The Isuzu VehiCROSS is a compact SUV forgotten by just about everyone, if you even knew they existed, to begin with. Isuzu began marketing the VehiCROSS in Japan in the late 1990s and it didn’t really take off, so they decided to move sales to the United States where SUVs and crossovers were in higher demands, but the odd-looking utility vehicle didn’t do much better in the States. With an original MSRP of around $30,000 it didn’t compete with many other, more popular SUVs of the time.
Under the hood
The VehiCROSS had 215hp which wasn’t bad for a compact SUV in the early 2000s. Its 3.5L V6 wasn’t notably loud and with only a 4-speed automatic it wasn’t incredibly fast either, but the design was focused more on practicality than speed and luxury.
Styling and details
The VehiCROSS was an odd-looking compact SUV that almost looks like a Pontiac Solstice that evolved into something bigger. The curvy lines followed around a bubbly, not at all boxy body in a way unseen by SUVs of the time. Unlike the odd Pontiac Aztek, the VehiCROSS’s unusual appearance is almost cute and charming, perhaps because of the sweeping lines and overall small appearance.
Starting at the front, the smushed face of the VehiCROSS is dotted with two particularly odd-shaped headlights. The headlights on either side are like tiny teardrops, but that isn’t the interesting part. On the top of the headlight is a small horn that lights up. It doesn’t serve any new or interesting purpose other than having an additional light there, and it isn’t big enough to make too much of a difference other than to the styling.
Following the body lines, you can see that the VehiCROSS is clad in plastic panels riveted at specific intervals. While it’s not completely unusual to have cladding on a sports utility vehicle Isuzu chose to do the plastic cladding relatively tall and wrap it all the way around the body.
One interesting fact about the VehiCROSS is that it is a two-door SUV. There is nothing remarkable about the driver and passenger doors or windows, but they are followed by a thick C pillar which reduces blindspot visibility greatly and also ensures that your back seat passengers won’t have much to look at. There are two small windows in the back behind the C pillar but they give a better view of the cargo space than the back seats. The rear window doesn’t do much to increase visibility as it curves upwards around a built-in spare tire space. Isuzu resolved this issue by making the VehiCROSS one of the first SUVs to offer a backup camera but the option was not available in the US market.
The interior styling of the VehiCROSS is either fun or horrifying to any owner. The seats, steering wheel, and door panels are covered in bright red, regardless of what color the exterior of the SUV was, and it came standard. More interestingly enough was that the red seats were also Recaro seats that you would expect in a sports car or would purchase aftermarket for a track car. Along with the red leather on the door panels was a faux carbon-fiber trim, which is unexpected for a compact SUV from the early 2000s that wasn’t sports-oriented in any way.
The Isuzu VehiCROSS was cut from production after only a few short years, leaving this cool compact SUV a thing of the past. If you’re lucky enough to find one on the market, their interesting appearance and sport interior is enough to keep you interested in what would otherwise be just another old SUV.