Alex Rae’s first drive 2017 Isuzu MU-X Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: Refreshed MU-X gets some mild exterior tweaks, improved infotainment and creature comforts on the inside and a tweaked engine with more grunt. 

2017 Isuzu MU-X

PRICE $42,800-$56,100 (+ORCs) WARRANTY 5 years/130,000 km ENGINE 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel POWER 130kW at 3600rpm TORQUE 430Nm at 2000rpm (2200rpm – manual) TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic; 6-speed manual DRIVE 4×2 and selectable 4×4 with low-range  DIMENSIONS 4825mm (L); 1860mm (Excl mirrors); 1825-1860mm (H) GROUND CLEARANCE 220-230mm ANGLES 23.2-24.0-degrees (approach); 24.6-25.1-degrees (departure); 18.7-19.5-degress (ramp-over) TURNING CIRCLE 11.6m KERB WEIGHT 1992-2157kg SEATS 7 FUEL TANK 65 litres SPARE full size (steel or alloy depending on variant) THIRST 7.9L/100km TOWING 3000kg braked

ISUZU HAS been selling its large SUV, the MU-X in Australia since 2008 and the Japanese manufacturer has enjoyed year-on-year sales success well beyond its initial projection. In fact, sales in its first year were 2700 units which was more than the Colorado 7. Fast-forward to now and Isuzu sold more than 7000 units last year – double its Holden twin under the skin.

2017 Isuzu MU-X Review by Practical Motoring

But the light commercial vehicle (LCV) producer isn’t going to rest on its laurels when there’s strong competitors such as the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest and the Holden Trailblazer providing more choice for buyers than ever before. Isuzu hopes its updates to NVH, interior comfort, driveline and looks is enough to help it reach double digit growth. It was launched locally late last week.

What is it?

The 2017 MU-X is the second-generation of the MU-X here in Australia and is the number-one selling LCV-based large-SUV under-$70,000.

Of all the large SUVs available, it’s the sixth-best seller behind the Toyota Prado, Subaru Outback, Toyota Kluger, Holden Captiva, and the Hyundai Santa Fe – of that list, only the Prado is a direct competitor as the others do not have the heavy-duty offroad or towing capability offered by Prado and MU-X.

2017 Isuzu MU-X Review by Practical Motoring

Outside, the second-generation MU-X brings a facelift to the front and rear, and it gets 18-inch alloys on the top-spec LS-T and mid-spec LS-U, while the entry model LS-M receives 16-inch wheels. The LS-M also misses out on roof racks, which the other two grades get as standard.

Inside, the seven-seat MU-X has been updated with some soft touch-materials, improved leather seats and better infotainment. Rounding off the improved in-cabin experience is plenty of extra sound insulation on the floor pan and around the firewall. Isuzu claims the lower in-cabin noise is the equivalent of turning down the radio three-notches.

The previous 3.0-litre engine has been overhauled to meet Euro5 standards which has led to 50Nm more torque, now 430Nm at 2000-2200rpm, and and fuel economy of 7.9L/100km. The engine was developed over two years and 100,000km of testing in Australia. This included examining the driving record module from customer’s cars and their driving habits. The result is apparently an engine better suited to our conditions. However, the engine now runs a diesel particulate filter – more on that here.

The MU-X is available with either a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission or an Isuzu-developed six-speed manual (not on test)  but Isuzu reports almost 95 per cent of its vehicle sales are now automatic transmissions. The previous model had only a five-speed automatic.

The MU-X can be had with either a 4×2 or 4×4 driveline and the 4×4 gets low-range but no rear differential lock. The 4×4 driveline is part-time, so it’s 2WD on-road and 4×4 can be used only in offroad conditions.

What’s it like inside?

Starting with the boot there’s only 235-litres of space when all three rows are up. In this small boot space is a 12v outlet and handy storage compartment that’s great for some tools or loose items. Pop down those two third-row seats, however, and the usable space increases to a large 1830-litres.

The third-row seat pitch doesn’t offer much room for legs and the roof is low, but they’re better than most and a longer trip would work for teens. In the very back are two cup holders and the seats were consistent with the other row’s fit and finish.

2017 Isuzu MU-X Review by Practical Motoring

The second row has much better legroom and there’s ample head space for a 6-foot tall person (or, me). The seats recline, but don’t slide, and there’s one USB port for charging devices. There’s also a fan control for four roof mounted air vents (two for second row and two for the third row), and that climate control can be turned on or off up front.

