ISUZU Philippines’ mu-X is a formidable challenger in the mid-sized sport-utility vehicle segment, grabbing both the attention and the sales from top sellers Montero and Fortuner. Just the week before the mu-X’s September 22 release, Nissan launched the upgraded Terra.
In the seven years since it was first launched, the mu-X has not gone into a major transformation until now. It is the only one in its segment that has done a complete makeover, and the right to use “all-new” in its literature.
Thus after seven years, a completely new mu-X has arrived—sleeker, more luxurious, overflowing with amenities that spell convenience, comfort and safety—in the way Isuzu knows. This complete overhaul also promises a greener engine, with better emissions and improved fuel economy. The value-packed vehicle remains to be the most competitively priced, thus boosting Isuzu’s confidence in setting a high sales target despite the still unique conditions of the times.
Isuzu PH is targeting a 15 percent market share in the next round of sales in the highly competitive SUV arena. Yasuhiko Oyama, Isuzu PH Vice President for sales forecasts to hit this figure by the end of the year.
“With the outgoing mu-X, we peaked at around 15 percent market share,” shared Oyama. “However, because we were in the process of winding down our orders, that number has dropped to about five percent. With the all-new mu-X, we believe that we can hit around 10 percent market share by end of this year, and around 15 percent by 2022.”
Coming in at P1.59M, for the LS base variant, the mu-X tag price shoots up to nearly double at P2.45M for the top-of-the-line 3.0L 4×4 LS-E AT. Yet as the entry-level model comes standard with a 6-speed automatic and a smaller engine, standard throughout the lineup are, bi-LED headlamps, a 10.1-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual SRS airbags, ABS with EBD, and suspension improvements that contribute to better handling and vehicle stability.
The price of the LS however delivers an attractive message to sedan owners—the space, ride height, safety, and performance of a bigger vehicle, at the price of a compact sedan.
“The mu-X LS is meant to cater to buyers upgrading from sedans or MPVs,” IPC Product and Marketing Department Head Robert Carlos said at the virtual launch of the vehicle. The LS is powered by Isuzu’s RZ4E 1.9-liter diesel engine that outputs 150 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 350 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 2,600 rpm.
The second tier LS-A starts at P1.77M for the MT which uses the RZ4E engine as the base variant. The LS-A AT however uses the larger 3.0-liter 4JJ3-TCX engine that ups the power to 190 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 450 Nm of torque from 1,600 to 2,600 rpm.
Outside, the most outstanding change is the grille, with new contours, sleeker and finished in tungsten silver/chrome, to match the new 18-inch wheels which now have a dark silver finish. Tires are 265/60R18 tires. Additional exterior features include a roof rail are now from the LS-A up.
All variants of the mu-X are now 25 mm longer, 10 mm wider, and 15 mm shorter with a 235 mm ground clearance. Rated flood (or water) wading depth is set at 800 mm. The wheels are also of a younger design, the sharp, pointed shapes to complement the Arrow Signature Bi-LED headlights, and what Isuzu calls their Winglet Signature Rear Combination LED taillights with 3D effect.
It has a 7-seater, 60/40 split-fold-tumbling 2nd row, and a 50/50 split-folding and reclining 3rd row putting it at par with the competition with variations of material from fabric to leather. It has a perfect 5-star rating from the ASEAN New Car Safety Assessment Program or NCAP. That rating comes from its passenger safety cage, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability control, traction control system, hill start assist, and hill descent control. An electronic parking brake (EPB) with auto hold is also standard.
Inside, the LS-A variants add a lot of features over the LS such as a tilt/telescopic steering column, steering wheel-mounted controls for the multi-info display, and infotainment system, a 6-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, and second-row USB charging ports. Safety-wise, they receive a rear 4-eye parking sensor and reverse camera.
While the mu-X LS-E having forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, turn assist, pedal misapplication mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beam.
Aside from the more powerful engine, the LS-A AT also benefits from a push-button keyless start/stop, upgraded fabric seats, and a dual-zone climate control with pollen filter. The 4×4 has a part-time four-wheel drive system with Terrain Command Select Dial with the low gear Rough Terrain Mode Switch.
The top of the line LS-E has everything the LS-A has but it boasts of every luxury feature that further enhance its 4×4 capability. This includes a black leather steering wheel, shift knob, and seats as standard. There is power adjustment on the front driver’s seat and two additional speakers. The most notable feature is the 220-volt inverter with side-by-side USB ports.
IPC President Hajime Koso is however cautious moving into the fourth quarter of the year fearing supply shortages of semi-conductors that has affected Isuzu’s assembly plant in Thailand.