If you love the Isuzu D-Max ute but need some extra boot space and seating for the family, then the MU-X is your ride. It's roughly the same price, so you don't feel like you're getting stung for needing those extra features, either.
It's got some competition with the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and new Ford Everest, as well as the Toyota Fortuner, but the four-wheel-drive capabilities and family friendly interior means the MU-X more than holds its own.
I'm beginning to understand why Isuzu doesn't bother having any more than two horses in its stable...
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Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
I've been driving the top-spec MU-X LS-T grade and it's priced at $67,400 before on-road costs. Isuzu currently has a national drive-away offer of $65,990 on this grade. It sits right in the middle being almost $5K more expensive than the Pajero Sport but $10K cheaper than the Everest.
The price tag for the LS-T doesn't seem outrageous given the solid features list. A few highlights include the very comfortable leather seats, heated front seats and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are some steel plate guards that provide extra underbody protection for those wanting to go off-road – I didn't go off the paved stuff but check out Crafty's comparison review that will be published on the Easter long weekend for the 4WD specs.
The vehicle I tested is also fitted with an optional tow bar kit and electronic brake controller, which adds $2079 to the price tag, but they're a handy addition for any true adventuring family.
The interior has soft touch points throughout that are mixed with a nice combo of trims to make it feel refined. (image: Glen Sullivan)
Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?
At 1825mm tall, the MU-X has clear SUV proportions, but urban drivers need not stress because, at 4850mm long and 1870mm wide, it's still accommodating in a tight car park.
The nose is nicely tapered and accentuated by a large chrome grille with black highlights and sharp LED lights. It's very similar to its stablemate, the D-Max, but the addition of the ‘boot' doesn't compromise it's kerb-side appeal. There are no sharp blocky-looking edges on this and while handsome, it doesn't prance to announce its presence. There's a subtlety to it's styling that should see it age well.
The interior has soft touch points throughout that are mixed with a nice combo of trims to make it feel refined but it is let down by flimsy/plasticky sun visors and door panelling.
Isuzu MU-X LS-T: An SUV designed to tick as many categories as it can. Does it succeed? (image: Glen Sullivan)
At 1825mm tall, the MU-X has clear SUV proportions, but urban drivers need not stress. (image: Glen Sullivan)
At 4850mm long and 1870mm wide, it’s still accommodating in a tight car park. (image: Glen Sullivan)
The nose is nicely tapered and accentuated by a large chrome grille with black highlights and sharp LED lights. (image: Glen Sullivan)
There are no sharp blocky-looking edges on this and while handsome, it doesn’t prance to announce its presence. (image: Glen Sullivan)
Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?
The interior is roomy with decent leg and headroom available to front and middle-row passengers. The side steps made it easy for my six-year old to get in and out without my help (always a plus) and the high ride ensured a good view for him this week.
Storage throughout is adequate for an SUV of this size but the middle console and drink bottle holders could be a little deeper and wider. The double glovebox and hidden retractable cupholders in the dashboard are a highlight, though.
The interior is roomy with decent leg and headroom available to front and middle-row passengers. (image: Glen Sullivan)
There are enough creature comforts in the front and middle rows to satisfy individual family members, however, I was disappointed that there is only one USB-A port up front and no wireless charging pad. But the second row gets two USB-A ports, which should help with staying charged up on a road trip.
As far as third-row amenities go, it's a bit lean and tall adults will complain about the space, but it was fine for my 168cm height (5ft6). It's easy to climb back there because of the tumble-fold function of the middle row and the multiple grab handles.
As far as third-row amenities go, it’s a bit lean and tall adults will complain about the space. (image: Glen Sullivan)
I always like to have a powered tailgate and the level load space of the boot made it very easy to slide gear in and out this week. The boot is very practical with 311L of space available when all rows are in use but you can bump that up to a massive 1119L when the third row is flat. You can also knock it up again to a whopping 2138L with all back seats are folded down, if you need it.
Impressively, you also get a full-size spare tyre too.
The 9.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system is easy to use once you get used to it and the built-in satellite navigation was a plus. It has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and it was simple to get the connection going but it did take a few minutes for the CarPlay to kick in once you started the car up. I prefer to see a 360-degree view camera on large SUVs like this but the reversing camera in the MU-X is adequate and clear.
The boot is very practical with 311L of space available when all rows are in use but you can bump that up to a massive 1119L when the third row is flat. (image: Glen Sullivan)
You can also knock it up again to a whopping 2138L with all back seats are folded down, if you need it. (image: Glen Sullivan)
Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?
All MU-X models share the same 3.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine but it perfectly complements the 4WD system. With a maximum output of 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque, most weekend adventures can be pursued. It also doesn't feel like you're digging deep for that power, which is great.
The six-speed auto transmission is surprisingly smooth but occasionally the pick-up isn't super quick when you're going from a standstill. It can feel heavy in that situation but I was still confident when I had to cut across city traffic, so it wasn't a major bother.
Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?
The official combined fuel cycle is 8.3L/100km. Real-world testing saw my figure at 7.7L. I've been doing a good mix of open-road and urban driving this week, so I think that's very respectable for the size of this car.
The MU-X has an 80L fuel tank with an approximate driving range of 900km.
Overall, I've enjoyed driving this. The engine has enough grunt to make you feel you can handle most situations and despite being a turbo-diesel, it's not super loud in the cabin. You do notice a fair bit of wind noise, though.
The only real drawback to the driving experience has been the ride comfort. I'm a fan of the D-Max and feel it outruns its stablemate in this area. I'm not sure if it's the suspension or tyres but you feel a lot of the bumps in the road.
The vehicle I tested is also fitted with an optional tow bar kit and electronic brake controller. (image: Glen Sullivan)
The high driving position and the visibility out of the windows has been fantastic and helps make up for the ride quality. The steering is firm and direct, making this feel like a smaller car than it is and that's a nice feeling to have in a large SUV.
It's not a beast to park either and you'll be comfortable navigating your local shopping centre car park.
A few highlights include the very comfortable leather seats and heated front seats. (image: Glen Sullivan)
Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?
The safety list is extensive with standard features including LED daytime running lights, automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (operational from 8-160km/h), forward collision warning, lane departure alert, lane keeping aid, emergency lane keeping aid, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert (always good to have), reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors.
I like that it has traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control, too. It just takes some of the mundane thinking out of a long trip.
There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats in the middle row and three top tether anchor points. (image: Glen Sullivan)
The MU-X was recently awarded a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2022 and it has eight airbags, which include a drivers' knee airbag, curtain airbags covering the third row and the newer front centre airbag.
There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats in the middle row and three top tether anchor points. The middle row is wide enough that, with the right child seats, you should be able to fit three side by side. There is enough room for front occupants when a 0-4 rearward facing child seat is installed.
The safety list is extensive. (image: Glen Sullivan)
Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?
This comes with a six-year/150,000km warranty, but it is usual to see an unlimited kilometre term in this class.
The MU-X comes with a seven-year capped-priced servicing plan and services are competitively priced at an average of $527. Servicing intervals are reasonable at every 12 months or every 15,000km, whichever occurs first.
Isuzu has proven that you don't need a lot of horses in the stable to get things right and the MU-X 4x4 LS-T is a horse I can back. It offers kid-friendly growing space, a roomy interior for parents and a powerful engine. It also has just enough creature comforts to make it competitive against its rivals but I would have liked to have seen a few more scattered throughout for the price tag, especially in that third row. While the driving is pretty solid, the ride isn't as refined as it could be, but my family really enjoyed the MU-X this week and it earns a solid 8.0/10 from us.
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