The Isuzu MU-X…. Now this is what I call a BabyDrive!
Having driven it’s big brute of a brother, the D-Max ute the previous week, I was disappointed with the D-Max‘s lack of suitability as a BabyDrive but I had been impressed by Isuzu’s ability to keep the D-Max a true Ute and not try to cross over into the family SUV category. It was therefore with mixed expectations that I got to testing the Isuzu MU-X.
I needn’t have worried! The MU-X has been one of my favourite BabyDrives to date! With only a few niggly negatives and it even survived a small child with a sick bug!! (I can vouch for the cleanability of the seats!!)
The MU-X would definitely be on my list as a contender in the battle for best BabyDrive! Let's find out why…
With a different suspension to its big brother D-Max, the ride was much softer and less rocky and a more padded engine compartment made it a little quieter too! Still an element of tractor about it, especially going up hills, but in general much quieter! Our smallest occupant seemed to love riding in the MU-X! I’m not sure if it was just in comparison to the rollercoaster ride the previous week in the D-Max but our daughter was visibly and verbally excited to ride in the MU-X!
The MU-X felt effortless. We could just jump up, in and go. Isuzu has kept the same fantastically simple controls on the dash, central console and steering wheel that I loved in the D-Max. Perfect for minimal fuss and saving my attention for the road and the kids! They have made the dashboard aesthetically more appealing with nicer surfaces, trims and stitch details. (Although the seat stitch details didn’t match those on the dash and steering wheel they are a different colour! A little more attention to detail needed Isuzu!)
The MU-X had the same great speaker system as the D-Max and with a DVD player and screen that folds down from the ceiling, keeping little passengers entertained for long journeys!
The seats were more comfortable in the MU-X than the D-Max too. There were ISOFix and top tether in all three seats in the second row. I found space was tight with the second-row seats trying to get three child seats installed.
The boot had great storage capacity when the third row of seats was not in use and the parcel shelf storage box doubled as a separate storage compartment when not holding the parcel shelf.
Where do I start with the parcel shelf?! Definitely the MU-X’s weakest link. Very light and made of a thin waterproof material it rolled out revealing two elastic loops and two thin straps with plastic clips as the method to fasten it in place. Although it is very lightweight, making it easy to manage and manoeuvre, it seemed obvious to me that the elastic loops, straps and clips would last six months tops before they were broken, frayed and fallen off! Lost to the world of I'll get around to fixing that, knowing that you never will!!! Also, they are all very fiddly methods of attachment that took a lot of time with two hands, which I don’t get much of, and for those needing a seven-seater, I’d imagine you get even less!? The parcel shelf seemed like very much an afterthought!
Although the front cab had a lot of storage compartments, like the D-Max, there was still nowhere that would hold my large refillable water bottle except a cup holder in the third row! The door pockets were small throughout and so were all the cup holders.
You had to raise the seat backs of the third row of seats slightly in order to attach the top tether straps because they are positioned in the bottom of the backrests of the second row of seats, at just the point where the third-row headrest is when flat! Bad design! The top tether points just needed to be an inch higher to avoid this problem.
Three child seats fitted so effortlessly across the back seats in the D-Max and there were no seatbelt clips underneath the child seats. SO I was disappointed that in the MU-X they used different seats. The middle row had three ISO Fix and three top tether points but not heaps of space for installing three child seats. With a baby capsule and an infant child seat on either side seats, a booster seat fitted relatively easily in the middle but the seat belt clip was quite buried underneath the booster seat base.
Any size dog would fit easily on the back seats with only one child seat installed. Otherwise in the boot.
The MU-X is available in 2WD and 4WD and all have a five-star ANCAP safety rating. We drove the 4WD LS-T model.
All models of the MU-X come with heaps of active and passive safety features fitted as standard including reversing cameras and rear park assist sensors.
All models have six airbags, dual frontal, side airbags for the front seats and curtain airbags for all three rows of seats that run the length of the car. Pre-tensioner seatbelts are in the front seats only; these pull you back when the airbags are activated.
The MU-X has anti-intrusion bars in all the doors which provide increased protection in the event of a side impact as well as an energy absorbing chassis in the event of a frontal impact. The MU-X also has a pedestrian impact absorbing safety bonnet which reduces the chance of injury to pedestrians in a collision.
Also in the MU-X are anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Engine immobilizer and most models are fitted with an anti theft alarm.
I think it’s important to weigh up which safety features are important to you when you’re considering buying a car. If for example you have a child that you know is always taking off their seatbelt then seat belt reminder alert might be a must have for your new car. Just because a car has a five-star safety rating it doesn’t mean it comes with the same passive and active safety features as another car with a five-star safety rating or that the cars scored the same in an ANCAP crash test!