Boardroom beast: 2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-E 4x4

Boardroom beast: 2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-E 4x4

No other brand has as much of an affinity when it comes to diesel in the Philippines than Isuzu. That might be because of the brand’s exclusive use of diesel engines from their SUVs, pickup trucks and even commercial vehicles, and also because of its reputation for making well-built vehicles that can stand the rough-and-tumble terrain of Philippine roads. 

isuzu mux profile trees

The Isuzu mu-X has always been the choice for those who want to take their midsize diesel-powered SUVs beyond the gated communities to off-road trails. It’s a blue-collar SUV that can take a real beating in everyday situations for the guys who would rather work hard than take the shortcut to the top.

isuzu mux wide profile left

Working hard does have its perks and, eventually, blue collar does reach to the top. What then? Isuzu wants fans to think that the all-new 2022 Isuzu mu-X can be that “statement car” and, after spending some time with it, I’m inclined to agree.

Exterior

One thing common among luxury SUVs is that they can most certainly take a beating from the elements AND look stylish and elegant while doing so. The most striking feature of the all-new Isuzu mu-X has got to be that front grille. I had my sincere doubts about that part when I first saw it in press leaks and teasers, with its pinched look and snout-like appearance, But in the metal, my fears were unfounded and I was blown away by the looks.

isuzu mux profile wide low

Sharing just enough of the design language from the all-new Isuzu D-Max without looking exactly like it, the grille is sleeker and more focused and is bathed in a tungsten-chrome accent.

isuzu mux badge close

The best way that I could describe the finish is that it looks like brushed aluminum — creating distinct light refractions that focus one’s line of sight toward the center of the grille. The "vampire fangs" are less obvious this time unlike on the D-Max, and the 2022 Isuzu mu-X sets itself apart from the rest of the competition.  Flanking the grille are sharp angular headlamps that feature arrow-shaped daytime running lights as well as Isuzu’s bi-LED headlamps that offer a more menacing countenance. 

isuzu mux headlamps side profile close

An SUV’s side profile usually has less to talk about, but the 2022 Isuzu mu-X finds a way to showcase both power and pride on this end. Chrome strips adorn the side windows but in a subtle and classy way, and that’s as far as the bright shiny stuff goes. It’s thankfully absent from the door handles, side mirrors and is tastefully integrated in such a way that it serves its purpose as well as provide continuity to the overall design language. The wheel arches are nicely bulged as well but with luxury aspirations in mind, doesn’t look like an MMA fighter during weigh in. This guy is more comfortable in a suit rather than the ring and what a suit this is in Isuzu’s newest Marrakesh Brown colorway.

isuzu mux 20 inch mags rear

The star of the show is, of course those, 20-inch mags. Dubs have always been synonymous with luxury SUVs, and Isuzu is proudly offering them as standard on the top-of-the-line 2022 Isuzu mu-X. With chunky 265/50 R20 Highway Rated tires it promises both the street cred and ride comfort only a luxury SUV can afford. 

isuzu mux rear section

There are a few more interesting bits on the rear end as LED tail lamps, a mighty substantial rear spoiler and skid plate design give every other car the 2022 Isuzu mu-X will be overtaking something to talk about. There’s also no mistaking what brand this beast is from as Isuzu has one of my favorite brand badges around. Why settle for a logo when the word ISUZU in the company’s iconic typography will do? Isuzu design engineers call this design language “Robust” and “Exclusive” but I think that Isuzu has finally accepted the fact that just looks are also as important as what’s inside. Speaking of which…

isuzu mux led taillamp close

Interior and convenience features

Nothing beats the appeal of a leather interior in SUVs. Success has a high price of admission, and buyers only want the best in terms of quality, fit and finish. Much like a swanky VIP club booth, both the driver and passenger will find nothing but plush materials inside the 2022 Isuzu mu-X.

isuzu mux cockpit view side

The top-of-the line variant has leather and soft touch materials all around except for the very few spots that rarely get touched. Previous Isuzu models implemented a utilitarian design language, but the brand has seemingly recognized that adding flair and creating an atmosphere of luxury and a touch of sportiness pays dividends for passenger comfort and driving confidence. I’m almost ready to forgive the brand for the sea of Piano Black on the center console that creates phantom smudges at the mere sight of it but the way it is implemented is on point. Is this really an Isuzu?

isuzu mux cockpit centered

Finding the proper driving position is easy, thanks to the fully adjustable steering wheel and eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat. There is seating for seven, but I would keep the third row exclusively for kids. The first two rows, however, are roomy and comfortable. While I would always prefer being in the driver’s seat, I wouldn’t mind being chauffeured in the 2022 Isuzu mu-X. With multiple USB ports and a full-sized 220V power outlet, who needs a low-res pop up screen when gaming, Netflix or even working on the road is effortless thanks to the power outlet? 

isuzu mux power outlet open

Folding the last two rows of seats down is effortless, revealing a large spread to enjoy life’s pleasures, but the biggest party trick for the 2022 Isuzu mu-X would have to be the smart power tailgate. At a touch of a button, the heavy tailgate automatically lifts itself up and settles itself shut. I call this a smart power tailgate because it has sensors that detects if it hits an obstacle and automatically cancels the procedure to avoid damaging the system. Users can also set up to what level the tailgate would open for those with small or cluttered garages. 

