On a street near you, you’re most likely to spot an MU-X - for good reason too, as it’s one of the most popular 4x4 capable 7-seaters on the market.
Isuzu has a long standing history in the truck and ute market, but it more recently cracked the SUV market with a D-MAX derived 7-seater.
This 4x4 SUV is built on the same chassis, but is engineered to make it more family-oriented. Of course, the MU-X is built with off-roading in mind, as it retains and slightly improves the four wheel drive capability of the ute it's based off.
Because there’s a brand new MU-X for 2021/22 that’s arriving in the coming months, I took out the last of the existing generation to ask: should you buy this generation of MU-X, or should you wait for the new one?
Build Quality4.2 out of 5.
If you’re looking for luxury materials, you’ll have to shop elsewhere.
The MU-X is utilitarian with a capital U. First and foremost, it's an off-roader, and then it's a family SUV. This means it has a tough exterior to last against the elements and a robust interior to weather against dirt, dust and kids.
Externally, the MU-X has a similar build quality to the D-MAX, so it's definitely going to stand the test of time running across both tarmac and mud ruts.
For added longevity, there are factory bash plates fitted underneath the MU-X that protect some of its vitals when you manage to drive over larger obstacles.
Internally, the materials used are fairly basic. Cloth seats, hard plastic trim and even the touch screen all avoid feeling delicate, and instead give drivers confidence that these features will also last despite being kicked and scuffed.
Value for Money3 out of 5.
This isn’t the strong suit for the last of this generation’s MU-X. The model I had was the MU-X in LS-U 4x4 trim, which is priced from $58,302 drive-away.
There are many competitors on the market that offer a similar value proposition, but do a better job at justifying their comparable price tag - take for example the new Toyota Fortuner.
I’m expecting the MU-X to make waves when it lands, and hopefully make it extremely competitive again. However, in 2021, this MU-X model is hard to justify for many considering this a family-oriented SUV.
This MU-X is missing out on key bits of safety equipment and technology which are now standard on cars that are $20,000 cheaper than this. Blind spot monitoring and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are key omissions that make daily driving a little less enjoyable.
Similar to track-focused cars like the Lotus, the MU-X has fantastic off-road capabilities and enough equipment to get that job done. It’s just up to you if you value buying an Isuzu over the current crop of competition before the new one rolls onto showroom floors.
Cleaning and Maintenance4.5 out of 5.
Thanks to the ground clearance of the MU-X, it’s easy to clean out any stubborn dirt or mud stuck to its underside. Additionally, the side steps let you get a better view of the roof, just in case some mud or dirt has accumulated there as well.
As for maintaining this SUV, the MUX comes with a 6 year/150,000km warranty which will cover you for most of your ownership.
Isuzu also covers capped price servicing for up to 7 years, helping bring additional peace of mind if you plan on buying an MU-X that’s a few years old
Noise Level3.5 out of 5.
There’s no hiding that the MU-X is based on the D-MAX, as you’re going to hear that diesel motor bleed into the cabin like you would on a working ute.
Unfortunately for those who prefer a quieter ride around town, under acceleration, the 3.0L diesel four-cylinder makes itself known to all the occupants. More so than other diesel motors, the engine sound bleeds into the cabin is quite noticeable. It’s not a deafening sound, but it’s going to come at a slight shock for those used to riding in quieter diesels.
Once you’re up to a consistent speed, the four-cylinder audibly settles and you’re greeted with the benefits of a diesel engine whilst out on the open road. Revs drop, and the cabin of the MU-X becomes a whole lot more relaxed.
The audio system in the MU-X isn’t disappointing despite its age. There’s a ‘surround sound’ feature in the form of downward-facing speakers placed on the roof, providing a richer sound, especially for the front passengers.
Despite lacking Apple CarPlay, I found listening to podcasts and music in the MU-X to be more upmarket for what I was expecting. However, there are some shortcomings in the overall audio quality in the form of a slight amount of distortion.
