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June 26, 2018

2018 Isuzu mu-X 3.0 Blue Power vs 2018 Toyota Fortuner 2.4 TRD

It is given: mid-sized 7-seater SUVs is now this generation’s family car. Aside from a seating configuration that allows the entire caboodle to hit the shopping mall in style, they’re tall (flood-proof), durable, and most importantly, powered by a frugal (ish) diesel engine. Naturally, not one SUV could have everything. This suddenly puts into focus the buyer’s priorities: does he want something practical, but dull or is he will to sacrifice a bit of that practicality for a dash of sportiness?

This is the basic question confronting buyers when they opt for these two 7-seater SUVs: the Isuzu mu-X LS-A 3.0 Blue Power and the Toyota Fortuner 2.4 TRD 4x2. With a price gap of just P 69,000 between them, for all intents and purposes, they’re equally priced; in other words, they’re on a level playing field. That said, which one fulfills the role of a family-friendly daily-driver SUV better?


First launched in 2014, the Isuzu mu-X is certainly the older of these two vehicles. A mild refresh gave it a bit more curves, but overall, it stays true to its honest-to-goodness, no-nonsense boxy design. It’s clean, understated, and handsome—down to the right pick for the 18-inch alloy wheels. Yes, it may be a bit bland, but it’s aligned to Isuzu’s “long-lasting, long-serving” commercial vehicle heritage. On the other hand, some say it’s starting to look dated, and to some degree, it does. Compared to the other SUVs in this class, it doesn’t turn heads as much any longer in a crowded parking lot.

Whereas Isuzu goes all conservative with their design, Toyota goes all swoopy and sleek for their Fortuner. It may have come into the market two years ago, but it still passes off for something launched just two months ago. The Fortuner’s ground-up re-design results in a stronger design identity (as opposed to just creating a Land Cruiser facsimile). It may have been scoffed upon at first, but now, everyone seems to like the design. Plus, it makes the previous model (and some other current offerings) look very, very old. On top of that, Toyota recently introduced a new TRD variant. Based on the 2.4 G, it nets you a White Pearl shade (the cheapest variant that actually gets this color) along with a new grille, bumpers, wheels, rear spoiler, and of course, the replete stickers and badging. Paying an additional P 94,000 for all this may seem steep, but hey, that’s the price of style.

Winner: Toyota Fortuner


Generally, there’s nothing wrong about the mu-X’s interior: it’s pretty straightforward, easy-to-master, and built to last; but there’s also nothing outstanding about it either. Outside, Isuzu may get away from being branded as “dated” because of its conservative styling, but inside, make no mistake—it looks so 2014. There have been attempts to modernize it by adding some soft padding to the dashboard and using more technical-looking pieces, but overall, it just doesn’t stand out. Plus, with the exception of surprisingly plush leather seats, everything else feels more utilitarian than luxurious. Granted everything works well, the mu-X is seriously in need for a new interior or probably just new center console. Oh, and it must be said, the seating position is a bit awkward with the steering wheel positioned too far forward.

Toyota may have done most, if not, all of the Fortuner TRD’s upgrades outside, but it doesn’t mean that the cabin’s a bad place to be in. On the contrary, it’s surprisingly solid, modern-looking, and well-made. There are still some hard plastics present (particularly on the upper dash), but at least, Toyota’s managed to pepper some convincing luxury cues as well. From using the right shade of colors for the interior (a combination of black and dark brown) to the application of matte wood and blue lighting, the overall look and feel of the Fortuner’s been uplifted. The experience still isn’t a class-above feel, but at least it ekes out a win here.

Winner: Toyota Fortuner

Space and Practicality

With similar exterior dimensions, it’s safe to assume that both of these vehicles would have fairly similar interior dimensions. While that’s true, there are also some ways in which they differ, with the Fortuner being the more mixed bag of the two. The Toyota may offer a sliding second row that divides knee room across rows two and three, but the swoopy roofline also robs some usable headroom in those two areas. The side-folding third row, a throwback to traditional SUV design, may offer better bolstering and back support for occupants, but it’s equally a pain to fold them when not in use. This configuration means proper seating in the third row (it’s not knees up), but it also takes away some of the usable cargo room which is down 35 liters versus the mu-X with the third row up.

