The new-generation Isuzu MU-X arrived in Australia with critical acclaim, not only being a huge step forward from its ageing predecessor but also pushing itself to the top of the ute-based 4×4 segment.
We’ve covered the top-spec LS-T in detail, which impresses with its fulsome equipment list and luxurious trim bits, but what about some of the more humble variants?
Here on test we have the 2022 Isuzu MU-X LS-U 4×4, a mid-range model that still goes hard on features and spec but doesn’t carry the same steep price as the LS-T – though it still is pushing $60,000 before on-roads.
Is this the sweet spot in the range? Time to find out.
How much does the Isuzu MU-X LS-U cost?
There are three trim levels in the 2022 Isuzu MU-X line-up, each offering 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrain options.
Our MU-X LS-U 4×4 tester is priced from $59,900 plus on-road costs, or around $65,230 drive-away using the brand’s online configurator with a Melbourne postcode.
2022 Isuzu MU-X pricing:
- 2022 Isuzu MU-X LS-M 4×2: $47,990
- 2022 Isuzu MU-X LS-U 4×2: $53,900
- 2022 Isuzu MU-X LS-M 4×4: $53,900
- 2022 Isuzu MU-X LS-T 4×2: $59,900
- 2022 Isuzu MU-X LS-U 4×4: $59,900
- 2022 Isuzu MU-X LS-T 4×4: $65,900
All prices exclude on-road costs.
Factory options are limited to premium paint finishes – which in the case of our Moonstone White Pearl test car adds $500 – and Isuzu also offers a range of dealer-fitted accessories like nudge bars, snorkels, and towing mirrors.
Key competitors for the MU-X LS-U 4×4 include:
- Ford Everest Trend 3.2 4×4: $60,890
- LDV D90 Executive 4×4: $48,990 D/A
- Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GSR 4×4: $63,990 D/A
- SsangYong Rexton Ultimate: $54,990 D/A
- Toyota Fortuner Crusade: $62,945
- Toyota Prado GX: $59,8490
Prices exclude on-road costs unless otherwise specified.
What do you get?
MU-X LS-U highlights:
- 18-inch alloy wheels with Bridgestone 684 II HT tyres
- Body-coloured door mirrors and handles
- Silver/chrome front grille
- Leather steering wheel, gear selector
- Electric lumbar support for driver
- Piano black, chrome/silver/cloth door trims
- Bronze, chrome dashboard trims
- Keyless entry and start with walk-away locking
- 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto
- Satellite navigation
- DAB+ digital radio
- Eight-speaker sound system
- Dual-zone climate control with rear vents and controls
- Auto-levelling headlights with auto high-beam
- LED fog lights
- LED tail lights
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Powered tailgate with remote entry
- Roof rails
- Rear privacy glass with chrome window trim
That’s on top of the standard specification of the LS-M, which includes:
- Electric park brake
- 17-inch alloy wheels with Dunlop AT25 All-Terrain tyres
- Black-trimmed door mirrors and door handles
- Black/grey grille
- Urethane steering wheel and shifter
- Cloth seat trim and carpet flooring
- Keyless entry and start
- 7.0-inch touchscreen
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto
- DAB+ digital radio
- Four-speaker sound system
- Manual air-conditioning with rear vents and controls
- Bi-LED headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
Is the Isuzu MU-X LS-U safe?
The Isuzu MU-X wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating with 2020 datestamp.
It managed an adult occupant protection score of 87 per cent, a child occupant protection score of 85 per cent, a safety assist score of 84 per cent, and a vulnerable road user protection score of 69 per cent.
The whole MU-X range comes with a full gamut of active safety features, including:
- Eight airbags (including front-centre airbag)
- AEB with junction assist
- Forward collision warning
- Lane departure warning
- Lane-keep assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Post-collision braking (stops the car after a rear-end accident)
- Wrong-pedal braking (stops if you’ve hit the accelerator instead of the brake)
- Adaptive cruise with stop/go
- Driver attention monitoring
- Traffic sign recognition
- Trailer sway control
- Reversing camera
- Rear parking sensors
What is the Isuzu MU-X LS-U like on the inside?
The previous-generation MU-X was sorely lacking in modern amenities, but that’s all changed with this new iteration.
