Going with today’s trend of smaller turbocharged engines, Isuzu Philippines Corporation gives us a new alternative engine on the 2018 mu-X: The 1.9-liter RZ4E-TC.
This engine is smaller than the older 2.5-liter 4JK1-TCS but is more powerful; 14 more horsepower, and 30 Nm more torque to be more specific.
With that in mind, we are now left with 2 choices of power plants: the more powerful 3.0-Liter Blue Motion model or the economical 1.9-Liter. For this review though, we will be taking a look at the 1.9-Liter mu-X.
The 2018 mu-X’s exterior has not changed — from the headlights to the taillights, one could say that it’s indistinguishable from the previous models. But there is one thing about the 1.9-liter that stands out from the others: is a blue badge at the back with its engine code.
Because of this, you won’t have to worry about the differences in external parts when looking to buy the mu-X. The only choice you’ll have to make is if you want a more powerful 3.0-liter engine or the new fuel efficient 1.9-liter.
The mu-X we’re reviewing is in “Obsidian Grey.” It’s a really pleasant-looking dark grey under the sun, but at night it almost looks black. Unfortunately, with it being a dark grey it will attract lots of swirl marks. On the other hand, all trim levels of the 1.9-liter RZ4E are equipped with Bi-LED Projector type headlamps with integrated DTRL (Daytime Running Lamps) and Auto-headlamp Leveling.
You can have it either with or without fog lamps. Speaking of fog lamps, they are wrapped in a chrome trim including the door handles and side mirrors. These chrome accents are not available in the base model.
The two higher trim models also get Passive keyless entry and a start/stop button. Basically, the base model has a lot of gray and black plastics on it, wherein the two higher trims they are replaced with the shiny chrome.
The interior has a lot to offer. With a few soft-touch materials such as above the instrument cluster and the upper compartment above the glove box, it makes the interior feel more premium despite the large amounts of scratchy hard plastics. But don’t let this discourage you—The interior feels premium and well built, and there are no unwanted squeaks and rattles. Unfortunately, you don’t get cruise control on the 1.9-liter model which is a shame because it gets really good gas mileage. On the bright side, this model comes with automatic climate control as standard. Aircon is cold even in the searing afternoon heat and there are aircon vents for the rear passengers as well.
DVD player rear
The seats are wrapped in a soft cloth material that is rather comfy even in long road trips or the everyday 2-hour traffic. The infotainment display is rather bland and boring but at least you get a rather large 8-inch touchscreen display that can play DVDs.
Children will be very much entertained with the 10-inch roof mounted monitor in the middle of the roof! The infotainment system comes with two remotes. This can only lead to fighting over which radio station passengers want. But two remotes are much appreciated.
Our review unit comes with the Electroluminescent Multi-information display instrument cluster. It looks nice and modern with the chrome accents and the display in the middle showing a lot of information, such as average fuel consumption, odometer, different trip-o-meters, etc.
For your steering wheel controls though. You only get radio controls and a pickup button for calls. While that may be it, the volume rocker feels great to use!
The second-row seats have a lot of space that can happily seat three adults. The center console drops down for extra cupholders and an armrest. The third-row seats, however, can only seat two passengers as there are only two seats available.
A center storage console can be found on between the two third-row seats dividing them. There is enough space for an average-sized Filipino for the third-row but if you are taller than 5″10 ft, you might not want to stay there for long.
The storage space at the rear is pretty small and has a very high loading height, possibly making loading heavy groceries issue. Also, the third-row seats don’t fold flat, as there is a lip obstructing a smooth rear storage surface.
Performance and Fuel Economy
The mu-X’s new powerplant (1.9-liter RZ4E-TC) is quite impressive. We got an average of 10-12 liters per kilometers in city driving with moderate to heavy traffic. And a respectable 18-22 kilometers per liter in the highway. You would think that with a smaller engine the 1.9 is underpowered, but it definitely isn’t. With 148 hp @ 3,600 rpm and 350 Nm @1,800 rpm the 1.9-liter mu-X will happily accelerate you to the speed limit with relative ease. Above 90 km/h is where you can feel the difference between the 3.0-liter and 1.9-liter, but around the city, the performance is nearly identical.
Our review unit is equipped with the 6-speed Manual and driving it is super easy. The clutch grabs right away and is very smooth. I would recommend starting at second gear on most city situations because the first gear is rather short. The engine would chug along at 1,100 rpm, making it very fuel-efficient. Simply releasing the clutch and ride the torque of the engine is what we would recommend.
Riding along the highway, the 1.9-liter RZ4E-TC is happy between 80 km/h and 100 km/h revving between 1500 – 2000 rpm. Very low revs for these kinds of speeds which helps a lot with fuel economy. This is why it’s sad that we don’t get cruise control because this would have been great for long trips.
With its Euro-4 compliant 1.9-liter RZ4E-TC powerplant the Isuzu mu-X is definitely worth it. Acceleration is decent and the fuel economy is great. Also, the brakes are strong with the mu-X with ventilated disc brakes on all four corners. A new safety feature is also added to the mu-X called the brake override system (BOS). This system helps to eliminate acceleration when both gas and brake pedals are stepped on at the same time.
If you are in the market of a mid-size SUV with good fuel economy this is one of the top dogs. This is a great alternative to the 3.0-liter mu-X, and it might be the better buy depending on what you’re looking for. Personally, I would like to have the A/T model for that added convenience. But the M/T is super easy to drive so it really depends on your preference.
2018 Isuzu mu-X 1.9-liter RZ4E-TC M/T specs:
- 1.9-liter RZ4E-TC Turbo Diesel
- 6-speed manual transmission
- 148 hp @ 3,600 rpm
- 350 Nm @1,800 rpm
- 18-inch 255/60 R18 Aluminium Alloy wheels
What we liked about it:
- Fuel efficient
- Comfortable ride
- Easy to drive despite the size
- Premium feel
What we didn’t like:
- No cruise control
- Navigation system tends to not work most of the time