Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) sure likes to tease the Philippine market. The Japanese automaker only has two passenger vehicle offerings in the lineup but despite the other one already gotten introduced earlier this year, the company took its time to follow up with its SUV counterpart, the mu-X.
But lo and behold, the second-generation 2022 Isuzu mu-X is now officially here, ready to sizzle up the lucrative midsize SUV market.
Is it worth the wait, though? Fortunately, I’ve had the chance to spend some time with the all-new mu-X before the launch, just enough for me to share some first impressions insight based on that brief encounter.
Refined and looking-upmarket – that would be the best words to describe the new mu-X. In comparison to the old model, which is more rugged and robust (and looked highly similar to the old D-Max), the new model now differs a lot from the pickup truck.
What I particularly like about the new mu-X is that the whole lineup is now equipped with LED headlamps, daytime running lights, and follow-me-home function, while the top-spec LS-E gets the auto on/off function.
At the sides, I immediately noticed the huge wheels – 20 inches to be exact – which are the biggest offering in the midsize SUV segment, mirroring what the Ford Everest Titanium has. The D-pillars are largely changed as well (no extended rear windshield anymore), which got dropped with the dissolved marriage with Chevrolet. This change made the mu-X look sleek in profile, with a contrast of machismo coming from the bulging fenders and sculpted character lines. The story’s the same the rear, the classy appeal continues, but you won’t miss the seemingly lifted rear bumper.
The new mu-X is also bigger now than before, albeit marginally, but at least it still has the massive 235mm space from the ground – among the biggest ground clearance among SUVs in the market today.
Full disclosure, I am not a fan of the outgoing mu-X’s cabin. While looking durable and ready for abuse, it was a bit spartan plus the age was really showing.
But Isuzu sure made a home run with the new-generation model’s interior. The materials used are more refined, more premium, and more upmarket, though my qualm with shiny black plastic is intense around the center console. Beyond that, the differences are practically night and day, especially with the leather used on the seats and steering wheel. If we’re talking about redemption, Isuzu hit the target this time around.
Space-wise, the mu-X has a fixed legroom at the second and third rows, which will only vary with the angle of the backrests. This trait is rather unique in this segment but worth noting is the fact the mu-X’s third row has better creature space for people standing at 5’6” than any other vehicle in this class.
Tech & Safety
The mu-X’s cabin improvements aren’t limited to the materials used. Isuzu has invested in technology and safety features, so much so in fact, the mu-X can now match the former tech-laden forerunners.
Part of the improvements includes an electronic parking brake with auto brake hold, the massive 10.1-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and all-powered adjustments and controls, among others. And yes, the LS-E has a power tailgate in case you’re asking, as well as remote start function as a bonus.
Safety-wise, the 2022 mu-X is just as filled to the brim as the new D-Max, which means it now has Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, and Autonomous Emergency Braking – at least for the top-spec LS-E that I spent time with. But the rest of the lineup isn’t bare at all, offering SRS airbags, ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, Brake Override System, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, 3-point seat belt for all passengers, and underbody protection. And yes, all mu-X variants are equipped with rear parking sensors and cameras, save for the base LS variant.
While Isuzu retained the 1.9-liter RZ4E diesel mill for the lower variants of the mu-X, the higher LS-A 4×2 AT up to the LS-E 4×4 AT is powered by an updated 3.0-liter 4JJ3-TCX engine that puts out 188hp and 450Nm of torque. This is mated to either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, though the range-topping LS-E is exclusive with an AT (with manual mode via the lever).
Also exclusive the LS-E is a 4×4 drivetrain with off-road mode, though it’s worth pointing out that the mu-X does away with differential locking this time around.
Power wasn’t exactly an issue with the outgoing mu-X, and so is with the new mu-X. But what’s noticeable is the more refined ride of the all-new model, which shows the improvement done on the platform and suspension setup. The steering’s notably lighter than before as well, which was one of the pain points of the predecessor.
With all the improvements mentioned here, you’d expect Isuzu to increase the pricing of the mu-X and you’d be correct. The 2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-E 4×4 AT that I spent time with now sells for P2,450,000, which now stands as the most expensive midsize SUV in the market today.
Of note, this price tag equals the white pearl variant of the 2022 Toyota Fortuner LTD 4×4 AT. More importantly, the LS-E 4×4 AT is more expensive by almost P400,000 than the previous top-spec LS-A 4×4 AT.
So the question is: are the changes worth the massive price jump? That depends on your buying power. But as I see it, the top-spec LS-E isn’t an attractive offering for the majority, but it could sway premium car shoppers who know Isuzu’s reputation reliability of diesel-powered vehicles. High-tech stuff, premium cabin, and esteemed reliability – that’s a tough formula to beat.