Like the D-Max, the new MU-X is a huge step forward over its predecessor in terms of presentation and standard features, but we wouldn’t go as far as calling it overly plush given the price point – though it’s easily on par with direct rivals.
In LS-U trim there’s a large 9.0-inch touchscreen with embedded satellite navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay (plus wired Android Auto), dual-zone climate control, padded leatherette dashboard trim, and a clean analogue instrument cluster with TFT driver’s supervision display.
While on paper the infotainment setup lines up well against the competition, we found the wireless Apple CarPlay to be a little slow to load up, and navigating through the native interface can be a little laggy. Volume levels for the audio streaming are on the softer side as well.
As is typical for ute-based 4x4s, the cabin is quite utilitarian and quite similar to the D-Max dual-cab it’s based on. That means there’s a lot of harder plastics dotted around the cabin, though touch points like the leather steering wheel and comfortable, supportive seats feel very upmarket.
Build quality feels pretty darn rock solid, though, and even though it lacks the interior tactility of vehicles like the Hyundai Santa Fe or Kia Sorento, the cabin is solidly screwed together and built to last whatever life can throw at it. This is an adventure vehicle, after all.
There’s good adjustment in the driver’s seat and steering wheel, though leggy people like myself have to choose between having your hands too far from the wheel or have your legs bent a little more than you’d like. Still, a big improvement.
I prefer the cloth trim of the LS-U compared to the leather-accented trim of the top-spec LS-T, but they may not be as kid-friendly for spills and sticky fingers.
Ergonomically the Isuzu MU-X doesn’t go overboard with switchgear but everything is logically laid out and the feel of the buttons is nicely damped. It again plays to that more premium positioning.
Move into the second row and there’s more than enough space for a couple of adults or adult-sized kids. The wide and flat centre position, as well as the relative lack of a transmission tunnel, means the middle seat is usable as well.
The seats recline and fold with a 60:40 split. Rear air vents are mounted in the roof, there’s map pockets behind each front seat, and there’s two USB charge points to keep mobile devices juiced.
A fold-down centre armrest with cupholders resides in the middle seat, and there are also bottle holders in the rear doors.
ISOFIX anchor points on each outboard pew and top-tether points across all three positions means little ones are catered for, too.
Like its predecessor, the MU-X offers a surprisingly spacious third row, that can accommodate even adults for short to medium journeys in decent comfort.
I surprised myself being able to squeeze my 6’1-ish frame into the rearmost seating without much fuss, and having decent head- and knee room.
The second row tumbles forward for easier ingress and egress, but there’s no slide adjustment which means you can’t give third-row passengers more legroom if they need.
Third-row amenities include armrests with cupholders, separate fan controls for the roof-mounted vents, and that pretty much rounds it out.
As for boot space, the MU-X is very practical. Quoted luggage volume is 311L in seven-seat configuration, expanding to 1119L and 2138L in five- and two-seat layouts respectively.
The space itself is also wide, flat and nicely square. Given the lofty 235mm ground clearance, though, the loading floor is quite high.
LS-M and LS-U versions of the MU-X feature a full-size steel spare wheel. The flagship LS-T gets an alloy spare.
What’s under the bonnet?
Power in all 2022 Isuzu MU-X models comes from the same 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine as the D-Max ute, making 140kW (3600rpm) and 450Nm (1600-2600rpm).
In 4×2 models, it’s sent exclusively to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The 4×4 adds a switchable four-wheel drive with high- and low-range, along with a locking rear differential.
The 3.0-litre diesel uses a claimed 7.8L/100km on the combined cycle in 4×2 models, and a claimed 8.3L/100km on 4×4 models. All models are fitted with an 80-litre fuel tank.
The headline figure is the 3500kg braked-towing capacity, up 500kg on the previous generation. A 350kg towball download applies when fitted with a genuine Isuzu tow kit.
How does the Isuzu MU-X LS-U drive?
We’ve driven a few versions of the MU-X and related D-Max at CarExpert over the past year, and the LS-U stays true to form.
Performance from that 3.0-litre oiler is effortless and at times lazy, usually refined with a muted but clattery note that can get a little loud under harder throttle inputs.
