Say the word Isuzu to a crowd of people in India, and depending on who you are talking to you’re likely to get one of two responses, Isu-who? Or a look of resounding respect. Globally, the Isuzu brand has a reputation for building no-nonsense SUVs and pick up trucks that were built to take a beating and keep going. In India, Isuzu has catered to a niche audience of very serious off-roaders and adventure-seekers who wanted something other than the Toyota Fortuner. Their claim to fame in India has been the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross, a lifestyle pick up truck, which may not have sold big numbers but has a proper cult following of adventurers and thrill-seekers. Of course, a small-cabin with not much in the form of seating space is a far cry from practical. If practicality is what you’re looking for then the mu-X is the car for you as it's the same platform as the D-Max V-Cross and it's equally capable but with 5+2 seating practicality. The mu-X was launched in May 2017, as a replacement to the mu-7. Although the single trim mu-X did undercut the Toyota Fortuner by a more than fair margin, its utilitarian lacklustre interiors were a bit of a setback. To remedy that Isuzu launched an updated version of the mu-X in 2018, so we got behind the wheel to find out exactly how much better it really is.
2018 Isuzu mu-X Design & Exteriors
While the updates to the exterior of the mu-X might be mild, it's done a fair bit in making the car look even more butch and muscular. In the front, the 2018 mu-X gets a more vertical grille that's flanked by aggressive looking projector headlamps and DRLs.
The front bumper now features a slightly larger air-dam with fog lamp recesses accented by gun-metal chrome. In profile, the mu-X continues the butch up quotient with 18-inch wheel wrapped around 5-spoke alloy wheels. In the back Isuzu has worked on the rear bumper that now has a slightly widened look with contrasting skid plates along the centre, the tail-lamps too are new and while they are smaller, they add to the SUVs Character in a big way. There’s also a new slightly larger roof-mounted spoiler as well!
2018 Isuzu mu-X Interiors
Like the exteriors, the interiors too have been on the receiving end of some minor cosmetic upgrades, while it remains mostly unchanged, the design and layout have been edited to improve the overall aesthetics. For one the seats now feature a quilted pattern of upholstery while most the of other equipment has been carried over from the pre-facelifted model. The seating layout is for 5+2 and all the three rows get a roof mounted air-con vents. One of the slight problems with the mu-X’ interior is the fact that the infotainment system still seems quite dated in comparison to the competition with no Android Auto or Apple Car Play connectivity on offer.
In terms of safety, there has been a deliberate leap forward. The new Isuzu mu-X feature ABS and gets 6-airbags as standard, as compared to the two on its predecessor. New features include powered driver seat and wing mirrors, 60:40 folding middle row seats with armrest, roof-mounted rear AC, a roof-mounted touchscreen in the back and an engine start-stop button to name a few. Moreover, drive assist features like electronic stability control (ESC), emergency brake assist, hill-start assist (HSA) and electronic brake distribution (EBD) are also standard, but carried forward from the outgoing vehicle.
2018 Isuzu mu-X: Performance and handling
The driving dynamic of the SUV has not changed one bit, the SUV still uses the same 3.0-litre diesel motor that churns out 174 bhp and 380 Nm of peak torque and is mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox as standard. It gets two power delivery options including a 4x2 and a 4x4 setup. The four-wheel-drive system is the same Terrain Command system that is equipped with a shift-on-fly-dial which is the 4x4 engager. Despite all that power, the mu-X is still a 2 tonne plus SUV and requires significant time to really spool up.
This means if you have a ghat section with tight corners you will need to keep the engine on the boil, for the most part, let it drop below the turbo point and there will be a whole lot of lag that can get scary through tight sections. That aside, the mu-X is definitely more agile than the Toyota Fortuner that is susceptible to a lot of body roll.
2018 Isuzu mu-X Conclusion
2018 Isuzu mu-X review: Overall, Isuzu has done a good job of refreshing the mu-X without really taking away from its utilitarian ethos. It is still definitely more interesting to drive than its rival from Toyota and that’s a big win for the SUV. Overall if you live in a city with an authorised ISUZU service centre it still makes a strong case for itself. However, it still needs a little work in terms of interiors, especially considering the entrance of newer rivals like the Mahindra Alturas.