Braking3.7 out of 5.
There are four-disc brakes on all four wheels.
I’m a firm believer that road-focused 4x4s should have disc brakes all-around rather than drums on the rear wheels. This is because you’re more likely to be towing and carrying less than the lower-trims would be. Despite not having disc brakes, you can still tow up to 3 tonnes braked!
Braking in the MU-X was excellent for a two-tonne SUV, with a relatively progressive pedal feel enabling you to drive smoothly and come to a stop with relative precision.
The only issues are the weight and height of the MU-X, which becomes apparent when you dig deeper into that brake pedal. Be careful of any loose containers as the MU-X will pitch whatever they’re carrying forwards if you brake hard enough.
Acceleration/Power3.8 out of 5.
Unlike the current D-MAX, the MU-X is carrying the older version of Isuzu’s 3.0L diesel motor.
In this generation, the MU-X is dealing with 130kW @ 3600rpm and 430Nm @ 2000-2200rpm.
Notice just how low in the rev range peak torque is generated, aiding in the off-road capability of this 7-seater.
Off the mark, the MU-X certainly picks up the pace. Although a 0-100km/h figure would land in the realm of nearing 10 seconds, the real-world performance of this motor never leaves you feeling like this SUV is underpowered.
Instead, the MU-X is able to comfortably move around town without the need to be buried in the accelerator pedal. On the highway, you won’t be left behind as overtaking is effortless thanks to all that torque.
When you’re out in the stickier stuff, the MU-X in low-range 4x4 mode provides confidence that you’ll make it out alive.
With what feels like a precise delivery of power, the MU-X never slips or faults when putting its power to the dirt. I was met with impressive power-delivery which only encouraged me to find more difficult terrain to put this SUV through.
Gear Shifting3.7 out of 5.
Isuzu proves that you don’t need 9 speeds in your family SUV.
The 6-speed transmission used in the MU-X is able to seamlessly shift, even at low speeds, without ever feeling strained. My only complaint is the speed at which it shifts, which can feel a little slow. Oh, and don’t get me started on manual shifting out on the road...it’s best to leave this for holding gears when off-roading.
Suspension & Handling3 out of 5.
Built on the D-MAX’s ladder frame chassis, but without the leaf-spring suspension, the MU-X struggles to soak up bumps as you’d expect from a 7-seater family car.
It’s apparent the MU-X can’t shake the fact that it’s a dedicated off-roader, as this suspension setup seems to give you too much feedback across tarmac. If you cross enough bumps and potholes, it seems to really upset the ride of the MU-X and can cause passengers to complain about the ride of the car.
On smoother sections of road, the MU-X settles and can glide across most highways with ease. When you start to hit corners, you’re met with the surprise that the MU-X can handle turns relatively well; a pleasant trade-off for those around-town jitters. As quickly as you’re impressed with how this SUV can prevent itself from sinking too much in the corners, it's dampened by the slow steering ratio.
This slow ratio keeps you busy and shuffling your hands as soon as a corner progresses into anything sharper than 100 degrees.
The suspension and handling make the most sense off-road. The MU-X is still busy over uneven surfaces, but it’s solid grip and added protection underneath the car provided confidence that the 4x4 wouldn’t bottom out across deeper ruts.
Fuel Efficiency3.9 out of 5.
There’s a 65L tank on board, and it’ll cost you just around $90 to fill from empty.
Claimed total fuel consumption is 8.3L/100km.
The MU-X didn’t have an onboard L/100km computer, instead it spat out km per litre of fuel, converting my average meant I was closer to 10L/100km.
Interior Design2.8 out of 5.
This is a utilitarian SUV.
The inside of the MU-X offers no luxury extras.. It’s about simply offering you everything you need, not everything you might want.
The touch-screen looks like it was taken from 2011, as it has basic navigation and media utility, and of-course a glaring omission of any options for phone mirroring. There’s bluetooth available at least, but it makes changing playlists or podcasts a little more difficult.
