Two Japanese car brands, known for their highly reliable products, go head-on against each other. On one side it is Toyota, a brand that is considered premium and known for its quality, reliability while Isuzu is known for the same in global markets and is yet to make a mark in India. Both are rivals globally and will carry the battle desi style. Both are offering seven-seater SUVs, which are stylish, feature-loaded, powerful and offer a premium experience to its buyers. Which one should you pick and why? We tell you. Read more on the Toyota Fortuner vs Isuzu MUX comparison.
The full-grown 7-seater SUV market is tailor-made for India. SUVs like Toyota Fortuner have dominated the market for a quite-a-long time now, with a minor challenge from Ford Endeavour in the past. While Ford has upped-its-ante and turned the game in its favour, it’s a discussion reserved for some other time. For now, we will discuss the rivalry between the all-new Fortuner and the Isuzu mu-X.
Toyota has given its Fortuner SUV a much needed update with a new cabin, added feature lists and a new design. Challenging the Fortuner is the 100-year-old Japanese brand Isuzu, with the mu-X. How good it is when compared to the segment leader, we find in our Toyota Fortuner vs Isuzu mu-X comparison review.
The new Toyota Fortuner is nothing like the previous-gen model that dominated the full-grown SUV market for long. But it still retains its intimating persona, something which the Isuzu mu-X lacks in. The new Toyota Fortuner comes with a completely new front face, with a lot of chrome treatment through-out the face, including fog lamp enclosures and a big grille. The headlights are sharper, as are the tail lamps. The side gets muscular square wheel arches and a chunky set of wheels. Overall, the new Fortuner is more sharp and dominating as compared to the previous model, as well as the Isuzu mu-X.
Speaking of which, the Isuzu mu-X is the refreshed mu-7 SUV, but with a rehashed design. Like Fortuner, it also gets a lot of chrome treatment, especially on the front with a big chrome grille. The overall look is inspired by the company’s D-Max V-Cross pick-up truck and also from the Chevrolet Trailblazer. The rear gets the wrap-around tail lights. Overall, the Isuzu mu-X is not as intimidating as the Fortuner but has its own advantage as a more balanced looking SUV.
Hop inside the cabin of the Toyota Fortuner and you are welcomed by a modern and feature-loaded space. The dark-themed cabin gets brownish leather on the seats, black soft-touch leather on the dashboard and aluminium brush accents on the centre console, steering and door inserts. The cabin is nothing like the previous-gen Fortuner and is also way too loaded when compared to the Isuzu mu-X. You get a touchscreen infotainment system, automatic climate control, steering mounted controls, and a lot of storage spaces, along with three full rows of seating. Safety-wise, the Fortuner outranks the mu-X as it gets 7-airbags, hill assist control, ABS, and vehicle safety control, among others.
The Isuzu mu-X, on the other hand, has fewer features than the Fortuner and doesn’t feel as plush too. The beige leather on seats gives the mu-X a sense of roominess, while the grey dashboard and piano black accents contrast the whole setup. It gets a 7″ touch screen infotainment screen, which is not as good to use as the one on the Fortuner. There’s rotary automatic climate control, and a 10″ DVD screen for the rear passengers, which is a nice touch, along with the steering mounted controls. The mu-X also gets full three rows of seating, easily accommodating seven adults. Overall, if you are someone who is a gadget freak and loves a plush cabin, MU-X may not be of your liking.
Comfort and convenience
New Isuzu MU-X has 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system and 3D Electro-luminescent meters with Multi-Information Display (MID) & chrome rings. Other key features include climate control, dedicated cooling vents for all three rows, central locking with keyless entry, cruise control system, “Live Surround Sound” roof-mounted sound system with eight speakers, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, and steering mounted controls. Toyota Fortuner has a 7-inch infotainment system with SAT NAV, large TFT multi-information display, Optitron cool-blue combi meter with chrome accents and illumination control, automatic climate control, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering column, and steering mounted controls.
