Isuzu mu-X Review: 3.0 4x4 AT6 – Silver, But Not a Silverado

  Calvin Fisher


 9 Dec, 2019

From the ashes of the fires of the Chevrolet Trailblazer comes the Isuzu MU-X. But look, it always deserved an Isuzu badge, didn't it?

Carshop Likes:
Torquey drivetrain, if somewhat noisy
An attractive aesthetic paired with go-anywhere underpinnings

Carshop Dislikes:
The living space feels a generation behind its contemporaries
Some might find that charming

In South Africa, before its retirement (both times) from our roads, Chevrolet had equity – sunny skies, braai vleis, and all that. But not for trucks, rather for saloons like the Constantia, Firenze, Commodore and the 4100. For trucks, bakkies and SUVs, there you needed the Isuzu badge. And now it is just so.

Behold the new Frontier

Isuzu's seven-seater SUV, the mu-X is effectually a follow up to the Frontier of the 90s. As such it's an excellent all-rounder with an array of standard active and passive safety features as well as its proper 4x4 system complete with low range. The mu-X’s chassis enjoys a ground clearance of 230mm with a 24-degree approach angle and departure angle of 25.1-degrees, making it very competitive in this class.

The mu-X is capable of tackling most terrains and I could continue quoting from its curriculum vitae but it's worth remembering, this isn’t the 90s anymore. What I mean to say is, the Frontier was an oddity at the time in SA, an SUV rendered from a double cab bakkie, a unique concept at the time but today it must contend with almost every other bakkie builder having some skin in the game. I refer to the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and the Nissan Pathfinder.

To stand out now, the mu-X needs to be special. Which I'd argue, it isn't. But it is very good.

Dated, but well appointed...

Rugged as they come

The mu-X enjoys a five-star safety rating and a tried and tested 4x4 pedigree – even the 4x2 can be had with an optional locking diff for more capability. The cabin seats seven comfortably, and under the bonnet lives an efficient common rail 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine. It's frugal too, hovering just above 7l/100km on our journey, partially thanks to a conservative 6-speed automatic transmission.

It makes 130kW and 380Nm, sends the lot to four 18-inch alloy wheels via a six-speed auto. The ride is plush, compliant on tar and forgiving on dirt. I tried to split my time with it on both types of surfaces, but I am for the most part an urban dweller where I’ll add, the mu-X really shines as a family cab, helped along by its multi-link rear suspension.

The helm feels large in the hands, fair enough it’s a massive car this. In the right colour, it turns the occasional head with those striking Bi-LED headlamp clusters bookending its dominant chrome beak. I mean grille.

But really though

The Isuzu mu-X is faultless, and at R671,000 represents great value for a full-sized 4x4 SUV with a 5-year warranty and service plan. And despite me moaning about the dated interior, it is perfectly well-appointed with reclining bucket seats, leather trim, powered seat adjustment with cup holders aplenty. You also have a 6.5-inch touchscreen as standard with RDS, DVD Player, MP3, Bluetooth streaming with hands-free and satellite navigation plus a rear-view camera, with sound piped through an 8-speaker system. But ours came with the optional 9-inch screen, so that’s nice.

There isn’t much more to say about the mu-X other than its a perfectly competent rival to the flashier Everest and Fortuner gang – you can pick any one of them based on your personal preference. So, go on, then.

Isuzu mu-X 3.0 4x4 AT6 Specs:

Price R671,000.00
Engine 3l inline 4-cyl, turbodiesel
Power 130kW
Torque 380Nm
Gearbox 6-speed auto
Driven Wheels All (4x4)
0-100kph N/A
Top Speed N/A
Average Fuel Consumption7.9l/100km
CO2 Emissions 208g/km

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From the ashes of the fires of the Chevrolet Trailblazer comes the Isuzu MU-X. But look, it always deserved an Isuzu badge, didn't it?

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