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Isuzu MU-X 2023 review

EXPERT RATING
7.4
The formidable and affordable Isuzu MU-X has been updated for 2023. Fortunately the 3500kg towing capacity, off-road ability and price have stayed the same, but there have been some changes.

Some people won’t get why you bought an Isuzu MU-X, but then the SUV they have probably won’t get them as far off the bitumen or tow three and a half tonnes. 

That, in 32 words, might be all you need to know about the seven-seater MU-X, or you could read more about the update Isuzu has made to this direct rival to Toyota’s Fortuner and Ford’s Everest.

In this review of the updated MU-X we’ll cover off the new features of this SUV, show you how much it costs, look at the safety systems and tell you what it's like to drive.

Isuzu MU-X 2023: LS-M (4X4)
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8.3L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$55,550

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

There are three grades in the MU-X range - it starts with the LS-M, then there’s the LS-U, and at the top is the LS-T.

The prices have stayed the same, even though this update has added new features.

You can have your MU-X in four-wheel drive or the more affordable two-wheel drive.

Starting with the two-wheel drives, the entry-grade is the LS-M 4x2 which lists for $48,900, stepping up to the LS-U 4x2 will set you back $55,400, and at the top of the line up is the LS-T 4x2 for $61,400

The mid-range LS-U grade has 18-inch alloy wheels. The mid-range LS-U grade has 18-inch alloy wheels.

Now the four-wheel drives. We start with the LS-M 4x4 which lists for $54,900, then there’s the LS-U 4x4 for $61,400, and above that is the LS-T 4x4, which is $67,400. At the time of the launch the LS-T 4x4 had a special $65,990 drive-away price.

Let’s talk about the standard features.

The top of the range LS-T comes standard with new 20-inch alloys, the LS-U gets 18s, while the LS-M has new 17-inch alloy wheels.

Leather upholstery is only on the LS-T, while the grades below it have cloth seats. The front seats in the  LS-T are also heated and power adjustable.

Upfront of the LS-T and LS-U grades is a 9.0-inch media display. Upfront of the LS-T and LS-U grades is a 9.0-inch media display.

Standard on the LS-T and LS-U is a proximity key, dual-zone climate control, leather steering wheel, rear privacy glass and a 9.0-inch media display - it’s a 7.0-inch on the LS-M. New to these top two grades is a hands-free power tailgate, too.

The headlights, DRLs and tail-lights are LED on all grades. They also all have push-button start, digital radio, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity.

All grades have side steps and rear parking sensors - the LS-U and LS-T have front sensors as well as roof rails.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The MU-X is based on the Isuzu D-Max ute and shares much of the same engineering and similar styling with that grille which looks like a shaving razor.

I like the headlights and the tailgate with its lettering. And even the profile is good looking which can’t be said for some of its rivals.

This update has brought a new two-tone black grille to the LS-M, a 'Magnetite' and 'Chrome' colour to the LS-U’s grille along with the Magnetite treatment to the LED fog light trims, sidesteps and roof rails. The LS-T gets a new lower front bar finished in, yep, Magnetite.  

At 4.85m end-to-end the MU-X is a large SUV. It’s 1.87m wide not including wing mirrors and with roof rails it's 1.83m tall.

The headlights, DRLs and tail-lights are LED on all grades. The headlights, DRLs and tail-lights are LED on all grades.

Ground clearance goes from 230mm in the entry-grade LS-M up to 235mm in the LS-U and LS-T. 

This update has brought new dark tints to the grille, roof rails, side steps and LED fog lights of the LS-U and LS-T.

Inside, the cabin has a modern and functional feel but lacks the high-end look of non ute-based SUVS. 

So, for the same money you could buy a Kia Sorento which has a much more refined interior, but you’re not getting the off-road capability or towing ability of the MU-X. 

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The MU-X is a large seven-seater SUV.

At 191cm tall and tipping the scales at almost 100 kg I can sit comfortably in the wide, supportive front seats.

Second row room is spacious enough for my legs, although I felt like I was sitting quite high, and headroom is a bit tight.

Surprisingly, the third row is roomy for an SUV. I wouldn’t talk to you for the rest of the afternoon if you made me sit back there on a long trip, but there’s more than enough room for small kids.

With all seats in use, there is 311 litres of cargo capacity to play with. With all seats in use, there is 311 litres of cargo capacity to play with.

A good point about those rear seats is that they fold flat unlike the Toyota Fortuner’s third row which fold up and clip to a strap near the rear windows, not only blocking vision but potentially falling down. 

Boot space is excellent. With those third row seats folded flat there’s 1119 litres of cargo capacity and with them in place you have 311 litres to play with.

Throughout the cabin you’ll find great storage from cupholders in all three rows and door pockets along with directional air vents.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

All MU-Xs have a 3.0-litre, turbo-diesel, four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s not a new engine for the MU-X and the power and torque outputs have stayed the same at 140kW and 450Nm.

As mentioned before the MU-X can be had in two- and four-wheel drive, and both have an excellent 3500kg braked towing capacity.

That’s the same towing capacity as the Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Toyota Fortuner. These ute-based SUVs are direct rivals to the MU-X and also have a ladder frame chassis which increases towing capacity. 

