It was a compact SUV manufactured and produced by Japanese automaker Isuzu. It was first launched in1997. It was sold in Japanese market from 1997 to 1999, while it remained in US market from 1999 to 2001. Many of its features were identical with that of Trooper. Even both vehicle were equipped with same engine options, i.e. a 3.2-L and a 3.5-L V6 engines capable of producing 215 bhp (160 kW; 218 PS) at 5400 rpm and torque of 230 lb-ft (312 Nm) at 3000 rpm. There was also available a Torque on Demand (TOD) four-wheel drive configuration by BorgWarner. This relatively small, 2-door sporty crossover was introduced with aggressive styling, such as short overhangs, an aggressive forward stance, titanium “teeth” in the grille, a black hood-insert, and black plastic cladding over the whole bottom part of the vehicle. The American version of VehiCROSS introduced in 1999 with 16-inch polished wheels and 18-inch chrome wheels in later years. The version sold in Japan featured 16-inch alloy wheels featuring chrome center caps.
The car was popular due to its cross-terrain abilities and performance. It featured a computer-controlled all-wheel drive system for on-road driving, while a locked-differential low-gear all-wheel drive system for off-road driving. The Japanese version was available with two-wheel drive non-TOD and four-wheel drive TOD choices. However, the US version was offered as constant all-wheel drive TOD with 12 independent sensors to monitor wheel spin and also to pass on power to the wheels with better traction on the wet and icy terrains. The VehiCROSS was a vehicle that had gained popularity both as on-road and off-road sports utility vehicle with its body-on-frame construction, 4WD gearing setup and suspension.
The sales of VehiCROSS were kept limited purposely as just 5958 units were produced from 1997 to 2001. Of these produced units, 1805 units were produced only for Japanese domestic market while the rest of 4153 units were sold in US market.
Manufacture and Release
In 1993, the car was exhibited for the first time as a concept car at the Tokyo International Auto Show. The first production unit of VEhiCROSS was launched in Japanese market in 1997. The production version was introduced with minor modifications. The vehicle was mainly built with an economical ceramic body-stamping dies as well as reusing the on hand Isuzu parts. The idea was to represent the Isuzu’s off-road expertise through this vehicle. The VehiCROSS was a vehicle launched with monotube shocks featuring external heat-expansion chambers – a technology usually retained for off-road motorcycle racing.
It was featured by Motor Trend on its May 1999 front cover as a part of their ‘Top 10 Sport Utilities’ list for Most Unique Styling.
It was ranked the ‘First Runner Up’ for the 2000 Four Wheeler of the Year behind the Z71 by Four Wheeler. It received the highest scoring when set into competition mechanically with the Chevrolet Tahoe Z71, GMC Yukon, Nissan Xterra, Ford Excursion, Z71 and Mitsubishi Montero Sport for Trail Performance and Highway Performance.
Two related concept vehicles, i.e. the 4-door VX-4 version and the roadster VX-O2 were also unleashed at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in 2000. Both these concept vehicles never went in production and were given to Peterson Museum later in 2008.
The Satomi Murayama was a chief designer and manager at Isuzu’s European office located in Brussels. He led the designing team that was comprised of international designers including Simon Cox (Assistant Chief Designer best known for designing the Lotus Elan’s interior), Joji Yanaka, Andrew Hill and Nick Robinson to design lightweight but strong and amusing but environment friendly SUV. The resulted vehicle was the VehiCROSS.