THE ISUZU MU-X (multi utility crossover) is a decent competitor, and looks better than its immediate predecessor; it also has an added smidgen of new tech and a more frugal (but hardly new) engine.

 

Upon delivery at my residency, one could not help but notice the brash its associated with the MU-X.

Drawing my attention were its lower and wider-looking rear among the sheet-metal improvements, along with auto levelling BI-LED projector headlamps, LED taillights and 18-inch alloy tyres. The chassis is the familiar ladder riding on a double-wishbone front and five-link rear, with a solid axle and coils all round.

It reverts to the KB300’s familiar 4JJ1TCHI turbodiesel, with both the 4×2 and 4×4 versions mated to an Aisin 6-speed auto. This mill is reliable, if a little unrefined, with modest outputs of 130kW at 3600rpm and 430Nm in the 1800-2800rpm band, and it offers a more wallet-friendly theoretical combined fuel index of 7.9l/100km than the Traiblazer’s mill.

From Jozi to the platinum province it was a matter of a three-hour journey instead of a dreadful 5-hours in a passenger car, as I throttled down at a speed range up to 120km/h on an open road, especially in the evening.

Traction control is standard for divvying drive to the wheels with the most grip, plus there is Hill Descent Control, which comes into play when low-range is engaged.

The 4WD system is called “Terrain Command”, a fancy title for the familiar part-time system (engaged by using a twist dial) with 4H available at speeds up to 100km/h. A ground clearance of 230 mm, and a 24-degree approach angle and 25.1-degree departure angle, ensure getting over the humps and bumps is easy, a terrain synonymous with North West – thanks to potholes and off-roads (yes, pun intended). ‘Dust-eater’, if you may…

Active and passive safety features include ABS braking with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA) and electronic stability control (ESC), along with six airbags and pre-tensioner seatbelts to protect passengers in the event of an accident.

Seven leather-clad seats offer plenty of room for the whole family, with decent second-row accommodation and a childspec third row which folds flat into the boot floor.

The driver’s seat is six-way adjustable. The multi-function steering wheel (adjustable only for rake) is the same as the Trailblazer’s, as is the basic interior design.

It also boast integrated 9-inch touchscreen and embedded navigation, audio and comms system. Android and Apple Car play offer audio stream, there’s the usual Bluetooth link and two USB slots, plus HDMI and iPod input ports.

The MU-X is keyless entry/start and a reversing camera, add to the ease-of-use elements.

The 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine powers the facelifted MU-X. It puts out 130 kW and 380 Nm and is mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The MU-X also has a 3-tonne tow rating.

Albeit I had attended a family bereavement, it ignited some head-turns, as all and sundry compared it to its rival Toyota Fortuner.

The MU-X is sold with a five-year/120 000 km warranty and Isuzu Roadside Assistance, a five-year/unlimited km anti-corrosion warranty and a five-year/90 000 km Service Plan. Service intervals are every 15 000 km/12 months.

It retails for:

Isuzu MU-X 3.0 4×2 6AT – R630 400

Isuzu MU-X 3.0 4×4 6AT – R698 200

Verdict

Performance 1-10 (6)

Diesel 1-10 (5)

Image (The Isuzu MU-X is a ‘dust eater’ go and ask locals in NW).  

(The interior of Isuzu MU-X).