There are basic analogue gauges, easy to use climate controls, and a shifter anyone could operate.
The car has a vast amount of storage options in the cabin too, from the middle of the dashboard, through to the dual-glove box configuration.
There’s also no shortage of places to source electricity from, with USB and 12V sockets littered throughout the cabin, and covered in rubber flaps that prevent dust entering these ports.
The mid-row seats have plenty of room for adults, and are able to recline and slide forwards for additional cargo space, or leg room for the third-row.
For the family holiday, it makes for a roomy and easy to use interior without the stress of having to preserve delicate leather or avoid getting crumbs caught in some expensive carpet.
Boot Size & Comfort4.1 out of 5.
The MU-X makes do with a minimum boot space of 235L (with the middle row up) and a maximum of 1830L with all seats stowed away.
The manual operation of the boot in the MU-X is normally passable on a car like this, however due to the height that this tailgate opens to, children who can’t reach the boot will need you to exit the vehicle to close it.
There’s a thoughtful ‘tuck and fold’ design with the middle row, which helps expand the total usable interior space of the MU-X - enough to place several push bikes in without needing to remove front wheels.
Although it’s not a gargantuan amount of space like you’d find in say a Kia Sorento, the boxy design makes the most of the space it provides you.
There’s a compartmentalised storage box located at the entrance of the boot that can be removed. This is an ideal space to stow dirty or loose items that you don’t want flying around the boot.
As mentioned, the Isuzu is able to settle out on the open road with relative ease, however I found myself missing the ability to engage radar cruise control like I could on the new D-MAX. You can simply make do with the standard cruise control on this car, or easily coast along as you feather the throttle and brakes yourself.
There’s limited safety features here, with the only stand outs being the reversing camera. Compared to more modern vehicles, it’s certainly not as relaxing to cruise around town knowing you’re missing features like active lane-keep assist or rear-cross traffic alert. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alerts, you’ll have to find a car already with this ‘option’ fitted.
I had the pleasure of transporting my car-sick prone partner on an extended drive in the MU-X who found that even when sitting in the front passenger seat, the MU-X made her feel ill on winding sections of road compared to other vehicles. Something to note for those with friends or family cursed with motion sickness.
Middle-row comfort is exceptional compared to the dual-cab alternative. You have wider doors to enter in and out of, and greater ability to recline these seats. There’s also a separate control for the rear aircon, helping keep the rear occupants comfortable.
Third row seating is a little tight for adults. At 5 foot 11 inches in height, I’m able to fold myself in the third row. However, I’m not raising my hand to sit back there for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Features3 out of 5.
Although limited in creature comforts and safety equipment, the MU-X has plenty of off-road kit and hardware.
Here’s what you get when you buy a Isuzu MU-X LS-U:
- 3.0L Turbo-Diesel 4-cylinder motor
- 130kW @ 3600rpm and 430Nm @ 2000-2200rpm.
- 10" screen
- USB Connectivity
- CD Player
- Reversing Camera and Sensors
- Trailor Sway Control
- Hill Start Assist
- Hill Decent Control
- Total towing capacity of 3T
- Under-body bash plates
- 4x2,4x4 and 4x4 low drive train settings
- 7 seats
- Storage container in boot
- Cruise control
- Second row A/C controls
Should you buy one?
If you’re looking for a car that will be an off-road performer at its core, it’ll be hard to move past some of the deals that will be presented on the current generation as soon as the new MU-X arrives. There is enough here to make most people happy if they’re keen on offroading frequently and plan on making modifications to enhance the capability of the MU-X.
However, if you’re primarily looking at purchasing an MU-X for daily use in the suburbs with the occasional trip off-road, I’d certainly wait for the new MU-X.
After testing the new D-MAX, I have to say, everything I’ve complained about here should be addressed and improved. From safety equipment and technology through to engineered improvements both off and on road - the new MU-X hopefully should be a contender for best in class.
