Thought I’d put this review up, as the Mu-X was included in the recent comparison test vs Everest, Fortuner, Pajero Sport and Patrol. With a budget of up to $50k, I looked at these (albeit not the Patrol) plus second hand Prado and Pajero. I’ve had a Pajero for 5 years before this and it’s served us well on camping trips and general dirt road touring. We towed our camper to the Cape with it last year and did plenty of the crossings on the OTT. We were looking for a new or near new vehicle to replace the Pajero and allow us to continue exploring the outback, plus run the kids and friends around between times.
The MU-X had the best rear seats of anything we looked at, especially the 3rd row. The 3rd row also folded flat and either seat could be unbolted completely. (I’ve built a false floor on one side for a fridge, but retained one of the seats as 6 people is the most we ever need to carry.
The Everest rear seat was tiny in comparison and didn’t fold down flat. The Fortuner setup is ok and could have worked just as well for us. Once I found out the Paj Sport was only coming out as a 5 seater, it was scratched from the list. Ultimately, it came down to price and I couldn’t get my head around the price Toyota wanted for it’s base spec with steel wheels and the Everest was even more ridiculous.
A quick scan online and it seemed i could get a mid-spec Mu-X for mid-$40’s which left plenty of money for bulbar and suspension and a few other mods. I couldn’t find a Prado anywhere near my price point that still had any warranty left and there were only a couple of NW Pajero around, with fairly big mileage on them. I came close to buying another Pajero, but in the end the design of the MU-X, sharp pricing, strong reputation and the nicer interior layout won us over.
We’ve only done 13,000km so far, probably 10% of that on dirt. It’s like a magic carpet on corrugated dirt. After owning a (monocoque) Pajero which would shake your teeth fillings out, the Mu-X is a revelation. Sure, it won’t corner like a car, or a Pajero for that matter, it’s quite benign and predictable. It’s a similar ride to a Prado, but with a better view over the bonnet. I’ve upgraded the suspension to heavier duty, but the isolation from small bumps is still excellent.
I haven’t done a decent trip without the camper in tow, however fuel consumption seems very good. With the camper it’s around 12l/100km and with the roof racks loaded up with tent and camping gear, between 10-11l/100km. I’ve heard of plenty of people getting 8-9l/100km for stock vehicles, but mine’s got a lift, bulbar, winch, roofracks, bigger tyres etc, so I’m quite happy with where it’s at.
The Isuzu engine is a lazy, truck motor. It’s not highly strung and sounds a bit rattly at times. I like this. It reminds me that Isuzu knows a thing or two about truck motors and this is not a highly boosted small capacity motor that I’m worried will blow up. It accelerates just fine, keeping up with traffic, and has plenty in reserve to overtake B-doubles on the highway. The cruise control and auto work well and you can manually hold gears if you choose.
The seats are comfortable for me at 188cm and also my wife and the visibility is excellent over the bonnet. You sit a little higher in it than my Pajero, but there’s still plenty of headroom. The aircon is brilliant. There are roof aircon vents in the second and third rows and it’s very effective. Our kids used to complain about the airflow in the back, but not anymore!
I’ve replaced the tiny OEM fuel tank with a 112 litre replacement from ARB. The fuel tank is probably the single biggest flaw with them. Lots of people put a rear bar on and put a second tank where the spare goes, but I don’t thnk it’s necessary. I’ll put a jerry can on the roofrack for when we head to the Simpson this winter, which should give us a good safety margin.
The other minor issue is that only the LS-T top spec model comes with a reverse camera. I think they should be standard on vehicles this size, even if it’s just a mirror monitor setup. I’ve put in an aftermarket 8″ GPS/DVD/camera setup which works a treat.
All in all, I couldn’t be happier. I’ve got an excellent vehicle which I don’t exect to give me any trouble for a very long time. I got it for a great price, which allowed me to make a few modificiations to personalise it and set it up for the sort of touring we do.