Launched: MY21 Isuzu MU-X (2021)
Following on from the success of the MY21 D-MAX comes the all-new Isuzu MU-X SUV. Based on the D-MAX, the MY21 MU-X has launched with a suite of safety technology as well as upgraded infotainment and important for the towing community, upgraded capacities.
Standout Specs and Features of the New 2021 Isuzu MU-X
Notable in the press release we picked was an increase to a 3500 kg braked towing capacity as well as a jump in Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) and Gross Combination Mass (GCM) now up to 2,800kg and 5,900kg respectively. Payload has jumped too with the MU-X LS-M able to carry up to 665kg. Another good step up was fuel capacity which is now 80L, up 23% on the outgoing model.
These specs put the new MU-X at the front of the class in tow capacity in the fast-growing ute-based SUV market.
Isuzu's Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS) is standard across the MU-X range. We’ve sampled the D-MAX with the same system and are firm believers in its value but Isuzu has told us that like the D-MAX, some features are not recommended for use when towing.
Inside the MU-X is sustainability upgraded from the previous generation with much of the D-MAX coming across including the excellent 9-in infotainment screen on the top models. All are Apple CarPlay ready as well and top-spec MU-X has heated seats that are fully adjustable, electrically.
All models feature a telescopic steering wheel and throughout the range are upgraded seats.
The centre console is unique to the MU-X. Gone is the manual handbrake, in comes an Electric Park Brake (EPB) with the space saved utilised for better storage.
Under the bonnet is an evolution of the well-respected 4JJ 3.0L turbo-diesel engine, dubbed the 4JJ3-TCX. Like in the D-MAX, there are a lot of changes internal to the engine as well as to the turbo, cooling and internals. The result is a bump in power to 140kW and 450Nm. Another under-bonnet increase is to wading depth, which is now limited to an impressive 800mm when travelling under 8kmph.
Power is sent only through a revised six-speed auto gearbox with selectable 4WD. Interestingly, the new ‘box allows changing between 2-high-range and 4-high-range at speeds up to 100kmph. It also features automatic engine braking downhill, something we’ve found handy when towing with the D-MAX.
Down the back, same electromagnetic diff-lock as found in the D-MAX, which we have found handy in slippery surfaces.
Service costs are low, super low, thanks to the use of a cam-chain and increased intervals as well as new, no-maintenance front wheel bearings. With capped pricing, over seven years or 105,000km, the total servicing costs are only $3,373. The warranty has been increased to six years/150,000km, whichever comes first.
Dealers have started receiving stock now with deliveries expected to start from early August. We’ve booked a press car around the same time so will do a comprehensive tow-review in the coming months.
MY21 MU-X Pricing
Pricing has increased on the previous model to account for the increased safety tech and comfort but it should still offer strong value for money. At the time of writing, drive away pricing is available on the top-spec MU-X LS-T 4x4 at $63,990 drive away, for a limited time only.
MU-X LS-M 4x2 - $47,900
MU-X LS-U 4x2 - $53,900
MU-X LS-T 4x2 - $59,900
MU-X LS-M 4x4 - $53,900
MU-X LS-U 4x4 - $59,900
MU-X LS-T 4x4 - $65,900
Key MY21 Isuzu MU-X Competitor Specifications
MY21 Isuzu MU-X LS-T 4x4
MY22 Toyota Prado Kakadu
MY21 Toyota Fortuner GX Auto 4x4
MY20.25 Ford Everest Titanium UA II Auto 4WD
MY20 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed QF Auto 4x4
Max Tow Capacity
Max Ball Weight
140kW @ 3,600rpm
150kW @ 3400rpm
150kW @ 3400rpm
157kW @ 3750rpm
133kW @ 3500rpm
450Nm @ 1,600-2,600rpm
500Nm @ 1600-2800rpm
450Nm @ 1600-2800rpm
500Nm @ 1750-2000rpm
430Nm @ 2500rpm
Passive Safety Tech
All of the specs above come from manufacturers websites at 27 July, 2021
New Options for the MY21 Isuzu MU-X
Pouring through the supplied launch PR, something interesting showed up. It is clear that Isuzu has us tow-people in mind with the new MU-X. Not only is the raised tow-capacity class leading but there are also options that have a real, Aussie tow feel.
Clearview extendable Mirrors are an option, as is a 270-degree awning (I've never seen that in a manufacturer option list before) and carried over from the MY21 D-MAX are optional weight distribution bars (wise readers will recall the D-MAX and MU-X were never approved for use with WDH before this model cycle). An electronic brake controller that operates the same and is visually similar to the industry standard, and frankly best, Redarc Tow-Pro Elite carried over and of course, there are a couple of options for frontal protection (bullbars), a snorkel and roof rails.
Underneath the MY21 Isuzu MU-X
The chassis of the new MU-X utilises twice the amount of high-tensile steel and has more cross-members over the previous model adding rigidity. That and some changes to the rear suspension pick-up points and new springs and shocks is what has led to the increase in tow capacity.
In the D-MAX, these chassis upgrades helped a lot with the ute being the first car to achieve a 5-star ANCAP rating in 2020. We expect the MU-X to follow suit and to achieve a 5-star rating.
Up front, the independent suspension has been carried over from the D-MAX but we are unsure if it features the same springs and shocks as the MU-X is expected to carry lower loads and have a more supple ride. It features the same no-maintenance wheel bearings as the D-MAX, mentioned above. These reduce servicing though are not totally service free, they will need to be replaced sometime after the 105,000km service period ends.
The positioning of the front control arms mirrors the D-MAX with increased separation which will allow for aftermarket lifts to affect the alignment less as well as offer more travel.
The axle loads have been increased, which is a great thing for anyone planning to add a bullbar, lights and other accessories and although Isuzu would not comment on it, we suspect it will also benefit aftermarket support for GVM upgrades. This is an area we are keenly watching as the 615-665kg payload (dependent on model) leaves a bit to be desired for families that carry a lot of supplies on big trips.
Look out for a full-tow test in the coming weeks as well as a video walkthrough.