Isuzu has released a much-improved – and more expensive – version of its rugged MU-X off-roader.
The seven-seat large SUV now offers segment-leading 3500kg towing capacity, a locking rear differential for better off-road ability, a roomier cabin and advanced safety and technology.
Prices are up to reflect the upgrades, though. The recommended retail price has climbed by between $2700 and $9800, depending on the model grade.
The Ford Everest aside, a four-wheel-drive Isuzu MU-X is now pricier than all its rivals. The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport starts from $47,490 and the Toyota Fortuner $49,080. Only the Ford Everest is more expensive at $55,090 for its entry-level 4WD.
The MU-X range kicks off at $47,900 for a 2WD LS-M; $53,900 buys the same model as a 4WD, while the flagship LS-T 4WD is $65,900.
Isuzu typically does drive-away deals, but from launch the only MU-X on special is the range-topper at $63,990 on the road, $2000 below its RRP.
A mid-spec LS-U 4WD has an RRP of $59,900. Add likely on-road costs of about $5000 and it will cost more than the top-spec model.
While the initial pricing is hard to fathom, it’s harder to pick holes in the MU-X’s hardware and specification. The seven-seater is based on the impressive D-Max ute, and the new MU-X has been developed according to Australian customer feedback. As the Thailand-built vehicle’s biggest export market, what we say counts.
Braked towing capacity at 3500kg will delight Isuzu’s many towing customers. From its ute-based seven-seat SUV rivals, only the SsangYong Rexton is rated this highly. The Everest, Pajero Sport and Fortuner have a maximum of only 3100kg.
Aussie feedback has also seen the MU-X’s fuel tanks increased to 80L and its wading depth raised from 600mm to 800mm.
The only engine available is Isuzu’s truck-derived 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel offering 140kW and 450Nm. Re-engineered to bring an extra 10kW and 20Nm over the old version, it promises better throttle response, efficiency and longevity.
Isuzu also promises a smoother and more refined six-speed auto gearbox. It’s the only choice on the new model, as manual versions have been given the chop.
Fuel economy is a claimed 7.8L/100km for the 2WD and 8.3L/100km for the 4WD.
Isuzu Ute Australia says it is “investigating alternatives” for more fuel-efficient models.
Since its introduction in late 2013, the MU-X has been Australia’s best-selling ute-based SUV. Buyers have been attracted to its reputation for reliability, towing skills and strong value. A longer equipment list now adds to the appeal.