The seven-seater SUV has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity since entering the mainstream in the early 2000s. Globally, the large crossover SUV (or CUV) has become a staple in the automotive marketplace.

These days, almost every major manufacturer offers a large seven-seater SUV in their line-up. We’ve tested several of these SUV’s, many of which are competent family vehicles. Although, as manufacturers focused on improving comfort and capacity, the off-road capability of a traditional SUV has been stripped away.    

Today, it’s more common to see SUV’s crawling over speed-bumps at your local shopping centre, as opposed to rocky terrain. Anybody who is after an off-roader is pushed towards the ute market, or the considerably more expensive realm of Land Cruisers and Land Rovers. 

Fortunately, there are still a few options for the New Zealander who needs ute-like capabilities, but still has a family to cart around. The Isuzu MU-X is one answer to that dilemma.

The MU-X is a ute-based SUV, derived from the Isuzu D-Max. We have reviewed the D-Max before – it’s a decent bit of kit, but we also thought it was a tad expensive. The question is: Does the MU-X follow the same footsteps? Let’s find out.

What We Like and Dislike About The 2022 Isuzu MU-X

What we likeWhat we don’t like
A true off-roader SUV
Proven reliability
Build quality and aura of indestructibility
Exterior styling
Corners well
Simple to understand interior 
Bumpy ride quality
Clunky infotainment
Poor glove box arrangement
Intrusive lane-keep assistance
Annoying self cancelling adaptive cruise

What’s In The 2022 Isuzu MU-X Range?

We all like it when things are kept simple. Fortunately, Isuzu has done exactly this with the MU-X. There’s one model of MU-X available, which is priced from $80,990. No different trim levels are offered, but Isuzu does offer a range of accessories which can tick up the price.

2022 Isuzu MU-X Standard Equipment Highlights

  • 20’’ Alloys
  • 9’’ infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 8-speaker audio system
  • Sat-nav
  • 8-way electric adjustable driver seat
  • 4-way electric adjustable passenger seat
  • Heated front seats
  • Dual zone climate control air-conditioning with rear seat air-conditioning vents
  • Reversing camera
  • 8 Airbags
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Smart keyless entry
  • Push button start
  • Remote engine start
  • 2x Rear USB charging ports
  • Dashboard Multi-info display
  • Auto wipers
  • Electro-chromatic rear-view mirror
  • Auto LED headlights with auto- high beam
  • LED taillights
  • Welcome/Leaving lights
  • LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) and LED fog lights
  • Power operated tailgate
  • Roof rails
  • Terrain Command 4×4 select (2H-4H-4L)
  • Rear differential lock
  • Under-front steel skid plate
  • Steel plate guards: sump, transfer case, fuel tank leading edge;
  • Reinforced resin under fuel tank
  • 2 x ISOFIX
  • Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
  • Hill Start Assist (HSA)
  • Hill Descent Control (HDC)
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR)
  • Intelligent Speed Limiter
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Lane Departure Prevention (LDP)
  • Lane Keep Assist (LKA)
  • Emergency Lane Keeping (ELK)
  • Driver Attention Assist
  • Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)

The MU-X range offers seven different colour options, these are:

  • Mercury Silver
  • Obsidian grey
  • Onyx Black
  • Red Spinel
  • Santos Brown
  • Sapphire Blue
  • Splash White

For more details on the Isuzu MU-X, check out the Isuzu New Zealand website.

How Does The 2022 Isuzu MU-X Compare To Its Competition?

Make/ ModelEnginePower/
SeatsFuel L/100kmTowing CapacityBoot Space,
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado2.8-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel150/50077.9750/3000553$83,290
Isuzu MU-X3.0-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel140/45078.3750/35001119$80,990
Ford Everest Titanium2.0-litre 4-cylinder bi-turbodiesel157/50077.0750/31001050$80,490
Toyota Fortuner Limited2.8-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel150/50077.6750/3100716$59,990
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport2.8-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel135/43778.0750/3100673$59,990

First Impressions of the 2022 Isuzu MU-X

I must admit, I do not remember looking at the MU-X twice before I jumped inside. “Yep, it’s an Isuzu”, my mind had already concluded after one quick glance. 

