The midsize body-on-frame SUV or in our case, the pickup-based passenger vehicle (PPV) segment is very fierce. As a matter of fact, this is also the most popular type of SUV in our country. Therefore, if you’re a brand like Isuzu, and your current offering is due for a complete model change, what do you do? Will you pull out all the stops and try to revolutionize the segment, or will you stick to a tried-and-tested formula? In the case of the 2022 Isuzu Mu-X LS-E we’re driving today, it seems the company stuck to the latter, for better or worse.
If there’s one aspect where you can immediately tell that the 2022 Isuzu Mu-X LS-E is completely new from the ground up, that would be its exterior design. Compared to its predecessor which looks merely like a D-Max with an extended roof, this all-new model has been given its own distinct identity. The curvaceous design gives it a crossover vibe, which makes it look more road-biased than its more rugged predecessor. Ditto the 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in highway terrain tires, which really are indeed road-biased. This all boils down to who the Mu-X is aimed for, and these are families who rarely take their SUVs off-road, but want the reassurance of its capabilities when the going does get tough.
However, the moment you step inside the 2022 Isuzu Mu-X LS-E, its roots from the D-Max is clearly evident. As a matter of fact, the overall dash design is almost exactly the same, except for the center console which gains a higher amount of contouring and leatherette surfaces. But the upper and love glove box, leatherette-topped dash, and switchgear are exactly the same, again for better or worse. Because of this, the Mu-X has one of the highest amounts of soft-touch surfaces in its segment, and we’re likewise fans of the piano-style keys for the climate controls. We just hope that Isuzu gave the Mu-X’s interior its own identity from the D-Max, but we understand they also have to save a bit of R&D cost.
Features and Infotainment
The 2022 Isuzu Mu-X LS-E also inherits the D-Max’s locally-sourced 10.1-inch infotainment system. While it works well for the most part, with touch response being snappy enough for most situations and the resolution is sharp, its graphics, unfortunately, looks low rent and the display itself easily washes out under harsh sunlight. At least there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it also comes with a non-branded 8-speaker sound system, which is one of the best among brand-less sound systems in this segment.
Some of the other features that everyone will benefit from include a generous serving of charging ports. There’s only one up front, but those at the back have two fast-charging USB-A ports and even a household socket. Yes, if you have a laptop with you, this is one of the only few vehicles in the segment along with the Ford Everest and SsangYong Rexton that comes with such a feature. A powered tailgate is also offered in this LS-E variant, though it doesn’t have the hands-free function that nearly all of its rivals have.
Space and Practicality
Because the 2022 Isuzu Mu-X LS-E inherits the D-Max’s interior, it also comes with one of the best driving positions in its segment. The Mu-X is one of the only vehicles to come with a telescoping steering wheel, and the seats are one of the best in its segment. There’s plenty of support for your shoulders and lower body, and the foam that’s used is of the low-density variety. I’m no ergonomist. That’s why I’m a writer, but all that I can say is that it’s one of the best, if not the outright best seats in the segment.
The rear seats are also spacious, with genuine space for three adults, unlike the Montero Sport’s narrow interior. Unfortunately, the second-row seats don’t slide fore and aft, but the good news is that the default positioning of those seats offers just enough legroom for both the second- and third-row occupants.
Speaking of the third row, the space on offer there is one of the best in the segment. The seat height is one of the best (a common weak point for PPVs), and there’s also a generous amount of recline. Legroom is also surprisingly, good, and this can be adjust on whether the second-row occupants are willing to adjust the recline of their seats.
As for trunk space, the 2022 Isuzu Mu-X LS-E is one of the most spacious in its segment. With the third-row in place, the 311 liters worth of cargo, while folding down the third row under the floor increases this to a very generous 1,119 liters. If you then fold the second-row altogether, you are now provided with 2,138 liters of space, which is one of the biggest in this segment.
