The Isuzu brand has always been associated with commercial vehicles. The only passenger vehicle its has to offer the Malaysian market for quite a long time is the D-Max pick-up truck that comes in many variations. Fortunately, that has changed with the introduction of the Isuzu MU-X SUV. But will this new model able to compete with the likes of its competitors such as the Pajero and Fortuner? We did get a short test of it recently, once during a special media drive to Cameron Highlands and another when we had it for a weekend.
Let’s have a quick look at the new SUV’s background first. As the successor to the MU-7, the MU-X is a collaboration between General Motors and Isuzu, and, evidently, is closely related with the Chevrolet Trailblazer. Based on the D-Max, the MU-X is known in Thailand as a Pickup Purpose Vehicle (PPV) when it was first premiered there on 31st October 2013.
Apart from the slightly extended fender flares, the MU-X shares the exact same body shape of the Trailblazer. The front fascia, however, gets the twin-bar grille and insectoid headlights that are similar to its D-Max pickup truck but with subtle differences. It measures at 4,825 mm in length, 1.860 mm wide, 1,840 tall and has a 2,845 mm wheelbase.
The MU-X’s big dimensions contributes to its spacious 7-seater interior. It shares the same simple dashboard as the D-Max offering plenty of storage spaces. I especially like the unsual covered storage space on the dash that provides some convenience in storing small flat objects like phones and such. The simple analogue meter cluster offers an electroluminescent multi-information display with the seats and tilt-adjustable steering wheel, wrapped in leather. Infotainment is handled by a Blaupunkt Multimedia DVD player that features Mirror Link, Wifi, USB, Bluetooth, GPS Navigation and Reverse Camera with 6-Speakers.
Getting into this big SUV can be difficult even for a 174 cm person like me, but once in, you do get a high-commanding look of the view ahead. Leg, head and shoulder room in the cabin is more than adequate, with space on the third-row seats surprisingly enough even for adults. Boot space is measured at 253 litres but that’s with all the seats up. If they are all folded down, the space expands to whopping 1,830 litres. That’s a lot, but then, this is quite a big vehicle and one will start to wonder if the engine can pull such an enormous vehicle.
Surprisingly, the 2.5-litre 4JK1-TCX Turbo Intercooler Diesel engine is quiet capable. Supposedly, it develops 134 hp at 3,400 rpm and pulls a hefty 320 Nm of torque between 1,800 to 2,800 rpm. That may not sound like much for a vehicle weighing 2,060 kg but it does accelerate quite swiftly, i must say. It is mated to a 5-Speed Automatic with Sequential Shift that gives it a claimed 8.4-litres per kilometer of fuel consumption. There is also a bigger 3.0-litre variant, but that is only offered in Australia.
Handling-wise, the MU-X behaves like a typical SUV with lots of body-roll during hard cornering. However, the ride is quite confortable as, even though it uses a ladder frame structure like its D-Max, the rear suspension features a 5-link suspension with coil springs and stablisers instead of semi-elliptical leaf springs on the pickup truck. The MU-X is also fitted with Isuzu’s 4WD Terrain Command system for smooth shifting from 2WD to 4WD. Front suspension are a set of independent double wishbones with coil springs and stabiliser.
Safety features are abundance with comprehensive crash avoidance electronics that include 4-channel 4-sensor Anti-lock Brake system (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assists (BA), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Traction Control System (TSC).
In short, although the MU-X is relatively a new offering in our country, the fact that it is based on the D-Max range does give it some reliability credits. With it’s rather handsome look and spacious interior, it will give its competitors a run for their money. And speaking of money, the MU-X does offer some advantage over its rivals, as the 4X2 starts at about RM147,000 and the 4X4 variant at about RM160,000 range, is much lower than the RM170,000 offered for both the Pajero and Fortuner.
|Price (RM)||RM147,543.40 OTR|
|Engine Type||4JK1-TCX Turbo Intercooler Diesel|
|Power||134 hp @ 3,400 rpm|
|Torque||320 Nm @ 1,800-2,800 rpm|
|Gearbox||5-Speed Automatic with Sequential Shift|
|Kerb Weight||2,060 kg|
|Front Brakes||Ventilated Disc|
|Rear Brakes||Solid Disc|
|Tyres Size||255/65 R17|