It’s big – check. It has a similar face to a D-Max – check.

Even though the D-Max is a sharp-looking ute, I figured I had already seen it all before. It wasn’t until after I had parked on the driveway, where I stopped for a proper inspection.

Although not obvious at first, the front-end of the MU-X is entirely different to the D-Max. The headlights, grills, lower bumper, virtually everything was different. Yet, the visual difference is subtle, as it’s all arranged to have continuity with the D-Max. Looking beyond the face, you’ll notice the high-riding body, with lashings of chrome and some sharp turbine-style wheels.  

All these little differences add up. The MU-X is a classy looking SUV, whilst looking every bit as tough as its D-Max brother. It’s like a pair of high-quality work boots, they’re made for a purpose but should still scrub up nicely even after years of abuse.

 What’s The Interior Like In The 2022 Isuzu MU-X?

Although the exterior of the MU-X has been re-sculpted, less can be said for the interior. From the driver’s point of view, the MU-X is virtually the same as the D-Max. 

The dashboard, dash cluster, infotainment, steering wheel, and all the climate control switchgear are the same. Differences do exist, but they are subtle. Some examples include the location of the button for the heated seats, or the fact there’s an electronic parking brake as opposed to a physical one, but it doesn’t get more extensive than that.  

A cut-and-paste interior job for the MU-X is hardly a bad thing. During our test of the D-Max, we found the interior to be a comfortable, well-built space. There are enough modern luxuries, without sacrificing the bash-ability which goes with the territory of ute ownership.

If I were to be critical, I would say it’s an interior that comes across as a bit low-rent in the application of a family SUV, yet it suits the MU-X, which is arguably designed for family and farm. 

On that same thought, if tech toys are high on your priority list, the MU-X won’t be for you. Where some manufacturers are quick to show off their latest heads-up displays, or newly digitised climate controls, the MU-X keeps it more traditional. The dash cluster is a physical cluster, as are the climate controls, and what was that about a heads-up display?

Of course, it’s not totally spartan on the inside. Up the front, there’s a 9’’ infotainment unit. The user interface is simple and the resolution is clear. The system is slightly laggy, but it’s not terrible. Just don’t expect it to keep pace with your smartphone. As for the rest, the audio system is nothing to write home about, nor is the quality of the reversing camera. I would have also welcomed a 360-degree camera on a SUV of these dimensions. 

On the dash cluster, there’s a multi-information display that shows all the typical driving information, plus a few screens dedicated for off-road functions. Unfortunately, there’s a notable absence of a digital speedometer, plus the fuel gauge does not give you an estimated range when the fuel light comes on.

The driving position is comfortable and the seat has plenty of configuration with 8-way settings. Although, I would warn anyone with wide shoulders that they might find the shoulder bolstering somewhat awkward. Otherwise, I had no issues getting comfortable.

Moving to the back seats, I was slightly surprised by what I thought was a lack of legroom for second row passengers. Upon opening the door for the first time, the seat directly behind the driver appeared to be quite close to where my driving position was set. Fortunately, the second-row seats have a high base, meaning your legs’ natural resting position is less likely to extend all-the-way out to the driver’s seat. In other words, I had no issues getting comfortable in the second row. 

As for amenities, second row passengers have access to a couple of USB ports and their own rear-seat climate controls. The climate controls aren’t on the back of the centre console, like you’d find in many other vehicles. It took me a moment to realise, but Isuzu has stuck them on the roof, where an interior light would go. Also, you need to make sure the rear climate button is flicked on from the driver’s side control panel, otherwise you won’t get any air back there.    

The third-row seating is almost exclusively reserved for small kids, or your dog. Although, the young ones in the third row might be envious of older children in the second row. There are no USB ports for third-row passengers, I’m afraid. 

