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September 22, 2021

First Impressions: 2022 Isuzu mu-X 3.0 4x2 LS-E

The all-new Isuzu mu-X couldn’t have come at a better time. With mid-sized SUVs now becoming the ride of choice for Filipino families or a status symbol (or both), there’s definitely a strong demand to satisfy. The pandemic aside, segment sales remain largely consistent. Couple that with the DTI deciding to roll back safeguard duties, you get what’s possibly the perfect mix for market success.

It’s great news too because the previous generation mu-X has been around for about seven years. And let’s face it, it was starting to feel particularly haggard. But aged as it was, the mu-X remained a popular choice among Filipinos. Up until its retirement, Isuzu managed to move more than 50,000 of them.

This presents a unique challenge. On one hand, it has to satisfy a strong base who look to the mu-X for its enviable reputation for reliability and durability. On the other hand, it has to capture the needs and wants of a new breed of buyer—a buyer who’s likely new to the Isuzu brand. Thankfully, the 2022 mu-X does both.

Following the footsteps of the D-MAX, the mu-X gets a top-down redesign—the only one in the segment to have done so. It brings a new engine, a new platform, and even a different new product philosophy.

Starting with the way it looks, the 2022 mu-X is far removed from its angular and simplistic-looking predecessor. Moreover, designers gave it its own unique visual identity as opposed to just plopping an SUV body onto the D-MAX’s front-end. With its pronounced rising shoulder line, slim headlights, large wing-like grille, and 20-inch alloy wheels, it’s made to look denser and compact visually; even if in reality, it’s larger in all directions than the outgoing model.

Anyone who’s sat inside the D-MAX will find the mu-X’s cabin familiar. Regardless, it’s a sizeable step up from the old model which felt really antiquated. Overall, it’s blend of easy-to-clean materials with hints of luxury like contrast stitching and a padded dash top. It’s easily one of the best for a pickup-based SUV.

Design pizzazz aside, the mu-X offers a solid driver’s environment. The front seats have plenty of side bolstering and leg support. It also comes with 8-way power adjustment and together with a tilt/telescopic steering column makes it easy to find a comfortable driving position.

The second row also passes the all-important family test with good leg- and headroom. They recline too in a 60/40 split. The rear doors also have a wider opening allowing for easier fitment of child seats. Sadly though, they don’t slide.

Despite the lack of a sliding function for the second row, two adults can still easily fit into the third row. Isuzu says the third-row seats are wider by 105 mm compared to the old model, and that’s believable. Plus, they do offer an adjustable recline as well.

Isuzu is proud of the all-new mu-X’s on-board tech, and they have every right to be. Starting with the infotainment system, it’s got a 10.1-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Curiously, it’s a locally-sourced unit but according to the carmaker, they’ve done so to equip their SUV with offline GPS navigation—something their provincial buyers often look for.

The driver too is treated to a multi-function display that’s nestled between the traditional tach and speedo. It displays a whole gamut of information and some functionality is buried within its menu system. It looks complex, but thankfully, once you’ve dialed it in for your own tastes, you’ll probably never need to delve back in there again.

The piano key style climate control buttons work well in the mu-X too, and this layout also happens to free up a storage bin underneath it to fit stuff like phones and wallets. There’s also one 12-volt and one USB port for the front passengers, while those on the second row get two more USB ports and a 220-volt inverter.

Under the hood resides a very familiar engine—the 4JJ3-TCX. First seen in the all-new D-MAX, this 3.0-liter common rail turbodiesel makes 190 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 450 Nm from 1,600 to 2,600 rpm (read our D-MAX 3.0 4x4 LS-E review here).

However, the spec numbers only tell a part of the story. Like the D-MAX, the mu-X feels muscular without feeling fast. Peak torque is available low down in the rev range, and 88 percent of peak torque—around 400 Nm is available between 1,400 to 3,250 rpm. From 1,000 rpm or close to idle, that figure is already a stout 300 Nm.

Although seat time behind the mu-X is limited to quick runs around an empty lot, it doesn’t feel stressed. In that regard, the 6-speed automatic is a great companion to the engine, keeping revs low most of the time. This allows the engine to flex that low-down torque as much as possible.

Moreover, with a brand-new platform that uses ultra high-tensile steel for the first time (Isuzu says it’s 10 percent stiffer than before), handling is quicker and more direct. The body feels stiff, quelling unwanted vibrations, while the suspension remains unfazed by rough pieces of pavement despite the 20-inch wheels.

Standard on the LS-E is Isuzu’s Advanced Driver Assist System or ADAS. The front two cameras mounted on the windshield provides the mu-X autonomous emergency braking as well as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high beam, and even post-collision braking. Meanwhile, sensors at the back provide blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. These are on top of 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, and vehicle stability control with both hill start- and hill-descent control.

Now, it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room: price. While this 3.0 4x2 LS-E packs more features than before, it also comes with a P 305,000 premium over the similarly-positioned outgoing 3.0 4x2 LS-A. Even if the 2022 LS-A were to be compared to the 2021 LS-A, the difference is still a sizeable P 105,000. Still, at P 2.1 million, you’re getting much more car for the money.

Overall, the 2022 mu-X isn’t necessarily the same quantum leap forward that the D-MAX enjoyed in comparison. However, without a doubt, Isuzu has tweaked and improved the formula to a huge degree. Not only have the design and driving experience caught up to modern SUV standards, but they’ve added the right safety and technology credentials into the mix as well.

Those who already know and love the previous-generation mu-X will find this new generation fitting them like the perfect pair of jeans. It’s familiar in many respects, but also improved in a lot of areas. Meanwhile, for those who’re new to the brand, they can add it to the growing list of choices in the fiercely fought mid-sized SUV category.


  1. Tip: You can get the outgoing TOTL Sorento for only 1.780M. Much better vehicle overall than any of these pick-up based SUVs. Only downside is that it only comes with 2 airbags :(

  2. No bloody way, 2M+ for a dirty tech 2-tonner? Just to exude a pretentious "status symbol" in the guise of "practicality"? Praktikal daw, kasi matipid at malaki.. how much savings do you really get if it's overpriced by more than 500k? And how often in a year do you ferry 6-7 people?

  3. Mga ulol na wala namang pambili puro iyak lang alam at satsat na wala daw kuwenta mga ppvs. Aysus! Parang akala niyo naman first-world na bansa ang pinas. ��

  4. Wala daw pambili eh naka CX-9 nga. Go and settle on your "status symbol" PPV. Hindi naman kita pinipigilan.

    1. Di naman ikaw tinutukoy ko sir ah. Grabe naman to tinamaan kagad wews.

  5. halos lhat ng bagong lbas n mga suv ay magaganda hirap mamili s dami ng mga naggagandahang modelo, toyota,isuzu,honda, nissan, mitsubishi,ford , koreaan suv mern p mga europe model etc,, skin 3yrs. n itong toyota kya 3 p ulit bago magpalit sagarin ko n gamit.

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