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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Review: 2022 Isuzu mu-X 3.0 LS-A 4x2


It’s normal for car manufacturers to focus on their highest variants. They are, after all, seen as the image leaders—the one that carries the most flash and tech. But for all the showroom draw they give, it’s the mid- and even base variants that make up a bulk of their sales. Feedback on these variants is important, and that makes driving this Isuzu mu-X LS-A all the more interesting.

By and large, the mu-X looks great. As the only mid-sized SUV to get a full top-down redesign, it’s far removed from its simpler-looking predecessor. Not only did Isuzu manage to give it its own visual identity vis-à-vis the D-MAX, but they’ve done so in a convincing manner. The pronounced rising shoulder line, slim LED headlights, and large wing-like grille all make it look denser and compact visually; even if in reality, it’s larger in all dimensions.

Most of the styling cues from the roof rails “wet wiper” (wiper arm integrated windshield wipers), and fog lamps on both ends are shared with the LS-E or LS-Elegance. However, this LS-A or LS-Advance, gets smaller turbine-style wheels (18-inch alloys with 265/60R18 tires) and less exterior chrome.



Interior-wise, the mu-X doesn’t really re-write the rule book for pickup-based SUVs, but it’s still one of the better ones. It’s a combination of sturdy, family-friendly materials with hints of luxury like the convincingly done aluminum appliques, contrast stitching, and padded dash top and knee bolstering. It also scores highly when it comes to ergonomics. The front seats, with its unique construction, are great for long-distance driving. It’s backed up even by a tilt/telescopic steering wheel column.

The mu-X’s second row is just as comfortable, if not a tad better than everyone else. It offers good leg- and headroom and even offers adjustable recline. However, because Isuzu made the executive decision to omit a sliding mechanism, it limits the available knee room for the rearmost row. And it’s a shame because the lack of knee room aside (and a second-row latch that always threatens to crush a wayward foot or two), the third-row seats are actually wider and offer the most amount of recline adjustment in its class.



If there’s one thing Isuzu didn’t scrimp on, it’s with the infotainment system. The ceiling-mounted speakers aren’t present (dropping the total speaker count from eight to six), but the head unit is still the same 10.1-inch system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also comes with offline GPS—something Isuzu’s provincial buyers consider a “must have.” Navigating through the system is easy enough, but the colors are, unfortunately, washed out. For those who rely on CarPlay, here’s a warning: there’s a constant and annoying hiss coming from the speakers whenever it’s in use. It’s the same issue we’ve encountered in the mu-X LS-E, so at this point, it’s fair to say that it’s a common thing.

Another thing the mu-X LS-A shares with the higher trim models is its gauge cluster. The 7-inch multi-function display nestled between the traditional tachometer and speedo treats the driver to all sorts of information. It displays an almost geeky level of information and some functionality is buried within its menu system. It looks complex, but thankfully, once you’ve dialed in your settings, you’ll probably never need to delve back in there again.



Even the piano key style climate controls from higher trim models make its way here too. Not only does it lend the mu-X LS-A a more luxurious feel (and dual front automatic AC), but it also frees up more space for a storage bin in front of the shifter. It’s perfect for fitting wallets and smartphones (the USB port is located there too). This is on top of other assorted storage solutions from the side vent cup holders, twin glove boxes, deep armrest console, and more.

Where the mu-X LS-A loses out though is through its Smart Duo Cam driver assist system. And honestly, it might be for the better. During our own tests with the mu-X LS-E and D-MAX LS-E, the system can be overly sensitive for Philippine roads. In certain circumstances, it will detect low-lying branches as an obstacle, and will sometimes activate automatic braking.

The omission of the camera-based ADAS system aside, the other safety systems have been kept. Thus, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, dual airbags (down from seven in the LS-E), ABS with EBD, and vehicle stability control with both hill start- and hill-descent control are all present. This still makes the mu-X LS-A a safe and solid choice for the family.



Shared with the top-trim variants of the mu-X, the LS-A comes with the same 4JJ3-TCX engine. It makes 190 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque. As with other Isuzu powertrains, it relies on its flat and wide power band as opposed to pure boost to keep its heavy frame moving. With a slightly lighter curb weight (it still breaks the two-ton mark), it’s not only the most fuel-efficient variant of the mu-X we’ve tested so far, but it’s also the most economical mid-sized SUV. It managed 10.41 km/L at an average speed of 17 km/h. By comparison, the 4x2 LS-E faired slightly better at 10.86 km/L but that’s at a 21 km/h average speed.

The engine’s relaxed behavior is closely mirrored by its 6-speed automatic. It prioritizes smoothness to quick gear changes. It also keeps the revs down reducing the agricultural soundtrack from within the cabin.

Moreover, the mu-X’s body feels solid, quashing unwanted vibrations. The suspension, particularly its bump compliance and rebound feel are polished as well (the tires’ thicker sidewalls help as well). Steering, still hydraulically assisted, is hefty, but at least requires far less effort compared to its predecessor.



As a refresher, the mu-X LS-A sits as the entry-level variant fitted with the 3.0-liter engine. Priced at P 1.9-million flat, it finds itself fighting squarely against the Everest Sport (P 1.928 million), Montero Sport GT 2WD (P 1.928 million), Nissan Terra VL 4x2 (P 1.999 million), and Fortuner 2.8 Q (P 2.018 million). Each one is formidable, and offers their own pros and cons. This, of course, includes the mu-X.

