Isuzu has listened to customer feedback and given its MU-X 7-seat SUV a subtle update for 2023. Here’s what has changed, updated pricing and what it’s like to drive. Up to this week, the Isuzu MU-X was in real danger of being overshadowed in 2023. Following the launch of the new (and recently expanded) Ford Everest and some tweaks being made to the Toyota Fortuner, Isuzu’s bakkie-based SUV needed a fillip to help it keep pace with the segment leaders. Well, here it is! What has changed? As a reminder, the Isuzu MU-X is a ladder-frame-based 7-seater that is produced in Thailand. The big news is that Isuzu South Africa has confirmed the introduction of a pocket-friendly 1.9 LS derivative that will be hitting showrooms in the 3rd quarter of 2023. Its engine has peak outputs of 110 kW and 350 Nm. For now, however, the Isuzu MU-X range gains another 4×4 derivative (in the shape of the 3.0 LSE), which brings the entire range count to 5, but what’s actually changed in this model-year update? Visually, the MY23 Isuzu MU-X features colour changes to its frontal elements (such as the darker hue of the grille), plus tweaks to the headlights, fog- and taillamps. There are new (and larger) alloy wheels too: LS derivatives are fitted with 18-inch items, while the flagship Onyx version sports new 20-inch rims. There’s a new colour option: Norwegian Blue, which replaces the brown exterior finish. Privacy glass is standard across the range, as are leather seats, which Isuzu says have been tweaked for added comfort. As far as updated features are concerned, the LSE and Onyx are fitted with a hands-free tailgate (with step sensor), while the LS gets front/rear park assist and a 4-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat. Furthermore, the LSE comes with ‘wheel-mounted shift paddles, an auto-dim rearview mirror and, for the first time, the ability to start the engine remotely (the latter feature is also fitted to the Onyx flagship). The engine has been carried over without mechanical changes. As a reminder, it’s a 3.0-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel that produces 140 kW/450 Nm and is paired exclusively with a 6-speed auto transmission. Three of the 5 derivatives have an electronically-controlled 4×4 system with 2H, 4H and 4L (low-range). What’s it like to drive? We got a brief experience with the updated Isuzu MU-X when we drove the model on a 25-km route in and around Johannesburg’s northern suburbs of Rivonia and Midrand. We’re well acquainted with the Japanese 7-seater and appreciate what it offers at the price. There was no off-road component to the route, but as it turned out, the Isuzu’s suspension coped admirably with Gauteng’s poorly maintained roads in what would, for many owners, be the equivalent of a school run. As before, the performance of the 3.0-litre engine requires some familiarisation, especially if you’ve experienced the 2.8-litre and 2.0-litre biturbo motors in the Fortuner and Everest. It sounds a touch unrefined and its power delivery is, well, workmanlike. Let’s just say the MU-X’s powertrain is “willing”. Still, there’s 450 Nm of torque on tap – in-gear performance proved more than adequate. The 6-speed automatic transmission works well (it responds promptly and changes gears smoothly) plus, while the MU-X has paddle shifters, we felt the Isuzu’s transmission timed its up- and downshifts well enough. The MU-X’s ride and handling are decidedly comfort-focused, but the price for that is some body roll, especially if you’re too eager with steering inputs. The ‘wheel’s action is swift and light – in fact, it seems as if the Isuzu was entirely set up to make long trips on varying road surfaces as comfy as possible. Granted, its driving experience is rather anodyne, but as is the case with its D-Max siblings, the MU-X instils the feeling that it will take you to places where you need to “make your own roads” and then bring you home again safely. Also, as a family car, its sense of solidity and (relative) refinement is reassuring. How much does the updated Isuzu MU-X cost in SA? The updated Isuzu MU-X is sold with a 5-year/90 000 km service plan and a 5-year/120 000 km warranty, as well as roadside assistance. A 5-year/unlimited km anti-corrosion warranty has been included, and service intervals are every 15 000 km/12 months. 3.0 LS 4×2 ATR784 3003.0 LS 4×4 ATR826 2003.0 LSE 4×2 ATR867 6003.0 LSE 4×4 AT (new)R909 5003.0 Onyx 4×4 ATR928 100 Summary The changes to the MY23 Isuzu MU-X 7-seat adventure SUV may be minor and not immediately noticeable, but it’s all about giving the customers what they want, of which the introduction of the 4×4-capable LSE derivative is a prime example. The update also serves to remind South African consumers that, even though the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest hog the limelight, the MU-X is still a credible and capable product. We’ll be keen to get behind the ‘wheel of the updated model when it joins our test fleet.