Isuzu mux rear cargo 3rd row up

While the steering wheel looks modern and sporty, complete with media and cruise control buttons on each side, the 10.1-inch screen is unmistakably the piece de resistance. Not only does it provide support for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; the interface is smooth and lag-free as well as easy to read. What use is a nice HD screen if the touch sensitivity is only a little better than a knock-off tablet? 

isuzu mux infotainment

It goes without saying that passengers can do much worse than being ferried around the 2022 Isuzu mu-X, but I’m all about the drive and Isuzu is most well-known for the experience behind the wheel and under the hood. 

Isuzu Mux Cupholder

Drive

As I mentioned before, finding the proper driving position is a cinch, and as soon as the start/stop button is activated, the driver would be greeted by a distinct startup animation on the seven-inch multi-information display right smack in the middle of the gauges. It displays the information right on the display on the driver’s line of sight away from the 10.1-inch distraction on the dash. 

isuzu mux MID

Having the top-of-the-line 4WD LS-E variant, the Terrain Command Select Dial with Rough Terrain Mode Switch is available at the driver’s disposal, easy to reach on the shifter console. This makes it easy for 4WD aficionados or for those who are looking for a little more traction when the need calls for it to shift between drive modes on the fly. The 2021 Isuzu mu-X also has a wading depth of 800mm as well as 235mm of ground clearance, for those interested in those numbers. While these are good to have, it’s always best to hold off from driving into floods with any vehicle. Might as well wait it off with some Netflix and chill at the back.

Isuzu-mux-rolling-4

So how does it drive? Coming from a low-slung sedan, the 2022 Isuzu mu-X provides me with a commanding view of the road and a sense of power that my right foot needed a few seconds to get used to. Unlike other SUVs, the seating position is more relaxed and less upright but I can still see myself towering above everything else. Visibility is surprisingly good with large windows and side mirrors. Punching the accelerator, I could feel the rear wheels push hard but again, thanks to the chunky tires on the insane 20-inch mags, It felt like I was driving a tank.

Isuzu-mux-rolling 3

This, however, is no clunky slow-poke. Under the hood resides Isuzu’s new and improved three-liter 4JJ3-TCX four-cylinder turbocharged Blue Power diesel engine that ups the ante when it comes to power and torque over the previous model. It makes 187hp at 3,600rpm and 450Nm of torque at an insanely early 1,600 to 2,600rpm. Entering the power band and achieving optimal acceleration is easy thanks to a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift. While many companies try to out-do each other with who can make the most “speeds,” I feel that as long as it is tuned perfectly to match the engine and can promise durability, six-speed automatics are plenty capable. 

Isuzu mux engine bay

Cornering at high-speeds in real-world conditions with any SUV, or any car for that matter is never a great idea, but drivers can rely on the 2022 Isuzu mu-X to provide a comfortable ride no matter the road conditions. Thanks to the double wishbone coil spring with high mounted upper control arm and stabilizer up front and five-link coil spring and stabilizer bar in the rear, gone are the days when riding an SUV meant having to readjust one’s spine after the trip. NVH levels are also kept at a minimum thanks to the stellar fit and finish. While further testing is required to know the fuel economy, we expect that the mu-X will feature numbers on par, if not better, than those in its class.

isuzu mux drive select

Safety features

The biggest upgrade the top-of-the-line 2022 Isuzu mu-X gets over the previous generation is Isuzu’s Advanced Driver Assist System or ADAS. This is a suite of both active and passive safety features to provide a safer drive experience for both drivers and passengers as well as the outside world.

isuzu mux steering closeup

Using stereo cameras and sensors, it detects road conditions in real time. The highlight of ADAS include Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Turn Assist, Mis-Application Mitigation or what others call Anti-Sudden Unintended Acceleration System,, Adaptive Cruise Control, Manual Speed Limiter, Lane Departure Warning that detects road lanes and alerts the driver if the mu-X starts veering off the lane, Automatic High Beam, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Parking Aid, and Multi Collision Braking.

isuzu mux rough terrain mode

Apart from ADAS, standard equipment such as seven airbags, three-point seatbelts, Isofix anchors, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, immobilizer and child locks are there which makes the 2022 Isuzu mu-X one of the safest models in the segment. It wasn’t awarded five stars by the ASEAN NCAP for nothing.

Pricing and conclusion

Pricing for the all new 2022 Isuzu MU-X starts at P1.590 million for the entry-level LS trim with a six-speed automatic and the very capable RZ4E engine, providing amazing value. For P1.9 million there’s the LS-A trim with additional convenience features like automatic climate control, the multi info display as well as uprated 18-inch wheels and roof rails that can hold up to 100 kg. there is a manual transmission option of this variant that can be had for less at P1.77million.

Isuzu-mux-rolling2

Opting for the 4X2 LS-E would get buyers the nice 20-inch wheels, leather seats, seven airbags, rain-sensing wipers, power tailgate, remote start, 220V power socket, Advanced Driver Assist system, and, of course, the 3-liter engine all starting at P2.1 million. The full-fat, top-of-the-line 4WD LS-E variant will put a P2.45 million-sized dent in the old bank account, but that also means owners will have one of the most capable, fanciest and classiest diesel-fed SUVs in town.

isuzu mux profile wide far

Change is generally a good thing. While Isuzu was doing just fine catering to its rabid and loyal fanbase, the need to grab new customers is necessary not just to survive but to dominate the market altogether. Going upscale by shedding some of the features that made a brand popular in the first place is a dangerous tight-rope act in the hopes of not alienating old fans. In many ways, the Isuzu mu-X might have hit the nail right on the head. 

Photos by Roy Robles

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