2018 Isuzu mu-X RZ4E Blue Power: Small high-output engine with frugal fuel economy figures? Check.

Story and photos by Jacob Oliva

ADDING options for car-buyers is a great move for a brand, as it gives the consumers choices that will fit to their wants and needs. Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) recognizes that and brings in the mu-X 1.9 RZ4E to the local showrooms. Its arrival came just in time, as it’s bound to replace the non-Euro 4-compliant 2.5 variants in IPC’s lineup.

Those who are shopping for a mu-X are now facing a tough choice — should they go for more power with the 3.0 or the smaller but more frugal 1.9? If you’re eyeing the latter, IPC gave us the chance to review both its manual and automatic transmission LS-A variants before its official launch. Here are our thoughts.

Outside, the mu-X 1.9 RZ4E is identical to the 3.0 Blue Power variant we reviewed last year. From the bi-LED projector headlamps to LED daytime running lights to chrome accents to roof rails to 18-inch rims — everything’s there, even IPC’s 20th Anniversary badge at the back. In fact, when you see these two variants side-by-side on the road, you won’t be able to tell the difference.

This is advantageous to you as a buyer, as there won’t be any exterior design wager if you’re on the dilemma of choosing between the 1.9 and 3.0 Blue Power mu-Xs. Like, if you want LED lighting instead of halogen ones, you can choose either of the two.

However, you have to sacrifice something when you go inside the midsize SUV. The mu-X RZ4E doesn’t have cruise control, which is pretty handy if you go through highways regularly. The seats are also clad with intricately-designed fabric, as opposed to the leather upholstery of the current 3.0. On the upside, that’s less heat when the car’s left on a sunny parking lot. They’re not power-adjustable as well, but that’s just a small convenience taken away.

Everything else inside the 1.9 mu-X is basically the same, even the 10-inch roof-mounted LCD monitor for videos, which is good since the somehow-premium feel of the current model is still there. And yes, the scratchy piano black accents are also there as well.

We just wish the heavy-steering feel of the 3.0L was corrected. It’s a bit of a workout sometimes, especially when maneuvering through tight city streets. Good thing, other things are retained like the mu-X’s superb ride comfort, roof-mounted air-conditioning vents, and the massive cabin space.

Now, the USB ports for charging? Well, it’s still lonely at the second row and non-existent at the third. Guess rear passengers have to resolve to power banks for road trips.

Let’s go to the juicy part. Of course, the biggest change in the 2018 mu-X Blue Power is the all-new 1.9L RZ4E-TC turbodiesel engine.  We know what you’re thinking — small engine means less power and with the mu-X’s massive size, the measly 1,898cc mill can only give so much.

Well, you’re wrong.

The all-new engine produces 148 hp and 350 Nm of torque — that’s even more than what the outgoing 2.5 variant can produce. Best part of it, that 350 Nm of pulling power is accessible right off the bat at 1,800 rpm. Nice.

The numbers on the spec sheet translate well during the actual drive on the road. Although less powerful than the 3.0 variant, the 1.9 RZ4E can pull itself nicely on high-speed runs and even on tough inclines. Take note, though, that we didn’t maximize its interior capacity during our test runs: just three people inside, plus boatloads of camera equipment. We’re sure it’s going to be a different story when the car is filled with seven passengers and their luggage.

I also like the midsize SUV’s braking power. The ventilated disc brakes in the front and at the back give more-than-enough force for the driver to feel safe even at high-speed runs. Moreover, brake override system (BOS) is added to the newest mu-X to avoid malfunction when the brake and accelerator pedals are simultaneously stepped on.

As previously mentioned, the 1.9 mu-X LS-A is available in both manual and automatic 6-speed transmissions. For those who love driving stick, that is IPC’s nod for you.

The manual variant feels like your average stick shift vehicle — smooth shifting and easy to get to the next gear. Its clutch pedal isn’t that deep as well, so driving through traffic isn’t that tiring. It even has a shift indicator at the instrument clusters that tells you when you already need to upshift.

On the other hand, the automatic slushbox works smoothly. What I’ve noticed is that it immediately wants to get out of the lower gears, which is really great for fuel efficiency.

With that said, the mu-X 1.9 produced notable fuel economy figures for both manual and automatic variants. City crawls for MT read 8.2 km/l, while faster pace at 60 km/h and highway cruise at 90 km/h registered 14.1 km/l and 17.9 km/l, respectively. The AT variant put out similar, albeit a bit higher, numbers: 8.6 km/l for city, 14.9 km/l for fast paces, and 18.2 km/l for highway runs.

With all things considered, the 2018 mu-X 1.9 RZ4E LS-A variants are great additions to IPC’s mu-X range. At P1,570,000 for the MT and 1,595,000 for the AT, these are appropriately priced when you look at the features you’ll get and the money you could save on fuel. It’s perfect for those who won’t really need an SUV to haul a lot of people or cargo.

