With the entry of the menacing Isuzu MU-X, should the Toyota and Ford be worried?
Japanese carmaker, Isuzu, who is better known for their reliable diesel engines across the world, has launched a new flagship SUV in India - the mu-X, today at a starting price tag of Rs 23.99 lakh, ex showroom Delhi. The mu-X replaces the MU-7 in Isuzu’s product portfolio in the country. Apart from the MU-X, Isuzu’s product lineup in the passenger vehicle segment consists of the popular D-Max V-Cross pick-up truck.
Based on the D-Max V-Cross, the mu-X is pitted squarely against other full-sized 7-seat SUVs. So let’s compare it to the big shots in the segment - the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour. We are yet to drive the Isuzu MUX, so let’s just stick to specifications for now.
Bulk is what matters in this segment and in order to be successful in this segment, these SUVs have commanding road presence. In terms of dimension, it's a neck-and-neck battle between the three, with the Ford Endeavour managing to inch forward in every department (see chart below). At 225mm, the Endeavour gets the highest ground clearance, followed by the mu-X at 220mm. Interestingly enough, the Fortuner can hold the maximum amount of fuel for those long drives or the rare off-road jaunts on weekends with its 80 litre capacity.
Now to the important aspect of what powers these beasts - the Fortuner and the Endeavour get a choice of engines. But the new kid in town, the MU-X, is only offered with a 3.0-litre turbocharged motor that put out 177PS of power and 380Nm of peak torque and comes with only one transmission option - a 5-speed automatic gearbox. Ford offers the Endeavour with two engine options - a 2.2-litre diesel with 160PS/385Nm and a 3.2-litre diesel with 200PS/470Nm. In 4x4 guise, the 2.2-litre engine can only be had with a 6-speed manual, while the 3.2-litre engine comes only with a 6-speed auto 'box. The 2.2-litre engine is also available in rear-wheel drive configuration. This version is only available with a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
The segment leader - the Fortuner - on the other hand, is offered with a 2.8-litre diesel motor putting out 177PS and 420Nm (MT)/470Nm (AT) of peak torque. Both variants of the Fortuner can be had with a four-wheel-drive system as well. The Fortuner can be had either with a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. Also, the Fortuner is also the only car in the segment to be offered with a 2.7-litre petrol motor. While all the SUVs come with the option of an electronic shift on-the-fly 4WD system with low ratio gearbox, the Endeavour is the only one here that has a terrain management system with four driving modes - Sand, Gravel, Snow and Auto. There is no doubt that the Endeavour with the larger 3.2-litre engine trumps the Fortuner in performance, equipment and ride comfort, as witnessed in our detailed comparison between the two.
With potential SUV buyers looking for premium products, let’s look at the key features offered by the respective models in question. Starting with the MU-X, it can be termed as decently equipped with features like bi-xenon projector lamps with LED daytime running lights (DRLs), electric power-adjustable driver’s seat, a 7-inch infotainment unit with 8 speakers and a roof-mounted 10-inch entertainment unit. On the safety front, the MUX offers dual-airbags, ABS with EBS, traction control and electronic stability control (ESC), hill-hold assist and cruise control.
Moving on to the Toyota Fortuner, you get an 8-way adjustable driver’s seat, bi-beam LED projector lamps with DRLs, paddle shifters on the automatic variants and an electric-powered tailgate. On the safety front, the Fortuner comes with 7 airbags, ABS with EBD and Active Traction Control.
The Ford Endeavour comes across as the most feature-loaded vehicle in this segment with an electric panoramic sunroof, semi-auto parallel park assist, dual-zone automatic climate control, active noise cancellation and power-folding third row seats. The Endeavour also comes equipped with 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, traction control and hill-start assist.
It all boils down to the price now, doesn’t it? That’s where the MU-X has a huge advantage over its rivals in this segment. Priced at Rs 23.99 lakh for the fully-loaded 4x2 variant and Rs 25.99 lakh (ex showroom Delhi) for the 4x4 variant, the MUX is cheaper by Rs 2.64 lakh to its nearest competitor, the Ford Endeavour. I would say the MU-X makes a case for itself with its price tag which makes it good value for money, well at least on paper that is.
Stay tuned to Zigwheels for a detailed review of the mu-X and a real-world comparison test between the three SUVs.