Part of me admires Isuzu Ute’s approach to the MU-X, the wagon derivative of its D-Max ute staple. And the fact it remains a big-seller deep into its life cycle suggests many buyers agree.
Even in its ‘luxurious’ LS-T guise with leather seats, it’s still pretty bereft of bells and whistles. But if you want a rugged high-riding wagon (I won’t call this an SUV) that’ll tow the family boat, float or caravan for years without complaint, then it promises to come into its own.
Its maker is on the cusp of launching a brand new D-Max that offers the very latest infotainment and active safety tech alongside the familiar diesel donk, meaning a brand new and more sophisticated MU-X is presumably coming relatively soon as well.
Which means the outgoing version seen here promises to become even more of a bargain than it already was, compared to a Toyota Prado or Ford Everest.
How much does the Isuzu MU-X LS-T cost?
The flagship LS-T is being advertised on Isuzu’s site for $54,990 drive-away, though it technically carries an irrelevant list price of $57,400 before on-road costs. The less-well-equipped LS-U costs $50,990 drive-away.
At the time of writing, Toyota was offering a mid-range Prado GXL for $65,990 drive-away, Ford was selling a mid-range Everest Trend for $60,990 drive-away, and Mitsubishi was selling the mid-range Pajero Sport GLS for $52,490 or older Pajero GLS for $55,990 drive-away.
So it’s quite clear that the MU-X represents good value next to some major off-road-ready competitors.
What do you get?
On the outside you get 18-inch wheels shod with Bridgestone Dueler H/T tyres, aluminium side steps, Bi-LED projector headlights with auto-levelling, LED daytime running lights, privacy glass, 60kg-capacity roof rails, and a proximity key system that lets you unlock the car with the key fob still in your pocket.
Inside you get part-leather seats with electric adjustment for the driver, climate control air-conditioning with cooling vents for rear occupants, cruise control, an eight-speaker sound system that includes roof speakers, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, reversing camera, Bluetooth, and USB, and a 10.0-inch screen that plays DVDs for rear occupants – if you still have any DVDs, that is…
Some obvious features are missing for a top-spec model: heated seats, automatic headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, and a digital speedo come to mind.
Is the Isuzu MU-X LS-T safe?
The MU-X carries a five-star ANCAP safety rating, though this was awarded against less-strenuous 2013 criteria based on tests conducted on the related D-Max ute.
It comes with six airbags including side curtains for rear occupants, parking sensors at both ends, and stability control with a trailer-sway assist function built in.
There are none of the latest active safety features such as autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure alert, or active cruise control. However, our car was fitted with the $1375 blind-spot monitoring system with lights mounted in the A-pillars.
This lack of the latest features explains the Isuzu’s low rating in the safety section in this review. Our criteria balances both.
What is the Isuzu MU-X LS-T like on the inside?
Isuzu has done what it can to add a sheen of luxury to the MU-X’s ute interior.
The ribbed leather seats look the part and are both comfortable and hard-wearing, as well as soft and stitched surfaces where your elbows tend to sit. There are also thoughtful handles on each A-pillar to help you climb up.
The rest of the materials used are very commercial vehicle-like, hard to the touch but easy to clean. There were no squeaks or rattles.
There are plenty of storage options: a lidded tub atop the dash, two closing gloveboxes, door bins, a decent centre console, high-mounted cup holders under each vent, and a sunglasses bin in the roof.
The main ergonomic quibble is the lack of reach adjustment for the steering wheel. It only rakes up and down.
The infotainment screen offers a decent satellite navigation system and a clear reversing camera with guidelines, also facilitating Bluetooth streaming plus USB/AUX/HDMI inputs, though no DAB+. The speaker quality is also acceptable.