I was expecting slightly more storage of the MU-X, given the market it’s attempting to appeal to. That said, I wouldn’t call it lacking in storage either. My only gripe is with the twin glove box arrangement. From the outside, you’d think there’s plenty of storage, until you’ve opened them. The lower glove box is almost entirely occupied by the vehicle service manuals. Then, the upper box has this nonsensical partition, which prevents storage of any large items. I have no idea why Isuzu put this there. Otherwise, I do appreciate the nifty cup holders that pop out from the dashboard.

What’s The 2022 Isuzu MU-X Like To Drive?

As we’ve mentioned plenty of times in this article, the MU-X is the SUV sibling of the Isuzu D-Max. Naturally, there’s going to be plenty of shared parts between the two vehicles. Both the MU-X and the D-Max share the same ladder-frame chassis and drivetrain. 

Starting with the engine, the MU-X is powered by Isuzu’s 3.0-litre turbodiesel, also found in the Isuzu D-Max. The engine outputs 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque, which is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. This powers the rear or all-four wheels via Isuzu’s switchable 4WD (2H-4H-4L).

From our previous experience, we know this engine is a solid power plant. Peak torque is accessed from 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm, meaning there’s a healthy low to mid-range thrust. This helps the hefty MU-X get up to traffic speeds in a relatively brisk manner. Once you’re moving, there’s a reasonably strong mid-range power curve and little turbo lag, though you will notice the engine does run out of steam towards the top end of the rev range. This latter point about the top-end is fairly typical of most turbodiesels.

The 6-speed automatic transmission paired to the engine is also a robust unit. It seamlessly blends the gears together, shifting smoothly when you’re on the power, generating a nice linear power curve. We didn’t get the opportunity to load the gearbox with a trailer, but otherwise the performance is excellent for everyday driving. 

On the subject of towing, it should also be a breeze for the MU-X. The MU-X has a 3,500kg tow rating, compared to the Ford Everest and Toyota Fortuner, which only achieve a 3,100kg rating.

An unexpected upside of Isuzu’s turbodiesel power plant is its fuel efficiency. During our test of the D-Max, we managed to get achieve a fuel economy result of 8.5L/100kms, and similar result of 9.0L/100kms with Mazda’s BT-50 (which uses the same engine).

Unfortunately, the MU-X doesn’t appear to be quite as efficient as the D-Max. During our test of the MU-X, we achieved a fuel economy result of 10.2L/100kms. The MU-X isn’t much heavier than the D-Max, so we suspect this could be down to the testing conditions or could be related to the aerodynamic properties.

Keeping with the trend of sharing amongst the family, the MU-X shares the same ladder frame chassis as the D-Max, further enhancing the made for the farm credentials. A key difference is with the rear suspension set-up. The MU-X is more for hauling kids as opposed to mounds of gravel, meaning Isuzu can safely ditch the stiff leaf-springs. Instead, the MU-X gets multi-link rear suspension. Naturally, this helps the MU-X have better on-road manners than the ute.

Although, where I had been expecting plush, long-travel suspension from the MU-X, my experience was nearly the opposite. Instead, the MU-X’s overall ride quality is quite firm. It manages to be unusually flat in the middle of a quick corner, but the combination of its ladder chassis and stiff springs meant it also felt rigid going over bumps. That said, the ride quality is far from bad, though you will notice a juddery ride over rougher surfaces.  

As was the case in the D-Max, I found the MU-X’s steering to be light and responsive. It’s not too flimsy, and is well adjusted for urban driving.

As for off-road capability, the MU-X will go further than my capabilities will allow. The MU-X has all the gear, including a locking differential, hill descent control and also includes a Rough Terrain mode which adjusts the traction control to tackle slipperier surfaces. The MU-X has a wading depth of 800mm and also a slightly greater departure angle compared with the D-Max (26.4 degrees to 24.2 degrees), but falls slightly short of the D-Max’s approach angle (29.2 degrees to 30.5 degrees). 

