Isuzu has revealed its seven-seat 2021 MU-X off-road partner to the all-new D-Max ute.

    CarExpert understands the MU-X will be in Australia in around 12 months, with the seven-seat off-roader expected to follow a similar production timeline to the D-Max ute.

    The D-Max was revealed in Thailand early in October 2019 and hit Australian showrooms on September 1, 2020.

    The big news for families is the introduction of what Isuzu calls its IDAS suite, with 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.

    A full IDAS suite would make the 2021 MU-X one of the safest ute-based family SUVs in Australia, alongside the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Ford Everest.

    That’s a significant step up from the current MU-X, which has no active safety technology on board.

    The 2021 Isuzu MU-X rides on the same platform as the D-Max and is powered by the same 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine with 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Paddle shifters feature on high-end models.

    Although it’s clear the MU-X will have switchable four-wheel drive and low range, there was no mention of a locking rear differential in the Isuzu Thailand product presentation.

    CarExpert has contacted Isuzu Australia to see if the 2021 MU-X will feature the same off-road options as the D-Max.

    In Thailand, the MU-X will ride on 18- or 20-inch alloy wheels, and come with bi-LED headlights at the top of the range. Four trim levels will be offered, although we’ll have to wait for Australian spec information.

    Inside, the dashboard borrows heavily the D-Max but features unique trim in keeping with its more luxurious remit. Leather seat trim, gloss black on the transmission tunnel, and unique detailing in the instruments set the MU-X apart from its ute brother. Like before, the new MU-X is a seven-seater.

    In Thailand, rear seat passengers are treated to two USB ports and a 220V AC power outlet, but there are no air vents built into the transmission tunnel. Whether that will be the case in Australia remains to be seen.

    The cabin looks significantly more upmarket than that of the current MU-X, which shares its bones with the now-defunct D-Max but features more leather, more soft-touch trim, and more chrome trim pieces.

    A 9.0-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto takes pride of place on the dash. Kit such as keyless entry and start carries over from the D-Max, while the tailgate is powered in top-end models.

    Outside, more of an effort has been made to differentiate the MU-X from the D-Max with slimmer headlights and a unique taillight design that will help set it apart from the Fortuner, Everest, and Pajero Sport in Australia.

    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.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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