Isuzu MU-X kitewagon

I have fitted out an Isuzu MU-X (LS-U model) as my latest "kitesurfing wagon" (replacing my Nissan X-Trail). It is great for kitesurfing as surfboards fit easily inside with one seat folded down and there is plenty of room for gear.
I chose the MU-X on advice from Michael Moran (commercial repairer) who told me Isuzu trucks and cars are very well engineered and well built.   They are also about $20K cheaper than an equivalent Toyota Prado.

Why is it called the MU-X?  Possibilities are its an acronym for "Makes U eXciting" or MU stands for Modified Utility.

Some specs are:
  • 3.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo diesel engine
  • Power 130kW @ 3600 rpm
  • Torque 380Nm @ 1800-2800rpm
  • Towing: 3,000 kg (braked), 750 kg (not braked)
I chose the LS-U model for the rear air conditioning ducts. It also has side steps and an anti theft alarm over the base LU-M model.  I didn't want the top LS-T model as I don't need the leather seats or the satnav system.

Modifications and accessories
  • BF Goodrich All Terrain KO2 tyres 265/75/R16 (The Wheel Deal)
  • Steel wheels 16" - Sunraysia (The Wheel Deal)
  • Neoprene seat covers - Supertrim
  • Tailgate handle protector (eBay)
  • Door handle protectors (eBay)
  • Door kick plates (Northern Isuzu)
  • Rear step bumper guard (Northern Isuzu)
  • Cargo mat (Northern Isuzu)
  • Sandgrabba floor mats front and rear (eBay)
  • Towbar - Hayman Reese (ARB fitted)
  • ARB Bull bar and steel recovery point (ARB fitted) 
  • Roof racks - Rhino Vortex RLT600 (ARB fitted) 
  • Snorkel - Safari (ARB fitted)
  • TPMS - Inawise 203 series, fitted by Tyrepower Camberwell
  • UHF CB radio with aerial on bullbar
  • Rhino Roof Rack XTRAY Small Platform Tray to fit aero bars (for outback travel)
  • Sungrabba dashmat to keep the sun off the dash and the car a bit cooler
  • Sand flag for desert travel (eBay)
  • Vgate iCar2 Bluetooth ELM327 OBD2 reader to access and car information engine and diagnostics  (eBay)
  • Kenwood head unit - DDX9016DABS with Android Auto (nav, music, phone etc) and a reversing camera.    
NOTE regarding spare wheel: Initially I was advised that the new wheel/tyre combination would not fit in the spare wheel location under the rear of the vehicle.  However, it DOES FIT with the Hayman Reese towbar without any modifications.

Some additional items on my to do list:
  • Fit LED light bar
  • Fit LED daytime running lights
  • ARB Frontier Long Range Fuel Tank 113 litre - replacing the small 65 litre factory tank
  • Diesel Secondary Fuel Filter Kit (considering this)
Overall, I am very happy with the vehicle. What I like so far:
  • The auto is great - its my first auto.  
  • Low ratio is handy for creeping along slowly and some tricky 4WD situations
  • It is nice and quiet in the cab
  • Good power, there is not noticeable turbo surge
  • Drives very well
  • Folding mirrors activated by a button
  • Second row rear seats fold flat without moving seat base - good payload
  • Caddy for storing gear at the rear under the floor
  • Lots of drink holders
  • Hill descent Adaptive Grade Logic.  If you brake on a hill the auto will downshift to provide engine braking. For example, if you brake to below 80 kph it shifts down to 4th and holds that gear. It will then shift down to lower gears if you brake and slow further. It will hold gear until it senses the use of the accelerator for about 10 metres or so.
  • Good reviews - a lot of people like this car
  • The 3rd row two seats (its a 7 seater) offer good passenger space when they are folded out - but I don't anticipate using them much.
 A few negatives
  • Fuel consumption is higher than the spec - around 9 to 10 l/100km
  • Range is about 700km. For desert trips I will carry a collapsible bladder for extra fuel.  Fitted a bigger ARB tank so I now have about 1000km
  • The range indicator (distance to go with fuel) is not very accurate.  For example it can change from 500 to 300 rapidly.
  • LS-U model doesn't have roof rails to easily fit a roof rack (only the top LU-T model has them) so you need to get a more expensive roof rack that has its own tracks (such as the Rhino)
  • No intermittent wiper on rear (not a big issue)
  • Cannot use tyre chains - not recommended in the owners manual. I am looking at alternatives for snow driving when "chains must be carried"
  • Bluetooth integration was very poor compared to the X-Trail, no voice commands, its not hands free and address book sync with my Sony Xperia Android phone is unreliable.  Replacing the factory unit with the Kenwood DDX9016DABS fixed this.

Kitewagon with kitesurfers
Kitewagon loaded
Kitesurfing at Robe beach
Robe beach


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