I’m quite looking forward to reviewing the MU-X and providing a verdict on a car that feels like it should have been here 1 year sooner (barring current global circumstances).
About the author
Cameron is your typical car nut, but also drives and writes about cars for ProductReview.
Reviewer Photos & Videos
Great all round car for family and towing
Love the car so far. We have had it for a few months. A few improvements they could make would be a bigger tank and a stereo head unit that connects to Apple play. We have removed ours and replaced. Otherwise great car.
Purchased in February 2021 at Isuzu Dealers for $54,000.00.
Be careful about warranty ending
Just offering some advice on my recent experience. But before I start, I am very happy with my 2015 mux. However when I had a problem with my SD card and my vehicle was 21 days past it’s warranty period, Isuzu Ute Australia would not cover it. My local dealer who I didn’t buy the vehicle from quoted me $1200.00 for a replacement. I ended up get a new replacement SD card from another dealer for $321. It took less than 5 mins to swap over and had all the latest sat nav updates. So it’s worth while getting your vehicle thoroughly checked before the warranty expires.
Purchased in July 2017.
Basic reliable white goods on wheels
Our MUX was purchased about 2 years, 30,000 kms ago as a replacement for our 2015 Subaru Outback, itself a good car. As we needed something more appropriate to tow our camper trailer. After spending a working lifetime (35 years), driving 70 Series land cruisers and Hi Luxes around the country I knew I'd like a change from these highly capable if somewhat uncomfortable steeds.
After doing some research we decided the Isuzu Mux could be the best choice, especially after reading the user reviews in Product Review as it seemed to be the car that h...
Purchased in March 2018 at Wayne Phillis Automotive for $55,500.00.
Great practical car
We bought an MUX 2 years ago. Very good car for the price. We use it to tow a 2.7t caravan and it does it with ease. 2 things that I would change if I could would be for the keyless entry to work on all doors, not just the driver door and the boot. Also it would be great if the headlights were auto, as currently the driving lights are auto.
Purchased in December 2017.
Had it a month starting to love it.
I bought my MU-X about a month ago.
The first morning I was immediately alarmed at the engine rattles.
Never had a diesel before, so the rattles at cold start up gave me a fright.
But after speaking to others with diesels and a month of driving it, I now understand its just "A DIESEL" its a nice car to drive and the noises are all normal.
Towing my 1500 kg boat is a dream, the car shrugged off the weight like no other car I have ever had.
Hills are no barrier and it cruises comfortably with no apparent effort.
The car sees predominantly freeway...
Purchased in May 2018.
Navigation upgrade costs
The car is very good my complaint is with the cost of the navigation up grade. Tried doing it today but stopped when I found out the costs were $200. Will just have to put up with errors that are in it. Example is on the south eastern freeway into Adelaide the speed is 90K this is on the screen but just before the two fixed cameras the voice tells you its 100K. This type of error is all the way through.
Great family car
We love our car, it is very roomy for the whole family and quite fuel efficient given the size of the car. We purchased this car to tow a caravan and whilst we are yet to use it for towing, we are confident that it will do the job and we will easily be able to pack everything we need into the car for a family trip away. We are a family for 4 with two young children, the car has two car seats in the middle row.
Great, with a few caveats.
Love the MUX. Overall a great car. Good view out, especially looking out the rear passenger side as a driver trying to see oncoming traffic.
We have a terrible wind whistle which we can’t find. Painful. Anyone have an answer??
Road noise is high.
Turbo lags a bit.
The rear storage unit is so tiny, almost worthless.
The ride seems to float along, bouncy is how I would describe it.
Would we buy again? Yes. If only we could stop the wind whistle!!
love the car - few things to fix at service time
* km left until i have to fuel up
e.g 1 minute i might have 500km left
it changes to 600 then 300km
*usb mp3 music going blank and screeching after half hr
* car pulling to right
* cruise control -car is changing back gears and revving dangerous.
