Ticking all the right boxes: Isuzu MU-X

The second generation of Isuzu’s seven-seater mu-X was launched in South Africa towards the end of 2021, boasting bold new styling, a larger and quieter cabin, luxurious materials, and a host of driver assistance and safety features. Having driven it recently, Anton Willemse Snr believes it to be a great vehicle for families with an active lifestyle.

The SUV market has changed a fair bit in the last two years. While some competitors had engine upgrades, others added derivatives to their line-up in order to secure a larger slice of the sales pie. Isuzu went all out, launching the second generation of its mu-X… and it’s a completely different kettle of fish.

I have driven the new mu-X a few times and I have to say it impresses more each time I get behind the wheel. Driving comfort is very good and in a standard configuration, this vehicle actually offers you a lot. All the standard safety features and driver assistance systems are there, and true to the Isuzu brand, the vehicle’s off-road capabilities are up there with the best. The mu-X has a new version of Isuzu’s formidable 3-litre engine, matched to a fast shifting six-speed automatic gearbox. Particular attention was paid to the engine’s performance in three key areas, namely fuel consumption, power, and engine noise. As a result, the D-Tec engine delivers 140kW and 450Nm of peak torque, which is ample, but still slightly less than some of the other SUV brands out there. Power delivery is good, and we managed decent fuel consumption of 9.6 litres/100km, despite the fact that the vehicle was heavily loaded.

The mu-X is no slouch and acceleration is good enough for confident overtaking. At the same time, the steering is responsive and provides just enough feedback to let you know what is happening with the wheels. The cruise control needs a mention, though, as it can only be adjusted up to 130km/h and no higher – something I found rather strange.

The second-generation mu-X in 4×4 guise has certainly upped the ante in terms of off-road ability as well, with improved ground clearance, approach and departure angles, a stronger driveline and a rear differential lock instead of a limited slip differential. The ONYX model, however, is fitted with 20-inch wheels and comes standard with 255/55 R20 tyres. This, in my opinion, is not really ideal for off-road driving as the tyres don’t offer a lot of sidewall surface when deflated. The interior is greatly different to that of the previous generation, with a completely new instrument cluster that is very informative and straightforward to use. The infotainment system supports Apple Carplay and Android Auto, but for some reason, Isuzu decided on buttons for the volume control… I prefer a turning knob.

The rear is very spacious and behind the centre armrest, there is a 220V outlet and a couple of USB ports to keep electronics charged. The mu-X has generous hip, shoulder, head, and legroom throughout. However as with many other products in this market segment, the third row is best left for children and smaller adults. There’s 311 litres of boot space with all three rows of seats in place, which expands to 1 119 litres with the third row folded flat. That’s enough for a variety of items and we managed to fit in all of our branding and equipment for a show that we attended.

From an aftermarket perspective, there are numerous accessories available, ranging from suspension upgrades to replacement bumpers, roof racks, rear bumpers and drawer systems. So, if you want to kit it out as an overlanding vehicle you have plenty of options.

The Verdict

The Isuzu mu-X is definitely a very capable vehicle that offers you proven durability, supported by a well-distributed dealer network. It is brimming with comfort and convenience features, while new safety and driver assistance technology makes driving long distances a breeze.

Model line-up & pricing

  • mu-X 3.0 Ddi 4×2 LS A/T: R693 800
  • mu-X 3.0 Ddi 4×4 LS A/T: R771 600
  • mu-X 3.0 Ddi 4×2 LSE A/T: R763 300
  • mu-X 3.0 Ddi 4×4 ONYX A/T: R860 500

* All mu-X models are covered by the Isuzu Complete Care package, offering a 5-year/120 000km warranty.

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