Not only that, IPC tweaked things under the new variants’ hood to make its maintenance painless for the buyer — a Hydraulic Valve Lash Adjuster (HVLA) to keep correct valve lash clearance, a Single Engine Accessory Drive-belt for the air-conditioning and alternator compressor, and a Cartridge-type Oil Filter for easy oil filter maintenance.

With these, the mu-X 1.9 may not only be the better choice when shopping for mu-X per se; it can be the smart alternative when you’re lost at the sea of SUV options in the market. (https://www.autodeal.com.ph)

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2018 NISSAN X-TRAIL 2.5 4X4 CVT

Smart, safe and sleek utility

Story by: Eric Tipan

Photos by: Kelvin Christian Go

LAUNCHED locally in 2014, the third-generation Nissan X-Trail competes in a very challenging segment as manufacturers come in with models offering more than just good looks and efficiency. Nissan got busy last year as it focused on the X-Trail, giving it two major updates, which should spark renewed interest in the model and give it a leg-up over the competition.

Storming into the market with a refreshed exterior and interior, and a brand-spanking new innovative safety suite package, we take the top trim 2018 Nissan X-Trail on a weekend to see what’s up.

Making its global debut in June last year, the updated X-Trail gets a more pronounced V-motion face, a full realization of the design language. It gets thicker elements, a taller and wider grille, the boomerang lamp signature clearly seen on more prominent LED daytime running lamps and the restyled contemporary bumper. The rear also gets retouched with LED taillights and chrome detailing on the lower part of the bumper.

Black on black is always a good place to start for cabin color. Leather on the seats is pretty taut making the seats appear firm and luxurious.

Because of the excellent color layout, it was hard to tell the improvements made inside but after looking more closely I noticed that the steering was has been reshaped, given a sportier, horizontal bottom and new buttons for audio and hands-free calls.

The infotainment system may seem rudimentary with very few buttons. It comes with only the basic ones – FM/AM, Bluetooth CD, Media, Display, down and up tracking buttons, iPod/Menu and the Back button.

But that’s actually what makes it easy to figure out and use. With all controls plain and straightforward, you’ll have to be really tech-challenged if you need to pause for thought before switching between the radio, CD or the various media available. The most complicated thing you may encounter is pairing your mobile device to ‘My Car’, but seriously, how hard can that be?

The real gem of the X-Trail’s latest iteration lies in the various scenes or live videos you see on the infotainment monitor when you press the Display (‘Disp’ button).

If you’re on any gear except reverse, press the button once and this is what you’ll see – the front camera video showing what’s ahead and takes up about 2/3 of the screen. The remainder shows a top-view of the vehicle and its proximity to objects/vehicles around it. Press the button again and the secondary view gives you a live camera shot showing the other vehicle on the far side of the driver (right side). Very neat if I do say so myself.

Reversing is made easier now as the backup camera shows what’s directly behind the vehicle on the main view so that you can really snuggle up to that parking slot. The smaller view still shows that top, 360-degree view so that your distance between the two vehicle on the left and right are even-steven.

This is made possible by four cameras taking a 360-degree look around the vehicle to make sure you aren’t getting too close for comfort to anything on the road. Do note that the system automatically shuts down the video once you exceed 10 kilometers per hour.

Aside from forward and reverse movements, these cameras also monitor vehicles along the blind spot of the driver. Whether or not you’re turning, a light indicator found on the inside of where the side-view mirror attaches to the door lights up when there’s a vehicle coming up alongside you or even a vehicle you just passed if you’re overtaking. This ensures that whether or not you plan to merge left or right, you’re making informed decisions.

Performance is its number 2 great quality. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is snappy as long as you don’t engage the Eco button. It’s quick to engage, which makes it lunge forward if you’ve got a heavy foot, so remember to go easy on the throttle. Output figures are at 171 PS at 6000 rpm along with 233 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm.

While the cabin maintains really low levels of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) from the road, the roar from under the hood comes through audibly. It won’t struggle to overtake even on inclines but you will literally hear the engine revving if you mash on the throttle.

Cabin comfort feels closer to a sedan and less SUV-like but with the benefit of higher ground clearance. The firm seats could be cushier; but like wine, this will age better with time, granted it’s used (properly) and not abused.

Rollover resistance around corners isn’t very high due to its high center of mass but that’s not too say you can’t have fun with it – just don’t have too much fun. Steering feels rather light for a seven-seater but you’ll appreciate that if you’re a city dweller as it’s easy on the arms if you like switching lanes all the time in traffic.

Automatic Emergency Braking is a new safety feature but it would take a near-accident to trigger the system. While it may have gone untested, it’s reassuring to every driver that it’s in the back pocket should a collision be unavoidable.

The X-Trail looks really good, especially with the updated V-motion design. It’s a lot sharper, stylish and with these new safety features inside, it ain’t genius-level yet, but you can bet that it’s smarter and safer than half of the cars on the road right now. (https://www.autoindustriya.com)

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