PHP 200,000 is not a lot of money for people buying vehicles in the PHP 2 million range, but if you’re penny-pinching, that’s a significant amount of chump change that can fuel grocery runs for at least two years (budget for a family of four).

That is why if you are not a stickler for fancy features, it would be in your best interest to check out the 2022 mu-X LS-A 4x2. It might be two trim levels down, but it still has all the good stuff, the powertrain, infotainment system, creature comforts, and essential safety features.

2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-A 4x2 image

There is not much that separates the LS-A from the range-topping LS-E models in terms of modern exterior equipment. It still has bi-LED Arrow Signature headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, LED fog lamps (front and rear), and LED taillights. Design-wise it has a redesigned grille, a more prominent character line along the side, a rear spoiler, and roof rails that can carry as much as 100 kilograms. The body color of the test unit is plain Mercury Silver, but you could opt for the more eye-catching Onyx Black or even Satin Pearl White. Unfortunately, Marrakesh Brown is only available for the LS-E units.

What is unavailable in the LS-A are the auto On-Off headlamp, power-fold side mirrors, and the power tailgate. These are great features to have but aren’t deal-breakers by any measure. At the end of the day, you’re still getting the same body with its fresh design and capability. It will still fit, carry, and haul just as much as the more expensive trim levels.

2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-A 4x2 image

A nice accessibility feature I like that still trickles down to this variant is the smart key. Keep it on you – in your pocket or bag – and the doors unlock via the button on the front doors.

It is as roomy in the cabin as expected, has the same layout, and has nearly the same equipment as the more expensive variants. It has a 4.2-inch multi-information display, a 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen (with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming audio, and USB ports), an electronic parking brake, 60:40 split-folding second-row seats (with cup holders in the center armrest), and 50:50 split-folding third-row bench-type seats. Owners will have to settle for its six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, fabric upholstery, urethane multi-function steering wheel, and only six speakers.

2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-A 4x2 image

I like how Isuzu did not strip the LS-A bare. The cockpit has the same edgy design, silver and piano black accents, the automatic dual-zone climate control system (with pollen filter), the grab handles, and even the same number of storage spaces and cubby holes.

The Apple CarPlay is glitchy sometimes. I plugged the iPhone in, and the app didn’t automatically start. It happened a couple of times, but not very often. Pairing devices is easy, the operating system is quick, and the display is crisp with large fonts.

2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-A 4x2 image

Ingress is easy for passengers because the second-row seats fold and tumble forward with just a pull of a lever, and even if it does not slide forward, third-row legroom is still decent for the two occupants. Seat bolsters in front are sufficient to prevent slipping and sliding during the drive.

On the highway, especially on SLEX, it feels like it has more than 190 PS. It can cruise a little above the speed limit and still keep well below 2,000 RPM, which is why it is so fuel efficient. It does not have a quick takeoff for an SUV with 450 Nm of torque (and a lighter 4x2 layout), but it does not feel sluggish either. Overall fuel consumption on combined driving is a very good 10.1 km/l for an engine with a higher displacement than most in the segment. It has 3.0-liter Blue Power turbo diesel with an intercooler mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift.

2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-A 4x2 image

The steering feel is much lighter, but the feedback is not as high. At least it makes backing into parking slots and maneuvering through slow traffic easier on the arms.

Ride comfort is highly commendable and is at par with some of the best in the segment. Potholes barely register in the cabin, and even bad humps are caught softly by the coil spring front and rear suspension. Noise suppression is also very good. External noise is kept at bay, so it does not interfere with the cabin solitude or your Spotify playlist.

2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-A 4x2 image

There are standard safety features across all trim levels like an anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, Brake Override System, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control System, Hill Start Assist, and Hill Descent Control.

What you will miss is the Advanced Driver-Assist System (ADAS). Isuzu only added this in the second-generation model, exclusively for the LS-E. It will not have Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Turn Assist, Pedal Mis-application Mitigation, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Multi-Collision Brake, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go Function, and Auto High Beam. It may seem like car/safety features are missing, but if you have been driving a relatively old vehicle, you are not really missing much. Besides, Isuzu’s version of ADAS needs more fine-tuning. The FCW’s alert can be startling, with the sound, lights, and auto-braking happening all together loudly and rather roughly. I have experienced smoother implementations of the FCW. The LDW’s sensitivity must be dialed down as well. It feels too aggressive and also lets out a loud signal that is distracting.

2022 Isuzu mu-X LS-A 4x2 image

The 2022 mu-X LS-A 4x2 retails for PHP 1.9 million, which is 200,000 less than the LS-E 4x2 and more than 500,000 less than the LS-E 4x4. If you do not need off-road capability, you will save half a million pesos. Ditch some of the niceties and the ADAS, and that is some PHP 700,000 more in your pocket.

You are still driving the same mu-X with chic styling, spacious cabin, robust engine, and modern in-car entertainment system. I have outlined the features you will miss, you be the judge if it is worth splurging on.

Oh, and Isuzu might want to add a few more body color options because five, with today's discriminate auto-buying market, just will not cut it.

  • Make: Isuzu
  • Model: mu-X LS-A 4x2
  • Engine: 3.0-liter DOHC 16-valve Inline-4 VG Turbo Intercooler
  • Max Power: 190 PS @ 3600 rpm
  • Max Torque: 450 Nm @ 1600-2600 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift.
  • Price as Tested: ₱PHP 1,900,000

9/10

Performance

9/10

Design

8/10

Handling

8/10

Comfort

8/10

Value

8/10

Overall