Although we mentioned earlier that the MU-X isn’t likely to appeal to hardcore techies, the MU-X is still laden with modern drivers’ safety technology. That said, the tech does operate with some quirks.

For example, the adaptive cruise control will operate down to a halt, but will self-cancel after stopping. This is a pain in heavy traffic.

The traffic sign recognition software beeps each time you exceed the recognised speed limit. Fortunately, you can switch this reminder off. As was the case with the D-Max, the lane keep assistance system is a tad overbearing. On a tight back road, you’ll likely want to switch this off too.  

Fred’s Point of View

A while back, the family and I used to live in the Far North. We were up there for 15 years and went through a variety of cars. When I say, “went through”, I really mean they fell apart, destroyed by the high percentage of metal roads in the area. Ruts, potholes, ridges – they hammered those cars until they couldn’t take it anymore.

This is where a car like the MU-X would come into its own. It feels indestructible at all times, and potentially is now my go-to vehicle in a zombie apocalypse. 

The MU-X is a perfect car for places like the Far North, where a full ladder chassis is a must if you want any sort of longevity from your car. It’s also a pretty nice ride, that diesel chugging away, sometimes quietly such as on the motorway, and sometimes a little more vocally, like when you are working the engine up a long hill.

The infotainment system is old school – not great resolution and such a clunky interface. Space, for a big car, is not what I expected. But I still enjoyed driving it, the massively high driving position gives you a commanding spot to navigate through the peasants below you.

The car is at the upper end of the price range for its features, but it’s still a very worthy car, if simply for its ruggedness. I can see farmers lining up at the Isuzu dealer already.

2022 Isuzu MU-X Specifications

Price as Tested$80,990
Engine3.0-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel 
Power, TorquekW/Nm140kW@3,600rpm
Transmission6-Speed Automatic
Spare WheelFull size (Alloy)
Kerb Weight, Kg2,175
Length x Width x Height, mm4850 x 1870 x 1825
Cargo Capacity, mm311 (all seats up)
1119 (third row down)
2138 (second row down) 
Fuel capacity, litres80
Fuel EfficiencyAdvertised Spec – combined – 8.3L/100km
Real World Test – combined – 10.2L/100km
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Turning circle, metres11.4
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty3-year, 100,000Km New Vehicle Warranty
3-year Roadside Assistance 
ANCAP Safety RatingsANCAP Rating – 5 stars – 5 Stars – NRJ561
Vehicle Technology
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Alistair Weekes
A millennial who prefers driving cars to having avocado on toast.
2022-isuzu-mu-x-car-review<!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Suitability is an important criterion when considering any sort of product. If you were to view the Isuzu MU-X through a family SUV lens, it wouldn’t stack up all too well against SUVs that are dedicated for this purpose.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>However, the MU-X isn’t trying to be the glitziest family SUV. It’s designed to be the ultimate workhorse or tow rig, that’ll also cart the family. In this respect, the MU-X fulfils its role excellently.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The MU-X is well-built, and offers a proven turbo-diesel power plant, that’ll happily tow boats or traverse the farm all-day long. Inside, the cabin retains a simple format, that isn’t overwhelmed by tech toys. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Its traditional, light-on-tech set-up will appeal to some, but will also be its weakness for others. On the tech subject, both Isuzu’s lane-keep assistance and adaptive cruise require some improvement. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Although the main drawback of the Isuzu MU-X is the price. It’s more expensive than most of its direct competition. At $80,990, it’s going toe-to-toe with the Ford Everest, their Ranger-based SUV. It’s also competing in the same price bracket as a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, and we know the Land Cruiser nameplate isn’t something Toyota takes lightly when it comes to off-roading and reliability.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Overall, the Isuzu MU-X is a competent workhorse and SUV, although in our opinion, you’d be wise to seek-out a good deal before committing the cash. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph -->


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