Isuzu teases new MU-X 4x4 wagon
New Isuzu MU-X seven-seat wagon will be based on existing D-Max ute underpinnings
Less than a year after releasing its new D-Max ute to popular acclaim, Isuzu is readying the wagon version of its trusty workhorse, teasing the market with a single image and limited information ahead of the full Australian reveal in coming months.
Not surprisingly, the new MU-X looks a lot like the D-Max ute on which it is based, although Isuzu’s stylists have taken the opportunity to give the 4x4 wagon a fresh grille and headlights to differentiate it from its workhorse sibling.
Official details of the new seven-seat MU-X are scant, with an official release from Isuzu Ute Australia (IUA) saying only that the new model would boast 20-inch wheels and the exterior design features “distinctively-angled bi-LED headlights with LED daytime driving lights”, along with “the trademark-Isuzu double horizontal bar grille”.
The release goes on to say the new model also featured a “versatile seven-seat interior and innovative technology, with a large nine-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay”.
This second-generation MU-X comes more than a decade after the launch of the first MU-X in late-2020 during which time Australia has emerged as the largest global export market for Isuzu, which sells just two passenger models here, the D-Max ute and the MU-X wagon.
IUA’s combined sales so far this year are up an impressive 85% on the same period in 2020, driven largely by the strong performance of the revitalised D-Max ute which sells in multiple body styles with 4x4 and 4x2 drivetrains.
The current MU-X wagon continues to make a solid contribution to the brand’s sales tally despite being more than a decade old.
Its year-to-date sales of 3315 units are up almost 72% on last year’s COVID-impacted result and in the sub-$70k Large SUV segment, where it competes, the MU-X ranks third in sales behind Toyota’s Prado and Subaru’s Outback.
While IUA stopped short of revealing much in the way of technical details about the new MU-X, it’s possible to infer quite a bit from the mechanical package of the D-MAX on which it’s based.
From this we can speculate the new MU-X will have a strong focus on tech and safety, including a full suite of advanced driver assistance systems plus several new active and passive safety technologies, including the likelihood of eight airbags as standard.
The list of standard safety features is likely to include autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot identification system, forward collision warning, driver attention assist, emergency lane keep assist, lane departure prevention, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control (auto models only), traffic sign recognition, intelligent speed limiter, hill start assist, hill descent control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a reversing camera.
As with the D-Max, the MU-X is likely to be available in four model variants – SX, LS-M, LS-U and X-Terrain – with the base SX and LS-U available with 4x2 and 4x4 drivetrains and the LS-M and X-Terrain as 4x4 only.
The MU-X is also likely to feature the same heavily revised 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine that powers the D-Max with outputs of 140kW and 450Nm, the latter from a low 1600rpm.
That’s a 10kW/20Nm hike over the preceding unit with Isuzu previously stating the engine has been engineered to deliver strong low-end torque across a much wider band for towing, which is a recognised MU-X strength.
Utilising the same chassis and drivetrain as the D-Max means the MU-X is also likely to have an identical braked towing capacity of 3.5-tonne, with trailer sway control as standard.
Underpinning the wagon will be the same reengineered ladder frame chassis seen on the D-Max featuring more use of ultra-high-tensile steel, larger side rails and an extra cross member for greater rigidity.
The suspension is likely to comprise independent double wishbones up front and a multilink coil spring rear setup, whereas the ute features leaf springs at the rear.
The MU-X wagon is also likely to get the same Aisin six-speed automatic gearbox with sequential sports mode, promising faster and smoother shifts, and less hunting than its predecessor.
The SUV’s interior is expected to be slightly roomier than the current model and exhibit a noticeable lift in cabin quality with more luxurious materials and better finishes.
There are also likely to be improvements to NVH, with reduced road, wind and engine noise entering the cabin.
While the new M-UX seven-seat wagon will be more sophisticated and come with more standard kit than its predecessor, buyers can expect to see prices rises of several thousand dollars per model across the range, which currently starts at $42,900 and goes up to $56,400.
Isuzu made no bones about the fact it was pushing the D-Max deliberately upmarket in pursuit of the market-leading Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, when it released the new model last year.
The apparent success of that strategy will no doubt embolden IUA to attempt the same with the new wagon when it arrives in the second half of the year.