For the most part, the mu-X gets interior packaging right to a tee. The square-cut cabin means it offers better headroom across all three rows. In fact, if the family count stops at five, the mu-X is easily the better choice with great room across the first two rows. That said, the Isuzu’s only weakness is that the second row doesn’t slide, compromising the knee room for the rearmost passengers. It’s certainly not as comfortable as the Fortuner’s, but at least it’s still usable for longer trips. The seats themselves fold and tumble smartly (it can do it even with the headrests fully extended), but the resulting loading bay isn’t flat. In numbers, the mu-X is down about 200 liters in cargo capacity with both the second and third row seats folded, but reality, it’s more usable because of its regular shape.

Winner: Isuzu mu-X

Performance and Fuel Economy

Despite a 600-cc displacement spread, surprisingly, both the mu-X and Fortuner behave similarly from behind the wheel. On paper, the mu-X may have a 30-horsepower advantage, but during day-to-day driving, the neck-and-neck torque figures (the mu-X’s 380 Nm and Fortuner’s 400 Nm) mean the same peppy feel from stoplight to stoplight. At these low speeds, the Fortuner’s smaller 2GD-FTV has the upper hand when it comes to quietness and smoothness. It’s remarkably civil with just a hint of diesel clatter at the top end. It’s only when the speeds come up that the mu-X turns the tables and shows off better top-end power. What’s more, its nature is relaxed. It can gobble up 100 km/h without having to thrash the accelerator. The flatter power curve certainly works in favor of the mu-X’s fuel economy too: 11.11 km/L versus the Fortuner’s 10.52 km/L (both recorded at an average speed of 26 km/h).

Likewise, almost nothing separates these two vehicles when it comes to overall refinement and comfort. While both are equipped with 6-speed automatics, the Toyota’s gearbox seems better matched to its engine; hunting less and committing to a gear faster. Both are also equipped with hydraulic power assisted steering, but the mu-X’s is noticeably heavier, contributing to a less than agile feel, especially when parking or doing low-speed maneuvers. Both are also equipped with four-wheel disc brakes, with the Isuzu gaining the upper hand for better pedal feel and modulation. When it comes to the all-important ride, the mu-X is, not surprisingly, more pliant at slow speeds or when negotiating small, undulating surfaces such as road cracks or badly patched roads. However, when it comes to the truly rough stuff, like giant potholes, the Fortuner absorbs them way better. In addition, the Toyota, surprisingly, behaves better at highway speeds with a flatter, smoother ride compared to the mu-X’s soft, wavy one.

Winner: TIE

Value for Money

Toyota is typically chastised for not being good value for money, and sadly, the Fortuner 2.4 TRD is no different. While they’ve tried to make amends and added a bit more equipment last year, it’s still ways off the competition. Plus, with the TRD being based off the 2.4 G, you don’t get LED headlights, passive entry system, cruise control, powered driver’s seat, and even something pretty much standard on most mid-variant SUVs: leather seats. And the price is still pegged at P 1,776,000. Yikes.

In comparison, while the mu-X 3.0 LS-A is priced a bit more at P 1,845,000, all those features missing in the Fortuner 2.4 TRD is standard equipment here. In fact, you also get a rear entertainment system, rear parking camera, and electronic stability control as well. You may lose a driver’s knee airbag, but overall, the additional P 69,000 is worth it.

Winner: Isuzu mu-X

As herd mentality rears its head, everyone simply flocks towards the Toyota Fortuner whenever they want a family-friendly SUV that’s reliable, durable, and practical. Sure enough, get one and no one would question you on this choice. It’s a safe bet. But go beyond the brand promise, and it’s clear than its competitors such as the Isuzu mu-X have caught up. Sure enough, it may not look and feel as modern as the Toyota, but there’s little doubt that it offers way more when it comes to overall value. In this day and age, sportiness is good, but practicality is better. For that, it’s time to be less of a lemming and more of a well-informed buyer. The Isuzu mu-X is the better 7-seater SUV.

