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November 14, 2021

Review: 2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-E 4x2

The Filipino mid-sized SUV buyer is spoilt for choice. There are at least half a dozen choices out there, and this doesn’t even include vehicles with similar (read: 7-seater) interior layouts. This puts a lot of pressure on carmakers to come up with something bigger, better, or both.

This is the dilemma faced by the 2022 Isuzu mu-X. As the only mid-sized pickup-based passenger vehicle (PPV) to have undergone a full-on model change, they could have taken substantial risk be it with design or engineering. Instead, they decided to stick to a more conservative formula, for better or worse.

Naturally, you can’t tell all this by the way the mu-X looks. By and large, that’s where Isuzu put in all of their efforts. Not only is it as far removed from its simplistic-looking predecessor, but designers actually managed to give it its own visual identity vis-à-vis the D-MAX. 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 spent some time in the new D-MAX will find the mu-X’s cabin familiar. It’s a sizeable step up from the old model which felt antiquated. Overall, it’s blend of family-friendly materials with hints of luxury like contrast stitching and a padded dash top. It doesn’t really re-write the interior rule book for pickup-based SUVs, but it’s still one of the better ones.

Interior design and execution aside, the driver’s environment is pretty solid too. The front seats, feature a unique low density, water-blown MDI polyurethane foam construction. This allows ergonomists to adjust firmness across the back and cushion ultimately making it a worthy long-distance touring companion. There’s even adjustable lumbar support in case your weary spine needs more support. The tilt/telescopic steering column helps finding a comfortable driving position easy-peasy.

The second-row seats are just as comfortable, and do offer good leg- and headroom. They recline too in a 60/40 split.

Sadly, when it comes to the third row, it’s compromised. Isuzu made the executive decision to omit a split-sliding second row, just like the previous-generation mu-X. This may give it a truly flat floor up to the back of the front seats, but on the flipside, it also limits the available knee room for the rearmost occupants. And it’s a shame because the lack of knee room (and a second-row latch that always threatens to crush a wayward foot or two), the third-row seats are actually wider, the legs are pitched in a more comfortable angle, and it offer the most amount of recline adjustment in its class.

Isuzu is proud of the all-new mu-X’s on-board tech, and for the most part, 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 done so that they can equip their SUV with offline GPS navigation—something their provincial buyers look for. Navigating through the system is easy enough, but the display’s colors are, sadly, washed out. For those who rely on CarPlay, here’s a warning. There’s a noticeable delay between inputs and the system’s response time. There’s also a constant, annoying hiss coming from the speakers whenever a CarPlay-enabled phone is in use.

Meanwhile, the driver 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.

Two cameras mounted on the windshield provides functions such as autonomous emergency braking as well as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high beam, and even post-collision braking. In theory, the system should work great. In reality though, it’s a source of annoyance.

Not only does the system constantly fill the cabin with beeps, blares, and sirens (there’s no way to adjust the volume), it’s also prone to false warnings. It will detect low-lying branches as an obstacle, and will activate automatic braking. This is a potential rear-end collision waiting to happen. Isuzu should add physical shortcut buttons to turn its ADAS functions on and off. Subaru, which uses a similar stereoscopic camera-based system has them, and so does all the others. As it stands, it’s buried in a menu which can only be accessed when the mu-X’s not moving. The system also reverts to turning all aids on whenever it’s started up which only adds to a driver’s frustration.

The other safety systems such as blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, and vehicle stability control with both hill start- and hill-descent control are worthwhile additions.

The piano key style climate control buttons, first found in the D-MAX, work in the mu-X too. Plus, it frees up a storage bin in front of the shifter that can 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. Also shared with the 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.

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.

The engine, as with other Isuzu engines, doesn’t like to rev, but it never feels strained. The mu-X relies on its fat power band to get its two-ton frame moving, and it does so with just enough gusto. As a result, this large displacement engine is the most fuel efficient in its class with a good 10.86 km/L fuel efficiency figure (average speed of 21 km/h). The engine’s chill behavior is closely mirrored by its Aisin 6-speed automatic. It prioritizes smoothness to quick gear changes. It also provides engine braking almost immediately when the accelerator’s let go, allowing the powertrain to quickly get back to the rhythm of things if needed.

