Published on August 3rd, 2021 | by Amirul Mukminin0
2021 Isuzu MU-X Launched In Australia – Price Starts At RM150k
The D-Max-based SUV has its sights set on the Toyota Fortuner
The all-new Isuzu D-Max pickup truck (or ute if you’re Australian) has been making waves in Australia since its launch in September 2020. According to Isuzu UTE Australia, the D-Max posted its best sales month of all time in December last year with 2,409 units sold.
Now, the company is looking to boost their sales to loftier heights with its SUV derivative, the MU-X, which has just gone on sale in the country this month. The Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest rival has been pretty popular among the outdoor-loving Australians, having surpassed 50,000 cumulative sales since its debut in December 2013.
Now in its second generation, the MU-X brings with it sharper looks, a segment-leading towing capacity, a more powerful engine and a host of the latest safety and driver-assist technologies. It will be offered in three variants – LS-M, LS-U and LS-T – in both 4X4 and 4X2 configurations.
Pricing starts at AUD47,900 (RM149,780) for the base 2X4 LS-M and goes all the way to AUD65,900 (RM206,070) for the 4X4 LS-T. It’s slightly dearer across the range and the top-spec variant is almost AUD5,000 (RM15,600) more expensive than the Fortuner Crusade, which is the highest model in the Fortuner range, but this is a fair reflection of the many upgrades Isuzu have put in the MU-X.
Sharing the same robust ladder-frame high-tensile steel chassis as its D-Max counterpart, the MU-X demonstrates serious pulling power with a towing capacity of 3,500 kg, 400 kg more than what its closest rivals are rated for. To complement this, customers can opt for genuine towing-focused accessories such as a tow bar kit, ClearView extendable towing mirrors, Electronic Brake Controller and a Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH).
There’s only one engine available for the MU-X and it is the new 4JJ3-TCX 3-litre, turbodiesel engine that produces 190 PS (140 kW) and 450 Nm, an increase of 14 PS (10 kW) and 20 Nm over the 4JJ1-TC HI mill. Isuzu claims that midrange torque has also been improved. Output is transferred to the wheels via a reengineered, smoother and more-refined Aisin AWE6B45 II 6-Speed automatic transmission.
On the off-roading front, the 4X4 models get a 4×4 Terrain Command dial that makes shifting into 2WD-High Range, 4WD-High Range and 4WD-Low Range easier. They are also equipped with an electromagnetic locking rear differential and a new Rough Terrain Mode that gives the MU-X its off-road prowess at a push of a button.
In addition, the shorter front overhang means the MU-X enjoys better approach, departure and ramp-over angles, while a newly designed engine air intake system increases its wading depth to up to 800 mm.
In the safety department, Isuzu’s Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS) is fitted as standard across the range. It comprises all the active safety systems you would expect like the Adaptive Cruise Control with stop & go traffic functionality, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Prevention Trailer Sway Control and Misaccelaration Mitigation.
Enabling these features to work tremendously is a windshield-mounted Hitachi 3D Stereo Camera that can precisely detect and measure distance, size, velocity and depth of vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and other potential obstacles in front.
Inside, the refined cabin is complemented by a new 9-inch high-definition infotainment system that supports Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, as well as a 4.2-inch Multi-Information Display (MID) sitting in between the analogue tachometer and speedometer. The LS-M and LS-U get a premium high-grade cloth upholstery while the range-topping LS-T features quilted leather accents.
With the new MU-X, it is pretty obvious that Isuzu not only aims to bolster its sales numbers in Down Under, but also to take the fight to the Toyota Fortuner. Given that the Hilux-based SUV has been underperforming since its Australian launch in 2016 and has constantly been out-sold by its competitors in the segment, we expect the hugely improved MU-X to put the final nail in the Fortuner’s coffin.
The same war could make its way here when Isuzu Malaysia launches the MU-X early next year. Admittedly, anything involving Toyota is going to be a tough one but if the company can set the right price range and specs for the MU-X, it might stand a chance of hurting the sales of the mighty Fortuner.