Colorado 7 Versus Isuzu MU-X?

Note - this post has been updated in light of remarks in the comments section below. Claims by readers that the Isuzu out-points the Holden on torque delivery are incorrect.

Click here for the update on torque delivery 

QUESTION: John, I'm thing that one of these diesels would be good to replace my ageing Kia Sorento as a tow vehicle. My caravan is around 2000kg fully loaded and both these vehicles would do the job - I think. Which of the pair represents the best value for my money? Opinions are varied but I am a cynical old fart and I take reviews that are paid reviews with a grain of salt. The MU-X is only new but are there issues with reliability with either? Thanks, Trevor

ANSWER

Trevor, I'm with you - paid reviews aren't worth a blurt. The car industry is very good at controlling the content of reviews from its pack of 'tame' journalists. Short version of my answer: I don't think you should buy either the Holden or the Isuzu.

HOLDEN COLORADO 7

Colorado 7 - reasonably tasteful interior

Colorado 7 - reasonably tasteful interior

Colorado 7 is ute-based, which degrades on-road manners

Colorado 7 is ute-based, which degrades on-road manners

Third-row seating is pretty much a joke

Third-row seating is pretty much a joke

3.0-tonne towing capacity is impressive

3.0-tonne towing capacity is impressive

2014 Holden Colorado 7 LTZ full specifications

Holden is a massive 'don't buy' in my book - massive. With a reputation for poor reliability and worse customer service longer than your arm. GM has the unique ability to ruin just about every vehicle it touches. It's unlikely that the ongoing destabilization of Holden over the next few years as a result of keeping the dead factory going will motivate the dealer network to a new level of customer service excellence. And since they went bankrupt in 2009, GM has had bugger-all cash to spend on product development - so everything in the range has been done 'once over lightly'.


ISUZU MU-X

MU-X and Colorado 7 share design fundamentals

MU-X and Colorado 7 share design fundamentals

MU-X promises decent off-road performance

MU-X promises decent off-road performance

Very similar to Colorado 7 inside

Very similar to Colorado 7 inside

Unfortunately, MU-X has a dog of a driveline: w-a-y down on torque, and only five-speed auto as opposed to Colorado 7's six

Unfortunately, MU-X has a dog of a driveline: w-a-y down on torque, and only five-speed auto as opposed to Colorado 7's six

2014 Isuzu MU-X LS-T full specifications

The Isuzu? Too niche. Isuzu isn't enough of a mainstream player to trust. It's a tiny operation with a handful of dealers - not a real useful arrangement if you have a problem in Woop Woop.

In comparison to the Holden Colorado 7, the Isuzu MU-X also has a dog of an engine: 380Nm for the Isuzu MU-X versus 500Nm for the Colorado. And a five-speed auto in the Isuzu versus a six-speed in the Colorado 7. Woof woof. What were they thinking? The engine's torque production will be critical for towing.

Click here for the update on torque delivery

So, the range-topping Isuzu is $3k more for significantly less torque, and one less speed in the auto. In what sane universe does that make sense?

Now let's talk about you. How often will you be towing that van? If it's even four times a year, on long trips, the majority of your vehicle use will still be not towing. So: you'd want a vehicle capable of towing that van, but mainly optimised for ordinary driving. Makes sense, right? Why compromise it for the majority of the time you'll be using it, and optimise it for the minority?

A couple of better options, in my view, are below.

Ute-based SUVs - and the Holden Colorado and Isuzu MU-X are both once-over-lightly SUVs concocted from utes to save R&D costs - are always AWFUL to drive. Awful. With respect I'd suggest on the balance of probabilities that you would be better off with an SUV designed to be an SUV from the ground up, not some transgender equivalent in the automotive world.


KIA SORENTO

Sorento is (nearly) a clone of the Hyundai Santa Fe

Sorento is (nearly) a clone of the Hyundai Santa Fe

SUV package offers greater on-road poise than ute-based Colorado 7 and MU-X

SUV package offers greater on-road poise than ute-based Colorado 7 and MU-X

One of the most tasteful and minimalist South Korean interiors of all time

One of the most tasteful and minimalist South Korean interiors of all time

Great overall package and styling

Great overall package and styling

2014 Kia Sorento Platinum full specifications

Basically, you can get the 'works burger' or Kia Sorento (the Platinum) and also the range-topping Hyundai Santa Fe (the Highlander) for around the same price as either the top-of-the-line Colorado 7 and MU-X - and these are much more integrated SUV designs. Five-year warranty with unlimited kays in both cases, too. More fruit, into the bargain.

I know the tow capacity of the Hyundai/Kia proposition is 'only' 2000kg versus the Colorado7 and MU-X's 3000kg. However, I suspect the limitation in the Sorento and Santa Fe on towing capacity is ultimately the load capacity of the tyres. 

The Kia and the Hyundai are twins. Hyundai and Kia are the same company, and they cut R&D costs by sharing drivetrains and major components in vehicles within the same segments. 


HYUNDAI SANTA FE

Santa Fe has excellent on-road manners

Santa Fe has excellent on-road manners

More edgy styling than Sorento

More edgy styling than Sorento

Great third-row seating design and integration

Great third-row seating design and integration

Upmarket interior and packed with standard kit

Upmarket interior and packed with standard kit

2014 HyundaiSanta Fe Highlander full specifications

On fundamentals for towing, all four vehicles seem very similar. The Tare masses are within about 90kg, and the wheelbases are within 14.5cm - so, not enough to make a tangible difference. And the 2.2 diesel in the Santa Fe/Sorento produces 436Nm through a six-speed transmission versus 380Nm and five speeds (MU-X: dog of a drivetrain) and 500Nm with six speeds for the Holden.

I'd suggest the Kia/Hyundai pair would blow the MU-X away on towing with a 2000kg load, and pretty much keep up with the Holden. And when the caravan isn't hanging off the back, the Hyundai/Kia pair would eat the MU-X and the Colorado 7 for breakfast.

However, if you're going to do any serious off-roading (I'm talking: fording mighty rivers, descending The Widowmaker; not driving on a dirt road) then the Colorado 7 or MU-X would win, hands-down.

Full Hyundai Santa Fe video review & road test >>


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