Story & Photos by Patrick P. Tulfo
THE mu-X, Isuzu’s flagship model and its lone entry in the highly competitive midsize sports-utility vehicle (SUV) segment—soldiers on relatively unchanged for the first half of 2017, at least for the 4×4 LS-A (automatic) variant lent to this scribe. It’s the 4×2 variants that had recently received cosmetic changes early this year, both inside and out, to keep it updated.
The letters MU, by the way, stands for “mysterious utility” and the mu-X are selling like hotcakes. Sales of the mu-X surged to 813 units last month, representing a 65.9-percent growth over the 490 units sold in April. It’s a dream come true for Isuzu in terms of sales with Isuzu Philippines beating distant second place in Thailand by 3,000 units.
The pearl white mu-X, top-of-the-line 4×4 LS-A (automatic) unit lent to me has already logged in more than 17,000 kilometers on its odometer. Tell-tale signs of the abuse that it went through can be seen on its body, but it still felt solid and any evidence of what it has gone through like groans and creaks are still noticeably absent more than two years after it was launched.
The mu-X shares its body and underpinnings with the Chevrolet Trailblazer but the similarities end there. Chevrolet has introduced the redesigned Trailblazer, which now close resembles their American counterpart more.
On the other hand, the mu-X still carries the same look, and is aging gracefully. Both the 4×4’s and 4×2’s variant still has the same chrome grille, which proudly displays the company’s name in the middle but the new X-series edition 4×2 LS features a blacked-out grill. The foglamps located just underneath the multireflector projector-type headlamps, now have a pair of daytime running lights (DRLs), which curiously turns off when the headlamps are turned on.
The same goes at the rear where everything is unchanged, unlike the Trailblazer twin that also proudly displays the famous bowtie logo of the company atop the chrome tail gate, garnish just like the front. The Isuzu logo is on the lower left side, while the 3.0 engine displacement (both in chrome) on the opposite side. The 4×4 logo, meanwhile, is printed on the rear glass.
The bulging side fenders still house the same 255/65R17 aluminum alloy wheels and again, it’s only the 4×2 LS models (available in both manual and automatic) that have new set alloy wheels.
Inside, there is very little to differentiate the top-of-the-line 4×4 model from the lower rung 4x2s with the addition of 10-inch video monitor attached onto the roof as the only distinction, as well as the 4×4 dial in the center (the 10-inch monitor, which is now available on the latest 4×2 LS variants).
The dashboard features a clean layout with the LS-A variants getting the electro luminescent speedometer and tachometer. The multi-information display (mid) is sandwiched in the middle and its functions are accessed by a button on the leather-wrapped steering wheel which also houses the control for the 7-inch touchscreen display that plays CDs, VCDs and DVDs. The covered USB and auxiliary port beside it are marked clearly.
The powerful automatic climate-control system with separate rear control cools the cabin quickly. The round air vents are placed overhead for the comfort of the rear passengers and all seats are clad in leather, with the driver side getting a six-way power adjustable feature.
Storage and cup holders are aplenty, with the front already having six cup holders and three storages on the dashboard alone. The spacious cabin seats, seven people in comfort, including the driver, even those at the third row will not suffer from claustrophobia on long trips out of town.
The third-row seats don’t fold flat on the floor unlike its competitor, but it doesn’t matter, as it has one of the largest boot space in the segment when the third row’s down.
The 4JJ1-TC (HI) turbocharged and intercooled 3.0 DOHC 4-cylinder common rail direct injection diesel engine features a Variable Geometry System (VGS). It produces 163 hp and 380 N-m of torque, it falls short when compared with what others are offering but doesn’t feel like it.
It has a good midrange torque that makes overtaking slow-moving vehicles a breeze. The five-speed Aisin automatic transmission with sequential shift maybe out-gunned by the newer offerings of its competitor, but it is a perfect match for the engine hardly ever needing to use manual function for overtaking.
The steering wheel is slow, heavy and somewhat vague combined this with a soft suspension, it doesn’t inspire confidence when making sudden turns, but where it really shines is off-road, where the soft suspension swallow’s road irregularities with aplomb and where there is no need for fast steering when negotiating the rough terrain.
The 2017 Isuzu 4×4 LS-A (automatic) is competitively priced at P1.758 million with the pearl white paint option adding P10,000 on top of that.