The foundations of the mu-X shine through in the LS-A. It’s been definitely honed and improved in every way possible. This makes it a far more capable and safer mid-sized SUV that doesn’t really mess with its family-friendly character. That said, it’s largely let down by its lack of what’s seen as prerequisite luxury features. With leather an obviously missing piece, the P 28,000 savings over the competition doesn’t seem to get you that far. At this price range, people are willing to pay a bit more to get more luxury, and in the battle of spec sheet glitz, the mu-X loses out in that regard. Still, for those who’re willing to dig deeper, it’s quite a solid choice.



2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-A 4x2

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Ownership 2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-A 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 No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 10.41 km/L @ 17 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,850
Width (mm) 1,870
Height (mm) 1,825
Wheelbase (mm) 2,855
Curb Weight (kg) 2,035
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 Dunlop GrandTrek AT25 265/60 R 18 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners 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
Blind Spot Indicators
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front & Rear
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) 6-way, Manual
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) 4-way, Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
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
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Dual Zone (front), Manual (rear), w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Aux
USB
Bluetooth
GPS
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

16 comments:

  1. Sir uly, generally, what's your honest take on electronic parking brakes? Regardless of brands, that "we're in the future techs already" and so on... How's its reliability? Specially that sportscars are still into manual handbrakes...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the future. The beauty with electronic parking brakes is that there's two positions: on and off. Plus, if done right, they can also incorporate features such as auto hold. Over all, it's done for safety.

      They're pretty reliable so far. I've had cars with EPBs since 2017 and so far they've been alright.

      That said, in terms of service, it's a bit different. You're required to enter them into a "service mode" in order to change the brake pads and stuff. I learned that the hard way when I changed the brake pads on my CX-5 outside the casa.

      But again, it's the future. There's no stopping it.

      Sportscars tend to keep manual hand brakes for "feel" but eventually, they'll probably move to EPBs as well.

      Delete
  2. Sir what do u mean by "service mode"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's in order to open the rear calipers properly. Normally, the EPB system clamps on the rear brakes, and disengaging it doesn't give enough clearance to replace things like the brake pads. There's normally a service mode to disengage the EPB properly in those situations.

      Delete
  3. Wow, 1.9M+ PhP but it still has only 2 airbags. I can forgive the lack of ADAS since it's overly sensitive/not tuned for PH roads, but how much does it cost to add 4 more airbags? Also, the 2nd-row seat oddities continue with this midsized PPV. Some models slide & fold but don't tumble, while this one doesn't slide but folds & tumbles. Why can't everyone just copy Honda's ULT seat creativity? On the good side, having a 3.0L engine promises to easily unlock more power from a simple ECU tune. 190HP/450NM for a modern 3.0L turbodiesel is on the conservative side, at least it's not overly peaky/strained like the 2.0L twin-turbo on the Ford Everest/Ranger where the claimed "200HP/510NM" outputs kuno are only on a specific RPM point, it's not really a wide & flat powerband. This one should easily do 220-230HP/530-550NM with a 20k PhP ECU reflash. There really is no replacement for displacement.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Correction pala, the Ford 2.0L twin turbo diesel has a claimed output of 210HP/500NM kuno. Peak TQ is on a very narrow RPM band though, almost gasoline engine-like in its peakiness. I'd prefer this 3.0L or the Toyota's 2.8L turbodiesel for this class of vehicles (PPVs/pickups). The tested fuel consumption in the above review also bears this out. The Everest & Ranger engine is thirstier in comparison despite the 1.0L smaller displacement. 😬

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dats right, making diesel engine is not fords cup of tea. Dear relatively newbie in diesel engine than japs brand, marami pang kakaining bigas...

      Delete
  5. I owned the previous generation. Solid vehicle in terms of performance and value for money (TOTL 4x2 for only P1.4M back in 2016). At the current price point, I would look at other options.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mausok pa rin ba?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Best value pa rin ang facelift Nissan Terra TOTL 4x2 if you have Php2M to spend on these ladder frame SUVs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! 12 minutes response time. I am flattered =)

      Last time I checked, Terra uses a torque converter AT.

      For the meantime, basa muna one of the reasons why Ford is a schemer:

      https://www.carguide.ph/2019/07/internal-documents-show-ford-knew-that.html

      Enjoy!

      Delete
    2. Yeah last time I also checked, not all ford uses powershift dual clutch too. Pero nilahat mo eh. Nakalimot ka agad sa mga sinabi mo?

      Delete
    3. Just using your logic against you bruh.

      Delete
    4. For the nth time, I never had a horrible experience (not even close when I had that garbage ecoboost engined car) with Nissan and any car brand for that matter.

      If you think Ford is a better brand than Nissan or others - I don't give a damn and certainly I will not stalk you or will get too emotional about some ONLINE people's opinion. Not worth it bruh.

      But one thing is for sure, you are so triggered by my disgust about Ford.

      Delete
    5. Hmmnn...h enshrined in our constitution...'freedom of specs' LOL

      Delete
    6. Ford phils., instead of sending your online attack dogs, why not focus your resources on improving your service.

      Delete

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