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Isuzu MU-X 2020 review: LS-T 4WD

The MU-X definitely looks like it means business.

This week my family and I were heading up the north coast of NSW for our summer holiday, and I needed a big car to fit everything in. Enter the Isuzu MU-X. A large seven seat 4WD that looks as tough as it sounds. 

I test drove the MU-X LS-T 4x4 which is at the top of a range of three grades. It costs $54,990 drive-away and competes with cars like the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and the Toyota Fortuner.

Here’s how it stacked up over a long road trip for this week’s family review.

Pictured is the MU-X LS-T 4x4. Pictured is the MU-X LS-T 4x4.

How does it look?

The MU-X definitely looks like it means business, and that it can handle almost anything. That’s what the exterior is telling you.

There’s nothing refined or sophisticated about the MU-X, with a large, bullish front end and square-ish back end. Could they have done better? Most certainly, but it’s not a car you’re buying for looks. This car is about functionality and doing a job. Looks don’t come into the equation. 

The MU-X definitely looks like it means business. The MU-X definitely looks like it means business.

The inside is a little more stylish, but you still feel as though the car is built with the purpose of going off-road, with the intent to power through whatever mud you can sling at it.

Hence the plastic-y finishes around the dash and doors, the leather-ish seats that will wipe clean, and the functional centre console area with a satisfyingly large dial for changing the air temperature. All this is quite well put together, so you feel good sitting in it. 

How spacious is it?

We had to fit two adults, two children and one puppy - which, granted, is small but her crate is large and that was coming too. So it was stressful wondering if we’d fit all of us plus the groceries, the inflatables, the suitcases, the sporting equipment and surf accouterments. You know, holiday gear, Aussie style. 

But fit we did. Packed to the brim, yes, but it was a relief to be able to travel in comfort and we didn’t have to leave anything behind. 

The front felt quite spacious, with plenty of leg space and head space, even for the taller members of my family. 

The front felt quite spacious. The front felt quite spacious.

The children too had loads of room in the back, with enough space between them to fit their over-stuffed backpacks with all their necessities for the road trip (unfortunately, my kids have inherited my ill-fated-terrible-packer gene).

The children too had loads of room in the back. The children too had loads of room in the back.

You can fit three child seats across in this row, I did it with two boosters and a baby capsule. Always check your seats in case they are different size to the ones tested. 

You can fit three child seats across the second row. You can fit three child seats across the second row.

Sitting in the third row is comfortable for me at 161cm, so kids will be fine back there, but if you’re much taller you wouldn’t want to be in there for too long. Still, short trips are fine and children will be good, regardless.

Short trips are fine for taller people and children will be good, regardless. Short trips are fine for taller people and children will be good, regardless.

With those two back seats in use, the boot is 235L which is enough to fit some grocery bags and school bags, So, not huge, however on par with most seven seat SUVs.

With the two back seats in use, the boot is 235L. With the two back seats in use, the boot is 235L.

With the two third-row seats down (which is how I used it), the boot opens up to 878L of space. It’s huge. Which is lucky because I packed it with stuff - suitcases, groceries, inflatables, sporting equipment, the dog and the dog crate, all the puppy stuff. Give me space and I will fill it. 

With the two third-row seats down the boot opens up to 878L of space. With the two third-row seats down the boot opens up to 878L of space.

How does it drive?

There are three modes on the Isuzu MU-X LS-T: 2H (front-wheel drive high-range), 4H (all-wheel drive high range), and 4L (four-wheel drive low-range).

It’s stacked with a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder engine and you’re very high off the ground. The whole drive is quite bouncy but still solid - it gives you the feeling that it can handle most things you’d throw at it.

Featuring a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder engine. Featuring a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder engine.

I think the car shines on the highways, it’s such an effortless, pleasant car to drive over long distances and on big roads. I didn’t get the chance to take it off road though. 

The steering is quite heavy and the turning circle is wide. Because it’s large, squeezing into parking spaces is tricky but there is a decent reverse parking camera to help out.

It handles okay, but it’s meant to be out there in the wild. As a city car you’d make it work, but it’s really calling to be let loose on the open road. 

How easy is it to use every day?

It’s high off the ground so there is a step to get up into the car which I used, and if you have a child who is s-l-o-w to get in and out of cars, be prepared to have your patience tested because it took my little one a while, every time. 

Because it’s high, the boot is an excellent height off the ground, you can literally just place things in there, no need to bend which worked fantastically with loading things in and out. 

It’s high off the ground so there is a step to get up into the car. It’s high off the ground so there is a step to get up into the car.

There are six cupholders - two in each row - and a decent centre storage bin plus a bottle holder in each door. There’s also a very small bit of storage near the gearshift you can fit keys in, nowhere really for your phone, though there's always the reach to the glove box, and there is an extra storage box on top of the dash. 

The air con works really well which I was grateful for in a very hot Aussie January. Air vents continued throughout the car, with roof placement in the second and third rows so that rear passengers got enough air, too. And if I heard any word of complaint from the children it was that they were too cold - a good thing! 

What’s the tech like?

How safe is it?

You’ll get airbags to cover driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags that extend down to the back row.

The MU-X scored a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was tested in 2013 but wouldn’t now because it has no auto emergency braking.

There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points to fix kids car seats in safely.

The MU-X wouldn't qualify for a five star ANCAP rating because it doesn't have AEB. The MU-X wouldn't qualify for a five star ANCAP rating because it doesn't have AEB.

How much does it cost to own?


The Wrap

To take away on a long road trip, the Isuzu MU-X served my family and I well this week. It was really solid on the drive and happiest on the open road. 

It was big enough to fit everything we needed for a week long holiday, including the puppy crate, and while it’s not the most stylish vehicle in town, it certainly looks like it’s meant to be tough. Fuel consumption is not bad but I would still like to see a hybrid option. 

I gave it a family rating of 7.5 out of 10 and my kids gave it an 8 - they loved being comfortable and high up off the road. 

Likes

Engine on long drives
Boot space
Great air conditioning

Dislikes

Lack of advanced safety
Bouncy ride
Big turning circle

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

4

$57,400

Based on new car retail price

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