MU-X beginning to feel old school

2018MY Isuzu MU X LS U front quarter

What is it?

The LS-U is the mid point in a simply constructed six model range of wagons. Simple because there are three trim levels with either two or four wheel drive.

Engine choice is one. Transmission choice is one. Well, two, but as only one trim level has a manual (the 4×4 LS-U), it’s easier to say one.

Peak power is just 130kW, with peak torque, between 2000rpm and 2200rpm, a thumping 430Nm. At 1500rpm there is 300Nm available.

Economy is quoted as between 7.9L and 8.1L/100km depending on trim level.

Our LS-U covered over 2000km during its tenure, with a figure of 8.5L/100km, which included four people and cargo.

2018MY Isuzu MU X LS U off road splash 1

What’s it cost?

For the manual the asking price is $50,400 plus on roads, or $52,500 for the auto — but at the time of writing there is a driveaway offer of $48,990.

Our test car came fitted with weather shields, a $220 option, bonnet protector at $187, and a tow-bar at $1088.

Safety is comprehensive. Reverse Camera, Rear Park Assist, and Emergency Brake Assist start the package. Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, and Trailer Sway Control are also included. Six airbags, a pedestrian friendly safety bonnet, the usual traction aids, and it’s pretty well spec’d.

The interior is roomy, comfortable, has black cloth seats, and Isuzu even lobbed in rubber mats. A wise choice as it turned out.

The third row seats are easily accessed via the tilt and fold middle row seats, and there’s just enough room for teenagers.

Rear leg room is 815mm, as opposed to 915mm for the middle. They also get a pair of USB ports quietly hidden in the top of the centre console.

Up front leg room is 1106mm, with head room of 1009mm and shoulder room of 1453mm.

If there is an area that needs a lift it’s the centre screen. It’s based on a circular design that is easy to use, but the info screen is bland and boring, with washed out pastel hues.

Compared to the screen in its sibling the Holden Trailblazer, it looks like something from a cheap quality cartoon. Even the satnav looks like something from that era, and is slow to access screens as the car changes direction. Oh, and there is no digital radio.

The driver’s screen is better, with information accessed via the indicator and wiper stalks thanks that have a button on the end. It’s a simple look, with an easy to read interface.

On the outside the test vehicle was clad in pearlescent white paint, a lovely hue in all light conditions. Rubber is from Bridgestone, with Dueler H/T 255/60/18s wrapping 12-spoke alloys.

In profile the MU-X is a bluff, no nonsense looker, with a sharp, eagle-eyed front, solid sides, and a blockish rear.

2018MY Isuzu MU X LS U front seats

What’s it go like?

Although the six speed auto shifts smoothly on the run, it’s hampered at times by an engine that goes off boost and takes a few moments to recover its breath.

This generally occurs when coming to a stop, such as an intersection. It also runs out of breath easily past 3000 revs. But off throttle the diesel is a quiet chatterer and even under load doesn’t really get too thrashy.

Off the line acceleration is leisurely at best, sluggish at worst. It’s certainly no rocketship. Where it excels is in its locomotive like pull.

It’s an easy, relaxed, low stress machine, with a linear way of getting up to speed. Plant the hoof and it’ll haul itself up to driving velocities unhurriedly, but at a constant rate of acceleration.

On two separate country trips it loped along in a quiet manner, with a pleasant demeanour and quiet determination to do the job. Overtaking is not its forte, though, and any move to do so requires plenty of planning.

The suspension has a tendency to wallow but handling is confident. It’s typical old school four wheel drive, needing to cope with any off-road excursions but at the same time delivering a decent tarmac experience. There’s noticeable body movement yet the tyres remain planted, confidently.

In Bega, and in the lower Blue Mountains, the LS-U was taken through a gentle river crossing, and some testing fire trail conditions.

In the centre console is a dial to select four wheel drive high or low range. Dial up 4WD High and it slides through the sandy base of a shallow Bega River without a cough. The 230mm clearance isn’t the best but it’s enough.

There are no drive modes such as for Rock, Snow, etc, relying only on the choice of high or low range. Taken on our favoured test trail in Faulconbridge, which has a mix of mud, sand, rock, gravel, and some reasonable inclines, it coped, for the most part, happily. As did the rubber mats from foot borne detritus.

Underneath a plastic shroud came loose, as did the pair of tow hook covers in the plastic trim on the front bumper’s lower edge. A lack of extra protection for the sidesteps was also evident.

But, again, the low revving, no nonsense drive system and its unfussed nature hauled the MU-X through the rest of the trail just fine.

2018MY Isuzu MU X LS U rear seats

What we like?

  • The unfussed nature of the engine
  • Comfortable and roomy interior
  • Simple to use third row seats

2018MY Isuzu MU X LS U wheel

What we don’t like?

  • 1980s style display on main touchscreen
  • Unsteady body control
  • Lack of breath at revs over 3000rpm

2018MY Isuzu MU X LS U cargo

The bottom line?

It’s a crowded market that the MU-X sits in, and with the recent release of Ford’s new mid-sized Endura, a vehicle with what appears to be a better equipment list, at or below the asking price of the LS-U in 4×4 trim — it immediately looks old and left behind.

But if you’re in the market for a comfortable, reasonably well spec’d  machine that doesn’t have a blue oval, red lion, H, or other icons on the front, it’ll do you well enough.

CHECKOUT: Isuzu’s ‘eXciting’ off road wagon

CHECKOUT: We give it to the MAX


Isuzu MU-X LS-U, priced from $48,990 driveaway
  • Looks - 7/10
  • Performance - 6/10
  • Safety - 7.5/10
  • Thirst - 8.5/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 7/10

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