Isuzu’s redesigned rival for the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Ford Everest has been revealed in patent images from Japan.

    The new D-Max is off to a strong start, with some variants sold out until next February. Isuzu Ute Australia will no doubt want to see a similarly strong reception for the next generation MU-X, its D-Max-based SUV.

    Autoweek Netherlands has shared images of the redesigned MU-X from the Japanese Patent Office.

    They reveal an SUV with a strong familial resemblance to its ute counterpart, with headlights and a grille that appear almost identical.

    The front bumper, however, has a smoother, more car-like look.

    That applies to the rest of the car, too. The wraparound rear window treatment of the current MU-X has been dialled all the way down. Instead of the rear passenger windows ending on the door, they continue to stretch towards the D-pillar while the rearmost window only slightly extends from the tailgate.

    The rear features slimmer tail lights than the current MU-X and continues to eschew the D-Max’s vertically-oriented tail light assemblies for horizontal ones.

    While the overall look is more crossover-like than before, the narrow and tall look when looking at the rear dead on makes it clear this is a ute-based SUV.

    We expect the new MU-X to feature the new D-Max’s 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, which produces 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque and is mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Like the current MU-X or updated Toyota LandCruiser Prado, however, we expect the new model to be an auto-only proposition.

    The MU-X will also undoubtedly include the comprehensive suite of safety features that’s been added to every new D-Max model. The suite, which Isuzu calls IDAS, comprises autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning, turn assist, traffic sign recognition, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive high-beam.

    That’s a big step up from the current MU-X, which doesn’t even have automatic headlights. The new D-Max also adds a locking rear differential and an adjustable steering column, two features we also expect to see on the new MU-X.

    The next MU-X should launch sometime next year or early the following year. We’ve contacted Isuzu Ute Australia to confirm when we should expect to see it.

    The current MU-X was introduced in Australia just under a year and a half after its D-Max counterpart, back in late 2013. Despite its advanced age, the MU-X remains a strong seller.

    Last year, Isuzu sold 8419 examples. That was more than the Ford Everest (5333), Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (6477), Toyota Fortuner (3033) and its now-defunct platform-mate, the Holden Trailblazer (2813). The only other off-road-ready SUV in its segment to outsell it was the Toyota LandCruiser Prado, with 18,355 sales.

    That’s an impressive showing for the MU-X, particularly considering the outgoing D-Max didn’t pick up the silver medal for sales in its segment. It was outsold by four vehicles last year: the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton and, narrowly, by the now-axed Holden Colorado.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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