Winner: Isuzu mu-X

2018 Isuzu mu-X 3.0 LS-A Blue Power
vs Toyota Fortuner 2.4 TRD
Ownership 2018 Isuzu mu-X 3.0 LS-A Blue Power 4x2 2018 Toyota Fortuner 2.4 TRD Sportivo 4x2
Year Introduced Refreshed: 2017 (2014) Refreshed: 2017 (2016)
Vehicle Classification Mid-sized SUV Mid-sized SUV
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV 5-door SUV
Seating 7 7
Engine / Drive F/R F/R
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 3.0 2.4
Aspiration Turbocharged Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Common Rail Direct Injection Common Rail Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4 I4
BHP @ rpm 177 @ 3,550-3,650 147 @ 3,400
Nm @ rpm 380 @ 1,800-2,200 400 @ 1,600-2,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel Diesel
Transmission 6 AT 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 11.11 km/L @ 26 km/h 10.52 @ 26 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,825 4,795
Width (mm) 1,860 1,855
Height (mm) 1,840 1,835
Wheelbase (mm) 2,845 2,750
Curb Weight (kg) 1,995 1,985
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone Independent, Double Wishbone
Rear Suspension 4-Link with Coil Springs 4-Link with Coil Springs
Front Brakes Vented Disc Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc Disc
Tires Bridgestone Dueler H/T 684 II
255/60 R 18 S (f & r)
Bridgestone Dueler H/T 684 II
265/60 R 18 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2 3
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes No
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear with Camera Yes, Rear
Other Safety Features No No
Exterior Features
Headlights LED Halogen
Fog Lamps Front Front
Auto Lights No No
Rain-sensing Wipers No No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric (driver) Manual
Seating Surface Leather Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40 (2nd row); 50/50 (3rd row) Yes, 60/40 (2nd row); 50/50 (3rd row)
On-Board Computer Yes Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes Yes
Power Door Locks Yes Yes
Power Windows Yes Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold Yes
Climate Control Yes Yes
Audio System Stereo
Rear Entertainment System
# of Speakers 6 6
Steering Controls Yes Yes


  1. I think the Montero is the best value SUV if you are okay with the rear tail lights. The fortuner looks classier but the Montero can hold it's own, the GT looks very nice and offers more value than the Fortuner.

    1. Agreed, My top 2's are the Montero and Everest

    2. Don't worry...this is just the first comparo we'll do of the 7-seater SUVs...there's a bigger picture to all this ;-)

    3. Both are slugs with poor ride and handling especially the Fortuner

  2. There are much better choices at this price point, the Everest Titanium, the Montero Sport GLS Premium and the Nissan Terra.

    1. depends on how you define better, features-wise there may be better options but the two above are way better in terms of after sales, durability, reliability, especially if you put Ford's poor after-sales support and questionable reliability in the context

    2. I actually have 4 colleagues who has an Everest Titanium Premium and surprisingly, none of them has major complaints. It coincides well with the good reviews inspite of it being a sibling of the Ranger which has a lot of issues for pre-mmc models.

      The interior is plush, very spacious interior, the ride is sooo comfortable (probably the most comfortable in its class) and feature packed.

      While i do admit that Ford has a notorious after sales service, there are a handful of shops that cater to its spare parts in the event the casa f*cks up.

      To be honest, even Nissan and Mitsubishi has a poor after sales service, though admittedly not as poor as Ford's.

    3. And Toyota has great aftersales service right? Hmmm... I remember the video where a dashcam showed how mechanics treat their customer's vehicles... But nevermind about that, let's stick with generalizations.

    4. Lets admit toyota also sucks...its not just too obvious since service advisors are trained to communicate politely...maski alam mo n lokohan dami pa rin palusot...