Fitted with Isuzu’s new 3.0-liter 4JJ3-TCX inline-4 turbo diesel engine that produces 190 hp at 3,600 rpm and 450 Nm of torque from 1,600 to 2,600 rpm, it doesn’t produce class-leading numbers like the twin-turbo versions of the Ford Everest or the 2.8-liter models of the Toyota Fortuner. These numbers, however, don’t actually tell the whole story.
That’s because this engine, which is the biggest in its class, offers such a broad torque curve. While its numbers aren’t the outright highest, the most important part is that most of that torque is available in such a wide rev range. Therefore, overtaking with this engine is a breeze compared to the Ford Everest’s twin-turbo motor whose peak torque is only available in a narrow rev range. While the Everest will feel subjectively quicker off the line, the Mu-X is better when it comes to overtaking power. The 6-speed automatic accompanying this engine also performs well. The shifts are smooth rather than quick, and it delivers the correct gear at the right moment.
This all boils down to the fact that the Isuzu Mu-X’s relatively big displacement engine can run on its own, unlike its smaller displacement competitors that are more dependent on their turbo’s boost. As a result, the Mu-X is one of the most fuel-efficient in its class, logging in at 11 km/l at its worst and 12.3 km/l at its best, and that’s despite having to hustle a full load of people and cargo up to Baguio all the way from Laguna.
As for handling, the Isuzu Mu-X is one of the better body-on-frame SUVs when driven on twisty winding roads. Being a PPV, it will never be as sporty as something like a Mazda CX-9, but its suspension deals with body roll far better than most of its competitors. The all-new body-on-frame chassis is also very rigid and sturdy, with vibrations being well-suppressed. You still can’t get away with the truck-like sensations of a body-on-frame SUV like the Mu-X, but it’s one of the more crossover-like in its segment in terms of vibration suppression. The steering, despite still being hydraulic-assisted, is on the lighter end of the segment. The upside to this is that it still offers a good amount of road feel, unlike the Everest’s numb electric power steering.
Lastly, ride and refinement are also good though not class-leading. Road and wind noise is well suppressed, though there’s a bit more engine noise than I would like. The Ford Everest and Terra are my class benchmarks in this aspect. Its ride is also good despite riding on 20-inch wheels, though the Nissan Terra is still the best in terms of ride quality.
And then we also have to talk about the advanced driver-assistance tech that’s fitted to the 2022 Isuzu Mu-X LS-E. Fitted with a dual-camera system that’s developed by Hitachi, the system is very similar to Subaru’s EyeSight since it doesn’t rely on any form of radar sensors. Unfortunately, unlike EyeSight, Isuzu’s implementation is a bit too intrusive in certain situations. The automatic emergency braking feature is too sensitive, and that’s despite already putting it to its least sensitive setting. At least its full-speed adaptive cruise control works well, and it’s one of the only few in its segment where this feature works even in stop-and-go traffic. Other safety features that the 2022 Isuzu Mu-X LS-E is equipped with are lane departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, and a reverse camera.
The 2022 Isuzu Mu-X LS-E continues to be a worthy competitor in the PPV segment, especially since this is an all-new model compared to its competitors that merely are in their mid-cycle refreshes. Unfortunately, that also poses a problem for Isuzu. In the here and now, the Mu-X has just caught up to the competition, since it isn’t breaking any ground in terms of design, tech, or driving dynamics. Give it a few years from now, however, and I won’t be surprised if it suddenly feels outdated once the next-generation models of its rivals have been released.
This already began with the 2023 Ford Everest, and right away, it’s already pushing the boundaries of tech, connectivity, and driver-assistance tech. The all-new Isuzu Mu-X, however, is a great family SUV, but we’re not so sure how it will hold up a few years from now. What Isuzu’s engineers have done is stick to a tried and tested formula, and by doing so, they were able to create a fundamentally great SUV. Just don’t expect it to remain at the forefront of technology or driving experience a few years from today.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.3 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.