Safety & Security
Both SUVs are designed to offer the most advanced safety and security features. New Isuzu MU-X has six airbags, emergency brake assist (EBA), electronic stability control (ESC), traction control system (TCS), hill start assist (HSA) hill descent control (HDC), ISOFIX child anchorages, high-tensile steel body construction, engine immobiliser, rear parking assist camera, anti-theft alarm system, and collapsible steering column. Toyota Fortuner comes with seven airbags, and it has most of the safety and security features as can be seen on the new MU-X.
The 2018 Isuzu MU-X is available in Cosmic Black Mica, Titanium Silver Metallic, Orchid Brown Mica, Silky White Pearl, Obsidian Gray Mica and Ruby Red Mica. Toyota Fortuner is available in Phantom Brown, Superwhite, Attitude Black, Avant-Garde Bronze, Grey Metallic, and Silver Metallic.
New Isuzu MU-X gives a mileage of 13.8 kmpl. In comparison, Fortuner diesel manual and automatic variants give 14.24 kmpl and 12.9 kmpl, respectively. Fortuner petrol manual and automatic variants give 10.01 kmpl and 10.26 kmpl, respectively.
Toyota Fortuner gets two sets of an engine – a 2.8-litre diesel unit with 177 PS and 420 Nm of output and a 2.7-litre petrol engine with 166 PS and 245 Nm output. There are 3-gearbox options to choose from – a 5-speed manual, a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic unit. The diesel Fortuner is one of the most torque friendly SUVs in India, and that’s pretty much evident by the way it performs on the road. There’s enough power on tap to outperform any car in traffic. The diesel unit is also the one that gets a 4-wheel drive system for off-roading. But without the 4WD too, the Fortuner is a competent off-roader with abilities to run on any surface without much hassle. The steering is on a heavier side and needs a lot of efforts, while the seats are comfortable enough for broken roads.
The Isuzu mu-X, on the other hand, gets only a 3-litre turbocharged engine with 177 PS of output and 380 Nm of torque. On paper, the torque is a little less as compared to the Fortuner, and comes equipped with a 5-speed automatic gearbox. The engine makes a lot of sounds while accelerating hard and the best way to enjoy this car is at cruising speed. The steering is light and makes it feel like a compact SUV. The ride quality is also on a softer side and helps mu-X have a plush ride. We got a 10 kmpl mileage from the mu-X. It also gets a ride by wire 4 wheel drive system that gives it the off-roading capabilities.
Tested: Is Isuzu mu-X a worthwhile alternative to Fortuner?
It’s a little more than a year now that Isuzu has been making moves for itself on local soil, since the departure of General Motors from South Africa. With Japan in charge of both the light commercial side, as well as the truck side of things, there’s a renewed vigour when one talks about Isuzu.
Last year, the company launched its Fortuner- and Everest-rivalling mu-X sports utility vehicle in South Africa, a large and capable off-roader that’s aimed at those with large families and adventurous spirits.
The mu-X was the first vehicle to be launched under the newly established Isuzu Motors South Africa, followed by the re-alignment of KB bakkies to become known as the D-MAX.
It’s been around
Although the Isuzu mu-X is new to South Africa, it is already a popular model in several international markets, having been launched in Thailand in 2013. It is also sold in Australia as well as the Philippines, where it is the market leader.
Known diesel mill
The mu-X is powered by Isuzu’s proven 3.0-litre four-cylinder intercooled turbo diesel engine that produces 130kW of power and 380Nm of torque. It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission which has a sequential sport mode. If you have a boat or caravan, you’ll be pleased to know that the mu-X can pull up to three-tonnes behind it with ease.
