|Also called||Isuzu VX (concept car) Isuzu Tiejingang (China)|
|Assembly||Japan: Fujisawa China: Chongqing (Qingling; CKD)|
|Body style||3-door SUV|
|Engine||3.2 L V6 (Japan) 3.5 L V6 (US)|
|Wheelbase||91.8 in (2,332 mm)|
|Length||162.6 in (4,130 mm)|
|Width||70.5 in (1,791 mm)|
|Height||66.9 in (1,699 mm)|
The Isuzu VehiCROSS is a compact SUV from Isuzu. Produced from 1997 (Japanese market 1997-1999) through 2001 (US market 1999-2001), it shares much of its components with the Trooper, including both its 3.2 L and 3.5 L V6 engine that produces 215 bhp (160 kW; 218 PS) at 5400 rpm and 230 lb·ft (312 N·m) at 3000 rpm of torque. The vehicle also features the Torque on Demand (TOD) 4-wheel-drive system produced by BorgWarner. It is a small, sporty 2-door crossover vehicle with aggressive external styling, including short overhangs, an aggressive forward stance, titanium "teeth" in the grille, a black hood-insert, and black plastic cladding over the entire lower half of the vehicle. The US VehiCROSS came equipped with 16" polished wheels in 1999 and 18" chrome wheels during the remainder of production. The Japanese version came equipped with 16" alloys with chrome center caps.
The VehiCROSS was highly regarded for its cross-terrain performance. It combined a computer-controlled AWD system for on-road driving and a locked-differential low-gear 4WD system for off-road driving. The Japanese version offered a 2WD non TOD or 4WD TOD option. The US-only constant 4WD TOD, with 12 independent sensors for detecting wheel spin and capable of redirecting power to the wheels with the most traction, gives the VehiCROSS a high level of traction on wet and icy roads. It also has a high level of performance for its height. While possessing on-road nimbleness, its body-on-frame truck construction, suspension and 4WD gearing make it very capable off-road.
Sales were intentionally limited, with only 5958 vehicles being produced between 1997 and 2001; 1805 were produced for the domestic Japanese market and the remaining 4,153 sold in the United States. As it stands, the vehicle has an obscure role in history; although, the vehicle appeared in the 2000 film Mission to Mars as a convertible fitted with futuristic engine sound effects, and also briefly in Babylon AD 2008 starring Vin Diesel.
Manufacture and release
The VehiCROSS was originally unveiled as a concept vehicle at the 1993 Tokyo International Auto Show. Its ultimate Japanese production release in 1997 was notable in that the production vehicle arrived with very few design changes and in a very short time. This feat was accomplished through the use of inexpensive ceramic body-stamping dies and the reuse of readily-available Isuzu parts. The truck was intended to showcase Isuzu's off-road technology, and is one of the few vehicles to ship with monotube shocks with external heat-expansion chambers, a technology normally reserved for off-road motorcycle racing.
Motor Trend featured the VehiCROSS on its May 1999 cover, and included it in its "Top 10 Sport Utilities" for Most Unique Styling.
Four Wheeler featured the VehiCROSS as the "First Runner Up" for Four Wheeler of the Year in 2000 behind the Tahoe Z71; when pitted against: Chevrolet Tahoe Z71, GMC Yukon, Nissan Xterra, Ford Excursion and Mitsubishi Montero Sport. The VehiCROSS scored highest of all 6 Mechanically, for Trail Performance and Highway Performance.
Both a concept four-door version (VX-4) and a roadster (VX-O2) were shown at the 2000 Los Angeles International Auto Show, but neither reached production. Both of these concepts were donated to the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles in late 2008.
Led by Satomi Murayama, chief designer/manager at Isuzu's European office in Brussels, the design team was an international group: Simon Cox (Assistant Chief Designer best known for designing the Lotus Elan's interior), Joji Yanaka, Andrew Hill and Nick Robinson. The task was to build a "lightweight but tough, fun but environmentally friendly" SUV.
- Winner of the 1999 Russian Spirit of Time Award by the Russian Design Confederation (presented to Isuzu at the 1999 Russian International Motor Show).
- Stage 2 and 4 Class Winner, 1998 Paris-Dakar Rally
- Class Winner 1999 Australian Safari Rally
- Winner "Most Unique Styling" Motor Trend 1999 Top 10 Sport/Utes
- Used by Austin Robot Technology as foundation for robotic VX in 2005-2007 DARPA Grand Challenge