After Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) launched the Isuzu MU-X in September 2014, our family doctor and good friend, Dr. Wilson Cua, placed an order with the Isuzu Inteco dealership. The good doctor thoroughly enjoyed driving his first-generation RF-series MU-X with its 2.5-liter 4JK1-TCX turbodiesel 4-cylinder engine that pumps out 134 horsepower and 320 Newton-meters of torque. He felt that this SUV was just right for his needs and that of his family.
Some Isuzu enthusiasts waited until October 2015 to buy their MU-X with the more powerful 3.0-liter 4JJ1-TC turbodiesel that pumps out 161 horses and 380 Nm of torque. Others waited until September 2017, when IPC celebrated their 20th anniversary and debuted the heavily-revised MU-X with its newer, Euro IV-compliant 3.0-liter 4JJ1-TCX engine with Blue Power. Despite all these updates, Dr. Cua was perfectly satisfied with his MU-X.
Time for a Cool Change
After enjoying his Isuzu SUV for the best part of more than seven years, Dr. Cua felt that it was time for a change. He looked at the various new SUVs in the market, including those from established carmakers, and at times, he felt tempted to try other brands that offer surprisingly low prices. As a bona fide car enthusiast, Dr. Cua would always read motoring write-ups, ask and research before finally deciding on what new SUV he would buy.
When he asked for our opinion, we first wanted to know what he’s looking for, where he’s going to use it, and what’s his budget. And as we spoke with him, we came to the conclusion that he was quite satisfied with his old Isuzu MU-X. Then, it just so happened that we were able to test drive the all-new 2022 Isuzu MU-X 3.0L 4×2 LS-A A/T. It’s such a mouthful to describe the Mercury Silver SUV that we test drove, but it’s quite alright because it’s just apt.
Introduced in the last quarter of 2021 as a 2022 model, the second-generation RJ-Series MU-X was a big improvement over the previous model. As its name implies, our MU-X 3.0L 4×2 LS-A A/T test unit is powered by a 2,999-cubic centimeter 4JJ3-TCX turbocharged common rail diesel (CRDI) inline 4-cylinder engine that produces 187 horsepower at 3,600 rpm, which is 25 horses more than the previous 3.0-liter turbo diesel.
Even better is its torque rating of 450 Newton-meters that is produced between 1,600 and 2,600 rpm, which accelerates this 2,700-kilogram SUV faster than our good doctor’s old one. Moreover, its Aisin AWE6B45 II RevTronic 6-speed automatic transmission utilizes all that power and torque while intelligently shifting its six gears to provide exhilarating acceleration to reach the speed limits quickly, smoothly and efficiently. Large 12.5-inch ventilated disc brakes on all corners ensure there’s more than enough whoa to rein it all that go.
Upsized a Little, Upgraded a Lot
Compared to Doc’s 1st-gen MU-X, the 2nd-gen MU-X is 25 millimeters longer (4,825mm vs 4,850mm) and 10mm wider (1,860mm vs 1,870mm) that is focused more on adding interior space. It also has a wheelbase that is 40mm longer (2,845mm vs 2,885mm) that helps with making the ride a lot smoother, in conjunction with its front double wishbone, rear five-link suspension system, and meaty 265/60R18 Dunlop tires mounted on dark silver 18-inch 9-spoke aluminum alloy wheels.
The new MU-X is 15mm lower than the old one (1,840mm vs 1,825mm) but because of clever engineering and ergonomic designs, the interior feels roomier, brighter and airy. On the highways, the lower height translates to better aerodynamics, lower wind noise, and improved fuel mileage. Meanwhile, the recalibrated power-assisted rack and pinion steering makes maneuvering around the city traffic much easier, especially with the blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear 4-eye parking aid, and reverse camera displayed in the 10.1-inch touchscreen display.
Comfort and Convenience Within
Behind the tilt and telescopic 4-spoke multi-function steering wheel is the instrument panel, which is comprised of two large dials – one each for the tachometer and speedometer – sandwiching what IPC calls an “electroluminescent 4.2-inch multi-information display (MID)”. The switches on the right spoke of the steering wheel toggle through the myriad of information about the vehicle’s state and well-being, such as range, fuel consumption, etc. Honestly, we paid little attention to the MID because we enjoyed the drive so much that we even forgot to take note of the fuel mileage while we were tooling around the city.
Aside from the cooling comfort provided by the dual-zone auto climate control with pollen filter, the fabric seats of our LS-A test unit are supportive and ergonomically designed to be comfortable so occupants can spend hours on the road in them. Access to the 3rd-row 50/50 split seats is made a lot easier with 2nd-row 60/40 split bench seats that are very easy to recline forward and fold. Loading bulky items into the cargo space behind the seats also requires less effort with the larger tailgate, lower loading height, and foldable 2nd- and 3rd-row seats that you can configure to fit the load.
Good Looks Run in the Family
While this 2nd generation MU-X looks decidedly sharper than the previous generation, there’s still a familiarity that keeps the good looks within the Isuzu SUV/pickup family. The self-leveling Arrow Signature Bi-LED headlamps incorporate LED daytime running lights (DRLs) and flank an imposing tungsten silver World Cross Flow front grille with chrome accents. The back is adorned with Winglet Signature rear combination LED tail lamps flanking the power tailgate with jam protection.
With all these amenities, the 2022 Isuzu MU-X 3.0L 4×2 LS-A A/T that we drove is reasonably priced at P1,900,000. While there are more expensive variants like the top-of-the-line MU-X 3.0L 4×4 LS-E A/T with the Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS), 20-inch wheels, leather seats and even more amenities with a P2,450,000 price tag, there are also more affordable variants like the base-model MU-X RZ-4E 4×2 LS M/T with the 1.9-liter turbodiesel and 6-speed stick shift that retails for only P1,590,000.
As of this writing, our good doctor has yet to sell his old SUV to purchase a new one but he’s quite convinced that if and when it’s time to sell his 2014 first-generation MU-X, he’s going to get the all-new and much-improved second-generation Isuzu MU-X. It’s just may be what the doctor ordered.
Suggested Retail Price: P1,900,000.00
Classification: 5-door SUV
Engine model: 4JJ3-TCX
Engine type: Liquid-cooled inline-4 turbocharged common rail diesel (CRDI) Euro 5 compliant
Capacity: 2999 cc
Maximum power: 187 hp (190 PS) @ 3600 rpm
Maximum torque: 450 Nm @ 1600-2600 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed Aisin AWE6B45 II RevTronic automatic
Brakes: 12.5-inch ventilated disc brakes, front and rear
Suspension: Front double wishbones, rear 5-link system
Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion
Tire size: 265/60R18
Length: 4850 mm
Width: 1870 mm
Height: 1825 mm
Wheelbase: 2885 mm
Curb weight: 2700 kg
Ground clearance: 235 mm
Fuel tank capacity: 80 liters