Exemplary multipurpose utility

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isuzu-mux220140916Isuzu explains the MU-X’s name as the sport-ute lands in the Philippines

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THE all-new Isuzu MU-X is now in the country.

Isuzu Phils. Corp.’s (IPC) latest SUV—replacing the Alterra—shares the D-Max’s DNA. This means it suits any driving purpose, be it on- or off-road, or in rush-hour traffic. The new SUV is surely a head-turner.

First introduced in Thailand in October 2013, the MU-X was also launched in Australia in December last year and, just recently, in New Zealand, Laos and Indonesia. In all these countries, the model earned favorable market response, for example commanding around a 60-percent share of its segment in Australia

Impressive
“So, my friends, are you ready to be impressed?” asked IPC President Nobuo Izumina during the MU-X’s launch.

The company chief explained that the name MU-X was derived from MU-7, which is what the Alterra was called in Thailand, and also from MU, an SUV Isuzu had sold in the late ’80s to the mid-’90s. MU-X, Izumina said, stands for Multipurpose Utility eXemplary.

Toasting the arrival of the MU-X are Isuzu Phils. Corp.’s officials led by president Nobuo Izumina (center), Art Balmadrid (left) and Takashi Tomita (right). With them are Ken Takashima, general manager of Mitsubishi Corp. in Japan Second from left), and Ichiro Murato, executive chief engineer at Isuzu Motors Limited of Japan. Above, Isuzu MU-X brand ambassador Doug Kramer (left) presents the car with Isuzu’s Joseph Bautista.

Toasting the arrival of the MU-X are Isuzu Phils. Corp.’s officials led by president Nobuo Izumina (center), Art Balmadrid (left) and Takashi Tomita (right). With them are Ken Takashima, general manager of Mitsubishi Corp. in Japan Second from left), and Ichiro Murato, executive chief engineer at Isuzu Motors Limited of Japan. Above, Isuzu MU-X brand ambassador Doug Kramer (left) presents the car with Isuzu’s Joseph Bautista.

Explaining the MU-X’s similarity with the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Izumina said the vehicles were “jointly developed,” but only during the early stages, with each getting different engines and transmissions.

“In terms of handling, we will let the public decide,” Izumina said.

IPC bared it targets to sell 2,000 units of the MU-X in the remaining months of the year and up to 6,000 units in 2015.

Multiple variants
The MU-X is available in four variants. At the top of the range are the MU-X LS-A pair that are offered with either four-wheel drive or two-wheel drive, and a five-speed automatic transmission.

Next is the MU-X LS-M, which has two-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission. The entry-level variant is the MU-X LS, also equipped with two-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission, that’s targeted at first-time SUV buyers.

Living up to Isuzu’s reputation when it comes to fuel efficiency and reliability is the MU-X’s 4JK1-TC turbocharged, 2.5-liter diesel engine that makes 134hp and 320Nm of torque. The high torque rating translates to less gear changes, effortless hill climbing and easier off-road driving.

IPC said the engine’s high-pressure, common rail fuel injection system also makes the most out of every drop of fuel and the intercooled Variable Geometry System turbocharger is responsive over the entire rev range.

The five-speed automatic transmission has a sequential shift and grade-logic capabilities, both of which keep the vehicle in correct gear to prevent over-revving and unnecessary fuel burn.

The MU-X is ready for long journeys, thanks to its five-link rear suspension, which IPC said improves handling and driving comfort while retaining a firm grip of the road or any terrain.

In the MU-X LS-A, a 4WD Terrain Command Select Dial allows its driver to simply twist a knob to shift from 2H mode to 4H mode even at speeds as high as 100kph. The vehicle’s 17-inch alloy wheels with 255/65 R17 tires further boost its off-road driving ability.

Seats seven
Smartly designed, the MU-X is comfortable and spacious enough for seven passengers. It has wide door arches and strategically placed assist grips that will help keep passengers secure in off-road excursions. The vehicle is also practical, boasting 12 cup holders and 19 compartments. You never have to spill coffee or misplace a valuable inside this car.

Seats have wraparound bolsters, increasing shoulder, back and base support, and the driver’s is six-way power-adjustable. Both the second- and third-row seats can fold away to accommodate big loads.

The MU-X is also equipped with a premium audio system that has six speakers and Bluetooth phone connectivity, integrated audio control on the steering wheel, a roof-mounted 10-inch DVD monitor, electroluminescent meters and automatic climate control.

The MU-X is also futuristic as it comes with a smart key called passive entry and start/stop system, which switches the engine on or off with a push of a button.

Besides first-class gadgets, the vehicle also delivers safety through projector headlights, high-mount LED stop lamps, available fog lamps and a two-eye reverse sensing system for the reverse camera. Also fitted are dual front airbags, door locks that are child-proof and which automatically engage when the vehicle reaches 20kph, and side impact beams inside the doors.

The MU-X also carries a comprehensive list of crash avoidance electronics, including four-channel, four-sensor ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, and also an electronic stability control and a traction control system that would automatically brake a wheel (or wheels) if the systems sense any of these are slipping.

Also fitted are rugged off-road protection like front steel plates, skid/splash shield and steel plate guards to protect the sump and transfer case.

The MU-X is offered in six paint jobs: Splash White, Silky Pearl White, Cosmic Black, Titanium Silver, Aqua Blue and Outback Brown. Prices are set at P1.188 million for the MU-X LS M/T 4×2; P1.260 million for the MU-X LS-M M/T 4×2; P1.358 million for the MU-X LS-A A/T 4×2; and P1.748 million for the MU-X LS-A A/T 4×4.

IPC said the new MU-X will be the highlight of its display at the 5th Philippine International Motor Show, scheduled from September 18 to 21.

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