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Isuzu MU-X 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
7.3
The Isuzu MU-X is a non-nonsense, full-size SUV, underpinned by the rugged chassis of its D-Max ute sibling. After significant upgrades in 2017 Isuzu Ute Australia has fine-tuned the spec for the 2018

While MY17 MU-X signalled a massive change for the better in Isuzu Ute Australia’s (IUA) SUV line-up, this year is more of a subdued affair.

Last year heralded the arrival of a new 3.0-litre engine, new six-speed automatic transmission, and upgraded Aussie-specific suspension, as well as styling tweaks; MY18 MU-Xs get extended service intervals and a new exterior colour.

It’s a clear case of IUA applying a ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to its popular ute-based SUV.

Isuzu MU-X 2018: LS-M (4x4)
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8.1L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$44,988

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

There are seven variants in the MY18 MU-X range: the 4x2 LS-M auto ($42,900), 4x2 LS-U auto ($45,200), 4x2 LS-T auto ($48,900), 4x4 LS-M auto ($50,200), 4x4 LS-U manual ($50,400), 4x4 LS-U auto ($52,500), and 4x4 LS-T auto ($56,200). All are seven-seater SUVs.

The base-spec LS-M’s standard features include 7.0-inch touchscreen with USB and Bluetooth streaming, reversing camera and rear park assist sensors, LED daytime running lights, gun metallic front grille, bi-LED projector headlights, colour-coded door handles and side mirrors, hill descent control, air-conditioning, power windows, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

  • The MU-X’s cabin, unchanged, should remain an easy place in which to travel. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography) The MU-X’s cabin, unchanged, should remain an easy place in which to travel. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography)
  • The second row is a 60/40 split-fold with a fold-away centre armrest. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography) The second row is a 60/40 split-fold with a fold-away centre armrest. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography)
  • The third row is a tight fit for adults but that’s nothing unusual in most seven-seaters. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography) The third row is a tight fit for adults but that’s nothing unusual in most seven-seaters. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography)

The LS-U gets an 8.0-inch touchscreen, chrome front grille, door handles and side mirrors, as well as side steps, rear cabin cooling vents, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The LS-T also gets leather-accented seats, passive entry and start system, six-way adjustable electric driver’s seat, roof rails, tailgate spoiler, chrome muffler tip and 10-inch DVD screen for rear passengers.

The MY18 MU-X is available in seven colours: 'Cosmic Black Mica', 'Obsidian Grey Mica', 'Havana Brown Mica', 'Silky White Pearl', 'Splash White', 'Titanium Silver' and the new 'Magnetic Red Mica' option.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The Euro 5 3.0-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel engine, producing 130kw at 3600rpm and 430Nm at 2000-2200rpm, and six-speed Aisin-sourced automatic transmission carry-over from MY17.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

This launch marked no noteworthy styling changes in the MU-X, inside or out. It remains a blocky but good-looking unit, blending a bush-ready appearance with styling that doesn’t look out of place in an urban setting.

Build quality and fit and finish seem as sturdy as we’ve come to expect from IUA’s mainstream offerings.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The MU-X’s cabin, unchanged, should remain an easy place in which to travel. It’s roomy enough for everyone.

The second row is a 60/40 split-fold with a fold-away centre armrest. The third row is a tight fit for adults but that’s nothing unusual in most seven-seaters.

  • There is 235 litres of boot space when the third row is up. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography) There is 235 litres of boot space when the third row is up. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography)
  • Boot space expands to 878 litres when the 50/50 split-fold third row is folded flat. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography) Boot space expands to 878 litres when the 50/50 split-fold third row is folded flat. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography)
  • When the second and third rows are down, there is 1830 litres of space. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography) When the second and third rows are down, there is 1830 litres of space. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography)
  • The MU-X has 18 'storage solutions', including space in the door compartments and a rear cargo organiser box. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography) The MU-X has 18 'storage solutions', including space in the door compartments and a rear cargo organiser box. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography)

There is 235 litres of boot space when the third row is up, expanding to 878 litres when the 50/50 split-fold third row is folded flat. When the second and third rows are down, there is 1830 litres of space.

The MU-X has 12 cupholders, 18 'storage solutions' (door compartments with bottle bulge, coat hooks, rear cargo organiser box, etc), USB ports (front and rear) and three 12V power outlets (centre dash, glove box and rear cargo area).

The MU-X has a braked towing capacity of 3000kg, 750kg unbraked.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

We only did very brief drive loops on the launch, including towing a 1900kg caravan with a MU-X on a bitumen road, designed to replicate real-world driving conditions, and a decent off-road course.

