Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Isuzu Ute MU-X



THE second-generation MU-X has been an overwhelming success for Isuzu Ute Australia, but more than a year after its launch in August 2021, it was time for a refresh.

For 2023, the MU-X gets a minor makeover with updated grille, some exterior trim finished in ‘magnetite’ grey, new wheels, and a Galaxy Blue paint option that looks pretty incredible under the sun.

More than 12,000 Australians have opted for the MU-X since the launch of the second generation, and we can only assume price point has played a part. Isuzu has kept pricing the same for 2023 and dealers are taking orders from this month.

GoAuto was also told that Isuzu will be upgrading customers who have ordered a 2022 model – if it has not yet been built – to the 2023 equivalent.

2023 Isuzu MU-X pricing:

MU-X LS-M 4×2

$48,900 + ORC

MU-X LS-U 4×2

$55,400 + ORC

MU-X LS-T 4×2

$61,400 + ORC

MU-X LS-M 4×4

$54,900 + ORC

MU-X LS-U 4×4

$61,400 + ORC

MU-X LS-T 4×4

$65,990 (special drive-away price)

In terms of technology updates, there is an ‘auto off’ feature that deactivates blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert when a trailer is hitched. There is also a hands-free tailgate that automatically opens when the person holding the keys walks at the back of the car.

One upgrade that is handy, particularly for adventurers and off-road-focused buyers is tyre pressure monitoring which is now included on LS-U and LS-T models. This was useful during the off-road section of our launch drive on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and reminded us to air-up as we admittedly would have forgotten.

The vehicle’s exterior sports the same bi-LED headlights with auto-levelling and daytime running lights as before, as well as LED combination taillights and auto-dimming rear view mirror.

A new design of 20-inch wheels were on the LS-T we tested, while the LS-M also gets new-look 17-inch alloys, (the 20s are shod in Bridgestone highway terrain tyres).

Inside the cabin, virtually nothing has changed for what was already the nicest interior ever to grace an Isuzu vehicle. LS-T and LS-U models get a 9.0-inch infotainment screen, while a smaller 7.0-inch screen sits front and centre in the LS-M base model, with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto on offer across the board.

The full suite of safety tech is once again included across the range, dubbed Isuzu Intelligent Driver Assistant System (IDAS), which includes autonomous emergency braking with turn assist, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, lane departure warning and emergency lane keeping.

All these systems work well, without being not domineering, but the same button on the steering wheel will let you turn them all off if you prefer. After many, many kilometres this is a button we rarely touch but customers asked for it and Isuzu responded.

ANCAP recently retested the MU-X, where it again scored a five-star rating. The 2023 model gets the same eight airbags and safety systems.

Isuzu still offers its 6/7/7 warranty for 2023 models, which includes a six year/150,000km warranty, capped-price servicing for seven years, and roadside assist for seven years.

Driving Impressions

The MU-X is a success story and proof that the ute-based wagon segment has the potential to knock dedicated 4×4 wagons off the leaderboard.

Although this update may be minor, the current generation MU-X is only just over a year old and was so good out of the gate that any update is good news.

It was no different to drive, but a pleasant reminder of how good Isuzu’s wagon is at being an all-round champ – much like its ute sibling.

The LS-T model we tested is still offered with a special drive-away price of $65,990 (down from $67,400 before on-road costs) but our particular tester was optioned up with a few goodies, like tow bar tongue ($215.05), 12-pin plug ($393.25), electronic brake controller ($896.05), rubber mats ($241.67), premium paint ($650), and stamp duty ($135.66) coming to a total of $69,488.88 on the road.

Isuzu’s 3.0-litre ‘4J’ turbo-diesel, with outputs of 140kW and 450Nm, is shared across the 2023 range and no changes have been made to its state of tune.

This is an engine with a hugely versatile torque spread, that somehow makes a six-speed automatic transmission feel like more than enough gears because of its widespread grunt.

We could argue for more gears, “it needs seven, or eight”, but the 4J does not seem to suffer for it.

The MU-X is by no means quick in comparison to some SUVs, nor does it corner or stop like a performance wagon, but it has more than enough pull.

We drove the LS-T model hard for two days, through snaking hinterland roads and on soft sand at beautiful Double Island Point, north of Noosa, and it was a comfortable, capable and rewarding vehicle for all of it.

The steering is fantastic and the five-link coil-sprung rear end makes the MU-X feel less like a ute-based wagon and more like a dedicated 4×4 wagon.

Isuzu has kept the best of the ute platform and improved the areas that were compromised to cater for trays and big payloads.

Once we got off-road and onto soft sand, the MU-X dominated with stock highway terrain tyres and 20-inch wheels. With the right off-road wheel and tyre setup, maybe even a suspension lift, this would be a very capable four-wheel-drive – especially since Isuzu included standard rear differential lock for this generation of MU-X.

We stopped in soft sand a few times, to see how it would go. We would have had to really try to get bogged, because the MU-X just walked out of every situation.

There is a pretty clear reason why the MU-X has seen so much success over the past year and a half.

While the updates for 2023 are only small, the MU-X is better for them – and when everything else seems to be going up in price, this Isuzu has only gone up in our estimation.

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