The new Isuzu MU-X offers much more than just a facelift. In fact, this well-regarded tow vehicle has been completely overhauled. Chief among the changes, and what should be of particular interest to Australian caravanners, is the vehicle’s increased towing and towball download capacity. But there is a catch…
The new MU-X went on sale in Australia a couple of months ago. It boasted improved safety features, including the sophisticated Intelligent Drive Assistance System (IDAS), first seen in the revamped Isuzu D-MAX that was launched last year, new exterior lines and a revised interior. But it was arguably the increased towing capacity that caught the eye of Aussies who love to haul caravans.
The previous-generation MU-X came with a 3000kg towing capacity, with 300kg allowed on the towball. Not the best in its class but suitable for a wide range of caravans. However, with Isuzu increasing the vehicle’s towing capacity to 3500kg, thanks to a new ladder-frame chassis with uprated coil-spring suspension, it has opened the MU-X to larger, heavier and more luxurious caravans. Or has it? Let’s look at the numbers.
The Gross Vehicle Mass of the new MU-X has been increased to 2800kg (2700kg for 2WD models). Isuzu has given the vehicle a Gross Combined Mass of 5900kg. The unladen or kerb weight of the MU-X starts at 2035kg (the entry-level 2WD LS-M), topping out at 2175kg for the top-spec LS-T 4×4.
The welcome 3500kg towing capacity is available across the range. But that does not necessarily mean you can simply hitch up, say, a 3000kg caravan loaded with 500kg worth of gear, water and gas, load the vehicle to the gunwales, and hit the road.
As always, it’s essential to pay attention to a tow vehicle’s Gross Combined Mass. In the case of the new MU-X LS-T 4×4, in-vehicle payload would be limited to 225kg when hitched to 3500kg worth of caravan.
But all, in our opinion, is not lost. By limiting the weight of the van to about 3300kg, which is still plenty for many top-spec Australian-built caravans, you’ll increase in-vehicle payload to something more practical.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that Isuzu warrants the use of a weight distribution hitch for the new MU-X. In fact, a genuine Isuzu WDH is available with this model. This was not the case with the previous MU-X.
NEW MU-X ENGINE
The changes go beyond increased towing capacity. In fact, this vehicle also gets a new turbodiesel engine.
The 4JJ3-TCX 3L common-rail four-cylinder engine is, according to Isuzu, an evolution of the previous 4JJ1-TC HI engine. This is the same engine that premiered in the new D-MAX last year.
It delivers a 10kW and 20Nm increase in power and torque over the previous engine, with mid-range torque now generating 400Nm from 1400-3250rpm.
According to Isuzu, the engine produces 300Nm from just 1000rpm (just above idle) – this should appeal to four-wheel-drivers who need plenty of low-down torque for crawling up hills in low range.
Meanwhile, the fuel tank has been increased in size from 65L to 80L, which is another welcome change.
IDAS, described by Isuzu as a comprehensive suite of safety and convenience features, is standard on all variants of the new MU-X.
A 3D stereo camera that can precisely detect and measure distance, size, velocity and the depth of vehicles, pedestrians, etc., is at the heart of the system. It allows the vehicle to detect more subjects with lower risk of miss-detection and take necessary countermeasures to mitigate risk, according to Isuzu.
Autonomous emergency breaking with turn assist, and a forward collision warning system, which intervenes when the vehicle detects certain dangers, are among the features. The traffic sign recognition function, which has been calibrated for Australian roads, scans the road for speed and other traffic signs, and relays the information to a 4.2in in-cab display.
The lane departure prevention, lane departure warning, and emergency lane-keeping systems will, depending on the circumstances, either alert the driver when the vehicle is venturing out of the lane or will actively steer the MU-X back towards the centre of the lane at speeds above 60km/h.
Other safety features include eight airbags, post-collision braking, blind spot monitoring, anti-lock braking and much more. The LS-T even has a tyre pressure monitor.
While the original MU-X remains a solid, well-respected vehicle, it had not changed appreciably since it was first launched on our shores.
The new vehicle appears to offer a range of other benefits, beyond what has been detailed here, including an overhauled interior. It appears to be an exciting development for Australian caravanners, despite the limited in-vehicle payload capacity that’s available when towing the 3500kg maximum.
QUICK SPECS: ISUZU MU-X LS-T 4×4
- Engine: 4JJ3-TCX 3L common-rail four-cylinder turbodiesel
- Max power: 140kW
- Max torque: 400Nm from 1400-3250rpm
- Transmission: Six-speed auto
- Length: 4.85m
- Width: 1.87m
- Height: 1.83m
- Wheelbase: 2.86m
- Ground clearance: 235mm
- Wheels: 20in alloy
- Kerb Mass: 2175kg
- Gross Vehicle Mass: 2800kg
- Gross Combined Mass: 5900kg
- Towing capacity: 3500kg
- Towball maximum: 350kg
- Fuel tank capacity: 80L
- Suspension: Double wishbone independent front suspension; five-link coil spring rear suspension
- Price: $65,990 plus on-road costs (starting at $47,990 plus on-roads for the base-model LS-M 4×2)
MEET THE AUTHOR
Max Taylor has been caravanning since he was a kid and was the editor of some of Australia’s most well-known RV publications for almost 10 years.