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  • Tough-as-nails build quality; reliable and efficient 3.0-litre diesel engine; off-road comfort; plenty of cabin space; easy third-row access; seven-seats
  • Not sold on the rear styling; only top-spec LS-T gets Bluetooth music streaming, sat-nav and reverse camera (not optional on other variants); no steering wheel reach adjustment.

6 / 10

Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review

Australia’s already hyper-competitive SUV market is about to get another hardcore contender with the upcoming launch of the all-new seven-seat Isuzu MU-X.

Based on the tough-as-nails D-Max ute, Isuzu’s entry to the popular automotive segment will see it line-up against fellow ute-based, turbo-diesel SUVs, including the Mitsubishi Challenger and the co-developed Colorado 7 (the Prado also has plenty in common with the HiLux).

Isuzu is hoping that an aggressive pricing strategy and significant variant line-up will help its new Isuzu MU-X gain a major foothold in the market.

Although the company has announced pricing for the five-variant range (including a pair of two-wheel-drive versions and three 4x4s) of between $40,500 and $53,500 before on-road costs, it has all but confirmed significantly reduced drive-away deals from the moment the MU-X hits showroom floors in December.

Those drive-away prices are expected to include a sub-$40,000 price tag for the entry-level 2WD auto 3.0-litre LS-M, and less than $50,000 for the range-topping 4WD LS-T.

In comparison, the Holden Colorado 7 is priced from $46,990 plus on-road costs for the 2.8-litre LT auto, while the Toyota Prado range kicks off at $55,990 for the 3.0 GX with manual transmission. The all-wheel-drive entry-level Mitsubishi Challenger starts at $42,490 for the 2.5-litre manual, but only gets two rows of seats as a five-seater.

Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review

Apart from the sharper pricing, Isuzu’s main point-of difference with its MU-X is its 2WD, auto-only variants that will allow the company to target specific fleet buyers.

While the Isuzu MU-X is a brand new design for Isuzu, the Japanese-owned truck manufacturer has sold SUVs in Australia before as the Holden Jackeroo and Frontera. The company also produced the MU-7 (based on the previous D-Max) for Thailand and other developing markets.

The styling is therefore commensurate with its tough, heavy-duty positioning in the family-size SUV segment with a D-Max-style grille and high ground clearance.

Under the bonnet of all the MU-X variants sits Isuzu’s own common-rail 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel with 130kW of power, and 380Nm between 1800rpm and 2800rpm, matched to either a five-speed manual or automatic transmission.

That compares with 147kW and 500Nm for the Colorado 7, though Isuzu say that its truck-based engine is less stressed than competitive powerplants, citing a minimum expected life cycle of 500,000km.

We tried both auto and manual versions on an off-road proving ground and favoured the automatic for its ability to creep more smoothly across large rocks and bumps. In each case, the engine pulls effortlessly and is relatively quiet and refined (as far as diesel clatter inside the cabin goes) on what was a limited test drive program in Thailand.

Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review

The manual version gets a light clutch pedal (arguably too light) and there are long throws between each gearshift.

However, despite fewer gear ratios than some competitor models, the gears are suitably wide to take advantage of the engine’s flat torque curve.

Although Isuzu’s new SUV is built on a full-length ladder chassis architecture, it swaps the live rear axle of its D-Max cousin for a more refined five-link arrangement, as well as an independent double wishbone and coil spring set-up at the front.

Those same boulders and large purpose-built mounds at Isuzu’s own 4×4 facility near Bangkok also highlighted the MU-X’s general off-road refinement and ability to cushion the ride over rough ground and large obstacles.

The Isuzu MU-X is being billed as a large SUV, so fittingly there’s plenty of space inside the cabin as well as plethora of storage compartments – including 14 cup-holders.

Not so cavernous is the luggage space behind the third row of seats, replaced by a raised storage bin suitable for laptops and other valuables.

However, there’s impressively easy access to the third row seating, with second row seats that tumble forward with a flick of a lever.

Rear-seat passengers also benefit from roof-mounted cooling vents.

Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review
Isuzu MU-X Review

Carrying longer objects such as ladders and surfboards won’t be an issue, either, as both rear seat rows fold almost flat.

While the general fit and finish throughout the vehicle is more than acceptable, don’t expect to find any soft-touch materials outside the leather upholstery – it’s all durable plastics inside the MU-X.

Interestingly, though, while the D-Max offers a slight dash variation to its Colorado twin, the MU-X even copies the circular heating and ventilation panel with central dial of both the Colorado ute and Colorado 7 SUV.

