Isuzu MUX LST new car review

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Isuzu MU-X video review

Seven-seat SUV feels more comfortable off-road than on.

PT3M27S 620 349 November 4, 2013

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What do you get?

Isuzu MU-X seven-seat SUV.

Most MU-X models are available in two and four-wheel-drive guise, with the 2WD versions fitted exclusively with a five-speed automatic transmission. For the base LS-M variant it’s a $40,500 (plus on-road and dealer costs) proposition and brings reversing sensors, cruise control, Bluetooth and the safety of six airbags (dual front, front-side and side curtain) and stability control. There’s also a full-size spare tyre.

For another $1500 you can get the LS-U, which adds automatic airconditioning, rear air vents, alarm, fog lights, tinted windows and lashings of fake chrome outside for a touch of bling.

Stepping up to the 4WD of each is a big jump, with the LS-M bringing the same equipment but prices of $45,600 for a manual transmission and $47,800 for the auto. Each also includes proper steel bash plates for underbody protection on rough roads, while the LS-U models get the same $1500 premium on each transmission choice.

Topping the MU-X range is the LS-T tested here, which gets such luxuries as leather trim, a reversing camera, satellite-navigation and a better sound system with eight speakers. Kids will like the DVD screen that folds down from the roof. But it’s not cheap, at $53,500, although deals have it at drive-away for less than $50,000.

What’s inside?

Anyone also looking at the Holden Colorado7 will notice plenty of similarities. While the two boast some unique styling and engines, they share the same basic underpinnings and interior presentation.

Storage for those in the front, then, is good, with two gloveboxes and a covered dash-top pod to keep valuables out of sight. There’s also a decent centre console and doorpockets.

Charging accessories is also taken care of with two power outlets up front (one in a glovebox), as well as a third in the boot.

But the driver doesn’t get the same attention to detail. Flat, unsupportive front seats aren’t particularly enticing (not helped by leather that lacks suppleness), while the lack of reach adjustment for the steering wheel increases the degree of difficulty in tailoring the driving position.

The central touchscreen can be fiddly but generally works OK, although there are only volume buttons rather than a knob. As such, there’s plenty of pressing to change the volume substantially. The buttons for the ventilation system are more user friendly.

Leg and head room in the rear is good, but the middle row seat-backs are quite short and the headrests that neatly fold into them don’t rise high enough for taller occupants.

Separate roof-mounted air vents (they feed to the second and third rows) and a flow controller, also improve comfort levels for those in the back.

There’s almost no luggage space with all seven seats in use, something not helped by the storage box on the floor.

Under the bonnet

A 3.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel helped by a turbocharger does duties under the MU-X’s bonnet. It’s a bit gruff and vocal but hussles the SUV along well enough.

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Mid-range response is its sweet point, although there are times when it feels its labouring; between 60 and 70km/h on a light throttle, for example, it can vibrate the whole car annoyingly as it relies on its bottom end.

Overall acceleration isn’t lethargic but it is tending towards leisurely.

The five-speed auto isn’t very intuitive but responds faithfully to a stab of the accelerator; the broad spread of torque partially masks its lack of a sixth cog.

Fortunately the MU-X’s drivetrain makes up points with respectable fuel use. Consumption can dip below 10 litres per 100 kilometres if you’re gentle on the throttle, but generally expect it to use low double digits.

Its towing credentials are also above average, up to 3000 kg.

On the road

You don’t need to travel far to establish the MU-X is no lover of bends. Vague steering isn’t helped by a slow steering ratio (there are almost four turns from lock-to-lock, more than most cars and SUVs), which means plenty of wheel-twirling through tighter bends and when parking.

The MU-X also lacks the athleticism of car-based soft-roaders, with tyres that quickly reach their limits of adhesion.

Sitting on a truck-like ladder frame chassis, the Isuzu SUV also lacks the body control of many more city-friendly SUVs, jumping and jiggling with enthusiasm at the slightest bumps and lurching if you push too hard. Second-grade roads can quickly show the ride up as sub-standard.

On a freeway is where it’s most content, sitting comfortably at 100km/h.

But it’s off-road where the Isuzu excels. There’s genuine off-road hardware, including a set of low-range ratios easily selected by a dial. Good ground clearance and protection underneath ensure it’ll leave those regular SUVs well behind before it gives up.


As with the Colorado it shares so much with, the MU-X’s strength is in its towing and off-road ability. It’s a serious off-roader, and is compromised for suburban duties, compared with the wealth of city-biased SUVs.

But even sticking to its direct competitive set the MU-X doesn’t bring any major competitive advantage, except for respectable fuel use and a rear entertainment system that could take some focus off the bumpy ride.

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