While competent and adept in the terrain, the Isuzu MU-X just didn’t have that low down grunt that its size and weight would suggest.
Matched with a six-speed auto transmission, low range 4WD and hill descent control, the big SUV is ready for just about any surface or gradient.
Still, due to the fact it’s built on the D-MAX platform, it drives, and sounds, much like a ute.
That means the diesel engine clatter is quite noticeable and doesn’t really suit the family-focused SUV arrangement.
The drive is competent, with good suspension and while it lumbers about with some body roll, the MU-X is manoeuvrable enough.
I did take it on one longer drive from Sydney to the Hunter Region, and though I did feel safe and stable, it had trouble holding its line and there was noticeable wind noise.
Fuel economy came out at a satisfactory 9.2L/100km.
In my hot little hands was the range topping, 7-seater, 4×4 Isuzu MU-X LS-T retailing from $56,100.
The cabin may not be the most upmarket but is not so utilitarian as before with more highlights and smooth leather seats.
The centre console is one thing that hasn’t changed but I just love the big temperature control dial and big buttons that are basic and boring but so functional and practical.
The 7” touchscreen looks small but is equally easy to use with sat-nav (but no working ‘map’ button) and one of the fastest responding Bluetooth audio selectors I’ve ever seen.
Underneath that is the auxiliary USB, HDMI and 12V inputs with a cigarette lighter – something I haven’t seen in yonks.
There’s no shortage of storage either with a hutch above the glovebox and another on top of the centre dashboard.
And to keep the little’uns quiet in the back on a road trip is a roof mounted DVD entertainment system with 10” screen and speakers also in the roof.
The ceiling is a crowded place – manual air conditioning controls are also installed with air vents.
Speaking of the back, the second and third row seats are flattish and not so well padded but are comfortable for the long haul.
Middle row seats fold down and rock forwards for easier access to the last row which is quite accommodating.
Of course there is only enough legroom for an Ewok but its cosy with an armrest/cup holder either side and storage in between the seats.
With them folded down, there is ease of storage for luggage, prams, shopping, you name it.
It’s no secret the Isuzu MU-X is not the most refined or flashy SUV on the market but it does cover all the bases pretty well.
Capacity, off-roading, storage, towing, power, comfort, features – it’s got it all.
NUTS and BOLTS 2017 Isuzu MU-X LS-T
- Engine: 3.0 litre turbo diesel producing 130kW/430Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed sports auto 4WD
- Warranty: 5yrs/130,000km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Thailand
- Price: from $56,100