Isuzu’s MU-X is a favourite amongst the boating/fishing/towing set for good reason. Why has this dedicated 4WD been so well received? Let’s start with the fact that it’s value for money, move to the excellent levels of comfort and sheer user-friendliness, and then finish off with the vehicle’s off road credentials and more-than-adequate performance from it’s strong 3L diesel engine mated to a five-speed auto gear box.
As a hot contender for the buyer’s dollar in today’s somewhat crowded large 4X4 market, the Isuzu MU-X has more than held it’s own in standard form. As vehicle makers do from time to time, Isuzu sometimes offers special deals or features in their strongest selling vehicles.
I had a look at the Tour Mate specifications of the MU-X. Both the LS-U and LS-T 4X4 grades are kitted out with an alloy bull bar, tow bar and both bonnet and side window wind deflectors.
For the record, both of these MU-X models are seven seaters and the LS-T offers all the bells and whistles. The LS-U isn’t far behind it. The LS-T comes with leather seat trim, sat nav, multi-information display, an eight speaker audio system and a roof mounted DVD player at the rear along with other goodies.
The reviewed LS-U was certainly no poverty pack vehicle, not with it’s seven seats, terrain-taming 4WD system, climate control air conditioning, no less than three glove-box-style dash storage compartments and large reversing camera set into the central display section of the dash.
All rows of seating offered the essential high and handsome ‘Command’ style of all round visibility, a term coined by Land Rover some years ago. Even the third row passengers get to enjoy the view.
Rear seating, incidentally, would actually accommodate a pair of adults. It doesn’t have to be the usual grade schoolers sometimes relegated to these often sparse seats. Standard features of the Isuzu MU-X include comfortable and supportive front seating as well as a high degree of head and legroom for those seated in the second row, which has an array of storage compartments, seat pockets and other comforts.
Much of the Isuzu’s strength lies under the bonnet where a four-cylinder 3L turbo diesel engine – a bit on the chattery side until under way – has all the power needed to keep up with city traffic as well as provide more than adequate off road capability in the rough stuff. With 130kW of power and 280Nm of torque the MU-X seems to take everything in its stride: 1800rpm at 100km means that this engine, with it’s extra strength and easy torque, should be a very long lasting performer by any standard.
Gear changes from the auto unit were seamless, smooth as silk, and virtually undetectable. Changing from 2H to 4H on the fly via the Isuzu’s Terrain Command drive system was as simple as turning a dial on the console. The 4X4 Low Range required a complete stop while the selector was activated.
The ride was easy and not at all rough, with a tendency to feel just a little soft in bumpy corners due to the height of the unit. That said, the small degree of pitch was easily accommodated and no bar to a comfortable and controlled ride. Curiously, the MU-X had fairly heavy steering with a turning circle that made it just that bit tricky to sneak into some of the tighter corners in suburban parking areas.
With offroad driving a strength, it comes as no surprise that the MU-X has a 24° approach angle, 25.1° departure and a 19.5° breakover angle. Towing a boat or camper trailer up the beach should be a strength of the Isuzu with its very wide tyres and ample power.
It’s also quite hard to overlook the very useful amount of space. Luggage or fishing equipment can be packed into the MU-X in both the 2WD or 4WD variant. All variants offer a virtually flat floor from cargo door to the rear of the front seats. With all seats folded down I noted a 1700mm long, 1100mm wide cargo compartment: certainly a winner for those of use that love to load up and head for a fishing destination.
This area amounts to some 1830L of cargo space. With just the rear seats down and out of the way, there is still a very useful 838L of load area on hand. The second row of seats offer a 60/40 fold setup (to allow access to the rear array of the seven seater) while the rear pair come with a 50/50 fold capability. Towing is a handy 3t (braked) and 750kg (unbraked), which certainly caters for a lot of recreational toys in my book.
To sum up, the Isuzu MU-X (LS-U model) with the attractive Tour Mate additions is a strong, reliable, proven off roader with ample interior features matched by value for money exterior extras, which can come home for around $48,990 plus on road costs. Warranty is five years or 130,000km with services on a yearly or 10,000km loop.Reads: 2005