WRITTEN BY: Mark Harman
The entire D-MAX and MU-X range is capable of towing up to 3.5-tonnes+, with greater payload and axle weight capacities. Let’s get technical.
Every Australian four-wheeling family relishes the chance to hitch up the van and get away, which in recent times is a dream that has become a reality for more and more of us. When your passport’s gathering mould in a drawer somewhere, the idea of a tow-and-go 4WD vacation can be irresistible.
Both the Isuzu D-MAX ute and MU-X SUV already had strong local reputations as dependable, do-it-all vehicles for work or play. Now comes the next generation—and for the first time ever, both are capable of towing up to 3.5-tonnes+.
Re-engineered from the ground up, with new levels of equipment and capability, each of Isuzu UTE’s latest models were developed with the feedback from local customers in mind—arguably making the D-MAX and MU-X the most versatile vehicles Isuzu has ever built.
Arriving here in late-2020, the third generation D-MAX introduced a new ladder-frame chassis. Constructed extensively of high-tensile steel, it delivers substantially increased strength, rigidity and load-carrying capacities. The new-generation Isuzu MU-X shares the design, but employs a revised rear-subframe to accommodate the heavily overhauled five-link rear coil-spring suspension.
Stiffer and stronger than the outgoing model, the MU-X’s rear suspension geometry focuses on mass management. It minimises vehicle pitch and squat when loaded up, and better controls body roll when on the road. The MU-X’s front axle benefits from Isuzu’s vastly improved independent front suspension. As in the D-MAX, this double wishbone design sports a combination of high-mounted upper-control arms, stiffer spring rates, dampers valved for varying terrain surfaces and a thicker anti-roll bar. That translates into improved overall vehicle composure, handling and dynamics when loaded up.
NOT JUST BETTER, MUCH BETTER
By combining the ladder-frame chassis with the uprated-coil spring suspension—optimised for carrying capacity, without compromising ride or handling—Isuzu engineers haven’t just increased the MU-X's towing capacity. They’ve boosted payload capacity, Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM), Gross Combination Mass (GCM) and axle loads. Clever.
This is imperative while towing, providing the tow vehicle with greater versatility in regards to the size of the van or trailer that’s being hauled. It also offers greater flexibility in terms of fitment of accessories such as frontal protection and bar-work, as well as on-board luggage and occupant carrying capacity—all of which must weigh-in under the vehicle’s maximum capacities.
Perhaps the most important capacity to keep in mind is the GVM. That figure is otherwise known as the maximum permissible weight the vehicle can weigh—and is now increased to 2700kg or 2800kg, depending on the vehicle’s 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrain configuration.
GCM—the cumulative weight of the vehicle and van in tow—is now an impressive 5900kg, a sizeable increase of 150–250kg over the previous-generation MU-X. Front and rear axle loads have increased to 1450kg and 1650kg, an increase of 100kg and 50kg respectively, allowing for more freedom with accessories. And for those who refuse to pack light, roof payload capacity has jumped to 100kg, an increase of 40kg. Total payload capacity has increased and varies across the range, with the MU-X LS-M able to carry up to 665kg, ideal for families that don’t pack light.
RANGE, ECONOMY AND EXTRAS
With range an important consideration, especially when hauling, the fuel tank capacity has been increased by 23 per cent to 80 litres in the new-generation MU-X. This update was prompted by direct feedback from towing and touring aficionados, and with official combined-cycle fuel consumption figures of 7.8–8.3-litres/100km, the best of the MU-X range has the capability to travel upwards of 1000 kilometres on a single tank.
The Isuzu UTE Genuine Accessories catalogue has also expanded. There is a genuine tow bar kit, with either a 7-pin or 12-pin plug for additional auxiliaries, as well as ClearView extendable towing mirrors with power-fold function and integrated Blind-Spot Monitoring alert lights and LED indicators. For those with large vans, a genuine weight distribution hitch (WDH) is available for the MU-X for the first time. It effectively levels out the vehicle and caravan in tow, mitigating the dangers of trailer sway.
Also optional at any Isuzu UTE Dealer is a genuine Electronic Brake Controller, offering precise control over trailers and vans topping 2000kg, and thus legally requiring electric brakes.
Each of these genuine towing accessories has been designed and tested to work with the on-board systems—and, in the case of the ClearView mirrors, in accordance with local regulations, which vary from state to state. It’s important to be aware of local laws when towing across state lines.Exclusively specified and engineered for Australian conditions—and Australian motorists—the new-generation D-MAX and MU-X ranges are more capable than ever before. Each remains true to the values of toughness and utility that first set them apart, while making bold leaps ahead in technology, comfort, style and safety. The one question that remains on everyone’s mind is: where to next?