Isuzu MU-X: Getting tough with your family SUV
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A simple SUV with three tonnes of toughness where it counts
If your family SUV is a four-wheel drive, you usually spin the drive select wheel only when the parking lot at your daughter's soccer field gets a bit damp in August.
You can then drive close enough to see the action without getting your fancy shoes wet. But did you really need to pay an extra $10K so you could drive on the grass verge at the local park, once a year?
If you want a real 4WD SUV, best have a gander at the renovated Isuzu MU-X.
Unlike most soft SUVs on the market, the MU-X is built to be one tough SOB SUV. Like its close sibling the D-MAX, it's not afraid to get its shoes a bit muddy.
It also has a penchant for towing big loads without a fuss. To allow the MU-X be more SUV friendly, Isuzu has trimmed the wheelbase to help with manoeuvring, as well as added multi-link coil suspension in the rear allowing for a smoother ride.
The Isuzu MU-X is also one of the few four-wheel drive, seven-seater SUVs equipped with independent air-conditioning for the passengers. Long trips with children will be less claustrophobic, better ventilated, and the 10.2 inch media screen will be an asset on road trips.
At $65,990, it's at the top end of this class of off-road capable seven seaters, but you do get a lot of vehicle for that coin. There are cheaper alternatives, but for towing class, it is hard to beat the Isuzu MU-X.
It comes with full leather seats in all rows, and the driver's seat has electric adjustments. There's satnav that actually works concerning traffic flows, plus a reversing camera that is a necessity in large SUVs.
The surround-sound stereo is excellent and all the seats are comfortable. Even the back row is good to sit in ... if you are a jockey or under 12 years old; but that's the same with every third row.
Space-wise, the Isuzu MU-X has a bit more leftover space at the back than the others when the third row is being used for passengers. There's a clever storage option for the cargo blind so it has a place in the car when it's not being used -- as opposed to getting lost somewhere in the garage at home.
This latest version, with its "running changes" has the A pillars set slightly further back to give more vision for the driver. That bit works, but the raised rear windows still don't help with blind-spot vision. And this makes it tricky to check the left-hand side when changing lanes on the motorway. But odds are, with all that extra torque, you won't need to pull over to let people pass when towing.
The MU-X is more expensive than Holden's seven-seat off-roader, the Trailblazer (RRP $63K) and more expensive than Toyota's offering, the Fortuner, which is one of the least expensive in the segment at $60K.
Each of these professes to being off-roaders with the same towing capability, but they don't have the backing of a trucking company engine when it comes to longevity.
Regarding off-road, the MU-X is a no-fuss option. More than just a quick jaunt across the sand, even inexperienced off-roaders will be comfortable in more serious off-road situations. And, should you be so inclined, it can operate happily up to a 47-degree angle.
I tried to get as close as comfortable to that angle on the Driven off-road track and the MU-X had no issue. Approach and clearance angles are also sufficient for attacking sharper slopes. The MU-X's tow bar stayed clean -- which is always a sign of a good clearance angle.
Even with dual-purpose tyres on a slick track, the MU-X more than passed the off-road section. But if you are in the market for this kind of SUV, on-road is most likely where you will spend most of your time.
For a diesel engine, built by a truck company, on the road it is quiet. The six-speed gear box delivers punch when you need it, thanks to added torque in this upgraded version. That torque will impress each time you accelerate as the power kicks in early.
Add a boat and this thing will tow all day.
Isuzu has been making tough utes and SUVs for long enough now for you to rest assured that you are getting a passenger SUV with the heart of a truck.
Engine: 3.0 turbo diesel
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Plenty of towing power, room for the whole family
Only media screen and rear air con in its class
Blind spots are a pain
Seat heaters would have been a nice extra