Choice of two
Two models are available at your local Isuzu dealer with the choice of 4×2 or 4×4 drivelines. I drove the four-wheel-drive version that offers an easy-to-use Terrain Command 4×4 system with electronically selected two and four-wheel drive high-range modes or 4×4 low-range for more challenging off-road driving. It’s as good as any of its rivals in the dirt and will easily take you, your family, and loads of gear off the beaten track come holiday time.
Like the high-end D-Max we tested a few months ago, the mu-X stands out for its off road ride comfort. It soaks up gravel surfaces and maintains its steering composure over ‘washboard’ dirt surfaces.
The mu-X is, however, equipped with a fully independent suspension package all round, encompassing a five-link setup at the rear that delivers this balance of ride comfort, handling and off-road capability.
The mu-X is easily recognisable as an Isuzu product when viewed from the front, featuring LED daytime running lights and Bi-LED projector headlamps with auto-levelling functionality. You also get stylish aluminium side-steps, 18-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear privacy glass and LED rear combination lamps.
Practical by nature
On the inside, its seven-seat setup will appeal to both families and adventure-oriented buyers thanks to the folding centre and rear rows of seats. It’ll easily swallow mountain bikes or camping gear.
An electronic climate control system also caters for front and rear occupants – the latter having access to their cooling vents for added comfort when touring the local Lion Park or Kruger National Park, for example.
In terms of tech, a multi-function infotainment unit is the stand-out feature of the mu-X, boasting a 23cm colour touchscreen display with built-in satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
You also get front and rear USB slots in conjunction with an auxiliary iPod input and an HDMI port if you’d like to take a Playstation or Xbox along.
You also get leather trim for the seats, with the driver’s seat offering electric adjustment. A leather-trimmed steering wheel is also standard, and it is appointed with convenient fingertip controls for the audio and phone functions, as well as the vehicle’s cruise control.
And, should you always find yourself with your hands full, added convenience is provided by keyless entry and start system, along with ‘touch’ opening and locking functions on the door handles.
The Isuzu mu-X is packed with an extensive range of safety features, including ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and an Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) system.
This is complemented by Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Hill Descent Control (HDC) which can be engaged in low-range 4×4 mode.
Added safety equipment includes dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags, while a rear-facing camera aids reversing and parking via the colour screen. A factory-fitted immobiliser and alarm system is also included.
Customers have access to a wide range of accessories to personalise their mu-X.
This includes functional items such as audible parking sensors, a storage box located beneath the luggage compartment, a tow bar, bonnet guard, weather guard kit for the windows, front spoiler set and rear bumper scuff plate as well as side steps. Cosmetic enhancements are also available, such as chrome trim pieces for the tailgate and front fog lamps.
Toyota Fortuner vs Isuzu MUX – Which to pick?
Agreed that the Isuzu MUX is more affordable than the Fortuner. But this segment isn’t about them being cheaper. IT is about feeling premium and getting pampered by luxury. In this case, it is the Fortuner for more features and a better engine. The Fortuner is the better value for money package too if we consider technology, bells and whistles and even the safety aspects.
Compared to the best-selling Toyota Fortuner, the Isuzu mu-X makes a solid play for comfort and features at its price level.
But, there’s no arguing that at this price level you could also jump into many other SUVs, such as the Ford Everest or the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
So why would I buy an MU-X? Well, it drives as well as the Fortuner you’re considering, and although it’s dated inside, it comes with a comprehensive warranty and an extensive dealer network to rely on.
You won’t want features in the vehicle, and you won’t feel like you’re short on space when going on holiday, so it’s the ideal kind of car that can be paid off and kept for years.
Perhaps resale values won’t be as strong as the Fortuner (or Everest for that matter), but I do think it’s a ‘keeper’ and that it will provide you and your family with many hassle-free adventures for years to come thanks to its solid feel.
The Isuzu mu-X comes standard with a five-year/120 000km warranty and roadside assistance. It also has a five-year/unlimited km anti-corrosion warranty and a five-year/90 000km Service Plan.
Service intervals are every 15 000km or every 12 months.