Radio problem took 6 months to resolve
Driving experience is good. Like the suspension, like the steering quality , fuel economy has been great. Havent towed yet but am confident it will do a great job. However, a problem with the radio fading in and out reception wise, quality of sound and tuning problems because of the poor reception, the fact that it took 6 months to fix the problem, my doubts about whether some of the work supposedly done to fix the problem was actually carried out , all these things were extremely frustrating and stressfull cost me a lot of time and money...in trips to and from 2 dealers. 2 dealers were involved because the dealer i bought from had staff problems and couldnt look at the vehicle for a month. I bought from hampstead gardens , took the mux back several times, the radio was changed once the aerial once, checked for loose connections and everything else supposedly then i took vehicle to port wakefield rd waterloo corner road where radio was changed , aerial was changed , connections etc checked again , since told though that only one of these aerial changes was logged on the computer. The service assistant tried to get the matter resolved without success, got the area service nnanager(based in perth involved) via email and requested he contact me via email (didnt happen) dissapointing all he did was suggest changing the aerial. An aerial was ordered and in meantime i went back to gampstead vardens (smaller dealership and i think better service). New aerial obtained from port wakefield rd dealer. I requested that nanager from hampstead gardens become involved which he did and agreed to take vehicle and drive it for several days to experience all the problems. Aerial obtained from port wakefield rd dealer and fitted at hampstead gardens have now driven car for a week and problem appears to have been fixed. Why didnt previous aerial changes not fix the problem, surely 2 or 3 other aerials cant be faulty. Until the nanager got involved i was getting nowhere except very annoyed. Still like the vehicle overall though.
Great vehicle but weird beeping
Has anyone had a problem with an intermittent beeping (single 1 second beep) with a MUX (MY15)? It seems to be activated by opening the rear cargo door. It then occurs the next few times that either the rear cargo door or driver's side door is opened then goes away. When it happens, a 'CHECK SYSTEM' message appears on the driver's display. It has occurred with motor running and not running, key in close proximity to vehicle and not. Dealer has checked it but cannot replicate the problem. I'm trying the spare key at the moment to see if it's related to that.
Apart from this, the MUX is a great vehicle - on road and off road.
Very good SUV / Tow vehicle
Bought in 12/2017 to tow 2.6Tonne van. Discovered the Isuzu towbar is not rated for load levelling equipment. To have a 3000k/300k bar without load levelling ability and rating shows a lack of understanding of towing safety. The Commonwealth Trailer Building code cautions against using load levellers with a non rated towbar. This vehicle to tow near its limit needs a little help in the rear suspension and Hayman Reece gear or similar. Have replaced Isuzu towbar with Hayman reece bar and fitted Firestone HP airbags to rear springs. This vehi...cle is now a very stable and economical tug [13L:/100k towing 2.6t] It performs better that the engine stats indicate. It is at least the equal of any of its competitors, albeit with a few less gimmicky bits that I can live without The supplied battery is old technology and too small. It has been replaced by a maintenance free larger battery. The so called smart alternator is not tow friendly [as with all new vehicles] and it needed a DC/DC converter to help charge the AGMs in the van. In spite of these shortcomings it is now up to the standard of performance and safety I need. Based on price, performance and economy, I recommend it as a very good buy. Dont buy the Isuzu bar, the rated Hayman reece is cheaper, and you will be conforming with the Trailer Code. As normal transport it is comfortable , economical and pleasant to drive. It is quieter than its earlier model. .