A Toyota Kluger’s braked towing capacity is only 2000kg and a Hyundai Palisade’s is 2200kg.

So, if you’re looking to tow but don’t want to throw $100K at a Toyota LandCruiser or Nissan Patrol, then the MU-X or one of its direct rivals is the way to go.

The MU-X has an excellent 3500kg braked towing capacity. The MU-X has an excellent 3500kg braked towing capacity.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Isuzu says that after a combination of open and urban roads the two-wheel drive MU-X should get 7.8L/100km while the four-wheel drive will use 8.3L/100km. 

Not a great deal of difference in fuel consumption between the two is there? 

 

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The MU-X scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2020. All MU-Xs come with AEB, adaptive cruise, lane keeping assistance, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, trailer sway control and eight airbags.

In this update, Isuzu added a function where the blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert systems are turned off when you’re towing, because reversing a trailer is hard enough without being beeped at the whole time. 

It's important to note that the side curtain airbags fully cover the third row windows.

The MU-X scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2020. The MU-X scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2020.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

6 years / 150,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

The MU-X is covered by Isuzu’s six-year/150,000-kilometre warranty. Six years is good, but 150,000km isn’t, not when Ford and Toyota cover the Everest and Fortuner with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

These types of vehicles travel vast distances and should have the reassurance of a warranty which goes as far as they are driven. It’s for this reason that the MU-X scores lower marks.

Service is required every 12 months or 15,000km. The cost is capped for seven years, but can get quite expensive. Over the seven years the average annual service price is $527.

The MU-X is covered by Isuzu’s six-year/150,000-kilometre warranty. The MU-X is covered by Isuzu’s six-year/150,000-kilometre warranty.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The MU-X drives like a ute, not like a car-based SUV. That’s because the MU-X is based on the Isuzu D-Max ute and like the utility, sits on a ladder frame chassis.

Despite having coil spring suspension and not leaf springs in the rear like the D-Max, the ride and handling of the MU-X isn’t as comfortable or adept as say a Toyota Kluger or Kia Sorento.

But, it’s a trade off. See, the engineering of the MU-X which prevents it from being super comfy and sporty makes it a capable off-road vehicle - especially the four-wheel drive version.

The MU-X drives like a ute, not like a car-based SUV. The MU-X drives like a ute, not like a car-based SUV.

Still, the two-wheel drive will go places that would terrify an all-wheel drive city-focused SUV thanks to having the same ground clearance, and departure/approach/ramp over angles as the four-wheel drive.

The ground clearance varies depending on the grade. The LS-M has 230mm of clearance, with an approach angle of 28.6 degrees, ramp over angle of 22.6 degrees and a departure angle of 27.6 degrees.  

The LS-U and LS-T both have 235mm of clearance, with an approach angle of 29.2 degrees, ramp over angle of 23.1 degrees and a departure angle of 26.9 degrees.

The MU-X is a capable off-roader. The MU-X is a capable off-roader.

The 3.0-litre engine is a bit noisy and doesn’t have the smoothness of a petrol, but again it suits the personality of this tough SUV with stacks of low-down torque, while the six-speed auto never seemed to be lost for a gear.

I have driven both generations of the MU-X, I’ve lived with them with my family, I’ve gone off road, done the shopping and sat in peak hour traffic daily in them, and I can say this new generation is more refined, easy to drive and will happily take the kids to school or you all across Australia.

Verdict

I don’t think anybody would buy an MU-X accidentally. By that I mean, the MU-X is a tool for towing and off-roading, all while carrying seven people comfortably, and those that buy one know this. The same goes for the Ford Everest, Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.

This update has brought some welcome changes such as the blind spot/rear cross traffic alert deactivation when towing and new cosmetic enhancements while keeping the price the same.

The Isuzu is an excellent choice for the adventuring family or those looking for a vehicle which will  tow comfortably while offering plenty of covered secure space that you don’t have with a ute.

The sweet-spot in the range is the LS-U with four-wheel drive because at $61,400 you’re getting almost the same kit as the top-of-the-range LS-T. There’s also more ground clearance than the entry grade, a proximity key with walkaway locking function, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate control and the large 9.0-inch media system.

At the time of writing Isuzu was doing a $65,990 drive-away deal on the top grade LS-T four-wheel drive. I’d look at what it costs to get the LS-U on the road. It might be close to the drive-away deal price for the fancy LS-T.  

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel, accommodation and meals provided.

Pricing guides

$65,570
Based on 399 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$46,888
Highest Price
$71,995

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
LS-M (4X4) 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP $55,550 – 63,910 2023 Isuzu MU-X 2023 LS-M (4X4) Pricing and Specs
LS-M (4X2) 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP $45,320 – 52,690 2023 Isuzu MU-X 2023 LS-M (4X2) Pricing and Specs
LS-T (4X2) 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP $62,150 – 71,390 2023 Isuzu MU-X 2023 LS-T (4X2) Pricing and Specs
LS-U (4X4) 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP $62,150 – 71,390 2023 Isuzu MU-X 2023 LS-U (4X4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Price and features8
Design7
Practicality8
Under the bonnet8
Efficiency7
Safety7
Ownership6
Driving8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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