    5. I agree, Toyota sucks aswell. It just so happen that there's an abundance of parts. I myself don't bring my Toyota to the Casa for its pms.

  3. Great review. The fortuner is way over rated. Its only the Toyota name thats carrying it.

    1. Agree! But Filipinos are locos over the macho looks of the Fortuner lest be with some important safety features such as the back-up camera which cost around 13-14k in the casa; and the so-called Toyota's uber reliability and resale value kuno which is annoying!

    2. Agreed. Urban legend 'tong "Toyota Reliability".

      Any modern car, properly cared for, will last just as long.

      Resale value, probably. Subjective kasi ito, and now maraming suckers iniisip na it commands a premium. So yun.

      Sa parts availability - common ang components across the line ng bawat brand. Napapadali kasi nito ang logistics. Basically well stocked ang wear items like filters and brake pads. Typically hindi mo need ng other special parts unless you fck up the car.

      And as to keeping it for a long, long time - walang forever. Entropy 'tol. Given na masisira siya one day. Darating time kahit Toyota, ayaw na gawa piyesa para sa model mo. R.O.I. ka na naman. Kuha na ng bago.

    3. True! It was long time ago about this "Toyota reliability" kuno na yung ibang competitors struggle to keep up with the pace with the likes of Toyota Corolla against Nissan Sentra or Mitsubishi Lancer, and starting pa lang noon ang Hyundai at Kia. Amg isa pang di maganda sa Toyota, they get a base model and place cladding and other accessories and will call it a TRD or Touring, special edition kuno. At marami pa rin nagpapaloko at nahuhumaling ng mga Pinoy.

    4. Malamang wala pang complaints sa mga titanium everest kasi bago pa. Wait 5 years.

  4. Get the Sorento if you need three rows and diesel over these tugs with terrible ride. Or the CRV if you need two. They're now similarly priced

    1. Agree, i will go with the sorento and not to mention the terra as well

    2. 3 rows na rin ang CRV ngayon. pero mas malaki pa rin yung Sorento

  5. Fortuner? Siguradong bagsak yan sa emergency swerving maneuver like the moose test

  6. Chevrolet Trailblazer (2019) > Ford Everest > Nissan Terra > Mitsubishi Montero > Isuze MuX > Toyota Fortuner

  7. Sir Uly, we've bought our color-coding vehicle (Isuzu Mu-x). We are also looking at the market for the replacement of our 5 yr old Toyota Vios.
    Could you do a comparo of vehicles for families priced under php 1,200,000, sensing that this is the market that is the new battleground. Examples would be Mitsubishi Expander, Toyota Rush, Honda BRV, Honda Mobilio, Suzuki Ertiga, Suzuki Vitara etc.
    2nd point, is there any chance that Honda BRV will bring in a diesel variant? Will this be able to fight with Toyota Rush and Mitsubishi Expander?

    Many thanks to you and your team. More good reads hopefully...

  8. Chevrolet trailblazers the best in it's class while Ford are second 3rd Nissan Terra

  9. mu x vs fortuner ang topic tapos sisingitan ng ibang brand na suv, mga kupal pala kayo eh

  10. Too bad that the Fortuner 2.4 V, the TOTL RWD of the said SUV, is more pricier than the MU-X and still has the small engine as well. They should equip it with the 2.8l of the Innova with similar figures, which is lesser than the 2.8 V.

    1. I mentioned this since that variant has more similar equipment to the TOTL MU-X but sadly, pricing separates them apart and the engine is not as powerful as the Isuzu's.

  11. I was surfing net and fortunately came across this site and found very interesting stuff here. Its really fun to read. I enjoyed a lot. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information. check price

  12. Hello sirs, may I know what type of AT the fortuner has, is it a cvt or non-cvt?

  13. All kinds of suv's depend on the care of owners and driving style sometimes its not power of the engine that counts but the heart of the driver that matters. Kaya madami mayabang sa highway akala mo mabilis pang 100kph lang pala alam nyang takbo. Of course good drivers take care of their cars well. Good pm mga ka carguide. Ingat lagi.


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