Sprint Review: 2020 (Facelift) Isuzu mu-X AWD Locker (Auto)

Somewhere between all those hideously expensive luxury SUV’s and the oh-so trendy compact crossovers lives a whole horde of bakkie-based rustic 4×4’s with seven seats. We tested the face-lifted Isuzu offering.

Isuzu? Yip. The makers of those noisy but hardy farm pick-ups have not just modernised their legendary KB slash D-Max range, they also threw this three-row wagon into the mix. Although the two are not identical siblings, this mu-X shares quite a few components with any contemporary Isuzu D-Max bakkie.

Like what? For starters, the 3-litre in-line four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine worth 130kW or 380Nm. This rough but ready power plant is your only choice, as is a butter-smooth six-speed automatic gearbox. There’s a 2WD or 4WD option; as well as an optional (self-engaging mechanical) rear differential lock.

What else? Some bits of the interior are shared with neefie D-Max, like the new-fangled touchy-swipey media screen which offers traditional or digital radio playback, Bluetooth, USB, HDMI, Aux, as well as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Other goodies include power everything, various remote or keyless controls, pleather trim and climate control.

Watch out for: Performance is on the leisurely side, handling is not up to modern standards and the claimed average fuel figure will be hard to hit in daily conditions. By the way, in my limited experience that also goes for every single one of the mu-X’s competitors; there are compromises to be made for their rugged characters.

The good stuff: Isuzu’s mu-X is well-priced around the 700k mark because an equivalent Ford or Toyota will cost a good few bob more. Specification levels are fairly even between the competitors unless dash design or screen resolution is a deal-breaker to you.

Here is a handy little table for your information:

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.4 DiD 4×4Isuzu mu-X 3.0 AWDFord Everest 2.0 BiTDi XLTToyota Fortuner 2.8 GD6 4×4
2.4 i-4 TDi3.0 i-4 TDi2.0 i-4 BiTDi2.8 i-4 TDi
8-speed Auto6-speed Auto10-speed Auto6-speed Auto
133kW / 430Nm130kW / 380Nm157kW / 500Nm150kW / 500Nm
3yr/100k warranty5yr/120k warranty4yr/120k warranty3yr/100k warranty
5yr/90k service plan5yr/90k service plan6yr/90k service plan9 services / 90k plan
ZAR 659,995ZAR 712,200*ZAR 744,500ZAR 770,400
*excluding diff lock

Summary: Ignoring the space-ship Mitsubishi for now, Isuzu’s mu-X 3.0 AWD offers great value, superb space, a fair degree of comfort while feeling pretty robust over urban roads and rough stuff alike. Isuzu lists 24 dealers in South Africa and six in Namibia. Best you pay them a visit for a test drive!


Engine:3L i-4 turbo-diesel
Transmission:6-speed Automatic, AWD
Max. Power:130kW
Max. Torque:380Nm
Avg cons.:Claimed 7.8L/100km
0-100km/h:11.28 seconds (no claim)
Top Speed:Unknown  
List Price:R666,500  

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