Second update in three months. Slow down, Isuzu.
The venerable Isuzu MU-X, Australia’s favourite seven-seater SUV, has seen yet another update for the new model year. Just a little while ago, Isuzu Ute shoehorned a new Euro-5 compliant diesel engine under the bonnet, and now it’s got a whole new bonnet.
Australia is the first export market to receive the updated MU-X, which underlines our importance to the company. Isuzu Ute lists Australia as its biggest export market, with over 23,000 sales recorded last year alone despite only offering the MU-X SUV and the D-Max ute. Only Thailand has a greater demand for Isuzu passenger vehicles, with the Japanese brand’s manufacturing facilities based in the Land of Smiles.
The refresh for the new model year is a minor one at best, with exterior revisions limited to a new grille, flash bi-LED projector headlamps on all variants, as well as new alloy wheel designs ranging from 16-inches to 18-inches in diameter. The cabin sees greater changes for 2017 though, which address a lot of the gripes that critics and owners have levelled against the company with regard to the MU-X.
Gone are the brittle, gruff plastics that once adorned the cabin, all finished in 50 shades of grey. Instead, soft-touch, dual-tone materials now find their place in the cabin which undoubtedly add heaps more luxury and class, and reduce the utilitarian feel that was once the biggest takeaway from the outgoing model. The infotainment screen has also been upgraded with a better user interface as well as a standard reversing camera, with screens measuring in either 7.0- or 8.0-inches.
Entertainment on board has also seen an upgrade, with an eight-speaker audio system now standard across the range. Adding to that, a third USB charger has been added to the second row too, ensuring that any and all electronic devices can remain juiced up on longer journeys.
Seeing that the MU-X is used predominantly by families that require a great amount of versatility from their big SUV, Isuzu Ute deemed it prudent to add more insulation to the floor, firewall and windscreen to lower noise intrusion on the road. There’s little noise from the engine up front, with the new 3.0-litre turbodiesel that only very recently found a home in the MU-X remaining the only engine on offer. With 130kW & 430Nm on tap, the MU-X is no slouch; It’s certainly not a guzzler either, with fuel economy claimed at a miserly 7.9L/100km.
There’s a six-speed automatic as well as a six-speed manual transmission, with power able to go to just two or all-four wheels. All-wheel drive version gain underbody and transfer-case protection like the outgoing model, while all cars get hill-descent control as standard. All these upgrades come at a cost though, with prices up between $1300-$1500 depending on grade. That said, it’s safe to assume that the 130-wide dealer network will let you drive one of these new SUVs home with a sharp deal, as has always been the case with Isuzu Ute.
Prices now stand at:
• 4×2 LS-M auto – $42,800 (+$1000)
• 4×2 LS-U auto – $45,100 (+$1300)
• 4×2 LS-T auto – $48,800 (+$1300)
• 4×4 LS-M manual – $48,000 (+$1000)
• 4×4 LS-M auto – $50,100 (+$1000)
• 4×4 LS-U manual – $50,300 (+$1300)
• 4×4 LS-U auto – $52,400 (+$1300)
• 4×4 LS-T auto – $56,100 (+$1300)
The base LS-M’s continue to offer great levels of standard kit, including seven seats, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, reversing sensors with camera & guidelines, LED daytime running lights, bi-LED projector headlamps, 16-inch alloy wheels and all-terrain tyres.
Spend $2300 more and bag an LS-U, and you get an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, satellite navigation, fog lights up front, 18-inch alloys, chrome(esque) grilles, mirrors, and handles, side steps, climate control, cooling vents for all three rows (even in the back!), rear privacy glass, and a snazzy shark-fin radio antenna.
Top-spec LS-T models command a $3700 premium over the base model, but add all the features of the LS-U as well as seats accented in better-grade leather, keyless entry and go, electric adjustment for the drivers’ seat, rood rails, a rear spoiler, a chrome exhaust tip, and a 10-inch folding screen mounted on the roof.
The MU-X’s sheer ability hasn’t been compromised in any way with this years’ update. Braked towing capacity remains at 3000kg, with up to 230mm ground clearance as standard. The 4x2 is geared for better on-road performance, while 4x4 models offer selectable all-wheel drive at speeds of up to 100km/h. Hydraulic power steering means that the MU-X is never a handful, even in town.