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.
New to 4WD Vehicle
Purchased Isuzu MUX February 2020 then covid struck. Now retired and was going to travel 2020.
Have only been able to do one longish run in it so far and fuel economy excellent. Could have travelled 1000k + on a standard tank.
Good to drive, comfortable and plenty of room.
No gizmos installed like other makes, so less to go wrong.
Servicing is every 15k and I have a fixed price listing supplied to me so I know exactly what I will be paying for the next 5 years
My only complaint would be the side mirrors do not fold in unless ignition is turned on. This could allow a bike rider to approach unnoticed prior to exiting.
Would recommend this vehicle.
Purchased in February 2020 for $53,000.00.
Isuzu makes trucks not cars
Its a SUV truck, sounds like a truck, tows like a truck, trucks along all day. We have had since brand new and only trouble we had when first had it was the gearbox, it wouldnt change into top sometimes while doing 100kmph or could be in top while town cruising at 40-60kmph, fixed it by towing a 3t excavator 250km in 4th.
Purchased in July 2014 for $48,990.00.
Reliable and affordable
Very impressed with the fuel economy and comfort of my new MUX. With all 7 seats up I can still fit my bugaboo bee stroller in the boot, the features and technology is great and the leather seats and red LED door lights are very stylish. We have had no troubles with this car and will not hesitate to buy another new one in 3 years time. great family car for a great price.
Purchased in May 2020 at Coffs coast Isuzu.
This car is used for for commuting and towing our van. We use it most days in a mix of city and country driving. We service this car as per Isuzu spec, but may do more oil changes as I would like to see the oil kept cleaner. We have had this car for nearly 40,000 and had no issues whatsoever. These are a very basic car, with few bells and whistles, but they have a very good engine. Towing the van (17 foot) returns 13l and, country driving, can get down a low as 7.5l. My wife drives this car mostly in a mix of city driving, with some country, and, has no regard for fuel economy, she gets 9.5 to 10l mostly.
Purchased in October 2018.
Changed from a prado to the new mux.
Maybe not quite as refined but still a nice car
Good engine and gearbox Tows well 1500 kg camper. Good air conditioning and touch screen Bluetooth works good
Purchased in October 2019 at Wayne Phillis Automotive for $41,000.00.
Brings a smile to my face
Purchased this car with a view to towing a van in a couple of years. I am a car nut and did a lot of research and realised that the Isuzu is not high tech or rated the best in class but the pricing and reputation for reliability interested me. This is to be a 10 year car. A test drive convinced me, the driving experience, a bit like a comfortable Massey Ferguson tractor, put a smile on my face. Now 4 months down the track I still love driving it, the engine is a bit gruff, but characterful, reasonably economical and it is surprisingly quiet onc...e cruising, even with AT tires I had fitted. I love the understressed nature of it, Negatives: a bit noisy around town, low tech stereo, a bit of body roll, small fuel tank. Positives:ARB long range tank $1300 is a good accessory, cruises easily, economical, ride quality, good sound quality from stereo, long warranty, price (haggle) ......hopefully reliability, so far so good...
Purchased in November 2019.
The perfect car for me....
I purchased a brand new Isuzu MU-X and have never been happier with the fantastic choice that I made with choosing the MU-X over all other model SUVs that where also available. It was the best by far! A super smooth ride to and from work daily and where ever else I decide to go... road trips etc ! never a problem. My new ride has just had its first complementary service with absolutely no issues. A mechanically sound, super economical, reliable vehicle that is an absolute pleasure to drive. Comfortable and roomy for longer drives, a good perf...ormance vehicle all round as expected. The reversing camera is a brilliant, accurate asset, is very visable and clear, makes parking anywhere a breeze. I love my new car in every way! Extremely happy!!!
Purchased in September 2019 at Isuzu Dealers.
The reviewer stated that an incentive was offered for this review
Two years after purchasing new, the MUX is performing as expected with no problems experienced and just scheduled services. Used for long distant drives as well as around the paddocks towing a trailer. Sometimes pulls a caravan when needed for holidays.
Very comfortable on the open road and economical averaging 9 litres per 100km and 12 when towing.
Replaced my isuzu ute based on its own reliabilty over 320,000 kms with this MUX and very happy i did.