Beware of the Isuzu towbar
In 2014 we purchased an MUX and we are very happy with it however we brought the car to tow a 22ft caravan. We had an Isuzu towbar installed. Last year on out travels the towbar completely snapped as it was rusted through. The caravan came off the car. We were very lucky we were about to set up for the night when this happened. We could have been killed or someone else could have been killed if we were on an open road. The dealership informed us there was no warranty cover as we had a weight distribution system on the caravan. We were never tol...d about this. Isuzu would not honour the warranty. In our travels a lot of caravaners use the same system in their Isuzu DMAX or MUX. Is Isuzu going to wait until someone is killed before doing something about this problem. I contacted a specialist towbar dealership who advised me in writing that I could use stabilisers if I wanted an Isuzu towbar fitted. How many Isuzu owners with this towbar are risking serious injury or even death. please be sure to get your facts before purchasing an Isuzu.
Purchased in September 2014.
The MU-X mechanically with his four-wheel drive options and it's looks with its leather interior are amazing although it's slightly heavier on the steering then some smaller vehicle such as the Captiva and the CX 9 Trail Blazers outlanders Ford Territory and others in this class it's still quite an amazing Drive I do not seem to mind the slightly truckie feel it definitely gives you a sense of power with no problems tackling day today Road use and Hills it comes with a warranty on the interior for life and the exterior paint also has a life war...ranty on the enamel coat this is a bonus in my eyes the fact that the interior is warranted makes me feel a lot better about the slightly flimsy feeling plastic parts compared to other vehicles the keyless entry and keyless start take time to get used to but super duper in my book over all the driving experience in this car for me has been Pleasant I'm still enjoying that new car feeling 3 months into owning it I'm sure it won't stop anytime soon this car is definitely a power box and with Isuzu long durability I'm sure it will remain such a wonderful car for many years to come
Isuzu explaination of failed in built GPS and Clarion service not satisfactory (car great very hap
Same problem 2015 isuzu mux diesal
Keema Springwood did map upgrade in Dec 2017, Jan 2018 gps failed, no gps no radio, no bluetooth etc. they sent sd card to clarion and guess what, i got a bill for $290, my fault so they say, samsung android caused the problem apparently!!!! sd card never removed by me. go figure, they have you by the balls not impressed with their explaination. still waiting for customer NO service to explain!!!
Questions & Answers
how do you brighten the dsiplay screen when you have the headlights on -necessary when it is raining etc
Rikki, I only placed a comment in Product Review to comment on the Isuzu I purchased.
I cannot answer your question but I know where you are coming from.
That is one draw back now that you mention it.
I would check with Isuzu as I will next service.
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|Category||Large / 7 Seater SUVs||Large / 7 Seater SUVs||Large / 7 Seater SUVs||Large / 7 Seater SUVs|
|Transmission||Automatic||Automatic||Automatic and Manual||Automatic|
|Drive Type||Four Wheel Drive (4WD)||Four Wheel Drive (4WD)||Four Wheel Drive (4WD)||Rear Wheel Drive (RWD)|
|ANCAP Safety Rating||5 Stars||5 Stars||5 Stars||5 Stars|
|Fuel Consumption||8.1 L/100km||7.9 L/100km||7.9 L/100km||8 L/100km|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||65 L||65 L||65 L||65 L|
|Engine||4 Cylinder 3.0L||4 Cylinder 3.0L||4 Cylinder 3.0L||4 Cylinder 3.0L|
|Max Power||130kW @ 3600rpm||130kW @ 3600rpm||130kW @ 3600rpm||130kW @ 3600rpm|
|Max Torque||380Nm @ 1800-2800rpm||380Nm @ 1800-2800rpm||380Nm @ 1800-2800rpm||380Nm @ 1800-2800rpm|
|Country of Manufacture||Thailand||Thailand||Thailand||Thailand|
|Maximum Towing Capacity (braked)||3,000 kg||3,000 kg||3,000 kg||3,000 kg|
|Maximum Towing Capacity (unbraked)||750 kg||750 kg||750 kg||750 kg|
|Manufacturer Warranty||5 year(s)||5 year(s)||5 year(s)||5 year(s)|
|Release date||Feb 2017||Feb 2017||Feb 2017||Feb 2017|
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