The Australian launch of the 2017 Isuzu MU-X, brings Isuzu’s seven seat SUV into line with the upgraded D-MAX ute range launched earlier this year.
Isuzu has set about building on the MU-X’s already solid base with styling, engineering and interior changes designed to meet emission requirements, enhance fuel efficiency and further improve the popular SUV’s day to day livability.
Interestingly, the 2017 MU-X is in part the result of feedback received from Isuzu dealers, customers and the motoring press, with Isuzu management making it very clear on the launch that they have asked some tough questions and been prepared to listen to the responses received.
The result is a noticeably improved vehicle that is quieter, more refined, Euro 5 compliant and simply a nicer place to spend some time than the previous model.
Like the recently upgraded D-MAX, the MU-X has copped a face-lift, and now sports a new grille design and a set of Bi-LED projector headlights that offer a significant improvement over the previous models projector units.
The new Bi-LED projector headlights are equipped with an auto-levelling feature that adjusts the headlight’s beam to account for the rear suspension compression that can be experienced when carrying a load or towing a trailer. The higher spec LS-U and LS-T variants are also fitted with a new style of fog-light.
Adding to the refreshed exterior look is a new 18-inch alloy wheel fitted with All-Terrain (not Light Truck spec) tyres for all LS-U and LS-T variants, with LS-M spec MU-X riding on new 16-inch alloys with similar AT tyres. There is a second 18-inch alloy wheel design available as an option and it’s one of the more attractive alloy wheel designs that we’ve seen from a manufacturer in recent memory.
It’s on the inside that the MU-X’s upgrades really become obvious, with ‘soft touch’ finishes being added to various sections of the interior, including the upper glove-box lid, the top of the instrument binnacle, as well as armrests and the centre console lid. Chrome and piano-black trimming has lifted the interior look noticeably, while a new quilted leather-accented seat design is a feature of the top-spec LS-T variant.
Both LS-U and LS-T variants now feature an 8-inch touch screen display audio system with in-built SatNav system and a reversing camera, while the lower spec LS-M variant gets a 7-inch touch screen display audio system with reversing camera.
All 2017 MU-X variants are equipped with a eight speaker audio system that includes two roof mounted speakers in addition to the two front door mounted speakers, two dash mounted tweeters and two rear door mounted speakers. The LS-T variant adds a fold-down roof-mounted 10-inch DVD screen to the infotainment mix. A remote control unit allows both the DVD and audio functions to be controlled from anywhere in the vehicle.
There are three USB ports in all variants, two located in the front dash and one in the rear, along with three 12 Volt power outlets located in the centre dash console, glovebox and rear cargo area.
Isuzu has added new sound and vibration insulation across the vehicle (in addition to what was there in the previous model), including to the dash console, transmission tunnel, firewall and floorpan. A new layer of insulation has been added below the windscreen to reduce wind and engine noise.
Of course, the Aussie Isuzu product features the legendary 4JJ1 3.0-litre turbo-diesel, that is now dubbed the ‘Hi-Power’ thanks to a significant 50Nm boost in torque. It’s been considerably re-worked to meet Euro-5 emissions requirements while at the same time increase outputs.
Australia is the only export market to receive this engine, with all other markets moving to smaller 2.5 and 1.9-litre alternatives. According to the Isuzu top brass, the battle to keep the 3.0-litre for Australia was hard-fought and thankfully eventually won.
Changes to the venerable 4JJ1 that turn it into the Euro-5 4JJ1 Hi-Power include the following:
New piston design
New fuel injector design
New Fuel Injector Pump design
New VGS turbo-charger
New and larger Exhaust Gas Re-circulation (EGR) cooler
New EGR bypass valve design
New ceramic glow plugs
Intelligent Battery Sensor (IBS)
Diesel Particulate Defuser (DPD)
The result is a maximum torque output that has increased from 380Nm to 430Nm, with 380Nm available from 1,700 – 3,500rpm.
By producing more power at lower engine rpm, and more torque, the new MU-X said to be more fuel efficient and and easier on the environment by producing less exhaust emissions.
The other big news is the introduction of a new Aisin AWR6B45 6-Speed Automatic Transmission with “lock-up” torque converter, that features adaptive learning that will tailor gear changes to your driving style.
A sequential shift mode allows the driver to manually select gears which is especially handy when towing or when off-roading. A Slip Control System Lock-up Clutch, aka a Lock-up Torque Converter, improves efficiency in 2nd to 6th gears when a set speed is reached (by locking the Torque Converter). The lock-up clutch can be released by forcefully pressing the accelerator pedal. Locked torque converters save fuel and help reduce gearbox temperatures.
Isuzu also offers buyers the choice of a 6-Speed manual transmission that they’ve designed in-house. It features triple cone synchronizers to provide easier gear selection, a longer service life and it’s linked to a Gear-Shift Indicator on the driver’s instrument panel, that displays the recommended gear position for optimum fuel efficiency.
All variants of the MU-X have a 5-star ANCAP safety rating and are equipped with a reversing camera and Rear Park Assist (RPA). Occupant protection consists of six airbags (dual front, side and full-length curtain), 4-channel 4-sensor Anti-skid Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), as well as Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Hill Decent Control (HDC).
The MU-X cabin is constructed from High Tensile Steel for increased strength and rigidity and its ability to create a resilient passenger safety cell. Isuzu engineers have employed a tailor-blank welding construction technique in areas that benefit from additional strength in the interests of increasing occupant protection, including anti-intrusion door beams.
There are height adjustable head restraints for all occupants and dual pre-tensioners with load limiters for the front seatbelts, along with ISO-FIX child restraint points in the second row.
Underneath the D-MAX it’s all business and it remains the tough and capable off-roader that we’ve grown to admire. All 4X4 variants of the MU-X are fitted with a 2mm steel front skid plate, steel sump and transfer case guards plus protection for the leading edge of the fuel tank when travelling off-road.
A brake controlled Hill Descent Control (HDC) system is now standard on all 4X4 and notably 4X2 models.
The MU-X is pretty good at carrying a load as well, with its super simple to use flat-fold seating that when stowed, creates a cargo space of up to 1,830 litres.
All MU-X variants are covered by what Isuzu calls ‘Service Plus 555’, a program that includes a 5 year warranty, 5 years of Roadside Assistance and a 5 year/50,000 kilometre Capped Price Servicing program.
We’ve just completed an extended drive in the 2017 MU-X, including a highway trip from Noosa down to Brisbane along with a day spent off-roading on Moreton Island. A full review will follow later this week, but in the meantime, you can take to the bank the fact that Isuzu has made some really worthwhile improvements to it’s undeniably tough and enviably reliable MU-X.
Isuzu UTE Capped Price Servicing costs (Euro5)
12mth / 10,000kms – $200.00
24mth / 10,000kms – $400.00
36mth / 10,000kms – $260.00
48mth / 10,000kms – $590.00
60mth / 10,000kms – $50.00
Total cost – $1,500.00
2017 Isuzu MU-X model price list (RRP incl GST)
4X2 7-Seat LS-M (auto) – $42,800
4X2 7-Seat LS-U (auto) – $45,100
4X2 7-Seat LS-T (auto) – $48,800
4X4 7-Seat LS-M (man) – $48,000
4X4 7-Seat LS-M (auto) – $50,100
4X4 7-Seat LS-U (man) – $50,300
4X4 7-Seat LS-U (auto) – $52,400
4X4 7-Seat LS-T (auto) – $56,100