Driver and front passenger seats are comfortable and sufficiently bolstered, but the lack of reach adjustment for the steering wheel means short-legged drivers might struggle to find the ideal driving position.

While there is no doubting the MU-X’s off-road prowess and general family-hauling ability, it will be interesting to see how this vehicle holds up in local conditions at the end of the year.

With Ford about to join its rugged off-road competitors in 2015 with its Australian-designed and engineered Everest that’s based on the Ranger, Isuzu’s MU-X will need to show plenty of on-road flair if it is to keep up with a competitive and growing market here in Australia.

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Isuzu MU-X Review
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  • Sumpguard

    It looks better than the Colorado at least.

    • zahmad

      The Isuzu versions look way better than the Holden’s with the hideous bow tie grill…

    • Zaccy16

      yep the dmax does as well, unfortunately it still has the colorado 7’s crap underpinnings

    • Zaccy16

      i agree, the Dmax also looks better than the holden, unfortunately though it shares the holdens c##p underpinnings

      • Menco

        Apart from the chassis and interior bits they are very different

  • Jazrod

    Liking the rear end a lot, actually. Suppose looks are subjective.

    • Sumpguard

      I agree. I think it works well. One area a lot of these vehicles fail is in that 3rd row passenger view out the window (including mine). This mob have addressed it well.

      With that diesel option it will steal sales from Nissan’s pathfinder (depending on towing capacity) as a grey nomad tow vehicle.

      • Hung Low

        if its up rated to 3.5 tonnes like the ute, it will steal plenty of sales.

    • Looks like the rear of the new

      Looks like the rear of the new stavic

    • Zaccy16

      much better than the frumpy colorado 7 IMO

  • Guest

    If this was Great Wall, everyone would have bash this for being ugly.

    • Zaccy16

      its not beautiful but its better looking than its holden cousin

    • Sid

      No, they would bash it for being complete crud!

  • crouchy35

    No doubts it would be an impressive performer but it just doesnt have the premium looks to match the price tag so they wont sell too many of these which is dissapointing.

  • Bryan

    So in a word, is it better than the Colorado 7 or not?

    • Guest

      There is no contest, they are basically based on the same car(Isuzu D-max), Isuzu Mu-X is just uglier.

    • Hung Low

      The Isuzu proven driveline trumps the Colorado for starters.

      • matt

        the D-max rides and steer’s better then the colorado too, no doubt this will be better then the 7

        • Guest

          Colorado is re-badged Isuzu D-Max. They are all from Thailand and basically they are same cars. Jesus Christ, some people just hate whatever car that “Holden” emblem is on it.

          • Robin_Graves

            It’s more than just the badges, its suspension tune and driveline as well.

          • Zaccy16

            because holden have managed somehow to make its copy of the Dmax/mu-x worse!

          • troll

            Yeah. Takes some skill to make a copy as well

  • Me

    I don’t see how on the basis of this review this is a three star vehicle.

    • Sumpguard

      I was wondering the same.

    • Hung .low

      If it had a German badge it would be worth 4.5 stars even if priced twice as much.

    • Robin_Graves

      Agree, the negatives seem rather minor. Great alternative to a Prado.

    • mr.truth

      same same, only 4 stars if its german or korean

  • http://wykop.kz/ Talgat Deshboraydyev

    What’s the point of Isuzu in Australia? For ages Holden was replacing AWD Izusus (Holden Rodeo etc.)…

    • Pat

      GM and Isuzu went their separate ways in 2008. Since then each generation is getting more different. The 4WD utility and SUV markets are expanding in Australia which Isuzu cater to.

    • Sid

      Well they do sell a wide range of lights trucks into the Australian market, so they might as well import the remaining ute/pick-up in their range as well. Plus their diesel engines are bullet proof. Besides Holden is now on the nose as a brand for many people, so “Not-Holden” has some market appeal.

      Of course what we really want back is the mighty Isuzu Gemini! Perhaps the greatest small car ever built.

  • Igomi Watabi

    Why can nobody ever spell “Jackaroo” correctly?

  • dante

    when in the philippines

Isuzu MU-X Specs

Car Details
LS-M (4x4)
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$33,440 - $38,000
Dealer Retail
$33,490 - $39,820
Dealer Trade
$26,000 - $30,400
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
380Nm @  1800rpm
Max. Power
130kW @  3600rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
8.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:3000  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
245/70 R16
Rear Tyres
245/70 R16
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Traction Control System
Mobile Phone Connectivity, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering, Trip Computer
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Power Windows
Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Optional Features
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
60 months /  150,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Mid Driver Side Chassis
Country of Origin