Purchased in September 2017 at Cardiff Isuzu Ute.
Worth the wait
Brought this car a month ago, this is my first automatic car and have found it great. Its a bit to get throw the gears but Im probably too use to a manual. The whole car is luxury from the leather seats to the electric add ons. Eg tv and air con in the back for the kids. I use this car for longer drives but have taken it to work, the reverse camera makes parking easy. Love this car.
Purchased in October 2019 at Norris Motors .
Love the purr of this tough diesl family 4WD
I'd give a 6 if I could. I love this car. We haven't had any issues with it. It is strong and powerful for towing the trailer when needed. It fits 7 people comfortably. The sound system is excellent for listening to music or podcasts through bluetooth. The leather seats make it that little bit luxurious. We are impressed with the 3 tonne towing capacity and yet it is efficient on fuel consumption. It has the same engine as our Isuzu Dmax ute, that was sadly written off. Just a great all rounder family car that can also be used for towing and fa...rm work. The dvd player is an added bonus which the kids love. Everyone in the back can see the screen and great audio quality. The cost to get it serviced is not exorbitant like other brands and only required every 10000 kms. We purchased this car for half the price of what a Toyota equivalent would have cost so we couldn't be happier. Thanks!
Purchased in January 2018 for $39,000.00.
I've grown to love this noisy beastie that can tow houses up mountains!
Besides for being a little noisy, the engine in this vehicle is phenomenal. I tow a Majestic Knight SLE (20'6") packed up to almost 3.0 ton with very little effort. Fuel consumption towing (about 13 l/100) is equivalent to many vehicles unladen effort! With the updated interiors, the feeling of being in a much more expensive vehicle cannot be passed by. Our MU-X has just turned one years old, and every indication is that it'll still be with our family for many, many years to come. Zero problems or issues to date.
Purchased in September 2018 for $44,000.00.
Love my MUX
I purchased my MUX 2wd in August 2016, and it is a 2016.5 2wd LST,with the 5 speed auto transmission. It was primarily for towing our 18ft van which weighs roughly 1750kg loaded. We have travelled 63ks since then, and the only fault I have found is the fuel tank is a little small for the long distance traveller. We had a 116l tank fitted so it is no longer a problem.
Fuel economy varies from low 8's on a trip to mid 9's per 100k in the city. Towing the van we got between 12 and 14.5 travelling between Brisbane and Darwin. I am no leadfoot and a...
Purchased in August 2016.
Supremely reliable and trouble free currently at 190000km
This vehicle was purchased primarily as a long distance/ tow vehicle in late December 2013. It has just clocked up 190000 trouble free kilometers, still on original suspension and brake pads, and its third set of tyres are relatively new. Apart from a bust turbo when relatively new AFTER a service, replaced under warranty, there have been no breakdowns or any repair work required - servicing only.
The vehicle has travelled all over Queensland NSW and Victoria towing horse floats on often very bumpy roads eg Taroom to Moree. It has survived th...
Purchased in December 2013 for $49,000.00.
Great car at a reasonable price.
After much research on medium sized SUVs capable of towing a medium sized Caravan we settled on the Isuzu Mu-x. We were set on the Toyota Prado but found that we couldn't justify the extra $20k when the Mu-x had everything we wanted. We've only had it for 2 weeks and are yet to tow anything but we are happy with the car. Yes it sounds like a ute to drive but we don't mind this as it's only noticable driving around town and we do most our driving on a highway.
Our must haves were 3lt turbo diesel engine, 3t towing capacity and seats that folded down flat so you can sleep comfortably in the rear of the car. We got them all and more.
2018 MU-X LST - Extensive research led me to this purchase. Very happy!!
Before purchasing a new 4WD I checked out and drove the Toyota Prado, Toyota Fortuner, Holden Trailblazer, Mitsubushi Pajero Sport and the Isuzu MU-X. In the end the Isuzu offered the best value for money and promised greatest durability. Toyota currently has too many issues with their 2.8 Diesel, the Trailblazer's are chewing through oil and the Pajero Sport was too narrow for knees because of the wide transmission tunnel.
The MU-X tows our all-terrain camper trailer with plenty of grunt and stability. It's very capable off-road and my wife a...
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.
Get an answer from our members and Isuzu representatives
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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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