A brand-new platform that uses ultra-high-tensile steel for the first time equals quicker and more direct handling too. The body feels solid, quelling unwanted vibrations, while the suspension, particularly its bump compliance and rebound feel far more accomplished and polished compared to most others in its class. Although, a recommended tire pressure of just 30 PSI for the 265/50R20 tires may have helped a bit. Steering also requires considerably less effort compared to its predecessor even if it’s still hydraulically assisted.

Overall, the 2022 mu-X isn’t really a game-changer. However, they’ve done enough to tweak and improve the formula that it’s a formidable evolution. Everything is honed, improved and somehow betters its predecessor. It is also more capable and safer without messing with the underlying flavor and formula that, while not to all tastes, remains comfortably homely in its more stylized skin. It’s a great choice overall for those who’re looking for something new, yet familiar in the mid-sized SUV category.

2021 Isuzu mu-X LS-E 4x2

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Ownership 2021 Isuzu mu-X LS-E 4x2
Year Introduced 2021
Vehicle Classification Mid-sized SUV
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/R
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 3.0
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Common Rail
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 190 @ 3,600
Nm @ rpm 450 @ 1,600-2,600
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 10.87 km/L @ 21 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,850
Width (mm) 1,870
Height (mm) 1,825
Wheelbase (mm) 2,855
Curb Weight (kg) 2,060
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Rear Suspension Five-Link, Coil Spring
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Bridgestone Dueler H/T 265/50 R 20 S (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3 (2nd row),
3-pt ELR x 2 (3rd row)
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Control
Forward Collision Warning
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Turn Assist
Pedal Mis-application Mitigation
Lane Departure Warning
Blind Spot Monitoring
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Auto Highbeam
Fog Lamps Yes, Front & Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Electric
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) 8-way, Electric
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) 4-way, Manual
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40 (2nd row),
50/50 (3rd row)
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Dual Zone (front), Manual (rear), w/ Rear Air Vents
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 8
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Even without a sliding second row adjustment, I think the MU-X still has better knee room in the 3rd row compared to some SUVs with the second row slid forward (like Fortuner, Terra).

    But overall, I think it's a 'meh' effort from Isuzu considering this is an all-new model. Looks like they intentionally made it just slightly better than the competition instead of going all out so that there's still room for a refresh when newer competitiors arrive in the near future.

    1. Knee room isn't too good per se, and I'm about 170 cm. But, at least the leg pitch is better. It's not as knees up versus the Fortuner. It doesn't have much foot room though.

    2. 'Meh effort' daw lol. What do you want then? See them be so sophisticated like ford but at the same time, be plagued with reliability issues as well? Isuzu as a brand naman is usually known for catering to truck buyers like business owners and shipping companies. They're also known for being straightforward in their approach which still shows in this all-new mu-x although slowly they're trying to be more elegant na in the interior designs of their new passenger vehicles. Even if in the end tho, they were never a luxurious marque to begin with.

  2. Is it true that this 4x4 ls-e mu-x only weighs around 2.06 tons? If yes, wow that's unbelievable. The old montero sport gt-v 4x4 weighs around 2.05 tons if i'm not mistaken.

    1. This is the 4x2. Supposedly, the 4x4 weighs 2,135 kg.

  3. How old are you @Rommel to still think there's such a thing as car brand fanboys? Hindi naman yan sports team that people need to support through thick and thin. Just appreciate the brands and models for what they are and what they want to offer to future customers.

  4. Seen more new Terras than Mu-x on the streets. Would be interesting to see which sells more this 2021.

    1. The Mu-X has been hit with the chip shortage so Isuzu PH doesn't have much stock of it. Same with D-MAX as well.

    2. Makes sense, they need to catch up in sales by next year then with some interesting promos.


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