It’s a big tall, cushy thing, with dynamics much more akin to a more traditional SUV – which is par for the course.
The steering is super light to make tight manoeuvres and parking much easier, helped by the reversing camera and sensors, but not always super communicative. It’s no sports crossover, nor is it meant to be.
Around town its lazy nature makes it a comfortable and easy companion despite its size, with the chubby tyre sidewall and softer suspension tune ironing out potholes and tram tracks nicely.
The lack of idle stop/start means you’ll hear that diesel rumbling a lot if you’re in peak-hour traffic, and fuel use can climb quickly in town should you regularly frequent high-traffic routes on the way to and from work.
Get it out on the open road though, and the MU-X really shines.
Isuzu has made this thing for road trips, it just eats up the miles and seems to feel its most comfortable at a relaxed cruise.
Sitting at 100-110km/h the turbo-diesel is quietly humming away well below 2000rpm, while road noise is kept to luxury car levels of low. There’s a bit of wind noise off the big side mirrors but it’s wonderfully refined for something so rugged.
The MU-X’s comprehensive suite of driver assist systems are at your fingertips, though occasionally we found them to be a little underdone in terms of the calibration.
Adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist are both handy to have on longer journeys – particularly the latter’s active lane-centring function – though the camera-based setup can occasionally misjudge lines or leading vehicle distance and not do what you’re perhaps intending.
On occasion I found the lane-keep reacts too strongly to avoid the outside line on a bend, and other times let you drift over. Some work to do here.
Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert work a treat, especially given the MU-X’s dimensions. Reversing out of tight spaces is made easier and merging into gaps in city traffic can be done with a little extra confidence when piloting this long car.
How about off-road? Well, I took the MU-X to the Melbourne 4×4 Training & Proving Ground, to get a taste of the Isuzu’s capabilities off the beaten track.
Many of you will have seen Paul do the offset mogul and log climb on the CarExpert YouTube channel, and it was those same exercises I decided to tackle in the MU-X.
The MU-X basically marched through all we could throw at it, despite some deep puddles left from the previous day’s rain – meaning a bit more slippery mud was about the place.
The low-range gearing and hill-descent control are both easy to navigate and engage, as well as the locking centre differential.
It was good fun getting the MU-X muddy, and I barely scratched the surface of its capabilities. This is all out of the box too, no accessories or modifications here.
How much does the Isuzu MU-X LS-U cost to run?
The Isuzu D-Max is covered by a six-year, 150,000-kilometre warranty bolstered by seven years of roadside assistance and seven years of capped-price servicing.
For those first seven visits to the workshop, the MU-X will set you back $389, $409, $609, $509, $299, $749 and $409 – a total of $3373 over 84 months or 105,000 kilometres. Intervals are 12 months or 15,000km. Whichever comes first.
As for real-world fuel consumption, we saw an indicated 8.6L/100km over 878.9km of mixed driving. Our week of testing included peak-hour commuting to and from the CarExpert office, urban errands, as well as some longer stints on the highway out to the Melbourne 4×4 Proving Ground and to Wonthaggi in Victoria’s south east.
It wasn’t far off Isuzu’s 7.8L/100km official claim, though we did see mid-nines with more urban use, not helped by the lack of idle stop/start technology. You’d easily see over 1000km per fill of the 80-litre tank with more freeway use.
CarExpert’s Take on the Isuzu MU-X LS-U
The previous Isuzu MU-X was incredibly popular with Australian families right up until it went out of production, and the new one is a substantially better car in just about every measure.
It’s more comfortable, more refined, better to drive, better equipped, and as spacious as ever. Compared to the current crop of rivals, you can’t really top it for the money – though an all-new Ford Everest should be landing within 12 months with even more sophisticated technology.
At a smidgen under $60,000 before on-roads, the mid-spec MU-X offers a good balance of features and value, and is better placed against rival models, particularly some of the sharper-priced competitors from LDV and SsangYong.
You also get that reputation for reliability the brand’s truck division is known for, segment-leading interior and safety technologies (at least for now), and a pretty solid ownership program – it really doesn’t put a foot wrong in any particular area.
This would be my pick of the current offerings hands down.
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