Isuzu Vehicross review

Isuzu Vehicross
Billed as a "high-performance sports vehicle," Isuzu's limited-production compact SUV had two doors and four-wheel drive. It actually evolved from a 1993 concept vehicle, seen at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Although the VehiCross was more unique than most, sport-utility vehicle rivals included the Ford Explorer Sport, Isuzu's own Amigo, Jeep Wrangler, and Subaru Forester. About five inches shorter in wheelbase and overall length than its Amigo stablemate, the VehiCross was much heavier and more expensive, thanks to a bigger engine, more sophisticated 4WD system, and longer standard-equipment list.

The steel body was complemented with unpainted, composite plastic (polypropylene) lower cladding for chip/scratch resistance. Black matte paint on the hood was intended to cut down glare. Swinging open to the left, beneath a top-hinged rear window, the tailgate enclosed the VehiCross's spare tire. Appearance aside, the VehiCross was mostly distinguished by its running gear (borrowed mainly from the big Trooper), including a 3.5-liter V6 with four-speed automatic transmission and "terrain-sensing" Torque-On-Demand four-wheel drive. The 4WD system did not need to be disengaged on dry pavement. It continually evaluated axle speeds, throttle position, and brake/ABS use, adjusting front/rear torque distribution every 20 milliseconds. A dashboard readout indicated how much torque was being sent to the front axle. All-disc antilock braking was standard, along with 16-inch tires. Recaro-brand front bucket seats were leather-upholstered in distinctive red/black. Only the right front seat slid forward for access to a split folding rear bench.

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