Isuzu outsells the big-name SUVs
June 26, 2019
The Isuzu MU-X is capable, reliable and good value, outnumbering rivals at school pick-ups, caravan parks and off-road trails.
Isuzu’s MU-X SUV has been a seven-seat sales superstar since its introduction in November 2013. It’s up against heavy-hitting ute-based rivals such as the Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Ford Everest but the Isuzu trumps them all in sales.
How’s it shaping up as a used buy? Generally very well, as reliability has proved solid, and all but the very earliest models will still have some balance of its five-year warranty remaining (if it’s travelled less than 130,000km).
Strengths are value, capability, reliability and the fact owners seem to love them. They can be spotted in urban streets, school car parks, caravan parks and off-road trails.
All have seven seats, can tow 3000kg, use a near-bulletproof 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel and are relatively cheap to own and run.
Owners are first to admit Isuzu MU-Xs aren’t the last word in luxury or refinement but the ladder-frame chassis SUV has a comfy enough ride with rear coil springs (rather than more agricultural leaf springs) and the kind of no-nonsense interior to appeal to those not fussed with the latest technology.
The 4WD versions are talented tools off-road but on-road aren’t terribly dynamic. There’s a fair bit of body roll in corners but this won’t be of concern for highway trips or the school run.
It has a five-star crash rating, but this is based on a 2013 test. Lacking modern active safety gear, it wouldn’t score this well today.
Many will have lived a pretty tough life though, be it as an off-road toy or hauling heavy caravans or boats across the country. That said, many Isuzu MU-Xs have lived pampered urban existences, especially two-wheel drive variants.
The engines are great for lazy cruising but are noisy when you put your foot down. Originally outputs were 130kW and 380Nm, the latter rising to 430Nm with a May 2017 facelift. Transmissions were five-speed manual or auto, switching to six ratios for each in 2017.
Grades were LS-M, LS-U and LS-T, in rear or all-wheel drive, with the Isuzu LS-T coming as auto-only. All examples got alloy wheels, all-terrain tyres, seven seats, basic audio but with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, rear parking sensors, cruise control, keyless entry — and an incredible 14 cup holders.
A dash more stylish, the Isuzu LS-Us had 17-inch alloys, fog lights, chrome grille and mirrors, aluminium side steps, climate control and rear air vents. The LS-T added leather seats (power for driver), touchscreen navigation, rear camera and roof-mounted DVD for rear passengers.
The 4WD versions came with an easy-to-use “Terrain Command” dial to switch between 2H, 4H and 4L. Automatics scored hill ascent and descent control.
To protect the sump and transfer case, underbody steel plates were fitted but no diff-lock or limited-slip differential was offered.
The May 2017 Isuzu facelift brought better sound insulation and smarter cabins with soft armrests rather than the previous elbow-grating hard plastic, plus touchscreen audio and reverse cameras for all, LED headlights, new grille and new alloy wheel designs.
Article by Iain Curry.