at in this day and age when customers of some brands have been forced to air their vehicle grievances on social media to get their attention.
  • A respectable list of standard equipment sees the MU-X equipped with hill start assist, hill descent control (even on 2wd models), reverse camera and parking sensors regardless of trim level.
  • At $52,990 drive away for the top of the range LS-T the MU-X makes a pretty convincing value statement as a kiddy hauler, bush bashing weekender and tow vehicle. 

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Weaknesses

  • Some 7 layers of insulation have been added to the interior yet it still sounds like a truck. Where other manufacturers in this segment offer smaller, mechanically sophisticated drivelines the MU-X can sound and feel a bit old school on the road.
  • The brand’s rather conservative approach to styling and equipment means that unless you order the new Havana brown colour you will most likely lose in a car park.
  • Enduring constant comparisons with the Holden Colorado/Trailblazer. While the two share a basic platform they are mechanically completely different. The MU-X is the kid that studied hard and got an engineering degree and a respectable job. The Trailblazer is the kid that joined a rock band, got a drug habit went to rehab and now sells soy candles at the local craft market.   

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Any Rivals I Should Consider?

Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Ford Everest.