It's difficult to believe that the Isuzu mu-X has been around for seven years. Isuzu's pick-up based SUV first came about in 2013, replacing the Alterra as their contender in the competitive mid-size SUV market. Seven years is a long time shelf life for any car, but the mu-X remains a solid choice in its class.
But now, the all-new mu-X is ready to rock the segment, and we can't help but think how much it's changed over the years. Even though there are just two generations of the popular SUV, Isuzu did a lot to get to where it is now.
When it first landed on our shores, the mu-X already came with a wide variety of models available. There was the bare-bones entry-level version with a manual and no anti-lock brakes, while mid-spec models were available with an automatic transmission. As for the top-spec variant, it came with all the bells and whistles. It had features that were revolutionary at the time, such as a rearview camera, a push to start button, a 10-inch roof-mounted screen for the DVD system, automatic climate control, traction control, and electronic stability control, to name a few.
As for the engines, they look humble compared to today's figures, but they were competitive at the time. Initially, there was just the 2.5-liter turbodiesel under the hood, and it was good for 136 PS and 320 Nm of torque. It didn't take long for Isuzu to bring in a more powerful engine, though. A 3.0-liter option boosted power to 163 PS and 380 Nm of torque. However, its competitors were adding even more horses in their SUVs, so Isuzu needed to give theirs a boost.
That's what they did in late 2017. Isuzu got rid of the 2.5-liter diesel and replaced it with a compact but more powerful 1.9-liter mill. Dubbed the RZ4E, power for the base engine jumped from 136 PS to 150 PS. It even got a substantial torque upgrade, from 320 Nm to 360 Nm. Even the 3.0-liter got more power, with power rising to 177 PS. It also got a six-speed manual and automatic transmissions as part of the technical update.
Aside from more power under the hood, Isuzu gave their SUV more visual zing inside and out. New wheels, LED lights, and redesigned bumpers brought the mu-X bang up to date, while the interior received more plush trimmings with extra paddings and even LED ambient lighting. But Isuzu didn't ignore those who need a workhorse SUV. In late 2018, they introduced the LS Automatic variant, which was essentially the bare-bones model but with an automatic transmission.
However, all of its competitors shifted to all-new designs by then. So Isuzu hit back at them by launching the all-new mu-X. After years of facelifts and updates, Isuzu turned the tables on the competition. Unlike its competitors, the 2021 mu-X isn't a facelift or heavily revamped model. Instead, it's all-new from bumper to bumper, right down to the chassis and engines. In terms of design, the second-generation model took more risks with a revolutionary redesign.
It's the same story under the hood. Sure, the RZ4E engine is a carryover from the previous model, but the new 3.0-liter has pretty strong figures. The range-topping mu-X now puts out 190 PS and, more importantly, 450 Nm of torque. It even packs a whole load of active safety and tech features.
The 2021 mu-X is available with lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, rear-cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, pedal misapplication mitigation, and even multi-collision braking. Those features used to be exclusive to luxury sedans, but now we see it in SUVs such as the mu-X.
Based on the specs and equipment list, the all-new model is leaps and bounds ahead of the old model. Of course, the only way to know if the second-generation mu-X is far better than the outgoing version is to drive it. For that, we want it to have a less wallowy ride, better handling, and even better performance and economy. If it delivers on all of that, then Isuzu has a winner on their hands.