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Isuzu MU-X Facelift First Drive Review

What is it?

Why I would buy it:

Supreme ride comfort, cheapest in its segment 

Why I would avoid it:

Doesn't excel in any area, dated cabin design and limited equipment 

The Isuzu MU-X that you see here is the latest in a long line of luxury SUVs that seem to be all the rage lately. This is the facelifted version of the MU-X, a model which is quite inconspicuous in its presence among heavy hitters like the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour. Isuzu, however, is hardly stewed and is in fact gunning for numbers with this facelift which has been overdue. 

Featuring more equipment, safety features and a new look, it’s time to find out if the new MU-X lives up to the long wait. 


In terms of visual updates, the front-end looks edgier and up-to-date thanks to the LED headlamps and the repositioned daytime running lights which are now part of the headlamp assembly. The other big change has been made to the wheel design – the razor-cut style alloys are a size bigger, at 18-inches. At the back you will find redesigned taillights, a two-tone spoiler and shark-fin antenna. All in all, the MU-X retains its XXL-size proportions and all the butch SUV traits like the high bonnet, large bumpers and those meaty flared wheel arches. 

How is it on the inside?

The cabin hasn’t changed much although there are some good additions to be found. For instance, the MU-X now gets soft-touch padding across the dashboard and door pads for that premium feel. The all-black interior design with silver add-ons around the centre console is the same as before which is frankly disappointing. The design is dated and the material quality isn’t up to class standards either. Sure, the plastics are durable but at this price range, buyers expect multiple grades of materials that are visually appealing which the MU-X lacks.  

The 7-inch touchscreen display is slow and pretty old-school and there is no sign of smartphone mirroring tech, nor digital instruments or a sunroof. Despite the improved feature-list, the cabin is still pretty basic. You get steering mounted controls, climate control, start/stop button, powered driver’s seat and that’s about it. Oddly enough, the facelifted MU-X doesn’t get the roof-mounted 10-inch screen anymore which was arguably the old model’s USP. That said, Isuzu has upped their safety game by adding six airbags as standard, along with ABS, traction control, stability assist and ISOFIX child seat mounts. Another useful addition is a USB port in the second row, which is music to the ears of most of us who are always looking to charge our smartphones on the go. 

The design and layout may not be to everyone’s taste but what you will really enjoy is the sheer size of the MU-X’s huge cabin. The driving position is truly commanding and there is plenty of space up front. The seats could do with a little more thigh support though. Similarly, there is plenty of legroom at the back and the cushioning is good, too, though you sit higher compared to the front passengers and that hampers under thigh support. As for the third row, it is a little cramped for adults and makes sense for kids at best. In terms of storage space, you get provision for a small bottle on all the doors, two glove boxes and a plethora of cup holders.  The boot, meanwhile, is huge and the opening is wide and fairly low, making it easy to load up luggage. 

How does it drive?

There are no mechanical updates, with the 3-litre, four-cylinder diesel still making less power and torque than the Endeavour 3.2 and the Fortuner, but doing so in a relaxed and stress-free manner. The turbo diesel in fact makes 173bhp and 380Nm, with power going to the wheels via a 5-speed automatic. It’s a big displacement old school motor that takes its own sweet time to pull the hefty MU-X. That being said, it is not harsh at all. It’s only when you push it to go faster that it gets really vocal and a bit gruff. Naturally, this engine pulls strongly in the midrange – the torque comes in at 1,800rpm and from there on the pull is progressive through the rev range, right up to the redline.

The MU-X, however, never feels immediate which is partly down to the lazy 5-speed auto. While the actual shifts are fairly quick, this gearbox doesn’t react fast enough to throttle inputs, resulting in delayed kick-downs. Also, what’s odd is how quickly it lets the engine coast the moment you get off the throttle. Although there is a manual mode which offers engine braking but even that is not all that effective. Nonetheless, the MU-X performed well in our performance tests, completing the 0-100kmph sprint in 12.15 seconds. As for in-gear acceleration, it took 7.51 seconds and 9.35 seconds to complete the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph runs. 

As for the ride and handling, the MU-X simply devours bad roads. Thanks to the tough ladder frame, fat tyres and oodles of suspension travel, it absorbs potholes and road imperfections with absolute ease. Sure, it jiggles about over sharp bumps and uneven surfaces but that’s a small price to pay for that go-anywhere, indestructible feel when you are behind the wheel. Given its relative proportions, 2.1-tonne mass and soft suspension, the MU-X does not like to be hustled around. It rolls through the corners unashamedly and will not respond well to sudden direction changes. Worse still, the steering is heavy and inconsistent in feel and requires four-turns to go from lock to lock, making the MU-X quite cumbersome within city limits. 

Should I buy one?

So that’s our quick look at the new Isuzu MU-X. More appealing and better equipped than before, it offers decent value in its segment, priced lakhs of rupees below the ever reliable Toyota Fortuner and the highly impressive Ford Endeavour. All things considered, the Isuzu MU-X still lacks the refinement and the street credibility of its rivals and credibility is of major concern for buyers in this segment. That being said, the MU-X is the cheapest of all the big ladder-frame SUVs and if you are after a durable family hauler with splendid ride quality and a spacious cabin, the facelift makes for a more convincing buy than before. 

Where does it fit in?

The MU-X facelift is available at Rs 26.26 lakhs for the 4x2 variant whereas the 4x4 comes in at Rs 28.22 lakhs ex-showroom. It competes with the likes of Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour and the recently launched Mahindra Alturas G4. 


Pictures by Kapil Angane 



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Isuzu MU-X Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 33.12 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 34.35 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 33.96 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 33.15 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 32.66 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 29.56 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 33.05 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 30.55 Lakhs onwards
Chandigarh₹ 31 Lakhs onwards
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