SUV’s are far from a new concept. You can travel back in time to World War II and find prominent examples of their ancestors being utilised on both sides of the war. From the Willys Jeep to the trusty Toyota Land Cruiser, there have been numerous examples and incarnations of ways to take the whole family off roading, to tame the outback and conquer the terrain unreachable by regular automobile.
That said, there has always been a bit of a stigma attached.
Until recently, you have had one of two options when it comes to selecting a family SUV:
1: The soccer mum car’s – Ford Territory, Holden Captiva, etc – which are about as useful off road as a pair of high heels
2: The big boys toys – Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, etc – which are often too big and too thirsty to live with daily when you don’t live on a farm, and are often times to expensive for the average family income to afford.
Thankfully, there’s been a change in the landscape. A new challenger has arrived that combines the two – for a reasonable price.
Ladies and gentlemen, please give a round of applause to the Isuzu MU-X.
It’s the latest creation from Thailand’s motoring industry and boy does it have a lot to offer.
The famous Isuzu 4JJ1 3.0 Litre turbo diesel produces 130kw and boasts 380nm of torque from 1850rpm – or translated to a sales pitch it can haul 3 tonnes (braked) without a problem. Trust me, I’ve done it.
And that’s only the start of the brilliance.
The 4WD drive system is excellent and extremely user friendly with the added bonus that it steers like a small hatchback (11.6 meter turning circle). The ride is impeccably smooth for such a large vehicle.
The 7 seats come standard and there is ample leg room even in the third row for anyone under 5′ 10″. If you are willing to part with $55,000 you can have the luxury LS-T model which comes with a touch screen infotainment system including navigation and leather seats. But for the budget conscious individual your base model 4×2 ls model starts at around $40,000 -plus on-raods – and increases from there.
The fuel economy will put most SUVs to shame with a claimed 8.3L/100km combined. The marketing department at Isuzu took a base model 4×2 out last year and made over 1100km on one tank of fuel.
As with all turbo diesel vehicles, the turbo lag is evident when pulling away from the lights but whether you’re in the Manual or Automatic spec, it’s over so fast you barely notice it.
The warranty is impressive too.
5 years/130,000km and capped price servicing for the first 3 years is a lot to be happy about. And once out of the capped range your service costs will vary between $300-1200 for a service depending on the interval.
The biggest disappointment about the masterful MU-X is the interior. The plastics on the dash are dull and tacky. The cluster is over flowing with red dials and a basic LCD screen that makes a Gameboy Colour look modern. The steering wheel is a little out dated but aside from those that’s very little you can fault it on, and when you consider it’s $20,000 less than it’s closest rival, the Toyota Prado, it’s insanely good value for money.
Overall, it’s an excellent family car. School runs, nights out, camping, towing. It really doesn’t matter what you want to do the MU-X will get you there – oh and did I mention it’s cheaper to own and run than a Deisel Ford Territory? Yeah, that’s right, it is.
As Isuzu’s current marketing campaign states, you can go your own way. But when it comes to an SUV the whole family can get the most out of, it’s hard to look past the MU-X