Taking the scenic route aboard the Isuzu mu-X and D-MAX 3.0 VGS variants

THE Isuzu mu-X premium SUV and D-MAX pickup demonstrated their characteristics as highly capable workhorses and genuine lifestyle activity companions in a relaxing and fun-filled event held amid a picturesque landscape.

On June 23-24, Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC), a pioneer among local automotive companies in showcasing the country’s scenic destinations via road trips, gathered together a small group of journalists from Manila and Iloilo to a ride-and-drive event that involved tackling paved and rough roads. With the use of the mu-X and D-MAX that are equipped with 3.0-liter VGS diesel engines, the activity intended to underscore the vehicles’ capacity to provide luxury, comfort and power over any type of terrain, as well as highlight the sights, cuisine and other unique experiences that the provinces of Iloilo and Guimaras offer.

The event’s participants, led by IPC Marketing Head Joseph Bautista, started their tour with a visit to the modern Isuzu Iloilo dealership, located in the province’s capital of Iloilo City. From there, they traversed the city’s charming streets and made their way toward the seashore. Upon reaching the first stop of the trip, the participants were greeted with a lunch feast at Breakthrough Restaurant, one of Iloilo’s popular family dining spots.

Next, they proceeded to Parolo Wharf, where the group boarded a chartered ferry that took them to the equally picturesque Guimaras Island, found between Negros and Panay Island, where Iloilo is located. Welcoming them upon their arrival at the Jordan Port of Guimaraswere a stunning array of mu-X and D-MAX 3.0-liter VGS models.

Aboard these vehicles the participants toured the many attractions of Guimaras, which is said to once having been connected to Panay Island. The route that traverses the island’s highways brought them to the Guimaras windmills, which provide both scenery and sustainable energy to the province, and to the other attractions of the island. These include the Navalas Church, built in 1880 and is the oldest on the island; the Trappist Monastery where delicacies made from famous Guimaras mangoes are sold; the Guisi Lighthouse that stands guard over Panay Gulf; and the Guimaras Provincial Capitol in Jordan. Before taking the Roll-On/Roll-Off ferry back to Iloilo, the participants punctuated their island experience with a visit to the Pitstop Restaurant, home of the mango pizza.

Along the way to the various destinations were roads that were winding, undulating and, at certain spots, even tough. These tested the mu-X’s and D-MAX’s capabilities, and both vehicles remained easy to drive and comfortable to ride in over bumpy dirt trails as they were on smoothly surfaced highways.

Helping ensure this are the vehicles’ 4JJ1-TC (Hi) 3.0-liter, inline-four, Common Rail Direct Injection diesel engine that, equipped with an inter-cooled Variable Geometry turbocharger System (VGS), produces 163PS at 3,200rpm and 380 Newton-meter of torque from 1,800-2,200rpm. This power output allowed the mu-X and D-MAX to tackle steep inclines and to remain controlled on descents effortlessly, with the smooth-shifting five-speed manual and automatic transmissions that can be matched to the engine optimizing power in every road condition encountered during the drive. Further guaranteeing off-road capacity are the vehicles’ Terrain Command Select Dial, which let drivers activate two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive mode by simply twisting a knob on the vehicles’ consoles.

Meanwhile, proving to be as competent at delivering a comfortable ride were the mu-X’s and D-MAX’s suspension systems, which are composed of independent double wishbones with coil springs and stabilizer bars in front, and five-link coil springs with stabilizer bar in the rear for the mu-X, and semi-elliptical leaf springs in the rear for the D-MAX. The vehicles’ 17-inch alloy wheels and 255/65 tires maximized the capabilities of the suspension system with their balance of comfort, control and grip.

Throughout the day’s drive the mu-X’s and D-MAX’s luxury and infotainment features made sure everybody on the trip got to enjoy the amenities. The electroluminescent Multi-Information Display supplied all the important information related to the drive while the touchscreen CD/VCD/DVD/tuner/MP3 multimedia player with aux-in, USB and Bluetooth connectivity made available an endless choice of entertainment sources. Leather wrapped seats and steering wheel, numerous storage compartments and aircon vents, plenty of space and many other luxurious interior accoutrements were likewise welcomed during the trip.

The next morning the participants again took to their respective mu-X and D-MAX vehicles and embarked on a day of cruising Iloilo’s sceneries. A sumptuous lunch at Bourbon Street Grill and Bar, a popular American-style bistro in Iloilo City, preceded their visit to the Isuzu 4x4 Action Playground. An event on its own, the Isuzu 4x4 Action Playground was held on a specially designed course where the public can experience for themselves the off-road capabilities of the four-wheel drive variants of the mu-X and D-MAX. Various obstacles, including the slipper slope, articulation ramp, 40-degree transverse-angle ramp, and the 20-foot Thrill Hill, were on hand for the participants and other visitors to conquer.

“No doubt, Iloilo’s various attractions were ideal venues in which to prove the mechanical capabilities of the Isuzu mu-X and Isuzu D-MAX. Equally important, however, is that the road trip illustrated in definitive terms that with the perfect vehicle, company and destination, one can experience a truly pleasurable journey,” Bautista said.