Tuesday, March 26, 2013

5k: The Future Is Faded Plastic: 1999 Isuzu VehiCROSS 4X4

The VehiCROSS is a compact SUV from Isuzu released in 1999 as a futuristic off-roader.  It features a competent off road chassis, black plastic body cladding and a set of vampire fangs in the grill.  Find this 1999 Isuzu VehiCROSS for sale in Happy Valley, OR currently bidding on ebay for $5,600 with 2 days to go.

Billed by the seller as "rare and hard to find" the VehiCROSS is rare because no one wanted one when new...seriously, it was hideous, impractical and expensive.  With time the styling has softened a bit, maybe even looks cool, but new it was quite striking ugly.  As far as SUV practicality; the VehiCROSS is a 2-door that will turn off anyone with kids or anything larger than a small dog for a rear-seat passenger.  When new, the MSRP pricing was almost $30k...steep when you consider a well equipped Wrangler with the 4.0 I6 was less than $20k.  One doesn't need to wonder why less than 6000 sold world-wide in its 3 years of production...the bigger question is, why did a single one of these leave an Isuzu dealer lot?

The VehiCROSS is powered by the Isuzu 6VE1, a 3.5 liter DOHC V6 that puts out 215 horsepower and 230 ft-lbs of torque.  Straight line performance won't be remarkable, but the VehiCROSS was designed for scrambling up loose surfaces and features Isuzu's Torque-On-Demand 4WD system and remote reservoir shocks, typical for a baja-500 racer, but unusual for a production vehicle.

Inside the VehiCROSS you won't be treated to a fancy interior, but it isn't Chrysler Sebring or Nissan Altima cheap.  It is gaudy, and logical to assume that anyone willing to buy a car that looks like the moon rover on the outside would want a clown car interior.

Now that we've got our VehiCROSS bashing out of the system...the reason we are featuring it now is because it is $5k...well less than the cost of a nav system upgrade on the latest offering at an Isuzu dealer...wait...does Isuzu even sell cars in the US anymore? Nope, as of 2009 Isuzu pulled out of the US market and sells a handful of vehicles in the UK, Japan and Australia.  At least they don't have to tool up chassis for left-hand-drive cars anymore.  Get your VehiCROSS now before all the spare parts evaporate...

See a better full sized Lego off-roader? email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. ~ i've always thought these were mighty cool. the design element i don't particularly like is the broad C pillar. any of you had a chance to drive one of these for any length of time?

  2. I remember when these came out and how distinct they looked. I liked that styling. Black is not a flattering color. I remember some bright yellow ones that looked quite nice in the contrasting colors.

  3. Seesh, a lot of Isuzu bashing! Joe would be sad. Production was low mainly because the ceramic die technology Isuzu used to build the unusual bodies would only allow a limited run of about 5,000 cars.

    This is most definitely not a Wrangler. It's much more nimble and composed on regular roads and rough pavement. I'm pretty sure the TOD AWD was a fancier version of the ControlTrac used by Ford on their SUVs. They were both BorgWarner systems. On-demand AWD plus a low-gear transfer case. As for real clown car interior, check out what BMW did to its Z3 coupe around this time.

    1. Ah, yes, the Joe Isuzu ad series. Good memories, PBL, thanks.

      You are quite right about the Z3 interior also. Not one of BMW's better efforts.

  4. For all those Isuzu fans that thought the Amigo as boring looking...here's your trucklet. A much as I respected the Rodeo as a competent SUV, the VehiCROSS was just...bonkers. While it may have been a capable offroader, it's hard to overlook the design to take it seriously.

  5. Wish there were more of these. Always liked them more than the RAV-4 types because of the better offroad capability.


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