Isuzu has traditionally been known for its reliable and robust diesel engines – especially to the people who until today are awed, and swear by, its trucks and even the outgoing Crosswind AUV. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we should view Isuzu vehicles as rough beasts of burdens because, well, that would be missing the point.
Rather, the takeaway should be the unmistakable reliability that has endeared the Japanese brand to value-loving Filipinos. That’s just one of the things that the mid-size SUV Mu-X has going for it. Diesel is, after all, the traditional domain of the shrewd and wise – typically those wanting to stretch the ever-threatened budget without compromising on pep and power.
That’s why this Isuzu deserves consideration. The top variant we tested proved a feisty number whose 3.0-liter CRDi diesel heart blurted out an ample 161hp and 380Nm. With space in spades, there is more than sufficient room for your head and legs – good news for taller passengers. Even the two-seater third row, which is usually an afterthought in the segment, can accommodate more than but the smallest of riders. Speaking of which, passengers up to this row are served well by dedicated circular air vents directly punched above the ceiling. The A/C is powerful enough to cool the interiors rather quickly despite the usual daytime scorch in the city. To further keep passengers relaxed and entertained, Isuzu throws in (for this variant) a ceiling-mounted 10-inch DVD monitor.
Meanwhile, front occupants are spoiled with generous places to put their stuff in. There’s a central compartment atop the dashboard, and two more (an upper and lower glove box) in front of the passenger seat. The Mu-X instrumentation looks a bit dated like its infotainment system, but does the job if you’re not finicky. While we’re talking about the dashboard, the plastic material is easy to scratch and, thus, is just begging for improvement.
The 4WD control dial is located conveniently near the gearshift (the Mu-X is supplied five automatic speeds, by the way), and Isuzu even throws in the reminders/instructions using it right behind the driver-side sun visor.
Driving the SUV easily affirms the wisdom in diesel as the Mu-X is a sprightly customer at a mere 2,000rpm, redlining at around 4,250rpm. It doesn’t need much coaxing (and fuel) to get you and your passengers from here to there.
That the Mu-X figures in the conversation among today’s popular SUVs (and you can even do a visual check of how many you encounter on the road) is a testament to its values and Isuzu’s aforementioned positive reputation. That arguably wasn’t the case in the older Alterra.
Our Silky Pearl White unit came with a price tag of P1.798 million, but that’s still cheaper over more popular competitors if you perform an apples-to-apples comparison – referencing the displacement and the 4WD ability. The five-speed tranny is a minus, though.
All told, the Mu-X deserves the attention it’s getting as a value-for-money SUV that ticks all the basic boxes that need to be ticked. It is an Isuzu, after all.
Positives: Low-rpm ability, spacious interiors, refined exteriors
Negatives: Dashboard plastics need a change