Text and photos by Iñigo Roces
If there is anything 2018 will be remembered for, it will be radical change. The year marks the implementation of the new vehicle excise tax, the phasing out of vehicles incompatible with EURO-4 emissions standards, and the start of a new wave of change envisioned by the current administration.
Thankfully, Isuzu Philippines has come prepared for this with the introduction of the 2018 mu-X last year. Sporting a new look for this year, and more importantly, a brand new EURO-4 compatible Blue Power engine, the pickup platform vehicle (PPV) has been poised to meet 2018’s challenges and requirements well ahead of schedule.
The 2018 mu-X is distinguished by new headlights which feature integrated LED daytime running lights and LED projector units. Isuzu has also tweaked the grille to better match its new eyes. Lower down the facade, the bumper has been remolded with a new set of air intakes and foglights. Behind, the mu-X also sports an LED strip on the tail lights. With Isuzu Philippines celebrating their 20th anniversary, there’s also a commemorative blue badge on the tailgate to highlight this milestone. More improvements include a set of 18-inch alloy wheels and a slightly raised ride height.
Inside, the cabin features more piano black panels, soft foam, and faux leather trimming. Aluminum-look trim helps to break up the black monotony, providing a more pleasant interior. Ahead of the driver is a new instrument cluster with enhanced vehicle information display. The new colored LCD screen provides vital vehicle information like real time fuel economy, mileage, trip info and fuel range.On darker days, the mu-X’s ambient lighting bathes the cabin in a mild blue glow.
Finding the right position is easy thanks to the tilt-adjusting wheel. The seats have been redesigned with softer cushions and grant a higher view of the road than before.
Over in the center is the new infotainment system, equipped with a radio, CD player and GPS Navigation. It also has provisions for plugging in a USB thumb drive or music device or linking to a mobile device with Bluetooth. It also features text-to-speech navigation and USB linking to entertain the passengers behind. They can enjoy their favorite movie care of the large screen that drops down from the ceiling.
Passengers will be delighted by the sheer amount of space inside the mu-X. The second row can slide forward to provide more room for the third row. The third row is best reserved for children or smaller adults. They can be raised by simply pulling a lever. It can be folded to provide a flat surface that is a bit elevated from the cargo floor. Nonetheless, storing large items behind shouldn’t be a problem.
To keep them entertained, the mu-X comes with three USB ports: two in front and one in the second row to charge devices. There are more than enough cup and bottle holders to keep all seven occupants happy on long drives.
Moving this vehicle forward is the new Blue Power engine which produces more power than its predecessor but also less emissions. It produces 177 PS, 14 PS more than the outgoing model, and 380 Nm of torque, the same figure as before. It’s paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. The shift to Blue Power has also made the engine much quieter and with less vibrations.
Around town, the mu-X is very thrifty with fuel, easily achieving 16.2 km/l on the highway and 8.9 lm/l in the city in heavy traffic.
Just like before, the mu-X is also the most comfortable of all its competitors in the segment. The ride is comparable to a large American SUV, and while the body many sway from side to side, less of the potholes and bumps are felt in the cabin.
As for safety, the mu-X comes equipped with all of the equipment you’d expect from airbags, ABS, EBD and brake assist. It also throws in a few extras like Hill Descent Control and stability control in this variant.
The totals up to a price tag of P1,598,000 (1,608,000 in pearl white), This may yet increase as excise taxes have not yet been factored in.
Indeed it’s rather steep yet browse the equipment list of its competitors and you’ll find that it’s actually quite competitive. It’s rare to find a vehicle this well prepared for the challenging year to come that doesn’t come from Europe. Yet here stands the mu-X ready to take it all on.