Running 20 psi (pounds per square inch) in our Bridgestone Dueler or Toyo Open Country tyres, the Isuzus handled everything on the 4WD loop with ease, including runs up and down steep greasy-muddy hills peppered with rocks and tree-root hazards, tight turns in between trees, plowing through mud puddles and more.

  • The MU-X retains the benefits of the previous generation’s hill start assist and hill descent control. The MU-X retains the benefits of the previous generation’s hill start assist and hill descent control.
  • It has double wishbones and coil springs up front, and coil springs at the rear. It has double wishbones and coil springs up front, and coil springs at the rear.

No surprise at its efficacy on rough terrain because the D-Max and MU-X work off the proven '4X4 Terrain Command' system, operated via a dial near the auto shifter, and which can be switched on the move from 2High to 4High at speeds of up to 100km/h.

To engage 4L you need to be stationary.

The MU-X is 4825mm long, 1860mm wide (excluding wing mirrors), 1860mm high (the 4x2 LS-M is 1825mm high) and has a 3095mm wheelbase and 1570mm track. It has a 11.6m turning circle. Kerb weight is listed as from 1992kg (4x2 LS-M) to 2157kg (4x4 LS-T).

All MU-Xs except 4x2 and 4x4 LS-M models (220mm), have 230mm ground clearance. All MU-Xs except 4x2 and 4x4 LS-M models have 24 degrees approach angle (LS-M: 23.3), 25.1 degrees departure angle (LS-M: 24.6), and 19.5 degrees ramp-over angle (LS-M: 18.7).

  • Underbody protection includes under-front steel plate skid/splash shield on every MU-X. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography) Underbody protection includes under-front steel plate skid/splash shield on every MU-X. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography)
  • The MU-X has a braked towing capacity of 3000kg, 750kg unbraked. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography) The MU-X has a braked towing capacity of 3000kg, 750kg unbraked. (image credit: Nathan Duff Photography)

The MU-X retains the benefits of the previous generation’s hill start assist (designed to hold gear during climbs) and hill descent control (which maintains engine-braking speed on downhills and is able to be regulated with acceleration or braking).

Underbody protection includes under-front steel plate skid/splash shield on every MU-X; and steel plate guards on the sump, transfer case and fuel tank leading edge on all 4x4 models.

It has double wishbones and coil springs up front, and coil springs at the rear.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

We spent very little time in any new models and we’d have to drive a MY18 MU-X for a week or more to get a good handle on real-world fuel consumption but Isuzu claims the MU-X gets through 7.9L/100km (combined) in 4x4 LS-U and LS-T guises, 8.0L/100km (combined) in 4x2 LS-M, and 8.1L/100km (combined) in 4x2 LS-U and LS-T and 4x4 LS-M.

Every MY18 MU-X has a 65-litre fuel tank.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / 130,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The MU-X has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating from April 2017.

Standard safety gear includes six airbags (dual front, side and full-length curtain), ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, ESC, traction control and EBA (emergency brake assist), 'Hill Start Assist' and 'Hill Descent Control', plus three top-tether ISOFIX child-seat points in the rear seat.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

It has a five-year/130,000km warranty, with five years of roadside assist and five-year/75,000km capped price service costs.

Servicing is recommended at 12-month/15,000km intervals. Prices are: $350 (at 12 months/15,000km), $450 (at 24 months/30,000km), $500 (at 36 months/45,000km) $450 (at 48 months/60,000km) and $340 at 60 months/75,000km – for a total cost of $2090.

Verdict

The MU-X is a solid SUV wagon and it only continues to gain more appeal and, with it, a growing legion of fans. You certainly see a lot of them around – in the bush, in the suburbs and on city streets.

It’s not flash or posh but it’s a very practical daily driver or weekend tourer and performs very well in the real world. The top choice for me remains the LS-T.

Is the MU-X your kind of SUV? Tell us in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$47,888
Based on 353 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$35,888
Highest Price
$59,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
LS-M (4x2) 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $35,888 – 38,990 2018 ISUZU MU-X 2018 LS-M (4x2) Pricing and Specs
LS-M (4x4) 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $44,988 – 44,990 2018 ISUZU MU-X 2018 LS-M (4x4) Pricing and Specs
LS-T (4x2) 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $39,959 – 45,990 2018 ISUZU MU-X 2018 LS-T (4x2) Pricing and Specs
LS-T (4x4) 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $42,960 – 59,990 2018 ISUZU MU-X 2018 LS-T (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.3
Price and features7
Engine & trans7
Design7
Practicality7
Driving7
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership8
Marcus Craft
Editor - Adventure

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