For 16 years, the Isuzu Crosswind served as a reliable and much-loved workhorse for anyone who needed a dependable, no-frills vehicle for everyday chores. Its simplicity was one of its most attractive features. It didn’t have gimmicky tech, fancy automatic mechanisms, or high-tech electronics. Its owners didn’t have to worry about replacing expensive circuitry or special batteries, and its ubiquity meant that spare parts were cheap and plentiful. The full implementation of Euro 4 emissions compliance last January 1, 2018 meant that the Isuzu Crosswind ceased production around the end of last year, leaving a large gaping hole that manufacturers have been racing to fill.
Who else would be better suited to fill that gap than Isuzu themselves, as their entry-level mu-X 4×2 1.9 LS A/T provides one of the best value-for-money propositions you’ll ever find in the seven-seater PPV segment. Everyone is familiar with the mu-X by now, so we begin by taking a closer look at how Isuzu managed to get the mu-X priced down to this extremely approachable level.
No more bling
As you might expect, the LS A/T variant loses all of the chrome garnish found in the higher-level trims. Instead, the radiator grille, fog light housing, and tailgate elements are finished in Material Gray, while the side mirrors and door handles are finished in Material Black. Side mirror turn indicators are gone too; and in place of fog lamps, you’ll find a plastic mold instead. Roof rails and a rear wiper are also absent, and the LS variant is equipped with smaller 245/70/R16 wheels as well. With that said, the mu-X LS A/T does have bi-LED projector headlamps with daytime running lights and LED taillights, and still manages to retain much of its rugged presence.
In fact, Isuzu has done a great job in keeping the Mu-X still looking good despite the aesthetic cost-cutting. Its smaller wheels don’t make it look disproportioned in any way, and the absence of chrome simply makes it look more utilitarian instead of cheap.
Pleasant surprises inside
When manufacturers look for things to remove in their vehicles for cost-cutting purposes, one of the first things to go is the infotainment system. Thankfully Isuzu has retained the same eight-inch infotainment system found in their higher trim models, which powers six speakers and features Bluetooth connectivity and navigation functions. Understandably, the ceiling mounted screen in the second row is gone, and the leather steering wheel has been replaced with a much simpler urethane wheel with no audio or communication controls. The fabric seats are still comfortable and supportive however, with only the material used having changed from higher trim models. All in all, Isuzu has removed the bits that aren’t really deemed as important, while retaining all the parts that are essential in making sure the cabin is still a pleasant place to be for the driver and its passengers.
Powering the Isuzu Mu-X LS variant is Isuzu’s new 1.9-liter, four-cylinder RZ4E turbocharged engine, which produces 150-hp and 350-Nm of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This automatic variant will soon replace the LS manual transmission variant while keeping the same price point for both.
The engine worked great for the D-Max pickup, and it shows itself to be well-suited to the mu-X as well. It’s perfectly capable of getting the mu-X around the city, with great response from the throttle at low rpm’s, thanks in part to full torque being available from 1,800 rpm to 2,600 rpm. With a full complement of seven people plus luggage, there is a slight bit of strain accelerating at fast highway speeds, but nothing that detracts from its overall performance. It definitely has enough pull going up mountain roads, slow trips to school, or around the farm. Even better still are the engine’s fuel economy figures, returning almost 12 km/L on combined city and highway driving.
While equipped with drum brakes at the rear as opposed to ventilated discs for the higher-trim variants, we never encountered any problems with braking power, as the mu-X was still capable of stopping at comfortable levels.
Thankfully, Isuzu also decided not to scrimp on the mu-X LS’ safety equipment. It still comes with anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, as well as dual SRS airbags for the driver and passenger. Speed-sending power door locks are also present.
Offering room for seven people, a new efficient engine, and modern amenities, the Isuzu mu-X LS A/T offers so much more at its P1,300,000 price than what the Crosswind offered, at only around P100,000 more than what the Crosswind’s price tag was. It offers all of the benefits a mid-sized seven-seater SUV brings without any of the fluff, while remaining simple and relatively easy to maintain. Combined with Isuzu’s trademark reliability and dependability, that makes it a no-brainer choice as an entry level PPV that gets the job done, and does it right.
Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven