OzRoamer 2022 4WD $45,000 – $65,000 COTY Award

This is the first of the categories that are specifically for vehicles that have dual range 4WD. Most are wagon variants of popular Utes, some designed as a 4WD from the ground up. 

OzRoamer 2022 4WD $45000 - $65000 COTY Award

The list of possible nominees includes Ford EverestJeep Cherokee TrailhawkMitsubishi Pajero Sport and SsangYong Rexton.

This is truly the family adventure vehicle segment, where true off road ability comes at an affordable price point. Some have 5 seats, some seven, some are long in the model cycle, others just newly released.

Our final three nominees are:

  • Isuzu MU-X LST
  • Toyota Fortuner Crusade
  • Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Isuzu MU X LST Front qtrIsuzu MU-X – Winner

Isuzu MU-X has been a multiple winner of this award in the past and the latest model is their best yet.

Since it was first launched the MU-X has been popular with families as a true 4WD, urban SUV and with the towing fraternity.

Isuzu MU X LST Profile

Isuzu MU-X Model Range

MU-X comes is available in 4×2 and 4×4 configuration, across three grades: LS-M, LS-U and LS-T, the All-New MU-X range is powered exclusively by Isuzu’s new 4JJ3-TCX, 3-litre turbo-diesel engine producing 140kW and 450Nm, all matched with an intuitive six-speed automatic transmission.

More details on the range can be found HERE

21MY ISUZU MU-X 4x4 LS-T - Dashboard.

Isuzu MU-X General Thoughts

The MU-X presents a stylish exterior with a bold grill, defined headlights, sleek profile and high roof line rear. Personal view is that it is amongst the best looking of the Ute based wagons.

Inside there is plenty of room, more than you would think given the sleek exterior. Even the base LS-M model has very comfortable seats, good driver positioning and all round visibility. The base model has an almost full suite of IDAS safety features which is excellent and a major reason why the range got the award.

Prioritising safety and convenience, Isuzu’s Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS), combines active and passive safety with driver assistance technology. Headlining the comprehensive IDAS suite is eight-airbags—including a centre-airbag, Autonomous Emergency Braking with Turn Assist featuring pedestrian and cyclist detection, Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control, to name a few.

The top two models add a lot of extra comfort features and the LS-T is a luxurious place to while away a few hours driving. Finally Isuzu has come to the party with heated front seats.

21MY Isuzu MU-X 4x4 LS-T - Infotainment & Apple CarPlay.

The latest MU-X also comes with wireless Apple CarPlay as standard, improved infotainment connectivity and an improved resolution centre screen, walk away locking in the two top spec models (which is both good and annoying at times).

Rear seats provide enough room for all but the tallest passengers, boot space is spacious and the tailgate lifts high enough for my 190cm frame to fit under.

21MY ISUZU MU-X LS-T - Rear Diff Lock and Rough Terrain Buttons.

Isuzu MU-X Engine and Drivetrain

Standard across the All-New MU-X range is the new 4JJ3-TCX 3-litre, common-rail, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine, first debuted in the new-generation D-MAX.

MU-X, power and torque outputs have been increased to 140kW at 3,600rpm and 450Nm at 1,600-2,600rpm.

Testament to how torque-efficient the 4JJ3-TCX is, midrange torque has also been further improved, generating 400Nm from 1,400rpm through to 3,250rpm.

Impressively, 300Nm is produced from just 1,000rpm—just above idle—a benefit to four-wheel drivers who require low-down torque for crawling up hills in low-range.

The result is a linear delivery of torque across the entire rev-range and a welcomed improvement in both drivability and performance, particularly when towing or under load.

Power and torque is transferred to the wheels via a reengineered, smoother and more-refined 6-Speed Aisin AWE6B45 II automatic transmission and an improved Terrain Command 4WD system.

4WD models feature ‘Terrain Command’, a Rear-Differential Lock and Rough Terrain Mode as standard.

21MY Isuzu MU-X 4x4 LS-T Mercury Silver metallic - Towing.

Over the years I have towed caravans, camper trailers, horse floats and car trailers with the MU-X and it handled them all with ease.

Isuzu MU-X is ideal for towing.

MU-X is the most economical 4WD I’ve ever towed with.

Isuzu MU X LST Front

Isuzu MU-X Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a 4WD for that around Australia trip or even family holiday the MU-X is ideal.

With a stylish exterior and premium interior the MU-X is great value.

Isuzu also has a wide range of accessories that can be fitted at the dealer further enhancing the appeal.

It’s amongst the best riding Ute based 4WDs on the market. Combine that with its 4WD capability and towing ability it’s easy to see why the MU-X is so popular.

What is good?

What is not so good?

  • Class leading safety
  • 4WD and Towing capability
  • On road dynamics for a 4WD
  • Wireless CarPlay sometimes doesn’t hook up
  • Would love 150Kw/500Nm
  • Haphazard DTE readings

Isuzu MU-X Pricing

  • MU-X LS-M Auto 4×4 $53,900 MLP*
  • MU-X LS-U Auto 4×4 $59,900 MLP*
  • MU-X LS-T Auto 4×4 $65,900 MLP*

Isuzu MU-X Model Pick

The award is across the entire range, however if we were picking a model as the sweet spot it would be the LS-T as it has the full suite of comfort and safety features. Yes it now sits just outside the price band but at the time of testing it was within and we applied our discretion.

21MY ISUZU MU-X LS-U & LS-T Engine Bay.


