Isuzu’s going premium – at least that’s what the company said at launch and that’s what the new mu-X’s price tag tells you. But that claim needs to be backed by a tangible result. In this case, it’s the vehicle itself and thankfully, I know a thing or two about cars.
You’ve seen the photos and you’ve probably read my first impressions article. Now it’s time for a full in-depth review to see if the new mu-X will stay true to the initial impressions it evoked. If you’re in the market for the top-spec Isuzu mu-X LS-E, this is something you should pay attention to, so read along.
I can’t deny that the 2022 Isuzu mu-X left a remarkable impression on me when I spent time with it before launch. However, spending a week with the media unit made me appreciate the car even more.
Staring at the white unit, the Isuzu went two directions with its new-generation model. It’s now more robust than before, with larger proportions and a more muscular approach to styling.
Despite that, Isuzu also employed a touch of class on the design, employed through omissions of extraneous elements like chrome and claddings. Although, the stylish wheels fitted on the LS-E are up for preference – personally, I like the non-aggressive look.
The result is a sleek SUV void of pretensions, though it’s important to note that the top-spec LS-E does come with underbody protection, so it isn’t a slacker. For the lighting, the mu-X’s light graphics look good, day or night, though I appreciate the headlight’s far-reaching illumination.
At initial glance and seating, the mu-X’s cabin generally exudes a premium feel but spending a week with it reveals otherwise – it’s not as upmarket as one would expect.
The cheap plastic parts take a lot away from the goal to look premium, plus the leather, albeit soft and comfortable, doesn’t feel upmarket at all. More so if you consider the black piano plastics present at the center of the dashboard, already showered with scratches despite the media unit being relatively young.
I also have several reservations about the mu-X’s seating position, which gave me a bit of backache during the testing period. I’m not exactly sure why, but despite the electronic adjustments, I just couldn’t find my sweet spot.
Creature space is one of the mu-X’s strengths even on its third row, which is surprisingly able to seat me and another person comfortably. We both stand at 5 foot 6 inches.
Tech & safety
It’s hard to fault Isuzu for pegging the mu-X as a luxurious SUV, especially considering the tech and safety features listed on its spec sheet. I will not list them all down here, but it’s notable to point out that the adaptive cruise control certainly elevates the whole mu-X driving experience.
Props to Isuzu as well for including speed limiter into the mix, which, as I discovered recently, is the better (and safer) option to use for slow expressways like NAIAX and Skyway Stage 3. The power tailgate is, of course, a welcome addition, especially at this price point.
However, Isuzu wasn’t able to execute the design on the instrument cluster nicely. The font of the gauges look tacky, while the measly size of the digital trip meter in the middle felt irksome – it’s like five years behind in terms of design.
Good thing, the 10.1-inch infotainment system in the middle looks great, though Apple CarPlay integration during my testing period was a bit buggy. Isuzu could have also given the mu-X a better speaker system as the OEM set leaves a lot to be desired for meticulous audiophiles like myself.
Driving, handling, & comfort
I wasn’t expecting much in the performance portion of the mu-X since the changes in the new-generation model are marginal. Power output is still at 188hp and 450Nm of torque, sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed torque converter automatic with manual mode via the lever.
After several days of testing, I can say that the powertrain setup was straightforward, with low-end torque always readily available. Shift shock wasn’t an issue, though dips and dives were prominent even with the most careful driving style. Steering, while already lighter than before, was still heavy – though I must note that road feedback was better than ever, ensuring more confident handling.
That said, I also spent time on the second row to test the mu-X’s ride comfort. It wasn’t a phenomenal ride quality as far as I am concerned, but at least it’s miles better than the outgoing model.
The story’s the same with the sound insulation, which was okay for the most part except for the constant heave of diesel engine echoing within the cabin. Harshness and vibration were unfortunately suppressed poorly.
The Isuzu mu-X LS-E returned average fuel efficiency during my tests. In the city, it yielded around 9-11 km/l in moderate to heavy traffic, while an average highway speed of 90 km/h registered 17 km/l.
Of note, the mu-X is right at the middle of the midsize SUV segment in terms of fuel efficiency with the numbers I got from my tests.
Almost premium, but not quite – that’s the phrase that would summarize my overall impression of the new-generation 2022 Isuzu mu-X in its LS-E guise. Isuzu sure exerted some effort in giving us a more civilized version of its SUV. It succeeded in a lot of areas but others need more tweaking to be really called premium.
That is most especially true considering its price tag of P2,450,000 for the 4×4 AT variant and P2,100,000 for the 4×2 trim.
Then again, Isuzu fans can always argue that the automaker’s reputation on reliability should also be considered. On that end, I completely agree. Just consider the population of Crosswinds, Alterras, and other diesel-powered Isuzus you still see on the road today.