Blast from the Past: Isuzu VehiCROSS

by Paul Strauss
Blast from the Past: Isuzu VehiCROSSzoom in

Today, the market is filled with compact crossovers like the Kia Soul and the Mazda CX-3. But there was a time when there really wasn’t such a thing. Perhaps the first such production vehicle was the seldom seen, but now beloved¬†Isuzu VehiCROSS.

This odd looking vehicle only had three doors, and looked like something out of the future Рespecially for its time. Its body had a smooth and sculptural feel, with its body melding seemingly with its blacked-out bottom. Even the spare tire cover seemed to be part of the body, rather than some afterthought. It looked more like a concept than a production car, which is a true rarity.

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First shown as a concept vehicle in 1993, the production VehiCROSS went on sale in 1997. Unlike most of today’s compact SUVs, this one was available as a rear-wheel drive (in Japan only) or as an all-wheel drive. The AWD system used a torque-on-demand computer control system for determining where to send power, and also had a locking-rear diff for low-gear off-roading. It was driven by the same 175 hp 3.2-liter or 215 hp 3.5-liter V6 found in the Isuzu Trooper.

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Isuzu would go on to produce just under 6000 vehicles during its run from 1997 to 2001. Surprisingly, almost 70% of them ended up here in the U.S. If you’re fortunate enough to come across one of these for sale, it’s a truly unique vehicle worth checking out.

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