Isuzu MU-X LS-T 4X4  

Model Price$65,900 MLP*
Engine3.0L 4 Cyl Turbo Diesel
Drivetrain4WD 6 Sp Aisin MT or AT
Power140kW @ 3600rpm
Torque450Nm @ 1600-2600rpm
Safety5 Star ANCAP (Tested Aug 2021)
CO2 Emissions220 g/km
Economy ADR/ Capacity8.3L/100km / 9.1L/100K on test / 76L
0-100kmh/Top SpeedN/A
Servicing12 Mths / 15,000km $3,223 for 105,000km (7 years)
Warranty6yr/ 150,000 km with 7 Yr. conditional roadside assist

*MLP Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options. Some features mentioned in the article are options. RDAP means Recommended Drive Away Price (without options but including all other charges)

Isuzu MU X LST Rear

Overall Rating    


Behind the Wheel9
Ride and Handling9
Fit for Purpose9
Towing / AWD Ability10 – Towing 5/5 – AWD 5/5
Technology / Connectivity9
Value for Money10

*Towing and AWD Capability is compared to other similar vehicles in the same class.

21MY ISUZU MU-X LS-T - Rear Cargo Configuration Third Row Flat.

MU-X Dimensions

Overall Length4850mm
Width / Height1870mm / 1825mm
Unladen ground clearance / wading depthUp to 235mm / 800 mm
Approach / Rampover / Departure angles29.2 / 23.1 / 26.4 degrees
Fuel Tank  / Turning Circle80 Litres / 11.4mts KTK
Kerb Weight / Payload / GVM / GCM2175kg / 625kg / 2800kg / 5900KG
Towing Capacity / Tow Ball rating3500kg / 350kg

Toyota Fortuner Crusade

Toyota Fortuner – Finalist

Fortuner is another Ute based 4WD wagon that was first released in 2015 and was an instant success.

Over the years it has undergone many improvements and recently a major upgrade to the engine outputs.

Fortuner comes in three equipment grades – GX at $49,715 MLP*, GXL at $55,085 MLP*and Crusade at $62,945 MLP*.

I’m a big fan of its looks and layout. It is well equipped especially the Crusade model with heated leather eight-way power adjustable front seats, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, front and rear climate control air-conditioning, LED fog lights, roof rails, leather look steering wheel and a premium 11-speaker JBL audio system.

It’s also let down by a couple of little things such as no blind spot indicator, wired connectivity for Apple CarPlay and no reach adjustment on the steering wheel.

Front seats provide reasonable room for all occupants, rear seats are a little tight for taller occupants and the boot space is good but severely hampered by ridiculous fold up rear seats. Seriously Toyota it’s time to get rid of those.

Fortuner now has 150kW of power and 500Nm of torque from its 2.8L engine and it really shows both on and off road as well as better fuel economy. It retains the selectable 4WD system as well as the 6 speed AT. This engine sits in the Prado and HiLux as well

Towing capacity is now 3100kg and comes with a standard rear diff lock

I’ve driven the Fortuner on outback roads, on the beach, forest trails, heavy duty 4WD tracks, I’ve towed with it and driven it on freeways. It’s a great all round 4WD.

Toyota Fortuner Crusade interior

What is good?

What is not so good?

  • New engine power and torque
  • 4WD Ability, rear diff lock
  • Reasonable levels of comfort
  • No additional lumbar support
  • Scratchy Bluetooth
  • Fold up 3RDrow seats – Seriously???

2022 Jeep® Compass Trailhawk

Jeep Compass Trailhawk – Finalist

Jeep Compass Trailhawk has been around for a while now but underwent an all new rebirth late in 2017 in Australia. It’s a breath of fresh air in the smaller 4WD segment. There was another update earlier this year as well

The Trail rated Trailhawk is the true 4WD version of the model line-up. Jeep doesn’t rate their vehicles unless they meet the requirements. So if it is Trail Rated you know it’s capable. Its priced from $52,650 MLP*

I have always liked the Compass. It seems to get the proportions right. It’s also comfortable inside as well. Small on the outside but with enough room inside its ideal as a weekday run-around then weekend warrior.

The Compass Trailhawk looks unmistakably like a Jeep. It features the historically significant 7 slot grill, a bold squat muscular design and in the case of the red with black bonnet, a striking appearance.

It has a slightly snub nose and short rear overhang. From the side it sweeps through the high waistline and slightly sweeps up at the rear.

From the front it looks like a smaller version of the Grand Cherokee.

The first thing as a driver, you notice is the upright seating position. It actually feels good. The leather seats are supportive but a little hard on the squab.

The dash and large driver instruments are well laid out and the new tablet style centre screen adds to the overall ergonomics.

There are little comfort features such as wireless charging tray, foot activated tailgate and traffic sign recognition.

Rear seats are a little tight but boot room is adequate.

For those that want more luxury such as heated seats and more there is a Trailhawk Premium Package (for a bit over $4,000) which includes premium ventilated leather trimmed bucket seats, heated steering wheel,  heated front seats, dual-pane panoramic sunroof and an Alpine 9-speaker premium audio system

Trailhawk comes with a 2.0L diesel engine producing 125kW/350Nm and a nine speed AT.

4WD capability comes from Jeep Selec-Terrain with Rock Mode and Off-Road Suspension with Raised Ride Height. It also has a 4.334 Rear Axle Ratio, 2 Front Red Tow Hooks, 4x Underbody Skid Plates, Full Size Spare Tyre and Surround View Camera System (360 Camera)

True 4WD vehicles are a rarity in the smaller segment. The Compass manages to provide excellent 4WD capability packaged in an urban exterior.

It is just as comfortable around the inner city as it is on the bush tracks or the beach. It’s ideal for those ski trips as well.

Jeep Compass Trailhawk interior

What is good?

What is not so good?

  • 4WD capability
  • Style and design
  • Interior ambience
  • Engine braking on road
  • Thick ‘A’ pillars
  • It’s getting a little pricey

*MLP Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options. Some features mentioned in the article are options. RDAP means Recommended Drive Away Price (without options but including all other charges)