Isuzu VehiCROSS Concept

By Luke Texter

2021-11-06

The Isuzu VehiCROSS (UGS250) is a compact SUV from Isuzu. Produced from 1997 through 2001 (Japanese market 1997–1999; US market 1999–2001), it shares many 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) of torque at 3000 rpm. 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 combined a computer-controlled AWD system for on-road driving and a 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 5,958 vehicles being produced between 1997 and 2001; 1,805 were produced for the domestic Japanese market and the remaining 4,153 sold in the United States. It appears that Isuzu revisited a limited production approach they used in the mid-1960s with the dramatic 117 Coupe and the later Isuzu Piazza to produce an exclusive two door vehicle. Japanese sales were limited by the fact that the exterior width dimensions were not in compliance with Japanese Government dimension regulations, and the engine displacement obligated Japanese drivers for higher levels of annual road tax. The vehicle had a base price of $28,900.

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