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Isuzu MU-X LS-U 2018 review


The job of family taxi can be relentless and hard-wearing on both parent and car. Between the shopping and school runs, trips to weekend sport, birthday parties and the various other destination, you need a family hauler built to withstand this endless punishment.

Enter the Isuzu MU-X 2018.

For my weekend test, I'm driving the mid spec 4x4 LS-U. Priced at $52,000, it comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, chrome front grille, door handles and side mirrors, as well as side steps, rear air vents and 18-inch alloy wheels.

It may be a capable 4WD off-road, but how will MU-X handle suburban family taxi duties? My kids and I had the weekend to find out.

Saturday

Our MU-X was clad in 'Silky White Pearl' for our weekend test. It's a not a bad looking SUV, with no visible changes from the 2017 model, which itself received some styling tweaks. The MU-X is a big unit that looks as ready to handle the weekday school run as it does to go off-roading for the weekend.

As key attributes go, sitting high enough to see out the windows is king for my three kids, closely followed by cabin space. Happily, the MU-X over-delivers on both these fronts. The cabin is spacious, functional (but no frills), with all seven seats covered in cloth and an array of hard plastics adorning the dashboard and doors.

The relatively heavy steering has plenty of give and requires a little manhandling to navigate narrow city streets and suburb back streets. (image: Dan Pugh) The relatively heavy steering has plenty of give and requires a little manhandling to navigate narrow city streets and suburb back streets. (image: Dan Pugh)

As you'd expect, there's plenty of room for kids to stretch out in the second row, and you can even squeeze three adults if you're keen. The third row offers good space if you're under 150cm tall – not a great place to be if you're an adult.

The Saturday morning trip to and from a junior soccer match (40min each way) was a good opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the car in suburban traffic.

As you'd expect, there's plenty of room for kids to stretch out in the second row. (image: Dan Pugh) As you'd expect, there's plenty of room for kids to stretch out in the second row. (image: Dan Pugh)

My son sitting up front synced the smartphone with the 8.0-inch touchscreen, and had the music blasting through the eight-speaker stereo in double-quick time. It's worth noting navigation comes as standard, but there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto available. If you're a parent in need of some additional entertainment for the kids, the top-spec LS-T comes with a roof mounted 10-inch DVD monitor.

The relatively heavy steering has plenty of give and requires a little manhandling to navigate narrow city streets and suburb back streets. Parallel parking the MU-X provides a decent workout, with the wheel needing quite a few turns lock-to-lock, so I thought it best to give the tiny local Woolworths carpark a miss.

On the ride-comfort front, the MU-X does little to dampen the lumps and bumps, all of which were transferred straight into the cabin making for quite a jarring ride. Around corners, there's a decent amount of body roll as you'd expect from a high-riding vehicle such as this.

The third row offers good space if you're under 150cm tall – not a great place to be if you're an adult. (image: Dan Pugh) The third row offers good space if you're under 150cm tall – not a great place to be if you're an adult. (image: Dan Pugh)

Sunday

Our schedule for the day included taking the kids to Treetops play centre, about an hour from our house and covering a mixture of urban and motorway driving.

As with all variants in the MU-X range, the LS-U houses a 3.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine under the hood. Producing 130kW at 3600rpm and 430Nm at 2000rpm, it's matched with a six-speed, Aisin-sourced automatic transmission.

  • The MU-X has 235 litres of boot space with the third row up. (image: Dan Pugh) The MU-X has 235 litres of boot space with the third row up. (image: Dan Pugh)
  • The boot expands to 878 litres when the 50/50 split-fold third row is folded flat, growing again to a massive 1830 litres with second and third rows are down. (image: Dan Pugh) The boot expands to 878 litres when the 50/50 split-fold third row is folded flat, growing again to a massive 1830 litres with second and third rows are down. (image: Dan Pugh)
  • It's worth pointing out the boot sill sits quite high. (image: Dan Pugh) It's worth pointing out the boot sill sits quite high. (image: Dan Pugh)

Providing reasonable get up from a standing start, the acceleration then arrives at a far more leisurely pace. The big diesel engine was in no mood to be hurried, with the noise generated making a regular intrusion into the cabin - particularly under acceleration. The drive is far more enjoyable at motorway speed, with the MU-X happy to cruise under 2000rpm.

For the weekend warriors looking to tow their boat, the good news is this MU-X has a braked towing capacity of 3000kg, 750kg unbraked.

As with all variants in the MU-X range, the LS-U houses a 3.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine under the hood. (image: Dan Pugh) As with all variants in the MU-X range, the LS-U houses a 3.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine under the hood. (image: Dan Pugh)

The good news continues with a truck-load of storage on offer, including 12 cupholders, door pockets with bottle holders, coat hooks and a rear cargo organiser.

The usable boot space of 235 litres with the third row up expands to 878 litres when the 50/50 split-fold third row is folded flat, growing again to a massive 1830 litres with second and third rows are down. It's worth pointing out the boot sill sits quite high, which might prove awkward for parents with prams.

There is a truck-load of storage on offer, including 12 cupholders, door pockets with bottle holders and coat hooks. (image: Dan Pugh) There is a truck-load of storage on offer, including 12 cupholders, door pockets with bottle holders and coat hooks. (image: Dan Pugh)

The five-star ANCAP-rated MU-X comes with a decent amount of safety gear including 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 ISOFIX child-seat points in the rear seat. AEB, though, is missing.

Over the course of the weekend we covered around 380km of motorway and urban driving with the trip computer displaying a fuel-consumption reading of 10.2L/100km. Higher than Isuzu's claimed consumption figure of 8.1L/100km. It's worth noting the MU-X carries a 65-litre fuel tank.

The boot has a rear cargo organiser. (image: Dan Pugh) The boot has a rear cargo organiser. (image: Dan Pugh)


The Wrap

As a suburban family taxi the MU-X receives big ticks for space and practicality. While the MU-X's no frills approach is perfect for driving off-road and touring, its rather gruff driving characteristics did not serve it as well around the urban and city streets.

Does the MU-X's down-to-earth approach to family transport appeal to you? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Likes

Space
Practicality
Exterior styling

Dislikes

Harsh ride around town
No AEB
Noisy engine

Scores

Dan:

3.5

The Kids:

$40,977 - $49,990

Based on 9 car listings in the last 6 months

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