2017 Isuzu MU-X Review by Practical Motoring

The driver gets electrically-adjustable seats in top-spec LS-T and manual adjustment in all other models. The seat is height adjustable, to an extent, but the steering wheel is tilt adjustable only and doesn’t provide much reach. The seats are well padded and both the cloth and leather seats felt good quality and should withstand outback touring – although most buyers will likely fit seat covers.

2017 Isuzu MU-X Review by Practical Motoring

The LS-T is also the only model to receive push-to-start ignition and a roof-mounted DVD player for back seat passengers.

The interior design for the second-generation MU-X hasn’t change much and still has the same stuffy design. The centrally mounted infotainment system is 8-inch touchscreen in all but the base-spec which gets a 7-inch screen. The system feels about a generation behind some of its competitors and doesn’t feature Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, but its touch sensitivity works consistently and the system was easy to navigate.

What’s it like on the road?

Nearly all of the old Isuzu MU-X underpinnings have remained unchanged in this update and so it rides similarly to the previous model. For the local launch, we drove on a variety of surfaces around the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

On the road, the extra bits of sound insulation worked well and the cabin was noticeably quieter than the previous MU-X, and on gravel and coarse chips surfaces there was noticeably improved NVH. Isuzu claims the reduction in noise is around 3dB, or three turns of the volume dial on a radio.

2017 Isuzu MU-X Review by Practical Motoring

On sealed roads the MU-X handles itself well although its ladder-frame chassis isn’t as compliant and effortless to drive as its monocoque chassis competitors. The steering is not as well sorted as some either and feels a little too heavy in tighter bends.

The revised engine with its extra torque has plenty of grunt but it did become noisy when revved hard. Only the six-speed Aisin sourced automatic was available on test, no manual, but it shifted at the right times and moving the selector over will engage manual shifting mode (no steering wheel mounted paddle shifters).

The vehicle composure was similar on gravel surfaces and the ride was well mannered. Isuzu has, overall, done a good job with the MU-X.

2017 Isuzu MU-X Review by Practical Motoring

We were allowed some limited time to test the MU-X on an off-road course but there wasn’t much chance to do more than climb and descend some loose-surface hills and negotiate a muddy bog. The MU-X features hill descent control which is speed-variable; set a given speed with accelerator or brake and the car will maintain that speed.

In the short section of mud, one MU-X managed to get stuck but it appeared to be an issue of clearance where the spare wheel sits underneath the body at the back more than anything else. The driver was able to get out easily enough though and in our test vehicle we never felt the MU-X was struggling for traction.

2017 Isuzu MU-X Review by Practical Motoring

A feature missing, however, is a locking rear differential, which features in some key competitors such as the the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. The MU-X is also has part-time 4WD so it’s 2WD on road, which means it lacks the all-drive surety of vehicles such as Pajero Sport, Everest and Prado.

Off-road, the drive selector can be changed from 2WD to 4WD high on the move (up to 100km/h), and 4WD low-range is engaged only when stationary and in neutral. When low-range is selected the ESC is automatically disabled.

What about safety features?

The Isuzu MU-X is five star ANCAP and comes with standard safety features, including airbags and traction  and stability controls as well as reversing camera and rear park assist, but it lacks technology such as autonomous electronic braking and driver assists. For added protection, 4×4 models are also equipped with a 2mm steel front skid plate, steel sump and transfer case guards plus protection for the leading edge of the fuel tank

Why would you buy one?

The MU-X has been in the market for almost a decade now and there is a strong following of buyers, prven by Isuzu’s sales success. Isuzu has grown its dealer network to 130 sites nationwide, so the brand is going to be around for a long time, and its 5 years/130,000km warranty and fixed-price capped servicing plans are better than some.

Interval Months / km






Total Cost

Inc. GST 







Read our 2016 Isuzu MU-X on and offroad test.


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About Author

Alex Rae

Alex Rae brings almost two decades’ experience, previously working at publications including Wheels, WhichCar, Drive/Fairfax,, AMC, Just Cars, and more.


  1. I thought you could shift to 4WD high at speeds upto 100km/hr, not 80km/hr as mentioned here. Can you verify.

    1. Yes you’re right troll, we got the wrong info on launch. It’s been updated. – Alex

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