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ISUZU MU-X - includes video
The wagon derivative of the D-Max ute range - February 2014
Isuzu Ute Australia released the anticipated seven-seat wagon version of its D-Max ute range in late 2013. The MU-X shares the D-Max powertrain and adds third-row seating and coil-spring rear suspension, plus rear axle disc brakes.
As Holden did with the Colorado ute, so Isuzu Ute has done with the D-Max: producing a wagon derivative of its popular ute lineup.
The MU-X is available in three grades: entry-level LS-M with colour-coded mirrors and gunmetal grey grille rides on 16-inch aluminium wheels with all-terrain tyres; mid-spec LS-U features 17-inch aluminium wheels, fog lights, chrome grille and mirrors, and aluminium side-steps; and LS-T has a leather-appointed interior, climate control air conditioning, touch-screen navigation system and roof-mounted DVD entertainment system.
All Isuzu MU-X models are fitted with Rear Park Assist, but only the top-shelf model has a reverse camera.
The D-Max ute's proved three-litre Isuzu 4JJ1-TC diesel engine powers the MU-X, delivering 130kW of power at 3600rpm and 380Nm of torque in the 1800-2800rpm band, using a common-rail fuel injection system and intercooled, variable geometry turbocharger .
LS-M and LS-U versions can have a manual five-speed or electronically controlled Aisin five-speed automatic transmission. The LS-T is auto only. Both main transmissions couple to a two-speed transfer case with a low range ratio of 2.482:1.
The auto also has ‘Hill Descent’ and ‘Hill-Ascent’ modes.
Braking is done by power-assisted 300mm ventilated front discs with twin-pot calipers and 318mm rear disc brakes
An anti-skid brake system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (EBA) is fitted to all variants.
Pricing ranges from $44,600 RRP to $53,500 RRP and every Isuzu MU-X comes with a five-year/130,000km new vehicle warranty.
On and off road
Isuzu Ute has done great job converting its light commercial vehicle into a wagon. Ride is, if anything, too soft and the dampers could certainly do with upgrading for spirited driving. There is some slight 'booming' on rough surfaces, but, generally the MU-X's cabin is very quiet.
Getting comfortable behind the tilt-only wheel was easy in the case of the LS-T test vehicle that had a power-adjustable driver's seat. Leather seat covering is also a feature of this model and we liked the suede-finish surface on the seat cushion and back rest that held us in place when cornering.
The MU-X doesn't lead the medium wagon pack in terms of power and torque, but performance wais excellent and fuel economy on our on and off road test was under 9L/100km.
Shift quality from the five-speed auto box was excellent and powerful engine braking was enhanced by downshifting. The all-disc service brakes were well up to the loaded-vehicle task and should be adequate for towing.
Ergonomics were very good and the navigation system had better than average bush mapping.
The MU-X had a supple ride on corrugated gravel roads and tracks, but the weak dampers saw the vehicle pitching over undulations. A set of firmer dampers could cure that issue. We also feel that firmer springs would be necessary for heavy towing and for fully-loaded operation on long bush trips.
As with the D-Max ute range the MU-X is well geared for rock climbing and descending and ground clearance is adequate for most people's needs. On beach sand we dropped pressures to 16psi and the MU-X drove effortlessly.
Many seven-seaters have difficult third-row seating access, but the MU-X was one of theb est we've tested. Both second-row seats tumbled forward completely - once the headrests were easily pushed down - leaving ample room for adults to clamber into the third row. However, as with most seven-seaters, the back seats are best reserved for kids.
The cargo area has some floor-height compromise from its ute heritage, but the payoff is a high-set, under-floor spare wheel that doesn't intrude into the departure angle envelope. The third-row seats don't fold into a floor recess, but a false floor section at the rear of the cargo area helps form a flat floor.
For additional fuel tankage it should be easy enough to fit a swing-away spare wheel carrier and slot a second tank in the spare wheel well.
With some damper tweaking and maybe a set of stiffer springs we'd take a loaded MU-X just about anywhere Outback, we reckon.
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