Isuzu Alterra: Bulletproof and surprisingly comfortable

Updated Jun 03, 2021 | Same topic: Nostalgia: Cars We Miss

Before the mu-X, there was the tough but luxurious Alterra.

With the mu-X getting a next-generation version, Isuzu has thus cemented the SUV model’s presence in the global automotive market for more years to come.

Before the mu-X however, the SUV counterpart to the D-Max pickup truck was known by a different name. It was called the Isuzu Alterra here in the Philippines, and like its modern equivalent, it had a lot of things going for it. 

A picture of the Isuzu Alterra first version

The first iteration of the Alterra available locally from 2005 to 2008

Isuzu Alterra: Short history 

The Isuzu Alterra was initially released in Thailand in November 2004. Over there, it was called the MU-7 and it was based on the first-generation Isuzu D-Max. It, of course, replaced the Isuzu Trooper as the marque’s SUV model and it went against the likes of the Ford Everest, and the Toyota Fortuner.  

Technically, however, the Alterra only replaced the Trooper-sized hole that was left in the Asian market. If we trace back its mechanical roots, it was actually the successor of the Isuzu MU Wizard, which sadly wasn’t available in the local market.

A picture of the Isuzu Wizard

The Isuzu Wizard 

Just like the Wizard, the Isuzu Alterra came in a wagon-like configuration. So yes, it did come with smaller dimensions than the Trooper. The Alterra was even marketed as a “sport utility wagon” in Thailand. Despite being called a “wagon,” it did have a body-on-frame build, and it could fit in seven people. It also had an awesome presence on the road. These features of course made the Alterra relatively popular in the Philippines as we like our family cars to be tough and spacious. 

The introduction of the Alterra to the Asian market also marked the point where Isuzu withdrew from North America. The Japanese company however still maintained a close relationship with General Motors, as such, it can also be said that the Alterra did have some American DNA.

A picture of the Alterra

The Alterra has a lot of road presence but it is slightly smaller than the Trooper

In 2011, Isuzu revealed the 2nd-generation D-Max. Two years later in 2013, Isuzu then debuted the new mu-X in Thailand. With the mu-X's release and eventual launch in the Philippines in 2014, the Alterra was effectively replaced. 

>>> Here on Philkotse, we have the Isuzu Alterra 2017 for sale at a very competitive price!

Isuzu Alterra: Tough and spacious just the way we like it 

Unlike the truck that it was based on, the Alterra did get an exclusive mechanical feature called the MOVE suspension system. The front end of the said system featured a combination of a double-wishbone, torsion bar, an anti-roll bar, and a gas-type shock absorber, while the rear leaf-springs were also given a gas-type shock absorber. 

For engines, the Alterra initially came with the 3.0-liter 4JJ1-TC inline-4 diesel engine, which is shared with the D-Max. The said engine made 144 horsepower and 294 Nm of torque and it either came with a 4x2 or a 4x4 drivetrain. For transmissions, it either came with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic gearbox. Of note, all 4x4 came standard with a limited-slip-differential.

A picture of the Alterra's diesel engine

The Alterra's 4JJ1-TC inline-4 diesel engine  

Just like the Isuzu D-Max, the Alterra proved to be a bulletproof passenger vehicle capable of dealing with the rough terrain of the provinces, as well as the less than stellar roads of the urban jungle. It was also noted by its owners to be fuel-efficient despite having a 3.0-liter mill, which is relatively huge by Philippine passenger vehicle standards.

For city folk who had to deal with traffic, the Alterra was also a cushy and comfortable ride. All of this was mainly attributed to the advanced MOVE suspension system, but one also cannot ignore that it also came with a very feature-rich interior. 

A picture of the interior of the top-spec Alterra

The top-spec 2009-2014 versions came with leather-clad interiors

Later in 2009, Isuzu Philippines brought in new Alterra variants. In other markets, however, the Isuzu-made model received the new, more powerful 4JJ1-TCX diesel mill.  

As for the said variants, these were called the Urban Cruiser and the Zen. The former came with either a 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrain, a back-up camera, parking sensors for the rear, a 7-inch touchscreen, as well as seven-inch monitors mounted on the backrests.

>>> Related: SUV prices in the Philippines from 14 most popular brands

A picture of the Alterra's second-version

The second version of the Alterra available locally 2005 to 2014   

 In 2012, the Urban Cruiser got renamed the Urban Cruiser X and its seven-inch monitors were upgraded to high definition, and its exterior received some updates as well. Do note that by 2012 only two variants were available.

And as we’ve said before, the Alterra was then replaced by the Isuzu mu-X when it entered the country in 2014. This was a year after the 2nd-gen D-Max which the mu-X is based on was launched locally.  

What are your opinions of the Alterra? Do you miss it? For more nostalgic car articles like this, keep reading here on

Know more about Isuzu Alterra 2021

Isuzu Alterra

Isuzu engineers made the Alterra with a distinct exterior that possesses symmetrical U-shaped panoramic line features, most prominent when viewed directly, either the front or rear part of the vehicle. Isuzu billed it as "mono form," the outcome is clean but subtly aggressive. Its features include 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 245/70 R16 tires, over fender-matching side step boards, LED-type turn signals within the side mirror housings, large upscale crystal headlamps with foglamps, a rear door integrated spoiler, color-keyed roof rails, as well as a chrome tailpipe that adds to the uniqueness of the car. The Isuzu Alterra's powertrain is a diesel-powered, 16-valve 3-L 4JJ-1 I-TEO engine, generating 144 hp and 274 Nm of torque. The engine is matched to either a four-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual transmission. It features third-generation DOHC common rail direct injection.


Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar G.B. Miguel


Cesar is a graduate of AB English with previous experience working as a freelance writer for varied internet publications in-between his former stints in the Pharmaceutical Industry, and later as a First Aid Provider and Training Staff at the Iligan City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

Since childhood, Cesar has been keenly interested in cars. He has learned the ins and outs of these marvelous vehicles and is a competent amateur mechanic who is keen on sharing his knowledge.

Cesar is perceptive of car culture in general – not only in the Philippines but in global regard, as well. His knowledge ranges from the prevalent stories and trends among car enthusiasts around the world, to closely following the latest local and international developments in the automotive industry.

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